What Brexit means for science communications

As an industry we’re yet to process the impact of the momentous decision to leave Europe, but it’s naive to think that things won’t change. We calculate the impact of Brexit on science funding, and what this means for science communications.

While Universities calculate the impact of Brexit on vital funds, a new report from Public Finance estimates that the value of knowledge transfer between UK universities, and their partners in business and the public sector was a massive £4.2bn.

The report illustrates why investment in research is more important than ever for our country.  Even more important may be ensuring that, once the research is done, the impact and knowledge transfer of that research is maximised.

In the report Higher Education Institutions reported a 6.6% increase in income from big business, working to develop new ideas and innovations. SMEs were involved too, contributing an additional 8% increase income across the year.

The increase in funding comes at a time when the research sector is under threat. The Government may claim its merger of research funding councils will result in a simpler and more efficient research funding environment, but it’s a contentious move that many believe to be motivated by a desire to cut costs than to improve research.

This all came before the Brexit bombshell that has caught many organisations by surprise. The impact has yet to be fully understood, but the reality – according to Nature – is that the research funding landscape will change. And not all of these changes will be positive.

One particularly contentious claim is that UK researchers will be shut out of Horizon 2020 programmes. Without invoking Article 50, things should continue as they are – but few believe that to be the case.

It’s difficult to quantify the impact that the EU has had on the state of research in the UK. It’s clear that the EU funding route has proved to be a lifeline for the previously chronically under-funded research sector. It’s not just about money, the freedom to move between countries and the supremacy of the English language has ensured that British scientists are usually able to secure a seat at the top table.

Post-Brexit the Government will need to step into the funding breach, shouldering a greater responsibility for investment in scientific discovery. But the relationship hasn’t always been the best.

Without the scale and size of the EU, competition for limited funding is likely to become much more fierce. As a result, clear and compelling science communication is essential.

Research communications challenge

Communicating about research is complex – you need to translate detailed information into a simple to understand narrative.

But at all times, the integrity of the research needs to be at the forefront of the work. It’s easy to grab headlines, but you want your organisation to be there for the right reasons.

At 42group our approach is different from many agencies. We approach your communications challenge as journalists. We don’t take for granted what you’re telling us, we dig beneath the surface to get at the heart of your story. We’ve worked with many of the UK and Europe’s leading science magazines. You can see some examples here.

When using a specialist science communications agency you’re working with people who understand science communication, the importance of knowledge transfer and how a solid story about your research can help you.

Over the past decade we have worked with some of the UK’s leading institutions and organisations – often behind the scenes – to support their existing communications resource. We have also worked with research funding councils and even helped to create bids to Innovate UK.

One of the key issues for us is to understand what outcomes you want from your communications activity. Do you want to engage industry, the public or stakeholders?

Do you want a comprehensive strategy or support for an individual project? Do you want stunning materials produced to support your project? Do you need science content and materials to engage the growing number of social media users who want to engage with research?

Whatever your science communication challenge, 42group can help. We know science communication, and love it.

If you want to talk about how we can help you, get in touch today.