Should tomorrow’s electronics technologists ignore the BREXIT GLOOMsters? Nov 2 2017 Electroblog Print Article Nov 2 2017 Electroblog The answer is a resounding yes. But it’s not always easy given the mass of mindless misinformation that is unleashed on an almost daily basis by our national mainstream media, much of which harps on relentlessly about how the UK’s separation from the EU will prove catastrophic. But the question for readers of Electropages is will BREXIT seriously hinder this country’s involvement in the shaping of future electronics technology? Mainstream media and some politicians will have us believe that following the UK’s exit from the EU, international doors will slam shut on us and the country will shrivel into an entrepreneurial-free vacuum. This of course is utter BREXIT Boxxxcks. A paper just issued by the Government titled “Collaboration on Science and Innovation” goes to great lengths to explain how the UK and the EU will seek to not only maintain but nurture collaborative projects. And if there is one industry that has a history of successful collaborative ventures it’s the global electronics industry. Notice here I use the word global. There is no question that one of the reasons electronics technology has progressed with such astounding success is through international joint ventures. And collaborative successes do not begin and end at Europe’s borders, as the mainstream media Luddites would have us believe. Before looking at some of the Government’s statements in its newly published paper lets consider how major a part in electronics technological developments our universities play. Here are just a few of the countries that have collaborative ventures with UK Universities at present on electronics related technological projects: Israel, California and Pennsylvania in the USA, Singapore, China, Italy, Belgium, Brazil, Australia, Romania, Germany, Austria, Greece, Poland, Oman, Cyprus, Spain, and the list goes on. Is the dawning of BREXIT going to shut these down or discourage further international electronics-based collaboration between universities? I don’t think so. After all, this country has a fantastic record of inventiveness. During the past 50 years, more than 40% of discoveries used on a worldwide basis originated in the United Kingdom. And that is according to some Japanese research. Some life-changing UK successes have been the World-wide Web, the jet engine, the hover craft, the vertical take-off jet, stainless steel, ATMs, David Beckham’s right foot and just to round things off, TV, the telephone and the computer. So what is this Government paper saying? In essence it’s a paper about future papers that will set out strategies for defined areas of collaboration. And yes, I know that sounds a tad Sir Humphrey-esque from the TV series Yes Prime Minister but it does formally state what the Governments intentions are regarding future collaborations with EU partners. It says the UK wants to continue playing a major role in creating a brighter future for all European citizens by strengthening collaboration with European partners in science and innovation. That all sounds nice and sensible, but how is this likely to happen? There are in fact already in existence organisations to facilitate this. EUREKA. This intergovernmental network helps mostly small and medium sized companies in Europe and around the world to collaborate on R&D projects. It has 41 European members and four non-European associate members. The UK will become the Chair of EUREKA in summer 2018. CERN. This is the organisation for collaboration on particle physics and the fundamental laws of nature. The UK was a founding member of CERN, which now includes membership from 22 countries, including Israel. European Space Agency (ESA). This agency is an international organisation with 22 EU member states and Canada. The UK was a founding member of the ESA and will continue to play an active role in the ESA after it leaves the EU. European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI). This is one of six institutes of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). EMBL, which comprises 23 EU Member States. And you can add to those organisations, international electronics associations such as WECC, the World Electronic Circuits Council, a group of industry associations throughout the world and how about the GSA, the Global Semiconductor Alliance, which has 350 member companies throughout 35 countries. The GSA provides an environment for semiconductor executives to meet and collaborate on ways to address industry-wide topics and challenges. However, creating the climate for mutual agreement on Science and innovation is no small ask and the UK Governments believes such an agreement should facilitate bilateral and multilateral research relationships. In particular, the UK and the EU must ensure their research communities can continue to access the high-level skills that support innovation in science and technology. The Government has made clear that although freedom of movement will cease to apply in the UK migration between the UK and the EU of the brightest and best will continue. Very sensible. Understandably the UK wants to remain a hub for international talent and is investing £100 million in the Rutherford Fund to attract skilled researchers to the UK by providing fellowships for early-career and senior researchers both from the developed world and from emerging research powerhouses such as India, China, Brazil and Mexico. The UK will discuss with the EU future arrangements to facilitate the mobility of researchers engaged in cross-border collaboration. So all that sounds hunky dory but I know what some of you sensibly cynical people will be thinking…who trusts politicians? And a degree of skepticism is not a bad thing when it comes to government and today’s mainstream media, both of which on occasion can be economic with the actualité. But when it comes to future international technology collaborations and the UK being very much part of them I think the BREXIT Gloomsters’ gripes can be ignored, particularly given this country’s extensive participation in past and current projects coupled with the fact that the global electronics community has always been very adept at creating collaborative joint ventures regardless of whether the EU was involved or not. By Paul WhytockPaul Whytock is European Editor for Electropages. He has reported extensively on the electronics industry in Europe, the United States and the Far East for over twenty years. Prior to entering journalism he worked as a design engineer with Ford Motor Company at locations in England, Germany, Holland and Belgium.