Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

U.K. Risks Intellectual Capital Shortage If Migration Restricted

  • Brexit could harm international collaboration: Morgan Stanley
  • Greater bureaucracy may also weigh on SMEs, technology, media

The U.K. faces losing out on intellectual capital in technology and science by restricting immigration as part of its split from the European Union, according to Morgan Stanley.

Brexit may hamper future research development as well as existing capabilities, outweighing even the impact of potential loss of EU funding as the largest risk, Carmen Nuzzo, a senior economist at Morgan Stanley in London, wrote in a note to clients Wednesday. The U.K. received 8.8 billion euros ($9.7 billion) in research, development and innovation from the bloc from 2007-13, the fourth-largest share, according to the Royal Society.

“The biggest threat comes from potential migration restrictions that could harm international collaboration and the U.K. attractiveness for talent,” she wrote. “This is a long-term risk but one that could increase the more the U.K. government prioritizes immigration control over single market access. International collaboration is key to academic and corporate sector research.”

While Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told lawmakers Thursday that Britain won’t be hostile to people of talent, concerns about the shape of any Brexit deal remain. Prime Minister Theresa May, who plans to trigger Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty to mark the formal start of negotiations by the end of March, has said that she will seek to control movement of people from the bloc into the U.K.

The risks are not limited to people. Increased red tape around intellectual property rights may also weigh on companies, especially small and medium enterprises and technology hardware and media companies, Nuzzo said.

The BioIndustry Association called Thursday for the government to support the life sciences sector through measures including tax credits, funding for new medical treatments and investment schemes.

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