2 March 2021 | Bryony Parker

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

What’s been in the news?

Horizon Europe’s Work Programme 2021 announced

The European Commission has presented the first Work Programme under Horizon Europe, Europe’s new Framework Programme for Research and Innovation for 2021-2027. This includes three main calls for proposals for frontier research actions backed by nearly €2 billion.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Research, Innovation, Culture, Education and Youth, said: ‘The first call will support young researchers across Europe who are starting their own independent research team or programme. They are the future of European research.’

Furthermore, through the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and the UK, the UK entities including universities, research centres, scientists, innovative businesses and industry will have full rights to participate in the first calls for proposals of Horizon Europe. This association will continue to give the UK access to cross-border networks, supply chains for new products and access to global talent. Participation in Horizon furthers the UK ambition to become a global science superpower - continuing important collaboration on scientific research with EU partners.

In similar news, the European Commission has proposed the setting up of 10 European Partnerships with the aim of speeding up the transition towards a green, climate neutral and digital Europe. The Partnerships will be between the European Union (EU), Member States and/or industry. The EU will provide almost €10 billion in funding that partners will match with at least an equivalent amount of investment.

The ten specific Partnerships proposed by the Commission include global health where work will be done to deliver ‘new solutions for reducing the burden of infectious diseases in sub-Saharan Africa and strengthen research capacities to prepare and respond to re-emerging infectious disease across the world.’ It is hoped that by 2030 this Partnership will have developed and deployed at least two technologies tackling infectious disease, and support at least 100 research institutes in 30 countries to develop additional health technologies against re-emerging epidemics. Other Partnerships include Key Digital Technologies, Innovative Health Initiative and Clean Hydrogen.

For more information on this topic, see our news article on the topic.

SCI PoliSCI newsletter 2 March 2021 - COVAX scheme in full swing - graphic of the EU flag and a syringe

COVAX scheme in full swing

The COVAX scheme, the vaccines pillar of Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, aims to hasten the development and manufacture of Covid-19 vaccines to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world. Last week, 600,000 doses of the AZ/Oxford vaccine licensed to Serum Institute of India have arrived in Accra and Ghana.

In addition, the UK has confirmed it will send the majority of any future surplus vaccines to the COVAX scheme to support developing countries and the EU has doubled its contribution to COVAX to €1 billion to ensure safe and effective vaccines for low and middle-income countries.

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: ‘With this new financial boost, we want to make sure vaccines are soon delivered to low and middle-income countries. Because we will only be safe if the whole world is safe.”

SCI PoliSCI newsletter 2 March 2021 - COVAX scheme in full swing - graphic of the globe

E10 fuel to reduce CO2 emissions

Expected to be introduced later this year, a new blend of petrol and ethanol, known as E10 fuel is set to reduce UK CO2 emissions by 750,000 tonnes a year, equivalent to 350,000 fewer cars on the road. The new advancements from existing blends such as E5 (5% ethanol) will boost the government’s ambitions to reach net zero by 2050, while also securing up to 10 jobs with the reopening of AB Sugar’s Vivergo plant and increasing production and existing biofuel plants including Ensus. In addition, ensuring materials required for E10 are produced and refined in the UK, will support the UK’s wider bioeconomy. E10 is to contain up to 10% of bioethanol.

Grant Pearson, Director of Ensus UK Ltd, said: ‘The benefits for the UK go beyond the environment, particularly in the north east where the Ensus manufacturing facility is based, and supports thousands of jobs both directly and in the supply chain.’

SCI PoliSCI newsletter 2 March 2021 - COVAX scheme in full swing - image of a fuel pump in a car

Calls for evidence 

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.


Technological Innovations and Climate Change: Community Energy
The Environmental Audit Committee is conducting an overarching inquiry looking at technological innovations which could contribute to tackling climate change.

Deadline: 19 March 2021

Further information can be found here


Funding competitions

ISCF Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Demonstrators - EoI
UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £16 million for bold and ambitious demonstrator projects in smart and sustainable plastic packaging. Projects must last between 12 and 36 months.

Deadline: 24 March 2021


Commercialising Quantum Technologies: germinator projects round 1
UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £1 million for high risk, high return, quantum technology projects with defined commercial outputs. Total eligible costs must not exceed £50,000 and projects must start by 1 October and last 6 months.

Deadline: 31 March 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


Farming Innovation Pathways (FIP) – feasibility studies
UK registered businesses and research organisations can apply for a share of up to £5 million for feasibility studies to address the farming challenges of productivity, sustainability, and net zero emissions. Projects must last between 12 and 18 months.

Deadline: 28 April 2021


Innovate UK Smart Grants January 2021
Opportunity for UK registered organisations to apply for a share of up to £25 million from Innovate UK for commercially viable R&D innovations. Projects can last between 6 to 36 months.

Deadline: 26 May 2021


ISCF Digital Security by Design – business led demonstrators phase 1 EOI
UK registered businesses can apply for up to £6 million to collaborate on market demonstrator projects showcasing the use and adoption of digital security by design technologies. Projects must last between 24 and 36 months.

Deadline: 26 May 2021

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

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