‘It would be disastrous if research funds are not replaced’

Edinburgh’s future as the UK’s largest hub for tech start-ups outside London has been thrown into question by the likely post-Brexit withdrawal of millions of pounds of EU innovation and research funds, according to The Sunday Times (subscription required).

Reliant on EU research funding

Scottish universities receive £94m or 13% of their annual research funding from Brussels. The largest beneficiary is the University of Edinburgh, which last year received £29m, much of which was invested in technology projects with the potential to be spun off into commercial companies.

The paper reports Colin Adams, at Edinburgh University’s School of Informatics, as saying that the success of the school — which has spawned more than 60 spin-off companies over the past nine years — was largely due to generous EU funding and the ability to attract international talent.

Uncertain future for Scottish tech industry

The sector’s Scottish success was such that Edinburgh was home to two tech “unicorns” (start-ups worth $1bn or more): Skyscanner and FanDuel, which started as a University of Edinburgh spin-off.

Adams said: “It would be disastrous . . . if the research funds are not replaced. The uncertainty is beginning to put off researchers from applying for European grants for collaborative projects which are typically in multiple countries and last up to five years.”