Academy and Campaign response to Technopolis report

24 May 2017

The Academy of Social Sciences and its Campaign for Social Science welcome the publication of The role of EU funding UK research and innovation, jointly commissioned from Technopolis by the Academy of Medical Sciences, the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society. The report confirms previous Academy research detailing the particular importance of EU funding for the social sciences.

Responding to the report, Ashley Lenihan, Senior Policy Advisor at the Academy of Social Sciences, said: “The Technopolis study shows that seven of the fifteen disciplines receiving the largest percentage of their total funding from EU government bodies in 2014/15 were social sciences. These include: Archaeology (38%), Law (26%), Anthropology & Development Studies (23%), Business & Management Studies (23%), Politics & International Studies (21%), Architecture, Built Environment & Planning (21%), and Sociology (20%). Two of the fifteen disciplines that received the largest amount of EU funding in absolute terms were also social sciences: Business & Management Studies received £14.8 million, and Geography & Environmental Studies received £10.9 million from EU government bodies in 2014/15. These are all disciplines with real impact in understanding and supporting government and business policies and practices, including those important for industrial strategy and innovation.”

The report’s case study on the European Social Survey, a UK-hosted European Research Infrastructure Consortium, highlights that, in addition to the loss of funding, departure from the EU may mean that UK social science loses important leadership roles, and access to international cooperation that has helped develop UK expertise, capacity, and quantitative skills.

The report also demonstrates the important ‘multiplier effect’ of EU funding, with additional R&D funds raised in partnership with EU-funded projects. This will be important for the UK’s research strategy after Brexit, particularly in view of the importance of increasing R&D for long-term economic growth.

Professor James Wilsdon FAcSS, Chair of the Campaign for Social Science, said: “On the evidence of its success in winning EU funding, UK social science is globally respected, vital for addressing the challenges that face our society, and plays a substantial role in the UK economy. In the absence of EU funding, important research with implications for UK growth, health and well-being will be endangered. We urge policymakers to read this Technopolis study and absorb its implications. During the upcoming Article 50 negotiations, we hope the UK will ensure continued participation in EU research programmes – including the upcoming 9th Framework Programme, the European Research Council, and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions. This report also reinforces our call for the BEIS high-level stakeholder group on EU exit, universities, research and innovation to include members who formally represent the social sciences and humanities, in addition to those representing STEM subjects.”