MERIKA: Universities to foster collaboration regardless of Brexit

Speaking at the University of the Highlands and Islands’ (UHI) Marine Renewable Energy Research Day event in the European Parliament, Clive Mulholland, Principal of UHI, said the threat of losing invaluable collaborations as a result of Brexit is his greatest concern.

The event, which attracted over 230 delegates to Brussels on Wednesday, November 30, showcased the university’s Marine Energy Research Innovation and Knowledge Accelerator (MERIKA) project.

MERIKA is a €3.95 million marine energy project funded by the European Union through the Seventh Framework Program, under which UHI is leading a consortium of research institutes from Germany, Ireland, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Norway, with the aim of creating a European hub for marine energy research and innovation in the resource rich area of north of Scotland.

Speakers explored the emerging marine renewable energy sector and its significance in a European context, while the researchers from UHI showcased their work and collaboration in this key sector and demonstrated its importance to regional economic development, according to UHI.

Clive Mulholland said: “Universities in the UK have always had a strong, proud tradition of being outward looking, welcoming collaboration with scholars and researchers from outwith our own universities, irrespective of borders. This has been at the heart of our university since its very beginning, as we have welcomed interest from universities across Europe, and beyond. The MERIKA project is one of the most recent of such collaborations and we had looked forward to building on it in possible Horizon 2020 projects.“

“We are greatly concerned at the risks now posed to these collaborations from Brexit. But we are absolutely committed to continuing these collaborations and building new ones as we go forward – whatever the eventual outcome of the Article 50 negotiations for post-Brexit.

“And we are committed to working with the rest of the university sector at UK and Scottish levels to protect research collaboration and student and staff mobility opportunities with our European Union partners and find a way of continuing such mutually beneficial activities – but let me assure you that we will indeed find a way.”

Horizon 2020 funding has provided almost €250 million for Scottish universities, research institutes and business over the past two years, according to UHI.