1 April 2021 | Bryony Parker

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

What’s been in the news?

UAE-UK partnership will invest in life sciences

In what is said to be the first agreement of its kind, the UK Office for Investment (OfI) and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Company have signed a long-term investment agreement. Mubadala Investment Company is one of the world’s leading sovereign investors.

The new UAE-UK Sovereign Investment Partnership (SIP) is being launched with an initial fund of £1 billion. Mubadala Investment Company is committing £800 million which will be invested in UK life sciences over five years. The finance is being deployed alongside the UK’s £200 million Life Sciences Investment Programme, announced during 2020. The OfI and Mubadala Investment Company will work together to identify commercially viable opportunities for investment into the sector.

The SIP’s first life science investments are expected to be completed later this year. Mubadala will also connect UK Industries to research and innovation initiatives across its global portfolio spanning more than 50 countries, which has a major focus on innovation and technology-led sectors.

In its statement the Government said ‘Combined, these funds will provide much needed stable investment into the next generation of life science companies around the country. Over a five-year period the SIP will invest across several tech and innovation-led sectors such as energy transition and infrastructure that will support job creation in both nations, strengthen national research and development capabilities and develop new areas of investment collaboration.’

More information on this topic can be found in our news article.

SCI PoliSCI newsletter - 1 April 2021 - image of UK and UAE flags

European Commission invests in health of its citizens

The European Commission has welcomed the start of its EU4Health programme; which will see €5.1 billion invested to strengthen the resilience of health systems and promote innovation in the health sector.

The European Commission said that EU4Health will make a ‘significant contribution to the post-covid-19 recovery’ by making the EU population healthier, supporting the fight against cross border health threats and boosting the blocs preparedness and capability to respond to future health threats. EU4Health 2021, is said to be the largest ever EU health programme in monetary terms, and will provide funding to Member States, health organisation and NGOs.

The programme’s actions include creating reserves of medical supplies, as well as a reserve of healthcare staff and experts who can be mobilised in response to a health threat. EU4Health will also adopt disease prevention and health promotion for the ageing population, and make medicine and medical devices available and affordable, as well as advocating the prudent and efficient use of antimicrobials. It will also promote medical and pharmaceutical innovation and greener manufacturing.

EU4Health will be implemented mainly by the Commission through direct management. A new Health and Digital Executive Agency, which becomes operational on 1 April 2021, will be tasked with the roll-out and management of the annual work programmes.

Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety said ‘…This unprecedented budget of €5.1 billion will enable us to make targeted investments to enhance our crisis preparedness and build stronger, more resilient and more accessible health systems. This is what our citizens expect from a European Health Union.’

SCI PoliSCI newsletter - 1 April 2021 - image of graphic medic/ scientist and virtual network

Government awards share of £1 million for space technology

Five new international initiatives are to receive funding from the UK Space Agency’s National Space Innovation Programme (NSIP) – the first fund dedicated to supporting the UK space sector’s innovation through collaborations with international partners - with further backing from the UK Government.

UK companies and organisations will work with partners such as NASA and space agencies from Canada, Japan and Italy.

The five projects are:

  • Mars Ice Mapper SAR Antenna Feasibility Study, Oxford Space Systems, Oxford, £160,000
  • InRange Launch Vehicle Telemetry Service, Inmarsat, London, £258,000
  • The UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), Long Term Sustainability Guidelines: Promoting Space Sustainability, £85,000
  • Impact-based Flood Forecasting for India, HR Wallingford, Oxfordshire, £265,000
  • Enhancing UK EMCCD camera technology for space applications: from UK involvement in the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope to future global projects, The Open University, £279,000

Dr Graham Turnock, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: ‘Space technologies are part of almost every aspect of our daily lives. With rapid technological innovation, space offers a broad and growing range of opportunities to support economic activity and protect the environment.

These projects champion the best of British innovation while strengthening our partnerships around the world.’

SCI PoliSCI newsletter - 1 April 2021 - image of virtual network globe

Calls for evidence 

Local government and the path to net zero
The inquiry will scrutinise the government’s plans to make all new homes “zero carbon ready” by 2025, and explore how local government can help the UK to reduce its carbon emissions to “net zero” by 2050.

Deadline: 30 April

Further information can be found here.


UK-EU trading relationship
The committee is seeking views on the UK-EU trading relationship and issues relating to these new arrangements including likely future developments in the UK-EU trading relationship.

Deadline: 31 December 2021

Further information can be found here.


Funding competitions

Horizon Europe
The first funding calls under Horizon Europe have been launched through the European Research Council. These are:

To find more about eligibility for Horizon Europe funding for your sector, you can view the national contact points here.


Application guidance: Green Recovery Challenge Fund round 2
The second round of the Green Recovery Challenge Fund supports nature projects across England with funding worth up to £40m.

Deadline: 14 April

More details can be found here: https://www.heritagefund.org.uk/funding/application-guidance-green-recovery-challenge-fund-round-2


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


SME Brexit Support Fund
Businesses established in the UK for at least 12 months can apply for up to £2,000 in total through two types of grants to help with training or professional advice. Apply online here.

Deadline: 30 June 2021

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


Funding calls as part of the Net Zero innovation Portfolio (see The Green Recovery above)

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