In the wake of the UK's decision to leave the European Union Science and Technology Committee Chair Nicola Blackwood MP has said that it is 'vital' that the government reassures the 200,000 people currently working in the UK's life science industry.
In a statement following the EU referendum result Blackwood said: “The British people have voted to leave the European Union and we must respect the outcome of the referendum. Inevitably there will be significant uncertainty over the terms of the UK’s future settlement with the EU."
It is vital that the Government moves quickly to reassure our scientists and their collaborators in Europe that the UK remains firmly open for business as a willing and reliable partner."
The UK's life sciences industry has an annual turnover of £60 billion and employs some 200,000 people.
A report by committee found that the UK was a major recipient of current EU science funding taking 15.3 per cent of the EU's Horizon 2020 budget.
A further €1.6 billion of the EU's Structural and Investment Funds was allocated to the UK for spending on research and innovation projects.
While the UK represents just 3 per cent of the global pharmaceutical market, it still has exports valuing £21bn, half of which currently goes to the EU.
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The committee's report also pointed out that over 50 biotech and pharmaceutical chief executives had written an open letter warning that leaving the EU would create a 'significant funding gap'.
Earlier in the year Dr Mike Galsworthy and Dr Rob Davidson from the London School of Economics and Political Science gave evidence to the committee explaining the complexities the situation regarding funding.
In an extract from their evidence both agreed that any suggestion that leaving the EU would free up funds for UK science were unfounded:
"Therefore the attempt to financially gain in the short term via a Brexit is akin to killing the goose that lays the golden egg. It is a sure-fire short term loss, wiping any free money for R&I investment until at least a decade down the line – according to the most optimistic scenarios."
The attempt to financially gain in the short term via a Brexit is akin to killing the goose that lays the golden egg."
In response to these concerns Blackwood has suggested that the Treasury may have to step in saying, "If EU research funding is affected after the exit negotiations that follow, the Treasury may have to reallocate funds previously sent to the EU."
The Science and Technology Committee will want, in the coming weeks and months, to look at the consequences of this vote for British science.”
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