Important scientific research at the University of Manchester could lose its funding thanks to Brexit

  • Prestige science research could see Brexit brain drain 
  • With no Brexit deal agreed in Parliament, British Science is still facing a financial short fall

With the deal for Brexit still not agreed in Parliament, British Science is no closer to knowing if it could face further short falls in its funding.

Professor Coskum Kocabas is a research fellow at the graphene institute at the University of Manchester, where he was brought in from Turkey as a specialist and has developed innovative discoveries with the new ‘wonder material’ graphene.

For Kocabas, the funding he receives is 100% from the EU. Without this his department will effectively close down.

 “If you don’t make a negotiation before you exit? That is the scary bit,” he explains.

“If there is a lack of funding for only a couple of years then the research at the University of Manchester could be marginalised as a centre at the cutting edge of Graphene research and development, and China, Korea and the US will literally take the lead, and the prestige is gone.”

Membership of the EU is an important part of attracting top research talent from around the world which UK universities benefit from. In many institutions junior scientists are attracted from other European countries knowing they have access to ERC and other European research funds. If scientists know they can no longer apply for this funding they will choose not to come.

In a report by the campaign group Scientists for EU it is thought the impact of a no-deal Brexit on British science could be far worse than anticipated. Dr Andrew Kuc, who is a research partner in Radioistopes, said: “If no agreement is reached by Parliament, the UK will face falling out of the European Union, thereby losing the benefits of membership immediately.”

The Research and development departments of Universities, are likely to find themselves excluded from EU-funded programmes post-Brexit. The EU provides 45% of all UK Science funding.

Graphene has been developed at the University of Manchester. It is a formidable conductor of electrical and thermal energy, defined by the Graphene Handbook as: “Extremely lightweight chemically inert, and flexible with a large surface area. It is also considered eco-friendly and sustainable, with unlimited possibilities for numerous applications.” 

It is used in the development of batteries and e-paper allowing many messages to appear via the use of the spectrum of light and thermal sensitivity.

It also has qualities which can be used in neutralizing radar and in an ingenious application with a small electric circuit the Graphene alters the radiation of its structure and it cannot be seen by a thermal sensor, so it is an adaptive camouflage that echoes nature.

“Imagine a chameleon changing its colour to adapt to its environment,” said Professor Kocabas, ”It isn’t called a ‘wonder material’ for nothing.”