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Walport talks balance and the need for EU funds

Image: R. Miller [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr

The head of UK Research and Innovation says that UK government spending on research has recently shifted towards more applied work, but any loss of European funds post-Brexit could require a change in approach.

Mark Walport, the chief executive of the government’s umbrella funding agency, told a conference on 12 December that the balance “has shifted a bit” towards innovation over pure research since the government started increasing spending as part of its industrial strategy, published in November 2017. This follows years during which the research councils were “very much the dominant funders”, a position they still maintain, he said.

But where funds are channelled to may have to be reconsidered depending on how Brexit affects UK-based researchers’ access to prestigious European Research Council grants that support blue-sky research. If the UK is unable to access this scheme, it might have to create something similar in-house, Walport suggested.

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