On 3rd June 2019, "The Guardian" newspaper reported on an interview with Sir Paul Nurse, the Nobel prize-winning director of the Francis Crick Institute, in which he warned of a "major blow" to national science in the UK if the UK Government is not able to secure full access to the seven-year Horizon Europe research programme starting in 2021.
This €100bn EU Research fund is being organised by the EU and is intended to bring together leading scientists from around the World to collaborate on matters such as cancer research, smart and carbon neutral cities, soil and food quality, healthy oceans and inland waters , and adaptation to climate change.
The UK currently benefits from the Horizon 2020 programme, which the Horizon Europe research programme will replace. There are more than a dozen non-EU member countries who have "associated status" under the Horizon 2020 programme but the availability of non-EU country access to the successor programme has not yet been sorted out.
Sir Paul Nurse is concerned that Brexit could bar the UK from access to the new fund with the result that the UK may lose its current world status as a leading science nation.
In March 2019, the UK Government did set up an independent advisory committee under Sir Adrian Smith, the director of the Alan Turing Institute, to advise on the design of future UK funding schemes for international collaboration, innovation and research. Such alternative UK funding schemes include the so-called Discovery Fund. This committee has sought evidence in a public consultation which closed on 24th May last and it will be interesting to see what proposals of Sir Adrian Smith and his committee bring forward.
The UK has long depended on its strength in science and innovative research and clearly the UK Government and the UK scientific community are concerned by the challenges posed to UK science and innovation by a "no deal" Brexit.