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PoliSCI (w/e 26 October 2018)


Your weekly digest of policy news, funding competitions, and calls for evidence.  
Compiled by Georgina Hines


UK innovation activity falls, BEIS survey finds

A new BEIS report has found that overall UK innovation has fallen from 53% in 2015 to 49% in 2017. While innovation activity has increased in large businesses, the fall is attributed to significantly less activity in SMEs. The biggest rise in innovation was in electrical and transport equipment, and the most innovative industries included transport, chemicals and manufacturing. Internal R&D in companies increased from 35% in 2014 to 46% in 2016, with improving the quality of current and outdated products named as the biggest drivers for this upward trend.


Businesses identified the biggest barriers to innovation as the financial risks and costs associated with innovation and R&D, although the percentage of firms that see this as an area for improvement has decreased since 2011. A pipeline of qualified staff is an increasing worry for industry, the report says, as firms with a higher percentage of STEM graduates were found to be more innovative.

Driverless car 

Regulation working group meet for first time


Business Secretary Greg Clark will chair The Ministerial Working Group on Future Regulation which met for the first time this week and will focus on preparing UK regulators for the industries of the future, including AI and driverless cars. One of the key commitments to come from the Industrial Strategy, the group will be responsible for horizon scanning of upcoming regulatory challenges, commissioning regulatory reform proposals and driving innovation-enabling approaches across government.


‘We have a world-beating regulatory environment in the UK which has set standards that have been exported around the world. But we can’t move forward by standing still and we must prepare for the technologies and industries of the future,’ said Clark. ‘By being the ‘prime mover’ in reforming regulation to support technological innovation, the government will be able to grow domestic industries and attract investment from the rest of the world.’


A new £10m Regulator’s Pioneer Fund will invest in 15 projects aiming to keep regulators up-to-date with technological advances.


Further £215m announced for Catapult centres

The Digital, Medicines Discovery, Future Cities, and Transport Systems Catapult centres will receive £215m in funding over the next five years. The Future Cities and Transport Catapults will be merged to increase their ability to tackle the issue of mobility across the UK, and all of the centres will remain focused on attracting investment to the UK and supporting businesses through knowledge exchange whileimproving their capability for innovation.

‘The Catapult network is making a significant impact to our modern Industrial Strategy,’ said Innovate UK Chair, Dr Ian Campbell. ‘This additional support fully funds the Catapult network for the next 5 years and cements their place at the heart of the UK’s innovation infrastructure.’

Calls for evidence

Deadline: 26 October 2018

Deadline: 27 November 2018

Deadline: Open – accepting written submissions

Deadline: Open – accepting written submissions

Funding competitions

Deadline: 14 November 2018

The Department for International Development (DFID) and EPSRC have announced a share of £10m for organisations developing clean, affordable and secure energy for Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Deadline: 14 November 2018

Innovate UK is offering up to £10m in loans to SMEs for innovations with strong commercial potential that will improve the UK economy.

Deadline: 14 November 2018

Organisations working to deliver disruptive innovations that can significantly impact the UK economy can apply for a share of up to £20m from Innovate UK.

Deadline: 21 November 2018

DFID are offering £3m of funding to projects at all stages of experimental development working on agri-tech and food chain innovations with partners in eligible African countries.

Deadline: 6 December 2018

The Office for Low Emission Vehicles and Innovate UK are offering a share of £2m to UK businesses developing technologies that will accelerate the transition to zero emission vehicles.

Deadline: 6 December 2018

One high-value project will receive up to £4m from The Office for Low Emission Vehicles and Innovate UK to develop technologies that accelerate the transition to zero emission vehicles.


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