29 September 2020 | Bryony Parker

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

What’s been in the news?

EU Commission revises Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive

The European Commission has proposed a fourth revision of the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive to improve the protection of workers from cancer causing substances. The proposal was developed collaboratively by scientists with representatives of workers, employers and EU Member States, the Commission said.

In the latest revision, forming part of the Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, carcinogens with new and updated limit values are acrylonitrile, nickel compounds and benzene. The Commission says that each year around 120,000 work-related cancer cases occur as a result of exposure to carcinogens at work in the EU, leading to approximately 80,000 fatalities annually. With the new revision in place, it is estimated that the new revision will benefit 1.1 million employees.

Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, said: “A workplace should be a safe place and yet cancer is the cause of half of the deaths linked to work. Today's update to the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive is one of the first steps in our ambitious plan to beat cancer. It shows that we are determined to act and will not compromise on workers' health. In the backdrop of the major health crisis due to COVID-19, we will redouble our efforts to ensure that workers in Europe are protected. We will look into concrete ways on how to achieve this via the future occupational safety and health strategic framework.”

SCI PoliSCI newsletter 29th September 2020 - image of cancer-cells-illustration

UKRI announce funding for Recycle Week 2020

Last week saw the 17th Recycle Week, organised by Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP). The theme for this year was ‘Together – We Recycle’, the focus being to ‘thank the nation for continuing to recycle despite the challenges covid-19 has presented’. The week was supported by many well-known brands including Sainsbury’s, Highland Spring, Unilever UK and Co-op.

In light of Recycle Week 2020, UKRI have announced seven organisations that have received a share of £235,000 in funding for projects that tackle plastic pollution and improve the UK’s recycling capabilities. The funding is part of the ISCF Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging challenge and project aims must focus on delivering a more circular economy for plastic packaging.

Paul Davidson, challenge director of the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging challenge, said: “Plastic is a major part of our lives and as we all grow more environmentally aware, the calls to move away from plastic to preserve the planet have become louder.”

“It is very apt this funding is being announced today. Recycle Week is a call to all of us to step up our efforts to protect the planet.”

SCI PoliSCI newsletter 29th September 2020 - image of recycle symbol and different rubbish

Government funding to take action on space junk

Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for BEIS, has announced over £1 million in government funding for seven innovative UK space projects in order to protect satellites from ‘space junk’. Following a near-miss in 2018, when mission controllers avoided a collision between a piece of debris and satellite CryoSat-2 which was monitoring ice caps, action is now being taken to reduce the risk of such an impact and protect satellites that are critical for the future.

It is estimated that there are 20,000 pieces of debris orbiting the Earth, following fragmentation from previous space missions which have increased over time to become potentially dangerous and disruptive to active working satellites. Only a small piece of junk can cause major problems and will only escalate without action.

This government funding will help projects such as London-based Lift Me Off which will use AI to distinguish between the flying debris and working satellites. In addition, ground-based astronomists will have improved and uninterrupted views following Andor’s scientific detector camera to track the debris.

These projects mark the beginning of applying the best of UK science and innovation to tackle the major space challenges of the future.

SCI PoliSCI newsletter 29th September 2020 - image of space junk debris in earth orbit


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


ATI Programme strategic batch: expression of interest October 2020

Funding available for projects to contribute to a competitive UK civil aerospace sector. Grants available are part of a government and industry £3.9 billion deal.

Deadline: 21 October 2020



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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