European Structural and Investment Funds key to UK research and innovation

7 Apr 2020

The British Academy, the Learned Society of Wales, the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Irish Academy have published an explainer outlining the vital role that European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) play in supporting research and innovation throughout the UK. 

These funds are the EU’s instrument for supporting economic development in the regions across the EU, with the aim of reducing inequalities and increasing cohesion. 

The European Structural and Investment Funds – Contribution to UK research and innovation examines how the European Structural and Investment Funds support UK research and innovation, the impact of current European Regional Development Funding, how the funding is allocated and administered, and what the government’s proposed UK Shared Prosperity Fund could look like. 

The €2.6 billion this has provided to UK research and innovation, including with UK co-financing, in the last seven years, equates to around £375 million per annum in investment. The €1.39 billion via the ERDF has been particularly impactful in the devolved nations where the per capita contribution in Wales is €125 and in Northern Ireland €60 compared to the UK average of €23 per capita. 

This funding has considerable leveraging effects for further funding from the EU and the UK, which create complex interdependencies that the UK Shared Prosperity Fund – the government’s proposed replacement for ESIF - will need to replicate. 

Professor Simon Goldhill FBA, Foreign Secretary of the British Academy, said: 

‘European Structural and Investment Funds play a key role in building and maintaining UK research and innovation capacity, particularly in the devolved nations. We hope this explainer illustrates the importance and value to researchers across the UK, and the need for alternative mechanisms to be in place as soon as possible.’ 

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