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UK link funds R&D funding in Scotland

November 27, 2011 12:01 AM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Willie Rennie MSP, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, has revealed that an independent Scotland could lose £210 million each year in research funding from UK based sources.

Willie Rennie MSPWillie Rennie MSPScotland's research and development sector benefits from our connection with the rest of United Kingdom to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds a year.

Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show that with just 8.5% of the UK's population, Scottish universities won 14% of funding available from UK sources to help fund research.

In 2009/2010 various research projects in Scotland received a total of £234 million through the UK Research Councils. This money went to funding research in pioneering new technologies, exactly the kind of high-tech jobs that an aspiration Scotland wants to attract.

Scotland received a total of £130 million from UK based charities, £100 million from UK central government and £47 million of funding allocated to UK universities by UK industry, commerce and public corporations.

It is clear from these figures that Scotland excels at generating exciting new research which could lead to advancements in surgical procedures, biofuel development and nano-technology applications.

Mr Rennie is concerned that this investment could be stifled if Scotland is to split from the rest of the United Kingdom which has provided vital support over the years.

While the expertise would still exist, the funding for R&D projects would dry up. Liberal Democrat research has shown that it could mean a drop of £210 million every year, seriously hampering the research conducted by Scotland's world class universities.

Commenting, Mr Rennie said:

"Scotland is at the cutting edge of research and development work in the UK. Our universities are doing work which is producing technologies which the applications for could almost be limitless.

"The expertise exists in Scotland, but we could not do all of this exciting new research without the extra bonus funding that we receive from across the border.

"The real danger of splitting Scotland from the UK is that you also split our universities from this vital source of funding which helps to fuel the innovation. We do not want to see a repeat of 'Silicon Glen' or cause a brain-drain to better funded projects south of the border.

"Scotland is punching well above our weight in terms of funding. I am puzzled why the SNP would want to jeopardise this. Mr Salmond cannot guarantee that there would be alternative funding sources to fill the funding gap of £210 million every year.

"It is clear that remaining a strong and prosperous part of the UK is best for Scotland's bright future in research and development."