10 November 2020 | Bryony Parker

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

What’s been in the news?

Government enquiry into reduction of ammonia emissions

The UK government has launched a consultation seeking views on reducing emissions of ammonia from solid urea fertilisers used for growing plants and crops.

Ammonia emissions have been found to be harmful to natural habitats as well as human health, and 87% of the UK’s ammonia emissions are attributed to farming. The government has committed to reducing emissions from ammonia by 16%, compared with 2005 levels, by 2030.

The consultation will focus on what government says are ‘three cost effective options.’ These are: A total ban on solid urea fertilisers, a requirement to stabilise solid urea fertilisers with the addition of urease inhibitor or a requirement to restrict the spreading of solid urea fertilisers so they can only be used from 15 January to 31 March.

While each of the options will significantly reduce ammonia emissions, a ban on solid urea fertilisers would achieve a 31% reduction by 2030.

More information on this topic

Agriculture tractor field injecting manure

Green future for the UK automotive industry

Revving up its commitment to greener transport, the UK government has awarded £49 million to several projects through the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC). The funding is split over three areas.

The first £10 million will come from the Automotive Transformation Fund and  will be shared between 31 projects.  The funding will  support to development of low carbon emission technologies for vehicles.

The project TALGA, Cambridge, aims to improve the energy density in electric vehicle (EV) batteries (Li-ion), thereby allowing EVs to travel significantly longer distances. Secondly, project Thurso+ (Scotland) involves AMTE Power who are scaling up their battery cell production facility to meet the growing demand in EVs. They will use this scale up to begin boosting manufacturing productivity, supplying the battery cells to specialist vehicle manufacturers and the potential future roll-out of a significant new UK facility.

Next £29 million will be shared among 6 projects through the government’s APC16 competition, with one project expected to create over 500 jobs in developing the infrastructure to collect and recycle EVs and their batteries. This will boost UK capability to re-use materials from vehicles and  EV batteries and the chemicals within them – also potentially reducing the costs to recycle overseas.

Finally, 12 projects have been selected to share  the government’s £10 million Advanced Route to Market Demonstrator (ARMD) competition. The winners include   a project led by Nissan which will implement automation technologies to quickly charge EV batteries in the factory, increasing productivity and reducing costs on their EV production line.

Minister for Business and Industry Nadhim Zahawi said:
“The UK is leading the global battle against climate change, and by developing cleaner vehicles, our automotive industry will help make our net zero ambitions a reality.”

Car driving country lane sunshine

European Commission awards €508 million to health research projects

The European Commission has  awarded €508 million to 75 short-listed projects which will allow the development of digital diagnostics and various new interventions, including treatments and vaccines, with specific actions against cancer, brain-related diseases, and infectious diseases. Specific attention is also given to the management of complex chronic conditions and to developing healthcare interventions for elderly patients affected by multiple diseases. The projects involve 1,158 participants from 58 countries.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said:
“EU-funded research and innovation is a key part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but, at the same time, we are not neglecting other vital issues for our health and well-being. The EU has a crucial role to play through the scale of investments, including in key European research infrastructures, its attention to major challenges, such as cancer, antimicrobial resistance and environmental impacts on health, the coordination of national efforts and international collaboration.”

The funding will also enable researchers to better understand the impacts of micro- and nano-plastics on health; to address environmental, climate and socioeconomic factors to improve urban health and wellbeing; to and work towards safety assessment of chemicals without the use of animal testing.

Infectious diseases continue to be a priority with a specific effort to address low vaccine uptake – which is more than ever a threat to the health of the entire population with the resurgence of previously controlled diseases and the urgency to tackle new epidemics such as Covid.

Cost of health care concept with stethoscope and calculator


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 on the UK Parliament website.

Reducing ammonia emissions from urea fertilisers
The government is seeking views on their plans to reduce ammonia emissions in England by regulating the use or sale of solid urea fertilisers.
Deadline: 26 January 2021

You can find further details of this inquiry on the DEFRA website.


Funding competitions

ISCF Future Plastic Packaging Solutions
UK registered businesses of any size can apply for a share of up to £2 million for early-stage projects in SSPP. Projects can last up to 18 months but must end by November 2022.
Deadline: 20 January 2021

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

Faraday Battery Challenge: Innovation Feasibility Studies, Round 4
UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £10 million for innovation in electric vehicle battery technology.
Deadline: 9 December 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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