Ahead of a trip to Edinburgh, new life sciences minister George Freeman has warned that the sector in Scotland will suffer hugely if the country votes to leave the UK next month.
Mr Freeman noted that Scotland secured £257 million of UK Research Council grants in 2013, alongside medical research charities’ investment of around £1.1 billion per annum. Some 13% of the latter is spent in Scotland.
However the minister, who is visiting the Roslin Institute (birthplace of Dolly the sheep) and the Edinburgh BioQuarter, says that a vote in favour of independence will have knock-on effects on business and charities. Noting that “Scottish science and innovation makes a vital contribution to the UK’s world-class research base”, he warned that “our position has been made very clear to date on this important issue: if Scotland left the UK, the current framework for research could not continue”.
Mr Freeman went on to say that Scottish institutions and researchers benefit from substantial funding, “underpinned by a UK-wide tax base, with access to a nationwide network of world-class facilities and skills”. He added that Scotland benefits from “the UK’s international influence, networks and ability to attract inward investment”.
However, If trials are being undertaken at multiple sites across the UK, “as soon as there are differences in the regulatory and intellectual property regimes operating across the different sites, there could be additional costs and extensive uncertainty.”
The minster concluded by saying that collaborations between Scotland and the rest of the UK “have resulted in ideas with the capacity to change our lives”. These “exciting partnerships are a symbol of what can be achieved without geographical boundaries and the best way for research to continue to flourish in Scotland is together as part of the UK”.