Your weekly digest of policy news, funding competitions, and calls for evidence.
What’s been in the news?
Innovations and vaccinations for Covid-19
Researchers from the UK Coronavirus Clinical Characterisation Consortium (ISARIC4C) have developed a risk stratification online tool which can accurately predict the likelihood of deterioration in adults hospitalised with covid-19.
The tool assesses 11 measurements routinely collected from patients. It then calculates a percentage risk of deterioration, known as the ‘4C Deterioration Score.’
Publishing their work in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, the consortium says that this latest development builds on previous work developing the ‘4C Mortality Score’ which predicts the percentage risk of death from covid-19 after being admitted to hospital.
Read more about the predition tool in our article from earlier this month.
In similar news, the UK has helped to raise $1 billion for the coronavirus COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) through match-funding other donors, which combined with the £548 million of UK aid pledged will help distribute one billion doses of coronavirus vaccines to 92 developing countries this year. The UK is using the government’s aid budget, scientific expertise and diplomatic leverage to strengthen global health.
Meanwhile the European Commission has proposed to EU member states the purchase of 200 million more doses of the Covid-19 Pfizer vaccine to begin distribution during the second quarter of this year, contributing to its already broad vaccine portfolio, and allowing the EU to cover the needs of its neighbouring countries. The commission has also concluded exploratory talks with Valneva for securing a further 30 million doses.
President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: ‘The continuing COVID-19 pandemic in Europe and around the globe makes it more important than ever that all Member States have access to the broadest possible portfolio of vaccines to help protect people in Europe and beyond. Today's step toward reaching an agreement with Valneva further complements the EU's vaccines portfolio and demonstrates the Commission's commitment to find a lasting solution to the pandemic.’
Supporting inventors and entrepreneurs
In advance of COP26, in November, and as part of the growing momentum for tackling climate change, the UK-South Africa Tech Hub has launched a new programme ‘Future Females Business School GreenTech Programme’ for young female entrepreneurs. Businesses supported are those in a variety of areas within the green sector such as waste management, eco-friendly beauty or cleaning products and green app development.
The founders of these enterprises should be ready to upskill and utilise technology to grow their business, gain valuable practical entrepreneurial skills, to scale their businesses and be guided to generate more profit and create impact.
UK-South Africa Tech Hub Director, Shirley Gilbey said ‘The Future Females Business School GreenTech Programme is a three-month virtual programme, equipping local female entrepreneurs with the entrepreneurial skills and best practices needed to start and grow successful tech businesses. These businesses not only generate wealth for the founders, but also create a positive impact in communities and environments.’
In similar news, Innovate UK and The Prince’s Trust last week announced the winners of this year’s Young Innovators awards, which went to young inventors who have set out to tackle global challenges such as reducing plastic. Sixty-four young innovators were recipients of an award this year, each will receive a £5,000 grant, one-on-one business coaching and an allowance to cover living costs.
Amanda Solloway, Science Minister said: ‘While the past year has brought significant challenges for us all, it has also shone a light on the best of British ingenuity, with young people across the country harnessing their entrepreneurial spirit to help the UK respond to these challenges.’
SCI’s entrepreneurial competition, the Bright SCIdea Challenge is now open for registrations, in advance of the competition final this Autumn 2021.
EU funds breakthroughs in innovation
This month, the European Commission has announced the first round of direct investment through the new European Innovation Council (EIC) Fund. Over 40 innovative start-up companies and SMEs will together receive equity financing of around €178 million to develop and scale up breakthrough innovations in health, circular economy, advanced manufacturing and other areas.
Under the EIC Accelerator, 293 companies have been selected in total to receive funding worth over €563 million since December 2019. Of these, 159 are to be awarded the funding via the new scheme following an evaluation and due diligence process. The first company to sign an investment agreement was CorWave, a French company, which will make use of the funding to scale up its innovative medical solution ‘Left Ventricular Assist Device‘ as part of their disruptive innovations in cardiac support.
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth said: ‘Europe has many innovative, talented start-ups, but too often these companies remain small or relocate elsewhere. This new form of financing – combining grants and equity – is unique to the European Innovation Council. It will bridge the funding gap for highly innovative companies, unlock additional private investments and enable them scale up in Europe.‘
The regulation of genetic technologies
DEFRA is seeking views on the legislation for GE organisms and breeding methods, following the UK leaving the EU.
Deadline: 17 March 2021
Further information can be found here.
Future UK-EU relations: energy, environment and health
The EU Environment Sub-Committee is holding a short inquiry on the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement as it relates to topics such as energy, environment, chemicals and climate change.
Deadline: 5 February 2021
Further information can be found here.
Commercialising Quantum Technologies: feasibility studies round 2
UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £7 million for feasibility studies or market research projects. Projects must last from 12 to 18 months and must end by 31 July 2023.
Deadline: 10 March 2021
ISCF TFI: large collaborative R&D projects
UK registered business or RTOs can apply for a grant share of up to £8 million for R&D projects to improve the UK’s foundation industries. Projects must last between 12 and 24 months.
Deadline: 10 March 2021
Eureka Eurostars 2: round 15
UK SMEs can apply for a share of up to £2.5 million to collaborate with partners across Europe and associated countries. Grants are available to UK registered research-performing SMEs.
Deadline: 4 February 2021
African agriculture knowledge transfer partnerships (KTP): 2020 to 2021, round 5
UK registered higher or further education institutions, RTOs or Catapults can apply for a share of up to £2 million to fund an innovation project. Business partner must be registered in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya or South Africa.
Deadline: 14 April 2021
You can find further details of the funding calls on the Government website.