24 November 2020 | Bryony Parker

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

What’s been in the news?

Ten Point Plan for Green Industrial Revolution

The UK Government’s Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution, announced early last week, which includes making the UK a ‘world-leader in carbon capture technology’, will create and support up to 250,000 highly-skilled green jobs in the UK.

The blueprint covers plans around quadrupling the energy generated from offshore wind by 2030, generating low carbon hydrogen and aiming to develop the first town heated entirely by hydrogen by the end of the decade, introducing up to £500 million additional funding to support this goal.

The plan also sets out the ambition to remove 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year by 2030. The government is investing a total of £1 billion to support the establishment of carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) across four industrial clusters in the UK.

The Government’s plan will see CCUS operating in two industrial clusters by the middle of the 2020s, with the technology in place at a further two sites by 2030. The Government said that its £1 billion CCUS Infrastructure Fund will provide industry with the certainty required to deploy CCUS ‘at pace and at scale.’ The Government added that the clusters will be the ‘starting point for a new carbon capture industry, which could support up to 50,000 jobs in the UK by 2030, including sizable export potential.’  Details of a revenue mechanism to bring through private sector investment, which will provide the certainty investors need, will be set out in detail during 2021.

Find more information on this topic here: https://www.soci.org/news/2020/11/ccus-features-in-uks-green-industrial-revolution

SCI PoliSCI newsletter 24 November 2020 - image of an industrial plant

European Commission approves fifth COVID-19 vaccine contract

The European Commission has approved a contract with European pharmaceutical company CureVac which will see the purchase of 225 million doses of their vaccine on behalf of all EU Member States. There is also an option to request a further 180 million doses.

The contract with CureVac is one of a number with European pharmaceutical companies. This broad coverage will ensure Europe is well prepared for vaccination. In addition, Member States have the option to donate the vaccine to lower and middle-income countries or to re-direct it to other European countries.

Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: ‘With growing numbers of COVID patients across the EU, a safe and effective vaccine is more crucial than ever in putting behind us the pandemic. With this fifth vaccine advance purchase agreement, we are further expanding the possibilities that EU citizens and our economies can soon safely return to normality. It is yet another milestone in our EU Vaccines Strategy, and evidence of the benefits of working together in a genuine European Health Union.”

SCI PoliSCI newsletter 24 November 2020 - graphic of covid 19 cells, EU stars and a stethoscope

Space-harvested zero carbon power source

The UK government has commissioned new research into space-based solar power (SBSP) systems that would use very large solar power satellites to collect solar energy, convert it into high-frequency radio waves, and safely beam it back to ground-based receivers connected to the electrical power grid.

Based on an idea by science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov in 1941, the lightweight solar panels and wireless power transmission technology is now advancing rapidly and thus could make this a more feasible and economically viable future power supply, as well as sustainable, safe and resilient.

Dr Graham Turnock, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “The Sun never sets in space, so a space solar power system could supply renewable energy to anywhere on the planet, day or night, rain or shine. It is an idea that has existed for decades, but has always felt decades away.”

The feasbility study is being led by Frazer-Nash Consultancy, who will face the main challenge of assembling the massive satellites in orbit, which has not been done before at this scale.

In similar news, the UK government has backed funding for the development of new space hubs across England. The hubs will bring together local authorities and businesses to create a strategy for how their area can take maximum advantage of the commercial space race.

Funding is going to seven locations – including the North West, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire – to ensure space is a priority for regional economic growth and attract commercial investment from space companies to these areas.

SCI PoliSCI newsletter 24 November 2020 - image of a satellite in space with earth in the background


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.


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

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

Long-term Covid-19 effects in non-hospitalised individuals
UK institutions and SMEs can apply for up to £20 million to fund two or three proposals to research into the causes, mechanisms and management of longer-term physical and mental health effects of Covid-19.

Deadline: 9 December

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 or via UKRI.

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