Beyond borders: Strengthening EU-UK research collaboration

Beyond borders: Strengthening EU-UK research collaboration

Making the most of UK association to Horizon Europe and Copernicus: EU-UK research collaboration in the spotlight.

Academia Europaea Cardiff has co-hosted a successful event aimed at strengthening EU-UK research collaboration.

This networking event, held on 24th November at Cardiff University’s Council Chamber, brought together researchers with senior representatives from organisations such as UKRI, UKRO, UPEN and the Learned Society of Wales, to find ways to nurture the research relationship between the EU and the UK.

The event was opened by Professor Ole Petersen, representing Academia Europaea; Professor Rudolf Allemann, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Cardiff University; and Dr Niek Buurma, representing ConnectsUK.

The first panel, chaired by Professor Rudolf Allemann, considered challenges and opportunities of EU-UK research collaboration. Professor Christopher Smith outlined the mission of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and summarised the background to the UK’s association to the Horizon Europe and Copernicus programmes. As associates, the UK can now influence the development of current and future programmes. He urged researchers to apply for funding.

Jon Brookes described the role of the UK Research Office (UKRO), based on Brussels. UKRO provides support for the Horizon Europe programme. He emphasised the importance of rebuilding trust between the UK and EU research communities, and that UK association is key to this.

Dr Fabia Jones explained the role of the European Parliamentary Research Office (EPRS), which employs 260 analysts and information specialists. She outlined opportunities for academic researchers to provide expertise to the European Parliament and policy departments. She also referenced Europe House, located in London, which hosts events and other forms of outreach. Fabia is also involved in encouraging EU citizens based in the UK to vote in the 2024 European elections.

The final speaker, Dr Niek Buurma, listed potential hurdles to EU-UK research collaboration, which he categorised as funding, movement of people, goods and information, and mutual recognition of qualifications. Barriers need to be as low, and support as high as possible.

Audience discussion centred on some of the hurdles, and ways to navigate them. These included ways to incentivise, as well as simplify, grant applications; course fees for postgraduate students; and support to SMEs. The conclusion was that a lot had been achieved, but it would take further work from both the EU and the UK to strengthen the relationship further.

A series of five TED-style talks then highlighted the impact of European funding. Chaired by Professor Valerie O’Donnell, the session featured recipients of ERC and MSCA funding, who spoke about the benefits of collaboration between nations, academic disciplines and between academia and industry, as well as the boost to career prospects. The session included talks from Professor Erminia Calabrese (Cardiff University), Dr Francesco Chianese (Monash University), Professor Yvonne McDermott Rees (Swansea University), Professor Emily Shephard (Swansea University) and Professor Marc Pera Titus (Cardiff University).

Following lunch, the second panel session, chaired by Professor Ole Petersen, looked at the issue of policy engagement. Professor Arlene Holmes-Henderson described the mission of the Universities Policy Engagement Network (UPEN), as well as sharing her perspective on the importance of the Classics in impacting policy and bringing benefits to disadvantaged groups in society. She emphasised the importance of defining what good policy engagement looks like, as well as the need for incentives and rewards.

Professor Steve Martin highlighted the work of the Wales Centre for Public Policy (WCPP).  He listed the ‘do’s’ of policy advice (relevance, responsiveness, rigour, quality of relations such as time and trust), as well as the ‘don’ts’.

Professor Hywel Thomas outlined the role of the Learned Society of Wales (LSW), including its network of early-career researchers and its work in the Celtic Alliance.  He described his research in areas like nuclear waste and how it relates to policy development.

Professor Ole Petersen presented the work of the European Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM) and the role of the SAPEA consortium, of which Cardiff University is a member, in providing evidence reviews to support policymaking in the European Commission.

The audience discussion considered a number of issues: the shortage of young people trained in ancient languages; the diversity of evidence and expertise needed to support policymaking; bridge-building between scientists and policymakers; the role of evidence intermediaries.

The event ended with a networking session.

More information

This collaborative event was co-organised by Academia Europaea Cardiff Knowledge Hub and CONNECTS-UK (CONNecting European Communities Through Science in UK), aiming to strengthen research ties between Wales, the EU, and the UK, creating bridges for future collaboration and collective progress. Read the event programme.

Posted 27th November 2023. For further information please contact

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