6 July 2021 | Bryony Parker

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

What’s been in the news?

COVID-19: therapeutics and future pandemic preparedness

The below is a roundup of news regarding Covid-19.

The European Commission’s European Medicines Agency is reviewing five possible therapeutics to treat Covid-19. These include newly developed monoclonal antibodies – different combinations developed by different pharmaceutical companies such as Eli Lily and GSK.

Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, said: ‘Today we are taking the first step towards a broad portfolio of therapeutics to treat COVID-19. Whilst vaccination is progressing at increasing speed, the virus will not disappear and patients will need safe and effective treatments to reduce the burden of COVID-19. Our goal is clear, we aim to identify more front-runner candidates under development and authorise at least three new therapeutics by the end of the year. This is the European Health Union in action.’

The European Innovation Council Fund has invested €12 million (€2.16 million of which is granted through the EIC Accelerator) to support Xenothera in the development of a Covid-19 treatment. Xenothera’s technology is based on a polyclonal antibody approach and, as commented by Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, this is ‘an important step to boost Xenothera in their development of an antibody treatment for Covid-19 infection’.

Finally, a group of research software engineers from the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) have developed software to help governments respond to future pandemics. The experts, brought together by the Scottish COVID-19 Response Consortium (SCRC), have developed a prototype data pipeline to ensure traceability and quality control of elements that go into producing results that feed into policy decisions. Such tools should help epidemiologists advise government.

SCI Newsletter - PoliSCI - 6 July 2021 - image of a Covid19 cell

Space flight technology and sustainable aviation

The UK Space Agency has announced Government grants, worth up to £15,000, to accelerate technologies in the space field and encourage collaboration between industry, academia and new entrants into the space sector.

The call comes from the National Space Technology Programme and aims to fund three-month projects that support technological innovation in space.

Charles McCausland, Head of Major Projects and Technology Development, UK Space Agency, said: ‘As we recover from the impact of the pandemic, this programme will play an important role in nurturing new collaborations and supporting early-stage ideas which have the power to grow the space sector, create jobs and strengthen the UK’s position in the global space market.’

In similar news, the UK Government has launched the first round of its £3 million Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure (ZEFI) competition to aid infrastructural development for hydrogen aircraft such as charging points for planes. This funding comes as part of the UK Government’s Ten Point Plan and will support the aviation sector to achieve net zero by 2050.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: ‘Sourcing sustainable fuels are critical if we are to cut emissions and build a competitive future for Britain’s aviation industry. Today’s funding once again shows the Jet Zero Council is driving forward our ambition to make flight cleaner and greener.’

SCI Newsletter - PoliSCI - 6 July 2021 - image of a plane above

Urged to phase out coal

COP26 President-Designate Alok Sharma, has said that coal power must be ‘[consigned] to history’ if we are to keep the 1.5 degree temperature limit alive. He was speaking at the Powering Past Coal Alliance’s London Climate Action Week European roundtable. He added that wind and solar energy are now cheaper than coal in most parts of the world, with those countries part of G7 already committed to end support for coal power.

In similar news, the US Department of Energy have awarded $45.5 million for research projects that will improve understanding on natural and biological processes to support the development of clean biofuels. Areas of research pursued by the awardees include re-engineering microbes for converting plant biomass and synthetic polymers into valuable biofuels.

Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said ‘led by the unparalleled scientific capabilities at DOE’s National Labs and America’s world-leading research universities, these projects will help us develop low-carbon products that drive economic growth while building a more sustainable world for our children and grandchildren’.

SCI Newsletter - PoliSCI - 6 July 2021 - image of a chimney emitting black smoke

Calls for evidence 

Net Zero Governance
The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee has launched an inquiry to examine the leadership and co-ordination required by government to deliver net zero by 2050. Views on metrics for measuring progress and structures and models to implement are sought after.

Deadline: 27 August 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 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 UK’s association to Horizon Europe can be found here.

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


Automotive Transformation Fund Expression of Interest: Round 12
Registered UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £1 billion for projects that help industrialise the electrified automotive supply chain at scale in the UK.

Deadline: 21 July 2021


National Space Technology Programme - Grants for Exploratory Ideas
Grants are available of up to £15,000 to UK companies for space-based technologies or research. Projects supported are to be 3-months long.

Deadline: 12 August 2021

Further information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/announcement-of-opportunity-national-space-technology-programme-grants-for-exploratory-ideas


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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