EU support, both financial and non-financial, has contributed to the success of the UK’s research and innovation base. The UK’s decision to leave the EU will certainly present challenges but it is also an opportunity to reinforce the UK’s position as a leading nation of global influence in terms of trade, knowledge and innovation.

The Academy is working closely with government, its sister National Academies and the engineering profession to support government on issues related to research and innovation.

Current activity

The role of EU funding in UK research and innovation

The amount of funding flowing from EU programmes to UK research and innovation within universities and companies is well documented, but there is less understanding about the role of EU funding across different parts of the UK research and innovation landscape at a more granular level.

The UK National Academies commissioned Technopolis to better understand where EU funding for research and innovation goes, what kind of activities it supports and what other investment it attracts.

The report, published in May 2017, provides an in-depth understanding of the role of EU funding within the UK research and innovation landscape. The report demonstrates the importance of EU funding across all academic disciplines, industrial sectors, organisation types and across the whole innovation pipeline.

EU funding in UK research and innovation (2.02 MB)

The role of the EU in international research collaboration and researcher mobility

The UK National Academies commissioned Opinion Leader to conduct a qualitative and quantitative study of their Fellows and grant recipients to better understand their international collaborations and mobility. Over 1200 researchers were surveyed. The report was published in May 2017.

Key findings include:

  • Europe was reported to be the most likely continent in which respondents travelled (95%) and collaborated with other researchers in (87%)
  • 58% of respondents said they had spent a year or more working abroad, 64% of which had spent this time in North America 
  • 95% said they had been part of at least one international collaboration in the past five years
  • 77% said international collaboration is more common now than it was 20 years ago

The role of international collaboration and mobility in research (1.36 MB)

Engineering a future outside the UK

On 17 October 2016, the report Engineering a future outside the EU: securing the best outcome for the UK was published.

The report was compiled by the alliance of the UK's professional engineering organisations, led by the Royal Academy of Engineering, to provide evidence-based advice to government on the opportunities and risks associated with leaving the EU.

Engineering a future outside the EU (2.36 MB)

With engineering contributing at least £280 billion in gross value added to the economy – 20% of the total – the report aims to inform government of the key issues that impact on the UK’s engineering performance as it forms its position on leaving the EU.

Recommendations relating to research and innovation include:

In negotiating the UK’s exit from the EU, government should aim to:

  • Ensure talented students, academic and practising engineers have certainty about the opportunities to study and work in the UK
  • Enhance support to enable UK students, academics and practising engineers to gain international experience including in the EU

In terms of funding, government needs to:

  • Seek the closest achievable association with EU research and innovation programmes and ensure that, if needed, long-term UK funding programmes are available that complement current UK funding streams. These should focus on supporting international mobility and collaboration, including academic and industry partnerships
  • Recognise that European funding streams and collaboration frameworks provide crucial sources of innovation support for UK businesses, of all sizes, that will need to be replaced if no longer available
  • Consider the impact on funding streams for regional development and the devolved nations and identify a future system that will deliver effective, targeted regional development and support

Joint statements

In March 2017, the seven National Academies published a joint statement on higher education, research and innovation, following the UK government's triggering of Article 50 - the formal notification of its intention to withdraw from the European Union.

Higher Education, Research and Innovation: After Triggering Article 50 (190.36 KB)

The seven National Academies had previously issued a statement following the EU referendum. 

Research and Innovation: After the EU Referendum (145.85 KB)