3 November 2020 | Bryony Parker

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

What’s been in the news?

Funding for scientists and laboratories across the UK

Pioneering researchers in Wales will benefit from a £3.5 million cash boost to convert their innovative ideas to transformational products and services, the UK Government has announced.

Tackling some of the world’s greatest challenges, 100 of the UK’s up and coming scientists and researchers will receive a share of over £109 million to develop their “blue sky” solutions to global issues such as food supply, cancer diagnosis and dementia treatment.

UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, said:
‘Future Leaders Fellowships provide researchers and innovators with freedom and support to drive forward transformative new ideas and the opportunity to learn from peers right across the country.’

In addition, UKRI last week announced that it is investing £88 million into modernising research laboratories and facilities.

Funding will be allocated via Research England, which is part of UKRI, and the devolved funding bodies:

  • £50 million for England
  • £8.4 million for Scotland
  • £1.7 million for Wales
  • £0.9 million for Northern Ireland.

There will be a focus on research laboratories receiving Covid-19-safe upgrades including screen installation and improved air-quality systems.

SCI PoliSCI newsletter 03 11 2020 - image of scientists in a laboratory

Offshore Wind Sector Deal boosted by £2 million

As part of the MOD’s commitment to the Government’s 2019 Offshore Wind Sector Deal, which expects wind power to fuel 30 percent of the UK’s electricity need by 2030, more windfarms are set to be built following a £2 million Government investment. The funding includes a provision so that the turbines do not interfere with crucial military communications, thereby allowing these innovative technologies to provide a greener and technologically sustainable Britain.

Among the consortia receiving this funding are Thales, QinetiQ, Saab, TWI and Plextek DTS to fast-track their ideas that could mitigate the impact of windfarms on the UK’s air defence radar system. The MOD’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) is leading the innovation competition on behalf of BEIS, the RAF and the Dstl.

Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, Kwasi Kwarteng said:
‘The continued growth of offshore wind is a national success story and this funding will ensure we continue to build bigger and more advanced projects vital to tackling climate change.

The UK’s innovative spirit is second to none, which is why we are drawing from all areas of the country’s expertise to drive forward our incredible renewable energy fleet.’

SCI PoliSCI newsletter 03 11 2020 - image of an offshore windfarm

EP discuss greener EU farm policy

European Parliament is ready to start talks with European Union Ministers having adopted their position on the post-2022 EU farm policy reform.

It is anticipated that there will be a move towards a performance-based policy that will require national governments to specify how they intend to implement EU objectives on the ground. The Commission will then check their performance.

Other plans include promoting improved environmental performance of EU farms, by strengthening mandatory climate and environmentally friendly practices that each farmer must apply to receive the direct support. In addition, MEPs want to dedicate at least 35% of the rural development budget to all types of environmental and climate-related measures. At least 30% of the direct payments budget should go to eco-schemes, which would be voluntary but could increase farmers’ income.

In another area of discussion, the MEPs voted to support small and young farmers by reducing payments to bigger farms (for payments above €60,000 and cap at €100,000). At least 6% of national direct payments should be used to support small and medium-sized farms but if more than 12% is used, the capping should become voluntary, MEPs say.

Parliament stresses that EU subsidies should be reserved only for those who engage in at least a minimum level of agricultural activity. Those who operate airports, railway services, waterworks, real estate services, permanent sports and recreational grounds should be automatically excluded.

SCI PoliSCI newsletter 03 11 2020 - image / graphic of a combine harvester


Calls for evidence 

Living online: the long-term impact on wellbeing
Evidence is sought after to understand the impact of the increasing reliance on digital technology, accelerated by the pandemic on social and economic wellbeing including physical and mental health.

Deadline: 11 December 2020

You can find further details of calls for evidence online here.


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


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


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


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


SMEs transforming food production: series A investor partnership
UK registered SMEs that are transforming food production towards net zero can apply for a grant share of up to £5 million. Projects must last 18 months.

Deadline: 13 January 2021


UK and Canada biomanufacturing innovations in cell and gene therapies
A collaborative opportunity with the National Research Council of Canada for process improvement in biomanufacturing of gene and cell therapies. 75% project funding for costs up to £128,000 and projects must last up to 24 months.

Deadline: 23 December 2020


You can find further details of the funding calls on the Government website.

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