08 June 2021 | Bryony Parker

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

What’s been in the news?

Energy round-up

The following is a round up of energy and climate news.

UKRI is investing £14.6 million into projects that will explore using water from abandoned mines to heat homes within the UK. Heating is one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions in the UK and alternative renewable methods are required.

Minister for Climate Change Lord Callanan said: ‘[The recent] funding package will accelerate the development of low-carbon technologies that will both reduce emissions, and ensure people’s homes are warmer, greener and cheaper to run.’

Meanwhile, the European Commission announced last week the start or a new partnership with Breakthrough Energy Catalyst which will mobilise investments of up to $1 billion to scale up clean technologies and reduce CO2 emissions. Sectors that will receive funding are Green hydrogen, sustainable aviation fuels, direct air capture and long-duration energy storage.

In similar news, the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) announced that nearly $4 million of funding of will go to four research and development projects to reduce the risk of CO2 leakage in underground storage facilities caused by seismic disruptions such as volcanos and earthquakes. The research will also contribute towards preventing contamination of U.S groundwater supply that occurs via fissures in geological formations, while also reducing net-zero emissions by 2050. Projects include testing seismic data processing technologies and CO2 location and movement prediction techniques.

SCI PoliSCI newsletter - 8 June 2021 - image a rock cliff face of different geological rock

Covid-19 preparedness update

The following news is a roundup of Covid-19 and future pandemic preparedness.

The UK will host the G7 health meeting in Oxford this week to take action on tackling Covid-19 and share plans around the Pandemic Preparedness Partnership (PPP) also reported on by Sir Patrick Vallance around reducing the time to create a vaccine to 100 days. More information on this topic can be found in our PoliSCI newsletter from 28 April 2021.

Health and Social Care secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘The UK and our partners in the G7 have a strong track record of working together to support each other and protect the most vulnerable. As I gather with my ministerial counterparts, we have an opportunity to learn from this pandemic to collectively build back better and safeguard our global health security.’

In similar news, the first Global Vaccine Confidence Summit took place last week at which it was acknowledged that vaccine confidence, accessibility and availability are all required for ending the pandemic with one of the threats being misinformation around vaccine safety.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General at World Health Organization (WHO), said at the summit: A key driver of vaccination is public trust. Trust must be earned. To succeed in vaccinating the whole world, governments will have to deploy a range of strategies and tailor them to each country.’

SCI PoliSCI newsletter - 8 June 2021 - image of the G7 flags in a row

Space innovations

In a research project to improve our understanding of the loss of muscle in humans in a microgravity environment, hundreds of tiny worms will be flown to the International Space Station (ISS) led by the UK Space Agency with partners at Nottingham and Exeter University.

Libby Jackson, Human Exploration Programme Manager at UK Space Agency, said: ‘This research is the first of three experiments that the UK Space Agency has directly funded, allowing us to increase the benefits available to the UK research community through our membership of the European Space Agency.’

In similar news, the UK Government is funding support for projects that will contribute to removing space debris from Earth’s orbit. Dead satellites and spend rocket bodies can cause serious issues and require removal to reduce the risk of damage to active satellites. The UK is a leading partner in the European Space Agency’s Safety programme which provides opportunities for scientists in the UK for collaboration and funding. Applications are now open for developing feasibility studies through the Space Surveillance and Tracking (SST) programme to make space safer and more sustainable.

SCI PoliSCI newsletter - 8 June 2021 - image of a satellite from space with the earth in the background

Calls for evidence 

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 launched through the European Research Council.

Deadline: 31 August 2021

To find more on eligibility for Horizon Europe funding for your sector, you can view the national contact points here and European Funding and Tenders can be searched here.

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


Funding calls as part of the Net Zero innovation Portfolio


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


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


Driving the Electric Revolution: Supply Chains for Net Zero
Applications for a share of up to £22 million are available for innovation projects focused on supply chain development for power electronics, electric machines and drives. Projects must last between 18 and 36 months and cost between £500,000 and £5 million.

Deadline: 30 June 2021


Active Debris Removal: Call for study proposals
Applications for a share of up to £800,000 in funding from the UK Space Agency are available for ideas that aim to remove space debris.

Deadline: 13 July 2021

More information can be found here.


Innovate UK SMART grants May 2021
UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £25 million for viable R&D innovation projects. Grants are available for projects of 6 – 36 months.

Deadline: 25 August 2021


Biomedical catalyst 2021: early and late stage awards
UK registered organisations can apply for a grant of up to £18 million to develop innovative healthcare products, technologies, and processes. Projects must last between 12 and 36 months.

Deadline: 26 August 2021


ISCF smart sustainable plastic packaging: business-led R&D
UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £7 million for R&D projects, as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. Grants available between £200,000 and £4 million and projects must last between 12 and 36 months.

Deadline: 8 September 2021

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

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