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PoliSCI (w/e 9 November 2018)


Your weekly digest of policy news, funding competitions, and calls for evidence. 9 November 2018 
Compiled by Georgina Hines

Early Diagnosis

Five AI medical centres announced will improve patient diagnosis

New centres of excellence for digital pathology have been announced by Business Secretary Greg Clark and will use AI to improve early diagnosis in patients and develop new medical technologies. Transforming the prevention, early detection and treatment of chronic diseases using AI and innovation is a mission of the government’s AI and Data Grand Challenge laid out in its Industrial Strategy. The five new centres will receive £50m from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ICSF) Wave 2 Challenge, Data to Early Diagnosis and Precision Medicine, and will be based in Coventry, Glasgow, Leeds, London and Oxford.

‘Early diagnosis of illness can greatly increase the chances of successful treatment and save lives,’ said Sir Mark Walport, CEO of UKRI. ‘The centres announced today bring together the teams that will develop artificial intelligence tools that can analyse medical images varying from x-rays to microscopic sections from tissue biopsies. Artificial intelligence has the potential to revolutionise the speed and accuracy of medical diagnosis.’


Businesses fear skills gap from rise in higher skilled jobs

A new report by CBI and Pearson has revealed that 79% of businesses expect an increase in higher skilled jobs in the near future but 66% are worried that there will not be enough skilled people to fill these roles. The majority (87%) of the 28,000 companies involved said they expected to retrain current employees in the next year, stating the introduction of new technologies or services (63%) and the need for increased productivity (74%) as the biggest incentives for upskilling. 85% of firms are expecting to maintain or increase spending in training – UK employers already spend £44.2bn on training each year.

Businesses also highlighted concerns in engagement with young people in education, with 48% of firms saying that there isn’t enough guidance to help businesses make connections worthwhile for students despite 81% stating readiness for work as essential when recruiting school and college leavers. 41% companies surveyed believe that T-Levels will play an important role in the development of technical skills in the coming years.


Innovation loans worth £12m to improve UK manufacturing

Seventeen businesses have won £12m in innovation loans for R&D projects to develop and commercialise new manufacturing technologies or find new materials for production. Successful applicants include The Electrospinning Company, which produces clinical-grade biomaterials, Valuechain, which provides manufacturing supply chain software, and Ashwoods Electric Motors, which is developing lighter and more efficient permanent magnet electric motors. Currently a pilot programme, innovation loans were introduced to help scale up some of the UK’s most innovative companies.  

‘Innovation in manufacturing and materials requires finance that understands and accepts the risk in new technologies, so we’re excited about the opportunities that innovation loans are now unlocking for UK businesses to invest in the delivery of new products and services in this important sector for the UK economy,’ said Simon Edmonds, Deputy Executive Chair of Innovate UK. ‘We’ve seen continuing high levels of demand for this new, affordable, flexible and low-interest finance option for innovation and we’re confident it will help potential UK businesses to scale up, create high-value jobs and ultimately accelerate economic growth and improve the quality of life across all regions.’

Calls for evidence

Deadline: 27 November 2018

Deadline: 3 December 2018

Deadline: Open – accepting written submissions

Deadline: Open – accepting written submissions

Funding competitions

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

UK businesses can apply for a share of £16m from The Office for Low Emission Vehicles and Innovate UK for R&D projects to 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.

Deadline: 12 December 2018

Up to £2m from the ISCF is available for feasibility studies focusing on de-risking the scale-up of battery development technology. Projects must emphasise building UK supply chains.

Deadline: 12 December 2018

A share of £23m from the ISCF is available to UK businesses for R&D projects focusing on de-risking the scale-up of battery development technology. Projects must emphasise building UK supply chains.

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