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Brexit and UK science

The UK has decided to leave the EU. The decisions made now – during the post referendum negotiations and beyond – will determine the future trajectory of the UK and the people that live here.

The Royal Society has produced evidence about the relationship between UK research and the European Union to inform these decisions. We are engaging with policymakers and partners in the UK and internationally to ensure that the implications and opportunities for research and innovation and considered throughout the process.

The UK government has stated its ambition to: “agree a far-reaching science and innovation agreement with the EU that establishes a framework for future collaboration”.

In order to deliver this, any future agreement must address three key areas:

  • People: Mobility of talent is crucial to the conduct of cutting edge research and innovation. We must send a strong message that the UK will always be a welcoming country for talent. The UK must continue to be able to access easily the EU-wide talent pool that provides 17% of our university staff and over two thirds of the founders of UK based start-ups.  We must also ensure that the UK continues to collaborate with European partners, and that individuals with skills essential to the research endeavour can travel with ease and maintain and build the international networks that are central to its progress.
  • Funding: Investment is crucial to maintaining a successful research and innovation system.  Just as leaving the EU must not harm collaborations between UK and EU partners, it must not lead to any reduction in funding for UK research.
  • Regulation that supports research and innovation and earns public confidence: It is critical that we identify areas of regulation where continued alignment with EU rules is most important for the UK. UK experts must be able to continue to contribute to policy development on global issues where their expertise is relevant. At the same time, the UK should take the opportunity to pioneer new regulatory approaches on emerging technologies, and to take a leading position on international markets.

Questions about Brexit and research

Access to research funding 

Working in the EU and UK

Our research and evidence

  • Case studies showing how researchers move internationally

    Read ten researchers' stories about the role that international mobility has played in their careers.

    Explore the evidence

  • Evidence on international mobility and collaboration

    The Society has published new evidence on international mobility and collaboration, to deepen our understanding of how, where and why researchers move to and from the UK.

    Explore the evidence

  • Seeking views on the the future of UK and EU scientific collaboration

    The Society is working with the Wellcome Trust to convene UK and EU science leaders to develop a shared vision for an ambitious, close and achievable future agreement on research and innovation. 

    Find out more

  • Alternative future scenarios for UK research and innovation

    Scenarios for research and innovation in 2027, produced by the School of International Futures, as a tool to inform your policy work.

    Explore the scenarios

  • Evidence on the role of EU funding in UK research and innovation

    Detailed evidence on how EU funding breaks down across academic disciplines, institutions, industrial sectors, company sizes and regions of the UK.

    Read the report

  • The role of the EU in funding UK research

    Before the referendum, the Society conducted a 3-part project about the influence of the UK’s relationship with the EU on UK research.

    Explore the project

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

    Before the referendum, the Society conducted a 3-part project about the influence of the UK’s relationship with the EU on UK research.

    Explore the project

  • The role of EU regulation and policy in governing UK research

    Before the referendum the Society conducted a 3-part project about the influence of the UK’s relationship with the EU on UK research.

    Explore the project

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