Brexit Science & Technology

The Magnificent SEVEN – UK Research Projects that would not have been possible Outside the EU

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It is common knowledge that the EU pumps a lot of money into science and technology.

In early 2014, under the Horizon 2020 programme, the EU committed to £63 billion of funding towards research and innovation. It aims to strengthen the EU’s position in science and address major social concerns. The Horizon 2020 (the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme yet) specifically focuses on ensuring that Europe produces exceptional, world-class science and industrial leadership whilst tackling societal challenges.

‘Sounds great’ you might think, ‘but how does that actually relate to me?  What has science done recently?’

Well, here are 7 projects that would not have gone ahead without the support and funding from the EU. All the projects below have involved the work of UK scientists.

 

  1. HIV VACCINE:

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Project: HIV Vaccine Crack Down

Total cost of project: £18,916,705 *

Amount funded by EU: £18,020,890

The European AIDS Vaccine Initiative is a UK coordinated research brings together leading HIV researchers from around the world in a focused effort to develop HIV vaccines.

35 million people worldwide are affected by HIV and an effective yet safe vaccine is the clear solution to this pandemic. Scientists have already isolated the antibodies that are able to block HIV infection and by utilising new technology in synthetic biology the researchers are making good progress in succeeding in their aim.

 

2. NAVIGATING ROBOT:

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Project: Navigating Robot to Enable the Elderly to Live Autonomously

Total cost of project:  £3,260,558

Amount funded by EU: £2,373,151

A heart-warming project to enable elderly persons to live independently with the assistance of a walking, talking, navigating robot. Computer Scientists behind the design  used state of the art technology to allow the Dali (Devices for Assisted Living) walker to interpret and respect the social and psychological dynamics of human environments, including camera systems, haptic sensors and a ‘robust decision making mechanism’ . It has been accessibly priced so that it really can benefit vulnerable members of the community.

 

3. SMART AMBULANCES:

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Project: Designing Smart Ambulances

Total cost of project: £348,355

Amount funded by EU: £348,355

This UK coordinated research project aims to create Smart Ambulances that are able to respond quickly and comprehensively to emergencies. The ‘golden hour’ after an incident can be crucial for deciding the fate of the patient so utilising the most cutting edge technology in ambulances would allow paramedics to make that early diagnosis which could be truly life-saving. Their goal is to “create a mobile treatment unit capable of combined patient transport and treatment”.  Designers from the Royal College of Art were also involved in the project.

 

4. FUNGI AGAINST CANCER:

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Project: Marine Fungi Against Cancer

Total cost of project: £3,024,084

Amount funded by EU: £2,355,794

The Marine Fungi project has analysed 600 strains of marine fungi and found that numerous organisms had active anti-tumour properties. This truly global project, the researchers tested marine sponges from the Mediterranean, corals from Indonesian waters and seaweed collected off the coast of Chile. The researchers shortlisted the 3 most promising compounds for the treatment of cancer for further drug development.

 

5. DARK MATTER:

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Project: Shedding New Light on Dark Matter

Total cost of project: £78,529

Amount funded by EU: £78,529

UK astronomer, Dr Richard Massey and his team, have mapped the dark matter from a section of the universe using imagery from the Hubble space telescope to study dark matter by observing a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing (bending of light around visible universe).

One of Massey’s key observations was that dark matter interacts with itself and with conventional matter even less than astronomers had known. This is a big step towards greater understanding of this elusive and mysterious substance that makes up 85% of the universe.

 

6. GENETIC STANDARDS:

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Project: Enhancing Genetic Testing Standards

Total cost of project:  £1,762,982

Amount funded by EU: £1,568,218

Following the Human Genome Project, genetics testing for diseases has opened up a whole world of possibilities for pharmacogenomics (the study of how genes affect a person’s response to drugs). EuroGentest, whose goal it is ensure that genetic testing is of the highest quality throughout Europe, works towards harmonising processes across Europe so that results are accurate and reliable. In a fast moving area of science, this over-viewing project is a reassuring guardian.

 

7. HEART REPAIR:

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Project: Repairing Broken Hearts

Total cost of project: £1,961,325

Amount funded by EU: £1,961,325

Leading UK Professor in the field of cardiac molecular biology has, through his EU founded research, identified a stem cell from the heart itself that can be exploited to potentially repair the heart tissue which can be damaged through oxygen starvation during a heart attack.

“We have found stem cells in the heart that have a specific protein – called PDGFRα – on their surface and had the greatest potential to repair damaged hearts,” says Prof. Michael Schneider.

 

The imminent future promises exciting times for science within the EU; Horizon 2020 is going to provide funding for some ground-breaking projects over the next 4 years and I for one cannot wait to see what they discover.

 

 


*Note: all sums in Pounds Sterling have been converted from the original amounts in Euros according to the exchange rate at the time of publication.

Bibliography:

Europa (2008) Topics of the European Union – research & innovation. Available at: http://europa.eu/pol/rd/index_en.htm (Accessed: 17 June 2016).

Horizon 2020 (2016) What is horizon 2020? – horizon 2020 – European commission. Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/en/what-horizon-2020 (Accessed: 17 June 2016).

2020, E. (2015) European Aids Vaccine Initiative. Available at: http://www.eavi2020.eu (Accessed: 17 June 2016).

2020, E. (2015) European Aids Vaccine Initiative. Available at: http://www.eavi2020.eu (Accessed: 17 June 2016).

Devices, Da. and Living, assisted (2007) Dali. Available at: http://www.ict-dali.eu/dali/index.html (Accessed: 17 June 2016).

Smart Ambulance: European Procurers Platform (, Sa. (no date) Find out more about the project. Available at: http://www.smartambulanceproject.eu (Accessed: 17 June 2016).

Tamminen, A., Wang, Y., Wiebe, M.G. and Lukassen, M.B. (no date) Marine Fungi Project. Available at: https://www.marinefungi.eu (Accessed: 17 June 2016)

Massey, R. (no date) Richard Massey. Available at: http://community.dur.ac.uk/r.j.massey/ (Accessed: 17 June 2016).

EuroGentest: About us (no date) Available at: http://www.eurogentest.org/index.php?id=138 (Accessed: 17 June 2016).

 

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