20 October 2020 | Bryony Parker

Your weekly digest of policy news, funding competitions, and calls for evidence.

What’s been in the news?

Drug precursor and chemicals trading as of January 2021

The Brexit transition period comes to an end this year, and from 1 January 2021, the UK will have left the EU. Under UK REACH guidelines, anyone making, selling or distributing chemicals in the UK and the EU will need to follow both UK and EU REACH rules.

UK REACH will maintain EU REACH’s aims and principles. These include:

  • the “no data, no market” principle
  • the “last resort” principle on animal testing
  • access to information for workers
  • the precautionary principle

The Chair of the UK Government’s EU Environment Sub-Committee has written to the Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs expressing concerns around the new guidelines.

In the letter, Committee Chair Lord Teverson said; ‘We are especially concerned about the costs of the data requirements of UK REACH. If no data-sharing agreement is reached with the EU, companies will be required to submit chemicals safety data to the UK’s new database. Often companies do not own that data… Estimates of the cost of purchasing or replicating the data are severe,’ the letter states.

The letter concludes with a request for an ‘evidence session’ to be arranged between the Department for the Environment Food and Rural affairs, which is in charge of UK REACH, and the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy department.


SCI PoliSCI newsletter 20th October 2020 - image of gloved hands holding bottle with poisonous symbol

European Commission pushes strategies for zero-pollution ambition

The European Commission is seeking to further strengthen the EU’s chemical policy with the adoption of a new Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability. The Commission said that the strategy is the ‘first step towards a zero-pollution ambition for a toxic-free environment,’ which was announced as part of the European Green Deal. The new plans will also take into account the latest scientific knowledge as well as addressing the concerns of citizens.

The commission has acknowledged that chemicals are essential for the well-being, high living standards and comfort of modern society and that they are used in many sectors, including health, energy, mobility and housing.

However, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans said ‘…we need to make sure that chemicals are produced and used in a way that does not hurt human health and the environment. It is especially important to stop using the most harmful chemicals in consumer products…’

The European Commission has also adopted an EU Methane Strategy, also part of the European Green Deal. As the second biggest contributor to climate change, after carbon dioxide, the strategy sets out measures to cut methane emissions in Europe and internationally.

Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, said: ‘While the energy, agriculture and waste sectors all have a role to play, energy is where emissions can be cut the quickest with least costs.’


SCI PoliSCI newsletter 20th October 2020 - image of EU Flag in front of a building

UK and NASA sign moon mission agreement

Backed by £16 million of UK funding, the UK Space Agency and NASA have signed a deal to collaborate on NASA’s Artemis programme; a mission that aims to land the first woman on the Moon by 2024.

Science Minster Amanda Solloway said ‘The prospect of the first woman landing on the Moon in the coming years will be a source of inspiration for thousands of young people across the UK who may be considering a career in space or science.’

Businesses across the UK will be involved in building the service module and habitation module of the Lunar Gateway, a new space station orbiting the moon, generating economic benefits and high-skilled jobs.

UK Space Agency CEO Graham Turnock, who signed the Artemis Accords during a virtual ceremony at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC), said: ‘Signing the Accords is a strong signal of our intent to take a leading global role in civil space. We hope to deepen our relationship with the US when it comes to space and enhance the UK’s global influence in the space sector.

This exciting step could open up new opportunities for UK companies and scientists to be part of NASA missions to the Moon and Mars.’

SCI PoliSCI newsletter 20th October 2020 - image of space from the moon looking at earth


Calls for evidence 

Public Sector Procurement of Food
Evidence is sought after which address questions around the government’s current procurement rules including achieving environmental outcomes, encouraging healthy eating and supporting local suppliers e.g. SMEs.

Deadline: 31 October 2020


Funding competitions

Robotics for a more resilient future R&D strand

UK registered businesses can apply for up to £6 million of funding as part of the ISCF. Projects or technologies must focus on Robotics and AI and last between 6 to 12 months.

Deadline: 20 November 2020

View via the government website


Innovate UK Smart Grants: August 2020

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £25 million IUK funding for disruptive innovations in R&D. Projects must include at least one SME and can last between 6 and 36 months.

Deadline: 25 November 2020

View via the government website


Faraday Battery Challenge: Innovation R&D, Round 4

UK registered business can apply for a grant share of up to £10 million for feasibility and R&D projects that contribute to the innovation in electric vehicle battery technology.

Deadline: 9 December 2020

View via the government website


NATEP: helping SMEs innovate in aerospace Autumn 2020

UK registered micro enterprises and SMEs can apply for up to £2.5 million as part of funding towards projects in civil aerospace research. Projects can last between 12 and 18 months.

Deadline: 18 November 2020

View via the government website


ISCF Transforming foundation industries: Building a resilient recovery

Projects that support recovery and growth of the UK’s foundation industries could be eligible for a grant of up to £8 million. Projects must last between 3 and 12 months and start by 1 April 2021.

Deadline: 4 November 2020

View via government website


Automotive Transformation Fund: expression of interest: October 2020

UK registered businesses are eligible for a share of up to £1 billion for capital investment and R&D projects, aimed at industrialising at scale the electrified automotive supply chain.

Deadline: 11 November 2020

View opportunity here

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