6 May 2021 | Bryony Parker

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

What’s been in the news?

Commission re-examines genomic techniques

The European Commission has published a study on New Genomic Techniques (NGTs) which indicates that the technology has the potential to contribute to sustainable food systems as well as benefiting other sectors of society. The study also concludes that current GMO legislation, adopted in 2001, is not fit for purpose with regard to the new technologies. The Commission will now start a ‘wide and open consultation process’ to discuss the design of a new legal framework for NGTs. The study was requested by the Council of the European Union.

The Commission defines NGTs as ‘techniques that are capable of altering the genetic material of an organism and have emerged or have been developed since 2001, when the current legislation on genetically modified organisms was adopted.’

The study confirms that NGTs, and their products, have developed rapidly in the last 20 years and there is considerable interest in research on new genomic techniques in the EU, but most of the development is taking place outside the EU. The study indicates that the current regulatory framework is negatively impacting public and private research on NGTs.

The study does point out that the use of NGTs ‘raises ethical concerns’. But opportunities being missed as a result of not using NGTs also raises concerns. However, based on the findings, the study indicates that most ethical concerns relate to how these techniques are used, rather than the techniques themselves.

For more information on this topic, read the full article on our website.

SCI PoliSCI newsletter - 6 May 2021 - Commission re-examines genomic techniques - image of strawberries on a farm

EU rules could impact UK battery sector

The UK Parliament’s European Scrutiny Committee (ESC) has released a report highlighting potential impacts for the UK’s battery sector as the EU considers new rules for electric vehicle batteries. Even though the UK has left the EU, some aspects of proposed EU rules for battery production could have an impact on inward investments in the UK, the Committee says.

One specific issue highlighted is that of the proposed ‘full life-cycle regulatory framework.’ The ESC says that the framework would seek to ensure that battery raw materials are supplied sustainably and responsibly, that battery products are environmentally friendly and once used the products are recycled. The ESC contends that if such a framework were established and enforced in the EU, and partly because the EU market is bigger than the UK, it could lead to greater investment in the EU battery sector rather than the UK.

The Committee also highlighted that the proposed EU Regulation, which is aimed at promoting the development and sustainability of batteries, could affect the UK as a whole. This is because of both the impact of Northern Ireland’s alignment with the UK internal market, and the provisions of the EU-UK Trade Agreement; limiting how much of an electric car may contain materials not sourced from either the UK or the EU.

For more information on this topic, read the full article on our website.

SCI PoliSCI newsletter - 6 May 2021 - EU rules could impact UK battery sector - image of a battery

Tackling the climate crisis

A Net-Zero Producers Forum has been established between the energy ministries of Canada, Norway, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the Unites States, together representing 40% of global oil and gas production. The forum will allow countries to develop six new initiatives to tackle climate change which include the development and deployment of clean-energy and carbon capture and storage technologies. This forum sets the US on the path to achieving 100% clean electricity by 2035 and net-zero emissions by 2050.

Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said ‘President Biden is ready to go big on a clean energy transition that remakes our economy, builds new businesses, and puts millions of Americans to work.’

‘These initiatives will move the U.S. and the world forward on lowering emissions, deploying new technologies, and creating jobs so that we can do right by our planet and our people.’

In similar news, last week, Alok Sharma, President of COP26, welcomed Germany and the U.S. to the second meeting of the Zero-electric Vehicle Transition Council. They gathered to discuss the speed of the transition to zero emission vehicles required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. Independent experts were present in the UK’s Committee on Climate Change and the International Council on Clean Transportation.

Alok Sharma said: “Unless we make real progress in the next 9 years – as 2030 is the date we are all striving for – I think it’s going to be very challenging to keep global temperature rises at 1.5 degrees and keep us on track for net zero by 2050.”

SCI PoliSCI newsletter - 6 May 2021 - Tackling the climate crisis - image of wooden tiles spelling net zero

Calls for evidence 

UK space strategy and UK satellite infrastructure
The Government has established a new National Space Council as a Cabinet Committee and requires views on the UK’s global position as a space nation including aims of a new UK Space Strategy.

Deadline: 23 June 2021


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 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 on eligibility for Horizon Europe funding for your sector, you can view the national contact points here.

Further information on the SME and start-up fund can be found here.


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


Innovation loans: April 2021 open competition
Businesses with innovative projects can apply for loans to improve the UK economy. Funds are available to loan between £250,000 and £1.6 million for UK SMEs and projects must last up to 4 years.

Deadline: 2 June 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

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