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White House science chief: US looking at post-Brexit R&D links

Image: National Science Board

US policymakers are looking at transatlantic collaboration on emerging technologies and basic science

Senior policymakers and planners in the US are exploring how the UK’s departure from the EU could offer opportunities for strengthening US-UK connections in higher education and R&D.

“Strong collaborations with the UK are very, very important”, Kelvin Droegemeier, the director of the White House Office for Science and Technology Policy, told Research Professional News.

Droegemeier said he had spoken to the US ambassador to the UK, Robert Wood Johnson, on post-Brexit R&D links and that “industries of the future”, such as quantum computing and artificial intelligence, were “topline priorities” for the Trump White House.

He said he had recently visited Oxford University to learn about its research on quantum information and that student exchanges between the US and UK would also be important.

Droegemeier, a weather researcher by training, was attending the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Seattle on 14 February to discuss research security in the US. He said US-UK links on basic research, such as into weather and climate, would also be important.

“I think the key thing there is that strong collaborations with the UK are very very important and also I think the talent of students from the US studying in the UK and vice versa…and just exploring what opportunities that Brexit, which has now happened, would actually bring about,” he said. “We’re continuing to do that with the State department, with our international team at Office of Science and Technology Policy.”

The interest in R&D links comes well ahead of talks on a future US-UK trade agreement, which are now unlikely to begin in earnest until after the US presidential election in November.