By Dr Cat Ball, Policy Manager, AMRC

Published: 29 March 2017

This is the first installment in a series of posts highlighting key issues facing medical research charities as the UK prepares to leave the EU. Now that Article 50 has been triggered and negotiations are set to commence, this blog looks at the potential impact of changes to EU funding.

What’s the current situation?

Alongside funding from medical research charities, funding from the EU is one of the four sources of public funding that underpin the UK’s thriving medical research sector.

Horizon 2020 is the EU’s current Framework Programme for science and research. The UK has received approximately €240 million from health-related H2020 projects so far - around 18% of the total awarded across EU Member States. In terms of funding for science and research as a whole, the UK is currently the second highest recipient of H2020 funding. 

Medical research charities don’t typically receive funding from the EU directly. However it’s important within our community for a number of reasons including:

  • Funding from the EU is a significant source of the further funding that researchers funded by medical research charities go on to receive.
  • Medical research charities participate in networks and partnerships catalysed by EU funding.
  • It’s thought that EU funding facilitates rare disease research to a greater extent than national equivalents.

Government appear to recognise, on some level, the importance of EU funding for UK science and research. Back in August the UK government committed to underwrite the value of any EU grants awarded to UK researchers before the UK leaves the EU for the full award period. The PM seems to get this too - when she announced the Government’s negotiating objectives for deliberations with the EU, she included the ambition to ensure that the UK remains the best place for science and innovation.

What’s our position?

We’re asking Government for continued access to EU funding programmes and collaborative opportunities. As well as maintaining access to Horizon 2020, this includes participating in and helping to shape future programmes such as the next Framework Programme, FP9. We’re not alone in asking for this – this call is echoed across the science and research community.

In the White Paper that accompanied the introduction of the ‘Brexit’ Bill, Government suggested that they “would welcome agreement to continue to collaborate with our European partners on major science, research and technology initiatives”. We hope this could indicate Government appetite for future UK participation in H2020 and FP9.

What are AMRC doing?

We’ve been working to share our position with key stakeholders and make the voice of the medical research charity community heard by:

  • Meeting with MPs, civil servants and peers;
  • Submitting responses to consultations and inquiries;
  • Co-funding the Cancer Research UK-led research project exploring the value of UK medical research to EU science and health; and
  • Holding events such as the joint APPG on Medical Research event - How to secure the best for life sciences after Brexit.

As the negotiations unfold and a clearer picture emerges of what the UK’s future relationship with the EU will look like, we will monitor the impact on UK funding landscape for science and research and continue to make the voice of the UK medical research charity community heard.