11 May 2021 | Bryony Parker

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

What’s been in the news?

Tackling climate change

The European Parliament has approved a deal with member states for the investment of €5.4 billion into projects within the Environment and Climate Action (LIFE) which was launched in 1992. LIFE is the only programme at EU-level solely dedicated to the environment and climate and will enter into force retroactively from 1 January 2021. It is set that €3.5 billion will go to environmental activities and €1.9 billion to climate action.

In U.S, the Department of Energy (DoE) has announced up to $12 million for clean technologies to improve the efficiency of geothermal systems for renewable energy production. This funding supports the overall goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

On the topic of COP26 and to mark 6 months before the UK host the meeting in Glasgow, the British High Commission (BHC) and the Canada Climate Law Initiative (CCLI) announced 26 ‘Canadian Climate Champions’. These have been identified as exceptional individuals actively working to move Canada to net-zero emission which includes the Canadian Minister of Infrastructure.

In similar news, The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) have released a Global Methane Assessment which they say indicates that there is an urgent need reduce methane emissions.

According to the report, ‘human-caused methane emissions are increasing faster than at any time since record keeping began in the 1980s.’ Despite the covid-19 induced reduction on carbon dioxide emissions; according to data from the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration the amount of methane in the atmosphere ‘shot up to record levels.’

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

A report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) has highlighted the need for government action to ensure the supplies of critical minerals such as copper, lithium, nickel, and cobalt which are essential for key clean energy technologies. The IEA have identified and recommend six key areas of action for policy makers to speed up the clean energy transition. These include the need for governments to provide long-term commitments in order to ensure a demand for investment into mineral production, as well as promoting technologies such as recycling.

In addition, the International Science Council has launched a dedicated science portal Transform21 to share news and opinions from its network of scientists and change-makers on the way to COP26.

SCI PoliSCI newsletter - 11 May 2021 - image of industrial plant

UK-India agreement seeks to double trade by 2030

The Governments of UK and India have used a virtual meeting to agree deeper trade cooperation; this includes a new Enhanced Trade Partnership, paving the way for a future UK-India Free Trade Agreement.

Trade between the UK and India is valued at £23 billion each year, supporting more than half a million jobs. The ambition is to double this trade by 2030. India has a population of almost 1.4 billion people, bigger than that of the European Union and US combined.

The latest agreement will see over £533 million of new Indian investment into the UK, which is expected to create more than 6000 jobs in sectors such as health and technology. The agreements include the Serum Institute of India investing £240 million in the UK which will be used to on its vaccine business and a new sales office. It is anticipated that the sales office will generate more than £1 billion in new business, £200 million of which will be invested in the UK.

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

SCI PoliSCI newsletter - 11 May 2021 - image of UK and India flags

Covid-19 research continues

The UK government’s Department of Health and Social Care has announced a plan to invest further in state-of-the-art labs which will test the effectiveness of vaccines against new variants.

The Public Health England facilities located at Porton Down, are being funded through the government’s Vaccines Taskforce and the new investment will increase the site’s capacity from 700 to 3,000 blood samples tested a week to fast-track variant vaccines. The £29.3 million investment will ultimately help accelerate vaccine roll out tailored to tackle variants.

Minister for COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment Nadhim Zahawi said: ‘The UK remains at the forefront of vaccine research and development, and today’s announcement will further cement us as a global frontrunner in our future response to COVID-19.’

Similarly, the European Commission has proposed a strategy on COVID-19 therapeutics including treatments for ‘long Covid’ to compliment the EU Vaccines Strategy and will involve the full supply chain from research to deployment.

In similar news, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Germany are launching a global platform for pandemic and epidemic intelligence. Known as the WHO Hub, partners from around the world will have access to data to drive innovations for developing tools for risk analysis and ways to monitor disease control measures and ‘infodemics’. By the end of June, the European Commission will have a portfolio of 5 of the most promising potential therapeutics and it is estimated that procurement contracts will be established before the end of the year.

SCI PoliSCI newsletter - 11 May 2021 - image of scientist researching Covid 19

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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