As part of the EU research programs, British universities, in collaboration with small businesses, receive as much as £850m in research grants each year. EU membership also makes it easy to form collaborations. In the face of Brexit however, there are concerns that the funding and collaboration between the UK and the EU won’t flow as smoothly despite recent assurances from the Brexit Secretary, David Davis, that his aim is to foster even closer scientific relationships with the EU.
The U.K. government's Department for Exiting the European Union released a position paper on its goals for access to European research programs post-Brexit, but the document has been widely criticized since its release for its vagueness and ambiguity.
The US has jumped in on the opportunity, looking to fill shortfalls left by UK’s departure from the EU before their competitors in India and China. The two countries have recently come to an agreement to develop a special relationship with science – meaning policies that more collaboration-friendly for researchers residing in the UK and US.
Under the first-ever UK-US Science and Technology Agreement, announced on 20 September, the UK has committed investment worth £65 million ($88 million) in the Long Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF) and Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE), two leading research initiatives that will explore the origin and structure of the universe.
The UK-led Dune project involves 150 scientists from 14 British universities and two laboratories run by the UK's Science and Technologies Facilities Council participating in a US-based effort involving 1,000 scientists from 31 countries.
This agreement is the first step towards smoother transatlantic collaborations in science for the two countries. The administrations aim to make collaboration, travel and sharing much easier for researchers in these two regions in order to foster the relationship. Possible strategic areas of collaboration include:
The agreement will definitely open up new doors for the UK especially in fields like biotechnology and genetics, where the EU has more restrictive policies when it comes to testing and research.