60% of UK unis expect Brexit to affect pharma industry relationships

As the UK prepares to leave the European Union, a new user survey from IN-PART has revealed that the life sciences industry is decidedly split over the impact that Brexit will have on the relationship between life science companies and university researchers.

The survey, conducted at 57 universities, revealed that over 60% of UK sites expect their EU-departure to affect collaboration with industry. On top of this, 50% of UK life sciences companies still expect Brexit to impact academic collaboration.

At the end of last year, an Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) report also found that Brexit was cited as a reason that the UK can’t seem to hold its clinical research competitive edge globally.

However, PharmaTimes also heard last year from Dr Jonathan Sheffield, chief executive Clinical Research Network, NIHR, that despite Brexit uncertainties, the future for UK research and development - specifically clinical trials - is looking promising.

Dr Jonathan stated: “The performance of life sciences research is a global matter, Brexit will have minimal effect on the research industry”.

“We need to think about what the pragmatic and right solutions are. The public voted to leave and now we need to focus on getting the best outcome from that.”

Also more hopefully, just 41% of life science companies expect Brexit to impact their ability to collaborate with university researchers, whilst 46% think it won't impact academic collaboration.

Robin Knight, IN-PART co-founder, added that "the uncertainty inevitably puts a strain on relationships. New and ongoing conversations between life science companies and universities will naturally be feeling the pressure of Brexit."

He continued to say how it's still "not clear how the UK will be involved in the EU research framework, which is a major lifeline that supports many university-industry collaborations. We’ve heard in some situations that this has deterred partnerships from applying for funding, and in others led to a reluctance to formalise collaboration agreements."

Robin is, however, still "optimistic," as "Science has never really been one to be restricted by borders and politics. If the life sciences industry has a need to develop new diagnostics and treatments, they’ll find a way to make an academic collaboration work.

"What’s more, we’ve not seen a decrease in EU-UK partnership starting through our matchmaking platform. Out of the 7,000+ conversations initiated through IN-PART since it launched in 2014, 75% have been between companies and universities in different countries. If that’s anything to go by, I don’t think Brexit will deter university-industry collaboration in the long run."