22 June 2020 | Tiffany Hionas

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

What’s been in the news?

Dexamethasone approved for NHS

The UK government has authorised the NHS to use an anti-inflammatory drug, known as dexamethasone, to treat all UK hospitalised Covid-19 patients requiring oxygen.

Through a government-funded UK trial, the results have proven the drug’s efficacy at reducing the risk of death for Covid-19 patients. The data revealed that the risk of death in Covid-19 patients on ventilation declined by as much as 35% and patients on oxygen by 20%, reducing the total 28-day mortality rate by 17%.

Anticipating the outcome, the government has bought additional stocks of the drug, securing enough supply to treat over 200,000 people.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock added that; ‘From today the standard treatment for COVID-19 will include dexamethasone, helping save thousands of lives while we deal with this terrible virus.’

To ensure adequate supply of the drug across all NHS healthcare settings; the government has added dexamethasone to the list of medicines which must not be parallel exported from the UK.


EU’s COVID-19 vaccines plan

The European Commission is to negotiate covid-19 vaccines contracts on behalf of all member states. The Commission has urged countries to be patient with securing supplies, as it is crucial the EU does not enter harmful competition to avoid a situation where some countries are left without vaccines.

To secure access to supplies, advance purchase agreements will be made to vaccine developers and will vary according to the cost of manufacture. Each member state will have the right to buy the necessary volumes relative to the size of their populations and for a certain price.

Brussels aims to coordinate the negotiation of advance purchase agreements, with an EU official adding; ‘Competition between all of us doesn’t make any sense. If we pool the demand of 27, we have more leverage and can secure better conditions from vaccine makers.’

European commission flags

Transatlantic cooperation takes UK space plans forward

The UK and US have signed an agreement whereby US space and technology companies throughout the supply chain can contribute to and benefit from the commercial opportunities offered by the space sector in the UK. The agreement will enable US companies to participate in launches from UK space ports. 


Read more here.


Space shuttle


Calls for evidence

 Call for Proposals needing rapid access to the Diamond synchrotron. 

Diamond is offering priority rapid access for projects directly related to SARS-CoV-2 virtual proteins. 


Deadline: Not specified 


Developing a tree strategy for England

Help inform the development of an England tree strategy to support nature recovery, clean growth and the commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Deadline: 4 September 2020

Funding competitions


Covid-19 rapid response rolling call

DHSC and UKRI have launched a rolling call for proposals for research into covid-19. Research should cover an understanding of the disease, prevention and management of the covid-19 outbreak.

Deadline: 1 April 2021 

Support for R&D intensive SMEs

As part of the Chancellor’s £1.25Bn support package, £750m R&D funding (as grants and loans) will be available through Innovate UK’s grants and loan scheme. First payments will be made available mid-May.

Deadline: Not released

Repurposing of UKRI grants for covid-19 purposes

Apply to repurpose your grant to support research into covid-19.

Deadline: Not specified 

Future flight

As part of UKRI’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, the second phase of the Future Flight Challenge is launched. Funding is now available for innovations to help change the way we fly.

Deadline: Not specified

Sustainable plastic solutions

Apply to win funding for early-stage, design projects to reduce plastics’ harm to the environment.

Deadline: 16 September 

UK’s low carbon automotive capability

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £30 million for UK-developed late stage R&D, to support the automotive sector and the development of technologies capable of low emissions.

Deadline: 8 July



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