13 April 2021 | Bryony Parker

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

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Alliance accelerates innovation and entrepreneurship

Sixteen universities from the UK and Singapore have formed an alliance which will accelerate collaborations in entrepreneurship and innovation between the two countries.

The UK-Singapore Universities Alliance for Entrepreneurship and innovation (UKSAEI) was launched on 8 April. UK universities include; Bath, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Kings College London and Strathclyde. Universities from Singapore include; National University of Singapore, Singapore Management University and Singapore University of Technology and Design.

The Alliance, which is supported by the British High Commission Singapore, the UK Science and Innovation Network in Singapore and the UK Universities in Singapore Network, has a number of aims. These aims include; development of cross-border licensing of technologies and human capacity building, as well as acting as a catalyst for commercialisation activities. The Alliance will also boost efforts in accelerating ideas to market.

PoliSCI 13 April 2021 - UK - Singapore university alliance - image of handshake with hand painted UK and Singaporean flag

Government boosts funds for clean energy research

The UK Government is investing more than £30 million to boost research in battery technology, the electric vehicle supply chain, and hydrogen vehicles.

Twenty-two studies, focused on development of automotive technology, will receive a share of £9.4 million. These studies include proposals to build a facility, located in Cornwall, UK, that will extract lithium for use in electric vehicle batteries, along with a proposal for a facility in Loughborough, UK, producing lightweight hydrogen storage for cars and vans. The funding for these studies comes from the Automotive Transformation Fund, delivered through the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC). The APC collaborates with the UK Government, the automotive industry, and academia to hasten the industrialisation of technologies supporting the transition to deliver net-zero emissions vehicles.

The UK Government has committed to phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030; research into alternative ways to power vehicles is a fundamental part of this transition.

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

PoliSCI 13 April 2021 - Clean Energy Research - image of electric car being charged

Horizon Europe funds go to Covid-19 variant research

The European Commission is taking €123 million of funding from the EU research and innovation programme, Horizon Europe, to support research into variants of the coronavirus.

As part of this urgent action, the Commission has launched a series of new calls to develop treatments and vaccines and conduct clinical trials against Covid-19. These will help develop Covid-19 cohorts and networks in and outside of Europe and reinforce the importance of collaboration and transparency of data, expertise and research resources.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: ’We continue to mobilise all means at our disposal to fight this pandemic, and the challenges presented by coronavirus variants. We must use our combined strength to be prepared for the future, starting from the early detection of the variants to the organisation and coordination of clinical trials for new vaccines and treatments, while ensuring correct data collection and sharing at all stages.’

Reference links: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_21_1548

PoliSCI 13 April 2021 - Horizon Europe funding Covid19 research - image of Covid19 virus cells

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 2021

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.


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


SBRI Competition - Assays for SARS-CoV-2 cellular immune responses
Organisations can apply for a share of £1.5million inclusive of VAT, to develop assay systems to define the magnitude and profile of cellular immune responses to SARS-CoV-2. Projects must last up to 12 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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