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Connects-UK, a new pan-European network dedicated to advancing scientific collaborations between researchers in the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK), was officially launched at an event in London yesterday. The network, led by a diaspora of EU researchers working in the UK, seeks to bridge the gap created by Brexit and ensure that collaboration, innovative research, funding, and knowledge exchange continue to thrive in the post-Brexit era.

CONNECTS-UK European partners

The collaborative project was first conceptualised in 2022 by the scientific diasporas of Finland, France, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Netherlands, and Spain in the UK, together with Native Scientists, with the main goal to strengthen EU-UK scientific collaboration and research mobility. It has received significant support, including €500,000 in funding from the European Commission which reflects its commitment to promoting scientific progress and maintaining strong research ties between the EU and the UK despite the challenges posed by Brexit.

Ewoud Compeer, a postdoctoral research associate at NDORMS, University of Oxford, and Founding Director and Treasurer of the Dutch Academic Network in the UK (DANinUK) explained: 'Connects-UK is the first platform that brings together all the pan-EU groups of researchers in higher educational institutions that have researchers in the UK. By connecting these different communities we are able to tap into the vast wealth of expertise and resources available, bringing better representation and stronger voices to the international research community.'

Connects-UK will focus on four key areas of work between 2024 and 2025:

  1. Establishing a professional network of EU researchers in the UK
  2. Conducting research on EU-UK scientific collaborations and mobility
  3. Providing policy advice and advocacy to stakeholders
  4. Developing science outreach programs

The official launch of CONNECTS-UK comes at an optimum time, following the UK successfully re-joining Horizon Europe. The event outlined the activities and objectives of the CONNECTS-UK project, to an audience of EU researchers in the UK, key stakeholders such as scientific attachés, universities, students, journalists, schools, and all those interested in the project.

The event featured opening addresses by Hugh Brady, President of Imperial College London; and Nicole Mannion, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to the UK. The event also included a keynote talk by Yvonne McDermott Rees, a grant holder from the European Research Council, who discussed the impact of deepfakes on trust in user-generated evidence of human rights violations.

Connects-UK aims to reshape the scientific landscape in the post-Brexit era, demonstrating the resilience, adaptability, and unwavering commitment of EU researchers in the UK to drive progress through collaboration. The network has garnered support from various public and private organizations, including the Embassies of France, the Netherlands, and Italy in London, the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT), and the Fundación Banco Santander.