No Deal Brexit ‘not an option’ for UK science & innovation

International chemistry survey reveals scale of Brexit concern
Only 4% of survey respondents thought a No Deal Brexit would have a positive impact on the sector.

A major new survey commissioned by the Royal Society of Chemistry has revealed the full extent of the sector’s concerns over a No Deal Brexit.

The society questioned 5800 chemistry professionals from across the UK, EU and beyond, with the results demonstrating that the change would be potentially catastrophic for science and innovation in the UK.

Chemistry is worth £50bn to the UK economy, but a Bank of England report last year said that in the event of No Deal the sector’s output would drop by 35% – the equivalent of a £17.5bn loss to the economy, making it one of the sectors hardest hit by a No Deal scenario.

Key concerns raised by survey respondents, including those based in the UK, were:

  • access to international facilities
  • access to international collaborative networks
  • funding for fundamental, curiosity-driven research
  • access to large-scale grants
  • easy movement for skilled scientists.

Further concerns uncovered by the survey include the impact that a new visa requirement would have on attracting talent to the UK for science and innovation, with 71% saying there would be a negative impact.

Other findings include:
• Only 4% thought a No Deal Brexit would have a positive impact on the sector.
• 84% said freedom of movement has had a positive impact on science and innovation
• 75% believe European programmes have had a positive impact on science and innovation.

Tanya Sheridan, Policy and Evidence Manager at the Royal Society of Chemistry, said: “For 72% of respondents to say a No Deal Brexit would be ‘very negative’ should be a sobering reminder for government about the potential impacts this could have on UK science and innovation.

“We are now counting down in days to the deadline for crashing out of the EU without a deal. It is absolutely crucial for the chemical sciences and the hundreds of thousands working in industry and academia who feel they are being hung out to dry over this uncertainty.

“It is vital the government ensures a good deal for science and innovation that supports jobs and allows both academia and industry to maintain the UK’s world-leading position. No Deal is not an option for the chemical sciences.”