22 September 2020 | Bryony Parker

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

What’s been in the news?

Science Minister advocates wellbeing culture

Minister for Science and Research Amanda Solloway promoted the culture of wellbeing at this year’s Vitae Connections Week 2020. The event is ‘an opportunity to celebrate the successes of a rapid transition to remote delivery of researcher development, as well as an opportunity to learn from peers, test out new platforms for online engagement, and consider the long-term implications of COVID-19 for the future of researcher development and research culture.’

While talking about the People and Culture Strategy, Solloway discussed the hindrances that researchers face, in particular, the prospects of a future in R&D. She highlighted the pressures of acquiring funding or securing permanent employment, but mostly; the culture of bullying and harassment that researchers had witnessed in their work place.

Commenting on the need to promote a culture of wellbeing and stamp out all types of harassment and bullying, Solloway said: ‘I want to be very clear; bullying and harassment are completely unacceptable.’

She added that it is the government’s duty ‘not to condone the behaviour of bullies no matter how talented they may be as individuals’, and said that a culture that would ‘[welcome] the widest range of viewpoints, experiences and approaches’ would result in a more impactful R&D system.

SCI PoliSCI newsletter 22nd September 2020 - image of scientists in a lab

£40 million Green Recovery Challenge Fund

The UK Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund has opened for applications in response to the coronavirus pandemic to build back a greener nation. As part of a wider green economic recovery, a £40 million investment is expected to create up to 3000 jobs including those that deal with climate change and is funded via a partnership between the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Natural England and the Environmental Agency.

Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, said: ‘Reaching net zero by 2050 and achieving the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan goals for nature can only be done by employing the right skills. A lack of STEM skills is estimated to cost industry £1.5 billion a year in recruitment, inflated salaries, and additional training costs.

The £40 million Green Recovery Challenge Fund is a step in the right direction and will help the UK economy be more competitive in the future.’

SCI PoliSCI newsletter 22nd September 2020 - image of business man holding seedling in palms

European Commission funds green and digital transition with €1 billion call

The European Commission has launched a €1 billion call for research and innovation projects that will help mitigate the climate crisis and protect Europe’s unique ecosystems.

The European Green Deal Call is funded through Horizon 2020 and will spur Europe’s recovery from the pandemic. The Commission said that the Green Deal Call differs from previous Horizon 2020 calls, aiming for ‘discernible results in the short to medium-term, but with a perspective for long-term change.’ The focus will be on rapid scalability, dissemination, and uptake.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth said ‘The €1 billion European Green Deal call is the last and biggest call under Horizon 2020. With innovation at its heart, this investment will accelerate a just and sustainable transition to a climate neutral Europe by 2050. As we do not want anyone left behind in this systematic transformation, we call for specific actions to engage with citizens in novel ways and improve societal relevance and impact.’

SCI PoliSCI newsletter 22nd September 2020 - image of EU flags outside EU Parliament


Calls for evidence 

Public Sector Procurement of Food
Evidence is sought after which address questions around the government’s current procurement rules including achieving environmental outcomes, encouraging healthy eating and supporting local suppliers e.g. SMEs.

Deadline: 31 October 2020


Funding competitions

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

View via the government website


APC 17: developing the UK’s low carbon automotive capability

UK registered businesses can apply for grants up to £27 million funding for projects in carbon propulsion capability in the automotive sector. Projects must last between 18 and 42 months.

Deadline: 14 October 2020

Start new application via government website


Manufacturing made smarter: digital supply chain, industrial research

Available to projects that aim to develop digital technologies to aid UK manufacturing supply chains in terms of performance and optimisation.

Grants are for project costs between £1-3 million which start by 1 April and last up to 24 months.

Deadline: 7 October 2020

View via the government website


ISCF Transforming foundation industries: Building a resilient recovery

Projects that support recovery and growth of the UK’s foundation industries could be eligible for a grant of up to £8 million. Projects must last between 3 and 12 months and start by 1 April 2021.

Deadline: 4 November 2020

View via government website


Women in Innovation Awards 2020/21

10 Women in Innovation Awards are available to female entrepreneurs across the UK. The winner will receive a grant and a bespoke package of mentoring, coaching and business support.

The grant is £50,000 for a project duration of 12 months.

Deadline: 14 October 2020

View via the government website


IETF industrial energy efficiency and decarbonsiation studies

This competition aims to support projects for feasibility and engineering studies into energy efficiency and decarbonisation.

Deadline: 28 October 2020

View opportunity here

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