UK science will miss out unless it finds a way to collaborate in other EU funding programmes alongside the Horizon Europe, according Matthew Dovey, head of e-infrastructure at JISC, the agency that provides digital infrastructure and services to UK universities and research centres.
UK researchers are now ineligible for big projects funded under the EU’s seven-year, €7.5 billion Digital Europe programme, including initiatives on cybersecurity and the European High Performance Computing initiative, which invests in supercomputers across Europe.
Keeping a place in Horizon Europe was top of UK science’s wish list after Brexit, but said Dovey, “Horizon is essential but not sufficient.”
“We feel we need to also engage on other programmes outside Horizon Europe. We’d welcome clarity and a roadmap [from the government] on how the UK will engage on this issue,” Dovey said.
Dovey’s role at JISC is to provide UK universities with high-speed connections enabling them to transfer large datasets both within the UK and to international research collaborations such as CERN, the Square Kilometre Array and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory.
For Dovey, the UK has to keep itself plugged into the many European networks of knowledge and people. He noted plans in Brussels to create new “data pool” repositories for sharing scientific information across a range of disciplines, and a lack of clarity as to whether the UK could gain from the scheme.
According to the trade deal struck with Brussels in December 2020, the UK will continue to have a role in the EU’s €95.5 billion Horizon research programme. The country will also participate in four other EU programmes, namely the Euratom nuclear research programme, the ITER project to build the world’s first functioning nuclear fusion system, the earth monitoring project Copernicus, and EU satellite surveillance and tracking services.
Matthew Dovey was speaking at the Westminster Higher Education Forum on April 28, which focused on the future for the UK’s international research partnerships.