Membership of the EU plays a vital role in funding universities in our region.
Since 2008 universities in the North East has received more than £50m from the European Research Council, enabling 29 research projects to go ahead.
In the last 8 years Durham University accessed more than £27m of ERC funding, whilst Newcastle University accessed a further £23m.
Shadow Business Secretary Angela Eagle MP has warned however, North East universities could be at risk of losing this investment, worth millions of pounds, should the UK vote to leave the EU.
Earlier this month, Ms Eagle visited Newcastle University and 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.”
“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.”
Thom Brooks, a leading professor at Durham University echoed Ms Eagle’s concerns, saying “The North East has world class universities like Durham, Newcastle, Sunderland and Teesside – and all will lose out on EU funding for research if Britain votes for Brexit. This is bad for our region’s economy, future investment and undermines educational opportunities that affects us all”.
The ERC however, isn’t just important for the North East. Between 2007 and 2013 universities across the UK received €4.9bn from EU funds.
The UK has more ERC funded projects than any other country, with the UK accounting for 22% of all ERC funded projects.