9 March 2021 | Bryony Parker

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

What’s been in the news?

Budget 2021: The UK can be a ‘scientific superpower’

UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has used his Budget to stress that economic recovery requires the UK to be at the ‘forefront of the next scientific and technological revolutions.’

‘Becoming a scientific superpower is something we can be; I don’t think that’s hubristic or unrealistic’ Sunak said.

Looking to an investment-led recovery, the Budget included a £375 million UK-wide ‘Future Fund: Breakthrough’ which will invest in highly innovative companies such as those in life sciences, quantum computing, or clean technology.

Supporting energy generation, port infrastructure will be built for new offshore wind projects on Teesside and on the banks of the River Humber. There was also the promise of £68 million to fund a UK-wide competition to deliver first-of-a-kind, long-duration energy storage demonstrators that will store excess low carbon energy over longer periods. In addition, £4 million will be made available for a biomass feedstock programme.

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

PoliSCI newsletter 9 March 2021 - Budget 2021 - image of a pound coin and graph

Global efforts towards net zero

Last week, Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, spoke at an event hosted by the Aldersgate Group on the importance of Green Industrial Regulation to achieve a Green Industrial Revolution.

Emma commented that world leaders across the globe have expressed commitment to achieving net zero – Prime Minister Boris Johnson has published a 10 point plan, President Joe Biden has spoken of the jobs that will be created as a consequence of tackling climate change, and President Xi Jinping has pledged China would achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. The commitment to achieving such goals and enable the new technologies that will form parts of these roadmaps, requires environmental regulatory support.

Howard Boyd  said ‘Environmental regulation – through its example, enforcement, monitoring and metrics – can support profitable green industry here and demonstrate market effectiveness everywhere, so that no country gets left behind in this century of climate opportunity'.

In addition, the World Economic Forum shared that their Circular Economy initiative will help shape the strategy and approach for the public-private partnership between the Ministry of the Environment, Japan (MOEJ) and the Japan Business Federation.

In similar news, the Chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP said last week ‘The EAC recommended the Bank of England remit expands to ensure that its policies are consistent with the transition to a net zero economy. I am delighted the Chancellor has today announced that this has been adopted. The Bank must now set out before the COP26 summit the steps it will take to reduce the carbon footprint of its corporate bond portfolio to align with the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement.’

PoliSCI newsletter 9 March 2021 - Net Zero - image of a wind turbine

STEM for Britain - Westminster Medal Winner: Ben Fernando

The 2021 STEM for Britain event, this year held online, saw the Westminster Medal, which is sponsored by SCI, presented to Ben Fernando from the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford. Ben’s poster: Seismology at the Extremes: From the Oceans to Mars outlined a code is described as ‘The first open source method capable of simulating seismic wave propagation in the oceans and atmosphere on a global scale in 3D.’ This methodology is also said to be more efficient than conventional methods, resulting in lower energy and environmental costs for simulations.

Ahead of the award, Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne, founder of Genius Foods and a member of SCI’s Board of Trustees said that the high quality of all the posters had made selecting the winner of the Westminster Medal a difficult task. ‘All of the gold medal winners from each of the categories produced incredible work and selecting the Westminster Medal winner was a difficult process,’ Bruce-Gardyne commented. She also acknowledged Dr Eric Wharton and Sue Wharton. Dr Eric Wharton was a SCI London Group Chair and founder of SET for Britain, which is now STEM for Britain.

Five categories are represented at the STEM for Britain event; these being: Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Engineering, Mathematical Sciences, Physics and Chemistry. Each category sees gold, silver and bronze medals awarded. The winner of the Westminster Medal is decided from the five gold medal winners for the poster which communicates its science the best.

Steven Metcalf MP, Chair Parliamentary Scientific Committee said that the high standard of entries indicated the breadth of talent in British science. ‘The past year has shown the importance of all of our scientific communities working together as well as working with government,’ Metcalf said.

Also acknowledging International Women’s Day, along with the need to encourage diversity in the sciences, Metcalf welcomed the work being done to make the sciences more accessible to a wider range of people, and hoped that the scientific community would continue to build on its increased visibility.

In similar news, on 10th March, early-career members of industry will attend the Voice of the Future 2021 event online which will allow them to question key political figures. SCI will be represented by many members of the SCI Corporate Partner network.

For more details of the STEM for Britain event, please read our news article.

PoliSCI newsletter 9 March 2021 - STEM for Britain - image of scientist doing calculations

Calls for evidence 

Role of batteries and fuel cells in achieving Net Zero
The Science and Technology Committee is investigating the role of battery and fuel cell technologies in achieving the UK’s ambition to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Deadline: 29 March 2021

Further information can be found here


Funding competitions

Horizon 2020
To find more about eligibility for Horizon 2020 funding for your sector, please see here: https://www.gov.uk/business-finance-support/horizon-2020-business-grants-uk#additional-information


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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