The impact of collaboration: The value of UK medical research to EU science and health

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The main ways in which UK research contributes to medical progress, the benefits for EU science, and ultimately the health of patients across the EU.

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Scientists have greater impact when they collaborate internationally.

EU programmes have helped to foster and strengthen scientific cooperation and the UK has been a major contributor to this, especially in medical research. As the UK develops a new relationship with the EU it is vital that negotiations result in the best possible outcome for science and patients across the EU. Although collaboration will continue after Brexit, any limitations on the ability of researchers and institutions to work together could diminish the impact of science both in the UK and the EU.

This report identifies some of the main ways in which UK research contributes to medical progress, it highlights the benefit this has delivered for EU science, and ultimately how this has improved the health of patients across the EU.

Five key areas of the UK research environment are emphasised:

  1. Contributions to advisory bodies, networks and policies that underpin research across the EU and its member states
  2. Participation in pan-EU clinical trials, providing notable leadership for rare disease and paediatric clinical trials
  3. Co-ordination and hosting of some of Europe’s unique large-scale infrastructures for medical research
  4. Development of new therapies and medical technologies that benefit EU patients, backed by a thriving pharmaceutical and biotechnology sector;
  5. Training early career researchers from across the EU, to develop their skills and launch their research careers.

Related documents

One page summary (English)

Executive summary (English)

Full report (English)

Case studies (English)

Appendices (English)

Executive summary (French) - coming soon

Executive summary (German) - coming soon


This report was funded by eight leading UK medical research funders and charities, all actively engaged in the EU’s health and research landscape. One of the strengths of the UK’s medical research sector is the diversity of organisations involved in funding activity and policy dialogue, including medical research charities and patient representative organisations. The UK has a long history of patient involvement, and continues to serve as a model for other EU countries in this area. This report brings together evidence from a number of disease areas, including cardiovascular diseases, musculoskeletal conditions, cancer and mental health. The research team from the independent policy research organisation, Technopolis undertook an extensive literature review, data analysis and in-depth interviews with leading European researchers and institutional stakeholders in the medical research field, as well as developed eight case studies on the UK’s contribution to EU science and health.


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