On a visit to Newcastle today, Labour’s Shadow Business, Innovation and Skills Secretary Angela Eagle MP warned that the North East’s universities were at risk at losing millions of investment in research if the UK voted to leave the European Union.
New figures compiled by the House of Commons Library and released by the Labour Party show that the region’s universities have benefitted from over £50million in funding from the European Research Council (ERC) since 2008 enabling 29 research projects to go-ahead.
Durham University accessed over £27million from the ERC over the last 8 years, whilst Newcastle University was given £23m to fund vital research.
Nationally the figures show that the UK has more ERC funded projects than any other country, accounting for 22 per cent of all ERC funded projects – more than 25 recipient countries put together.
The €1.7 billion of ERC funds are part of much wider EU support for research, development and innovation projects. In total, between 2007 and 2013 UK universities received €4.9 billion from EU funds and analysis by the Royal Society has shown that the UK benefits from a net gain of EU research funds of €3.4 billion.
Angela Eagle visited Newcastle University before meeting businesses from the North East Chamber of Commerce in the city.
Speaking after the visit Angela Eagle MP said:
“The North East is rightly proud of the pioneering research being under-taken by its universities in Newcastle and Durham. The research at both universities and the potential spin-offs can play a huge part in driving growth and diversifying the North East’s economy.
“These figures highlight the risk to our universities of the UK leaving the European Union.
“EU funded research at the UK’s leading universities has led to vital scientific discoveries, including potential treatments for cancer and heart disease.
“Leaving the EU would put at risk this funding stream and undermine the UK’s world-leading university sector, including Newcastle and Durham universities, putting our competitive advantage and highly-skilled jobs at risk.”