29 June 2020 | Tiffany Hionas

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

What’s been in the news?

Green economic recovery in automotive sector

This month, Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi announced that the automotive industry will receive a £73.5 million government investment to develop advanced green technologies.

This investment will be shared among 10 projects in the UK, all of which were chosen by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC),  to develop pioneering technology, such as the next generation of electric taxis, cars and vans, as well as recyclable batteries, advanced electrical systems and lightweight components.

This funding will help the automotive industry aim for net zero emissions by 2050, as well as help to safeguard more than 14,000 research and manufacturing jobs in the UK following the enforced shutdowns of production.

The government hopes to kickstart a green transport recovery following the global health crisis with sustainability at its core; new technologies and cleaner fuels will play a greater role in meeting their targets.

Some of the companies that have been chosen to benefit from this investment include Jaguar Land Rover, BMW Motorsport, Ford Technologies and the London Electric Vehicle Company.

Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: ‘Not only will this funding ensure automotive companies can play their part in keeping us on the path to net zero emissions by 2050, it will also support thousands of jobs and be a welcome step towards the industry’s economic recovery.’

Electric car in a 3D model

Loss of UK from Horizon 2020’s Excellent science programme

The loss of the UK from the EU’s research and innovation programme could result in some negative impacts.

In a recent report published in Chaos, by AIP Publishing, researchers from the University of Zaragoza, Spain, evaluated the impact of removing UK research organisations from three core Horizon 2020 programmes: Excellent Science, Industrial Leadership and Societal Challenges.

Having looked into the collaborative networks formed between institutes across Europe, they discovered that the UK provides excellent connectivity among institutes and organisations for research between countries, revealing their leading role in Excellent Science.

However, analysis within the other two sections - Industrial Leadership and Societal Challenges, suggested that the removal of ‘UK nodes’ had a smaller impact within these areas.

As the UK plays a huge role in the Excellent Science programme, science bodies from the UK and the EU are hopeful that these existing research links continue, however, whether the UK will be able to participate in the next EU research programme Horizon Europe remains undecided at this point.

EU flag

MSMEs ‘engines of social mobility and equality’

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), MSMEs represent about 90% of businesses and more than 50% of employment worldwide. Formal MSEMs contribute 40% of GDP in emerging economies, that number being considerably higher when informal MSMEs are included.

The International Council for Small Businesses (ICSB), a global platform supporting small business, said that despite broad support from most governments, MSMEs are still in need of much political and regulatory relief ‘which will enhance their narrative and support their establishment and entrepreneurial pursuits.’

Read more here.



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 

 The Sustainable Innovation Fund: SBRI phase 1

Apply for a share of up to £10 million to help UK businesses and the public sector recover from COVID-19 in a sustainable way.

Deadline: 5 August 2020

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