Minister visits Brussels to promote Scottish science and innovation.
Certainty is urgently required on the UK’s future participation in EU research programmes after Brexit, Higher Education and Science Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville has said.
Speaking ahead of a visit to Brussels on Monday, Ms Somerville called on the UK Government to make an early signed deal with the EU on science and innovation a priority.
It comes as figures show Scottish organisations have secured over €468 million to date through the current EU research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020.
The programme has facilitated a significant number of international research and innovation collaborations with Scotland since its start in 2014, including the EPAD project which is working to understand and prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
The minister said that the continuing lack of certainty surrounding Scotland’s future involvement in the current Horizon 2020 programme and its replacement, FP9, is already hampering Scottish universities’ ability to attract research investment and staff.
Ms Somerville said:
“Scottish universities are renowned for their excellence in research and innovation, outperforming the rest of the UK in areas such as agriculture, chemistry and biological sciences.
“In addition EU nationals make a significant contribution to our research and innovation community and it is vital that we can continue to host the brightest and the best from Europe at our world-leading universities.
“Our institutions and their staff need the clarity now to protect Scotland’s world-class reputation for research and innovation. We place great value on our partnerships across the EU and want to see these continue.
“It is essential that the UK Government prioritises science and innovation in the on-going negotiations with the EU and I urge them to provide more detail of how they intend the UK to collaborate in future EU research programmes.”
Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, Principal of the University of Glasgow, said:
“Our overriding priority has to be securing the closest possible relationship with our European partners post-Brexit – ensuring access to European funding to continue the world-leading research undertaken at our universities.
“But just as important as funding is people, and it is absolutely vital for the future success of Scotland’s higher education sector that our access to key European networks is not hindered in the years to come.
“The ability of researchers at Scottish universities to work closely with colleagues in their fields from across Europe will be vital in ensuring Scotland maintains our position as a world-leader on key research areas – delivering economic growth, creating jobs and contributing to social progress.
“Our higher education sector and our research in particular is a clear success story for Scotland – and it is essential that this is prioritised in the Brexit negotiations.”
In Brussels the Minister will highlight the Scottish Government's recent response to the EU’s FP9 consultation. The Minister will speak at a reception which will include an audience of academics, representatives from Member States governments, Commission representatives, Members of the European Parliament and NGOs with a research and innovation interest.
The Minister will be accompanied by the Chief Scientific Adviser for Scotland, Professor Sheila Rowan, the Principal of Glasgow University, Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli and the Principal of the University of Edinburgh, Professor Peter Mathieson.