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Older and wiser

As UKRI turns one, the Brexit challenge looms over its work, says Sarah Richardson in this week’s Research Fortnight leader.

When UK Research and Innovation officially launched a year ago, reaction from researchers was predictably mixed: enthusiasm for its £6-billion annual budget, heavily tempered by concern over the umbrella funder’s independence from government. What was beyond doubt, however, was the power of its voice in the battle to protect research against the worst fallout from Brexit.

John Womersley, former chief executive of the Science and Technology Funding Council, told Research Fortnight at the time: “If UKRI and its chief executive take a clear, evidence-based position on what is needed to ensure continued research excellence post-Brexit and defend it publicly, they will have quickly demonstrated that a single, independent voice for UK research can have a much needed impact at a most critical time.”

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