Whatever else Brexit means, it has already meant a big rethink in the way UK researchers collaborate with their opposite numbers in Europe. Within days of the referendum, academics were reporting they were being frozen out of EU-funded proposals, and that overseas appointees were reconsidering their posts.
Innovation is key to the economy – 53% of UK businesses identified themselves as innovative according to a recent study by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills– and international collaboration underpins much innovation, a key driver of the knowledge economy. More than a half of UK scientific papers had international co-authors, the Royal Society reported earlier this year; the co-authors were European on 60% of those.
That is why there is so much concern around the impact on R&D from Brexit. Particularly as Horizon 2020, the current €80-billion research programme, has a deliberate focus on industry participation.