I will respond first to Senator Black. In terms of the projects that are ongoing under Horizon 2020, if the UK Government makes good on what it has pledged, they will continue uninterrupted. What the UK Government has said is that anything that is currently ongoing that is funded by Europe, the UK Government will step in and take it over if the UK leaves Europe without a deal. One can read in the newspapers that many academics in the UK do not believe that. The UK Government has said it and we can only take it at its word. I understand where the confusion arises because many people in the UK say they do not believe their Government and that it does not have enough money to do that. If we take the UK Government at its word, the projects will continue, but, going forward, the UK will not be eligible for new projects and the Irish researchers will have to find other partners in Europe. That is doable. If they want to continue to collaborate with counterparts in the UK, this will have to be done on a bilateral basis. That means we need to find new money to fund those projects because they were previously funded by money from Europe.
The second question was about the GDPR. This is a very complicated area and I may get something wrong, but I can tell Senator Black that a lot of UK universities have registered offices in Ireland in order to specifically comply with European GDPR standards, particularly in the area of clinical trial data in circumstances where data are collected on patients. The GDPR aspect will be a UK problem. It is a brass-plate registration, but the universities are registering in order to comply.
In response to Senator Paul Daly, in terms of the opportunities and the UK attitudes, we have encountered nothing but extreme enthusiasm and very professional engagement from our colleagues in the UK. That is within the research agencies and the universities. In fact, I would say they are much more engaged than they have been in the past. The reason is that they see a threat. I will give a concrete example. In July, I spent a full day at the University of Cambridge, which is one of the top UK universities, with all of the top management. At the top of their to-do list is increased collaboration with Ireland. Before Brexit, I would have to say I would have got a soft-pillow effect, in other words, I would have had a nice meeting. It would have been fantastic but nothing would have happened. What we get now is real engagement because they see opportunities. We are talking about joint appointments between Oxford and Cambridge and many of the leading universities. They see an opportunity there. They are going to lose staff. Our Brexit strategy is very simple. If people are thinking of leaving the UK, I want them to think of Ireland, but we want to collaborate with the UK in order that it is not parasitic. I am not going over asking people to leave; I am saying if they are thinking of leaving, they should please think of us as well as America, Australia, Germany and wherever else they might be thinking about, but more importantly, they should think about a joint appointment between a UK university and an Irish university, which might give the UK university the best of both worlds. I see huge engagement and major opportunities.
We have encountered nothing akin to what members might see in the press in terms of blaming Irish people. In fact, quite the opposite; they think we are a bastion of common sense and good governance. They think Ireland looks sane among the English-speaking world. There are significant opportunities. We will shortly announce the relocation of full professors currently at Oxford and Cambridge who are going to be relocating to Ireland. That would not have happened prior to Brexit. We will see the joint appointment to which I referred with Professor Séamus Davis. I hope there are more of those. I see big opportunities. It is not big numbers but one does not need a very large number of really talented people. Twenty top people will make a big difference. One does not need to have 2,000.
In terms of the multilateral projects and the attitudes of other people in Europe, that is quite different. I will generalise. Many of our European colleagues do not need the UK as much as we do, because they are not its closest neighbour and they are probably a bit fed up with all this Brexit nonsense. They probably think it is much easier to collaborate with people in Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and so on, and they will put the uncertainty to one side. I do not think that is an Irish problem; it is a UK problem.
In terms of industry collaborations, to generalise, small and medium enterprises are probably being quite cautious because they are going to face into the Brexit storm. There is probably no difference or perhaps even increased enthusiasm among multinational companies for engaging in research and development investment. Things that might have been done in the UK in the past may be done in Ireland. That is another opportunity. Those people will not invest unless the research is world class. They will not invest unless the people are user-friendly, but if there is a minor difference between an Irish group and a UK group, we may be able to get the investment and that is what we need to focus on. The SME community is very engaged, but it is being cautious because it does not know what is happening, given the uncertainty. It is important that we invest in the future.
I will address the North-South aspect because I understand how that could be confusing. The way that our collaborations work is the bit done in the North of Ireland or in the UK is funded there and we fund the bit done in Ireland. We do not do charity. We do not fund the bit in the UK and they do not fund the bit in Ireland. When we established the collaborations in Northern Ireland it was a decision by the Minister in the Northern Ireland Assembly. It is not a line item in the Northern Ireland budget. Due to the fact that there is no functioning Assembly, the civil servants cannot allocate money unless it is specified as a line item, so they do not have a discretionary spend. That is why it fell apart. If we were to reinstate it and it were to become a line item, then it would persist. If it were to be where it was historically, just at the discretion of the Minister of the assembly, it would fall apart if the assembly fell apart. That is one of the reasons we are trying to do it through Westminster. If it were done through London - and London does have a devolved regional section in the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform - then it would be more enduring in nature. We are trying to do both of those. It is awfully important.
There is no problem about bilateral arrangements in science. We have signed a whole pile of those with our UK colleagues. We do not have to do it under the Good Friday Agreement. We could, as there is provision there, but it has not been necessary. It is a function of the enormous enthusiasm and goodwill. Both Senators Craughwell and Paul Daly asked me about the UK focus on research and innovation. It is very simple; it is away from Europe. The UK is focusing major efforts on collaboration with the Americas, that is, the United States and Canada, and very major focus on the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth has been resurrected, so to speak. It was never a part of the science system when I was in the UK and there is now a Commonwealth science approach with, among others, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The focus of a government that is not particularly pro-Europe is to focus on America and to focus on the Commonwealth countries.
I was asked to explain about the arrangement between UCC and the University of Oxford. It is dead simple. It is a joint appointment, but in practice it is 50% at UCC and 50% at the University of Oxford and none of those issues arise because it is very clear. One just needs to be very precise about where the person is going to be at a particular time. It is not an issue in terms of doing it.
If we look at FDI with respect to development, there is a major opportunity for Ireland. We are seeing more companies invest in public research in Ireland than ever before. It is a question of taking those companies on a journey, both large and small companies. There are significant investments in research and development by large companies in Ireland. To give an idea of the figures, in 2012, companies in Ireland collectively invested approximately €8 million in public research in universities. They now put in close to €200 million.
This is capable of being expanded.
That is the good news story. The bad news story is that 50% of the multinational companies engage and 50% do not, so we still have a big job to do. It is not done. The figure relating to SMEs is about the same. It is very patchy. There is a lot to do and there is a significant opportunity. It is very important for the future that we increase our investment in research and development and that this is done while maintaining the model of two thirds from the private sector and one third from the public sector. This is what we are doing through programmes like the industry partnerships we run with our colleagues in the universities, the SFI research centres, the partnerships and so on. We are getting the companies and the public sector to invest. We need to do more of it. The programmes, people and talent are there; we just need to put more fuel in the tank. It is as simple as that.