Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Do European Research Council applications foreshadow what may happen with the NIH?

It looks like Brexit is having repercussions on UK science funding from the European Research Council, according to David Lomas:
Applications to EU funds are usually made by consortiums of researchers from a variety of EU countries. Britain has a strong track record of taking the lead in these groupings. 

Britain also has a leading position in applications for individual research grants made under the European Research Council, the ERC. 

“Previously having a British member would help you in your application to get funding … Now you are less than an asset, so we have had academics removed from grant applications,” Lomas said.
One has to wonder whether US funded research organisations, like the NIH, will be forced to "Buy American" in the future and prevent spending on research activities in foreign countries.

I get the whole populist sentiment around trade deficits and job losses, etc., but the fact of the matter is that the US can't just cut out part of international trade and partnerships without impacting the productivity of US-based initiatives. For example, groups in Toronto can offer US scientists many different kinds of scientific services on a fee-for-service or collaborative basis on very competitive terms, mostly due to the favourable USD/CAD exchange rate.

So why cut out that part of the value chain?