30 July 2021 | Bryony Parker

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

What’s been in the news?

UK committed to leading global innovation

The Government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has unveiled an Innovation Strategy which sets out a long-term plan to boost private sector investment across the UK.

The Government says that its Strategy takes lessons learned from the pandemic and applies them to find solutions to fundamental challenges facing the UK, including the relative decline in business R&D investment and the skills gaps. To achieve its aims, the Government has said that it will set ‘clear direction, urgency and pace on the issues confronting the UK that we need to tackle with the private sector in the coming years.’ These issues will be determined by the new National Science and Technology Council.

The Government is also outlining seven strategic technologies to prioritise and build on including clean technologies, robotics, genomics and artificial intelligence. The Government will work with a range of bodies, including universities, charities and innovation institutes. Innovate UK and UKRI have been asked to put the Strategy into operation.

To further boost innovation, the Government has also launched a consultation looking at ways to remove red tape which no longer meets the UK’s needs. This will include regulations that the UK inherited as a former European Union Member. This consultation is an initial response to a report by the independent Taskforce on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform (TIGRR), commissioned by the Prime Minister.

One of the TIGRR proposals is to move away from the EU’s Precautionary Principle and adopt a ‘Proportionality Principle.’ This would mean regulation is reset to focus on outcomes, not processes and be proportionate to the issues and impacts on business and people, the Government said.

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

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Covid-19 round up

The following article is a round up of Covid-19 news.

The European Commission has short-listed 11 projects, involving 312 research teams from 40 countries as part of the Horizon Europe innovation programme. Worth €120 million, the research will focus on Covid-19 variants.

Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, said: “The European Union has been taking strong action to fight the coronavirus crisis. Today we are stepping up our research efforts to meet the challenges and threats that coronavirus variants present. By supporting these new research projects and reinforcing and opening relevant research infrastructures, we continue to fight this pandemic as well as prepare for future threats.”

Team Europe (the EU, its institutions and all 27 Member States) is ensuring access to safe and affordable Covid-19 vaccines around the world and has announced that it will share with low and middle-income countries at least 100 million doses by the end of 2021.

References: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_21_3803

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Clean energy innovations

The UK Government is providing £15 million of funding to support 8 companies in developing first-of-a-kind production plants to turn waste into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). As part of the Prime Minister’s 10 point plan, the Green Fuels, Green Skies (GFGS) competition will accelerate projects to convert household waste, alcohol and carbon from the atmosphere and sewage into jet fuel at commercial scales. It was reported that this would save more than 70% emissions compared to fossil fuels.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:
‘Aviation will be central to our future growth and plans to build back greener from the pandemic, which is why we have invested over £20 million in the past year to decarbonise the sector in line with our world-leading net zero targets.

With 100 days to go until COP26, we’re ramping up our efforts even further to help companies break ground on trailblazing waste to jet fuel plants and put the UK at the forefront of international SAF production.’

In similar news, the US Department of Energy (DoE) announced $28 million in funding to support 5 research projects that will accelerate the potential of supercomputers. Such research will use computational methods, algorithms and software to simulate chemical reactions. Findings of the research can then be applied to clean energy innovations.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. ‘These investments will help sustain U.S. leadership in science, accelerate basic research in energy, and advance solutions to the nation’s clean energy priorities.’


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Calls for evidence 

Mapping the path to Net Zero
The Environmental Audit committee is inviting written evidence submissions and is seeking views on areas such as the priorities of net zero goals for local authorities.

Deadline: 26 August 2021


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


Nature-based solutions for climate change
The House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee is conducting an inquiry into Nature-based Solutions for Climate Change to assist in achieving the UK’s target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Deadline: 10 September 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.


National Space Technology Programme - Grants for Exploratory Ideas
Grants of up to £15,000 are available 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-ideash


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


SBRI – Healthy Ageing Social Ventures industrial research
Organisations can apply for a share of £3 million inclusive of VAT to develop products and services to support healthy ageing. Projects must have total eligible project costs from £50,000 to £150,000 inclusive of VAT.

Deadline: 15 September 2021

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

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