Post Brexit R&D opportunities for Ireland

14 November 2016

In August professor Venki Ramakrishnan, president of The Royal Society (UK) spoke of the uncertainties surrounding scientific research in post-Brexit Britain.

He voiced concerns that British researchers were already being overlooked by EU collaborators due to financial uncertainty, and that EU researchers based in Britain need assurances from government that they will be able to remain here indefinitely.

His views found public support from a number of British academies, including the Academy of Medical Sciences, the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society, who claimed that uncertainty following the vote was already having an impact on research and innovation.

As with every sector, here in Ireland we are ascertaining whether Brexit posses a threat or presents an opportunity to our growing R&D and innovation sector. The possibility of winning research that should have gone to Britain is not to be sniffed at, given the British research and development sector received roughly £1 billion in EU funds per annum over the last ten years.

Dr Alison Campbell, director KTI (Knowledge Transfer Ireland) commented: “What we we can say is that Ireland has a good track record in partnering on R&D projects outside the country and as such we are well placed to capitalise on any movement caused by Brexit.

“Ireland has record over 800 successes to date with EU Horizon 2020 funding. We have well established and highly regarded centres of excellence and these centres have developed a strong culture of collaboration which will stand Ireland in good stead.”

Derek Henry, R&D Partner BDO said: “It’s likely that British SMEs will suffer from the withdrawal of EU funding whereas multinationals can apply through subsidiaries located in EU countries including Ireland.”

The uncertainty in Britain post Brexit has also resulted in research academics from Europe currently resident in Britain feeling unsettled about their future.

“Research teams by their nature tend to be multinational and cosmopolitan in terms of expertise and personnel,” said Derek Henry.

“If you take Brexit plus the election of Donald Trump as president of the USA last week, both potentially causing visa issues for researchers, there certainly could be an opportunity for Ireland to attract some of this mobile talent to our shores.”

Originally published by the Sunday Business Post.