8 December 2020 | Bryony Parker

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

What’s been in the news?

UK’s world scale battery facility gets green light

Scotland-based company InterGen has been granted consent by the UK Government’s Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy to build a world scale battery facility. It will be located at DP World London Gateway, a state-of-the-art deep-sea port and logistics park, on the Thames Estuary.

The facility requires an investment of £200 million and will provide at least 320MW/640MWh of capacity, with potential to expand to 1.3GWh, which is more than 10 times the size of the largest battery currently operating in the UK. The InterGen project forms a key element in the UK’s ambition to transition to net-zero.

When fully charged, the battery could power up to 300,000 homes for two hours. However, it will mainly be used to support and stabilise existing electricity supplies.

InterGen Chief Executive Officer, Jim Lightfoot, commented ‘Our mission is to deliver the flexible electricity solutions that everyone relies on in a low-carbon world, and this project is a major statement of intent.’

More information on this topic can be found here: https://www.soci.org/news/2020/12/uks-world-scale-battery-facility-gets-green-light

In similar news, the Prime Minister has announced an ambitious new emissions target, aiming for at least a 68% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. This follows on from the recently published Ten Point Plan to create and support 250,000 jobs whilst helping to eradicate our contribution to climate change.

SCI PoliSCI newsletter 7 December 2020 - image of rural UK at night time

Vaccine approval request and new £20m medicine manufacture boost

In the first major step towards vaccine roll out, the government has formally requested the UK’s independent medicines regulator to assess the suitability of the Oxford/AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for temporary supply, as soon as the company submits the necessary safety, quality and efficacy data.

The UK will be one of the first countries in the world to receive the vaccine, if authorised, with AstraZeneca expecting to have up to 4 million doses ready for the UK by the end of the year and 40 million by the end of March 2021. In addition, the UK is the first country in the world to sign the agreement with Oxford University and Astrazeneca, contracting 100 million doses.

The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca recently published their interim efficacy results, which indicated the vaccine was at least 70% effective in protecting individuals from COVID-19. This rose to 90% effective when administered as half a dose, followed by a full dose – rather than 2 full doses.

Once the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) receives the full data from the company, its team of scientists and clinicians will progress its assessment of the vaccine.

In similar news, the Prime Minister last week announced £20m of funding to grow medicines manufacturing in the UK, which will strengthen the UK’s ability to respond to future pandemics.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: ‘The positive and timely response of our medicines manufacturers to the pandemic has been remarkable, but we want to ensure that the UK’s supply chains are even more resilient in the future.’

‘There are huge opportunities for innovation in medicines and diagnostics, and this new fund will put the UK head and shoulders above others, boosting the UK’s capabilities and generating significant economic opportunities across the country.’

SCI PoliSCI newsletter 7 December 2020 - image of vaccine in front of UK flag

Zero Emission Vehicle Transition Council formation

The new Zero Emissions Vehicle Transition Council has concluded its first meeting, aimed at accelerating the pace of the global transition to zero emission vehicles. The Council comprises ministers and representatived from some of the world’s largest and most progressive car markets.

In the meeting, it was highlighted that while national contexts and policy approaches may differ, the transition will be faster, easier and lower cost for all if nations work together and use this forum to coordinate efforts.

Specific opportunities for collaboration include: focusing on the role of zero emission technologies and key policies, ensuring the transition is global, leaving no region behind, ensuring a sustainable lifecycle (from production to scapping), ensuring the enabling infrastucture (e.g. EV chargepoints and hydrogen vehicle re-fuelling), is in place and finaly, coordinating innovation efforts.

In similar news, Driving the Electric Revolution has boosted the UK’s power electronics machines and drives industry with £3.75 million investment to reach the net zero goals. This funding will be shared by over 20 innovative projects and comes as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Supporting growing EV demand, scientists at the British Gelogical Survey will lead a £2.5 million NERC-funded project, known as Lithium for Future Technology (LiFT), looking into global lithium resources. Recent forecasts suggest demand will increase five times by 2030. This funding will support the project to understand the gelogical cycles of lithium, an essential component of electric vehicle batteries.

SCI PoliSCI newsletter 7 December 2020 - image of a zero emission car battery


Calls for evidence 

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


Environmental Land Management and the agricultural transition
The government is seeking views on their latest plans for the agricultural transition around the design of the Environmental Land Management National Pilot.

Deadline: 29 January 2021

You can find further details of inquiries here.


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


Innovation continuity loans: Strand 2 November 2020 follow-on competition
SMEs and third sector organisations can apply to receive a loan of up to £1.6 million for the continuation of planned or existing innovation activity due to sudden shortage resulting directly from the COVID-19 pandemic. Projects must last up to 3 years and start by March 2021.

Deadline: 13 January 2021


Development of the Digital Security by Design Software Ecosystem
UK registered SMEs can apply for a share of up to £1.5 million of funding to investigate requirements for adoption of Digital Security by Design (DSbD) technologies across the software development ecosystem. Project must last no longer than 6 months.

Deadline: 13 January 2021


Manufacturing Made Smarter Innovation Hub – Digital Supply Chain EoI
UK registered businesses and research organisations can apply for a grant of up to £10 million from ISCF to set up and run a digital supply chain innovation hub.

Deadline: 13 January 2021


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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