By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
Conway: ‘Academic Publishers Will Continue to Contribute’In Wednesday’s story (September 6) on the new Projekt DEAL transformative open-access agreement for Germany with the Netherlands’ Elsevier, we mentioned the parallel action in London, where the Rishi Sunak government was said to be close to rejoining the European Commission’s scientific research program, Horizon Europe.
As many Publishing Perspectives readers may know, that move has been confirmed today, with Britain now moving, as Matt Honeycombe-Foster writes for Politico, to “associate to both Horizon Europe, the [EU] bloc’s multibillion-euro research funding scheme, and Copernicus, its Earth observation program, under a ‘bespoke new agreement.'”
In its announcement in London, the prime minister’s office says, “From today (September 7), UK researchers can apply for grants and bid to take part in projects under the Horizon program, with certainty that the UK will be participating as a fully associated member for the remaining life of the program to 2027.”
At the UK’s Publishers Association, CEO Dan Conway has been quick to issue a statement provided to Publishing Perspectives, welcoming the news of the UK’s re-association with Horizon Europe and Copernicus, and highlighting the fact that the research, academic, and scholarly publishing sector will benefit from this post-Brexit framework.
“We are delighted to see that the UK has rejoined the Horizon program today,” Conway says.
“The crucial access this provides to researchers and institutions across the UK will undoubtedly benefit society and further drive innovation and international collaboration where we need it most.
“Publishing supports the government’s ambition for the UK to be a science superpower and one of the best places in the world to conduct research. This is a great stepping stone in supporting the UK research ecosystem, and academic publishers will continue to contribute to its success.”
Key components of the British research establishment—which of course includes scientific society publishers—is joining the Publishers Association in hailing the move.
In a joint statement from the Academy of Medical Sciences, the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering, and the Royal Society, we read, “This is a great day for researchers in the UK and across Europe. The Horizon program is a beacon of international collaboration and UK-based academic and industrial researchers will now be back at the heart of that.
“Research is vital to tackling the key problems we face, from global challenges such as climate change to driving productivity growth and creating new jobs locally. Our involvement in Horizon Europe will make the UK stronger and is a big win for global research and innovation.”
“Publishing supports the government’s ambition for the UK to be a science superpower. This is a great stepping stone in supporting the UK research ecosystem, and academic publishers will continue to contribute to its success.”Dan Conway, Publishers Association
Reportedly constructed to include a discount of €800 million (US$855.6 million) because the UK was unable to access the project since Brexit, the UK’s additional association with Copernicus is of major importance to anyone in London this week, where on Saturday high temperatures may reach 93 degrees Fahrenheit (33.89 centigrade), impacted by the “urban heat island effect” that many in North America have experienced this summer.
For the BBC, James Gregory is reporting within the last two hours of this writing that the UK has broken its record for the number of consecutive days in September reaching 30C (some 86F). Copernicus is the environmental assessment element of the European Union’s space program, certain to take on new significance as the climate crisis asserts its impact in more and more markets of the world.
At the UK Space Agency, CEO Paul Bate says, “Participating in Copernicus will enable the UK space sector to continue to play a significant role in the development of critical missions that will enable us to monitor our planet more effectively and lead a global effort through the use of satellite data to find new solutions to the urgent challenge of climate change.”
Artificial Intelligence: Conway on the ‘AI Safety Summit’
Today’s commentary on London’s reassociation with Europe’s Horizon and Copernicus programs follows an earlier message from the Publishers Association’s Conway regarding the anticipated November 1 and 2 “AI Safety Summit” at Bletchley Park.
An international event that will gather several countries’ representatives with technology organizations, the academy, and civil society on artificial intelligence, the summit is seen by the publishers as a chance to assert the necessity of protecting intellectual property.
In a letter to Sunak, Conway has written, in part:
“We firmly agree that the UK should become a global leader in safe, transparent, and ultimately ethical AI that benefits everyone across society.
“The UK’s content industries are world-leading and it is imperative that, in taking these steps to expand AI development, they are supported in parallel. The publishing industry is worth £7bn to the UK economy, employs 70,000 people, and supports hundreds of thousands of authors. But most importantly, we are far more than the sum of our parts when it comes to academic, educational and cultural output.
“The publishing industry and the wider creative industries are underpinned by the UK’s gold-standard IP framework and I am writing to you with one request in this regard. On behalf of our industry and the wider content industries, we ask that your government makes a strong statement either as part of, or in parallel with, your summit to make clear that UK intellectual property law should be respected when any content is ingested by AI systems and a license obtained in advance.
“The training of AI systems should be done transparently, with the consent of, and in a manner that credits and fairly compensates the creator or IP rights holder, i.e. under license.”
In its initial announcement about the AI Safety Summit, the UK government as written, “Without appropriate guardrails, this technology also poses significant risks in ways that do not respect national boundaries. The need to address these risks, including at an international level, is increasingly urgent.”
More from Publishing Perspectives on academic and scholarly publishing is here, more on the UK’s Publishers Association is here, more on artificial intelligence and publishing is here, and more on the United Kingdom’s publishing market is here.