17 November 2021 | Bryony Parker

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

What’s been in the news?

Innovation Investment

The UK Government has published a letter from its Council for Science and Technology which sets out advice on encouraging scale up investment in innovative science and technology companies.

The letter was sent to the UK’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, on the 23 September, but was made public ahead of the COP26 Science and Innovation Day; held on 9 November. The letter, which is signed by the Council’s Co-chairs; Sir Patrick Vallance and Lord Browne of Madingley, sets out recommendations which look at ‘cultural, behavioural and structural changes needed to help unlock scale up investment.’

The letter states ‘Our advice targets investments over £100 million where there is a significant funding gap. Addressing this gap could propel our most innovative companies to become world leaders.’

The recommendations set out by the Council include: ‘Working with a range of industry and academic partners, with the Government supporting the development of new specialist education and training programmes to build understanding of the value of intangible assets, science and technology expertise and entrepreneurial experience among UK investors and asset owners.’ The letter also calls for encouragement of a ‘…flow of STEM PhDs into the venture capital sector. This should be linked to existing UK Research and Innovation Fellowship programmes and wider UK science PhD training programmes to increase awareness.’

Read the SCI article - UK needs a new approach to innovation investment

 Investment innovation concept

COP 26: Young scientists combat climate change with chemistry

The following is a roundup of COP26 news.

While much of COP26 was dedicated to hearing about what countries pledged to stop doing , such as pursuing coal power and financing fossil fuel projects overseas, it was refreshing to learn about low-carbon technologies and the young people driving their development. At the Next Gen forum, delegates heard from an array of young chemists, all associated with SCI, who are at the sharp edge of this change.

The SCI Youth Panel comprised Brett Parkinson, Senior Engineer of Low Carbon Fuels and Energy Technologist at C-Zero, Natasha Boulding, CEO and Co-founder of Sphera, Dominic Smith, Process Development Engineer at GSK, Jake Coole, Senior Chemist in Johnson Matthey’s Fuel Cells team and Clare Rodseth, an Environmental Sustainability Scientist at Unilever.

Hosted by Nikita Patel, a PhD student at QMUL (Queen Mary University London) and Oliver Ring, Senior Scientist at AstraZeneca, the panel session came to a close with Oliver, summing up proceedings:  ‘Hopefully, we’ve demonstrated that there is action, and it’s being driven by young people like our panellists today,’

You can watch SCI’s Next-Gen debate on YouTube and read the event review on SCI's blog COP 26: Young scientists combat climate change with chemistry

Keep up to date with SCI’s activity around COP26 via our Climate Change hub

In similar news, UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson used  the final days of COP26, held in Glasgow, to call on ministers and negotiators to come together to reach a consensus at the event saying. ‘This is bigger than any one country and it is time for nations to put aside differences and come together for our planet and our people. We need to pull out all the stops if we’re going to keep 1.5C within our grasp.’

COP26 SCI event presenters

UK funds research into neurodegenerative diseases

The UK Government is providing funding of £375 million, over the next five years, to improve understanding and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. Research into motor neurone disease will receive £50 million of the available funds, with a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Motor Neurone Disease Research Unit being set up to attract novel research applications.

The Government has said the motor neurone disease affects 5000 people in the UK, and there is currently one drug licensed in the country which slows disease progression, extending an individual’s life by a few months. The new funding will speed up the progress toward finding better treatments and improve the quality of life for those with motor neurone disease. Other diseases benefiting from the new investment include Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Frontotemporal dementia.

Read the SCI article - UK funds research into neurodegenerative diseases

Scientist in laboratory reviewing brain scans

Calls for evidence 

UK trade negotiations
Submissions are welcomed on UK trade negotiations with the EU including views on the objectives of the Department for International Trade for Free Trade Agreement negotiations.

Deadline: 31 December 2021

Further information can be found on the UK Parliament Committees inquiries website.

Funding competitions

Horizon Europe
To find more on eligibility for Horizon Europe funding for your sector, you can view the national contact points on the UK Government website and search for the European Funding and Tenders on the European Commission website.

Further information on the UK’s association to Horizon Europe can be found on the European Commission website.

Further information on the SME and start-up fund can be found on the European Commission website.

Driving the Electric Revolution – PEMD Skills Hub
UK registered organisations can apply for up to £1 million from Driving the electric revolution for the development of a Power Electronics, Machines and Drives skills hub. Projects must start by 1 April 2022 and can claim a grant of up to £1 million.

Deadline: 15 December 2021

Farming Innovation Programme - small R&D partnership projects
UK registered businesses can apply for up to £11 million for small R&D projects as part of the Faming Innovation Programme, DEFRA. Project eligible costs must be £1-3 million and last up to 36 months.

Deadline: 1 December 2021

EUREKA GlobalStars Taiwan digital industrial collaborations
UK businesses can apply for funding through Innovate UK for collaborative R&D projects focused on industrial research. Grants are available for a total of up to £300,000 for each project which must last between 3 and 24 months and start by 1 August 2022.

Deadline: 15 December 2021

NATEP helping SMEs innovate in aerospace - Autumn 2021
UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £2.5 million as part of the ATI Programme. Industry-led civil aerospace collaborative R&D projects must last between 12 and 18 months and end by 31 March 2024.

Deadline: 12 January 2021

Made Smarter Innovation: Sustainable Smart Factory
UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £20m as a grant for digital innovation projects. Projects must use digital innovations to deliver sustainable solutions and have eligible costs between £1-8 million.

Deadline: 26 January 2021

You can find further details of the funding calls on the Government website.

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