The current direction of the Horizon Europe situation is a cause of concern. Exclusion of the United Kingdom from the programme would be highly damaging to the UK science sector – and science generally. A solution must urgently be found.
Earlier this year we added our signature to the Stick to Science campaign and urged policymakers to act in the hope that this issue will be resolved. However, with the prolonged political deadlock and the growing negative impact for scientists ‘on the ground’, we feel compelled to speak up further, to add our voice to the concerns of our peers in the UK’s science community.
With prominent worldwide scientific challenges such as global warming and pandemic preparedness, global science collaboration and solutions are more important and urgently needed more than ever.
However, the ongoing uncertainty over post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland is handicapping the UK’s crucial ability to access the world’s largest multilateral innovation and research funding programme and the ideas being developed within that.
While we appreciate the UK government’s alternative funding proposals will go some way to make up for lost Horizon grants, it must be stressed that any national alternative will be unable to make up for the critical ability to collaborate with world leading European scientists and institutions at the forefront of ground-breaking research and innovation.
It is vital that UK scientists are not frozen out of this community.
Life sciences is going through a period of momentous change. Major strides in advanced therapies, data science, and technology are unlocking exciting options to diagnose and treat diseases. The UK has the potential to be a world leader in translational science and research. But scientific and biomedical progress is based on collaboration and the unfettered scrutiny and exchange of ideas.
LifeArc stands firmly with the UK bioscience community in the belief that UK science must continue to be a contributor to the Horizon programme.
With each day that passes, critical British and European research partnerships are being hindered. Only by recognising the importance of international collaboration will the UK’s bioscience sector be able to reach its full potential.
For the sake of scientific and fundamental human progress, all parties must find a way to separate science from ongoing political challenges. We must ensure UK researchers can continue to work alongside their European counterparts to deliver life-changing solutions for patients and play a leading role in building the UK into a life sciences superpower.