07 September 2021 | Bryony Parker

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

What’s been in the news?

Genetic innovations

The Regulatory Horizons Council has released a new report which details how the UK could be at the forefront of the future of regulation for genetic technologies.

The Regulatory Horizons Council (RHC) is an independent expert commitee which identifies the regulation required to foster technological innovation. Kwasi Kwarteng, Business Secretary, has welcomed the report and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural affairs (DEFRA) is due to comment following a consultation.

In similar news, DEFRA has granted permission to the UK research institute Rothamsted Research to conduct field trials of wheat that has been genome edited via the CRISPR editing method.The trials will be the first of this kind of wheat, which has been edited to lower the levels of asparagine which is converted into carcinogenic contaminants when baked or toasted.

Project Leader Professor Nigel Halford said ‘We believe that asparagine levels can be reduced substantially in wheat without compromising grain quality. This would benefit consumers by reducing their exposure to acrylamide from their diet, and food businesses by enabling them to comply with regulations on the presence of acrylamide in their products.‘

SCI Newsletter - PoliSCI 7 September 2021 - Genetic innovations - image of genetic manipulation / genetic engineering

The move to new fuel

The production and use of leaded petrol is now over following a 19-year campaign by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and partners. The use of tetraethyllead additive for improved engine performance has had huge negative impact on global health and the environment. However, the UN have emphasised that the urgency is now shifting towards removing lead additives in other products such as batteries and paints.

Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP said ‘Overcoming a century of deaths and illnesses that affected hundreds of millions and degraded the environment worldwide, we are invigorated to change humanity’s trajectory for the better through an accelerated transition to clean vehicles and electric mobility.’

In similar news, E10 petrol, a new blended fuel with up to 10% renewable ethanol which includes materials such as low-grade grains, sugars and waste wood, is now available at petrol pumps. This new blend will cut emissions equivalent to the removal of 350,000 cars each year, and only impacting fuel economy by 1%.

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps said: ‘Although more and more drivers are switching to electric, there are steps we can take today to reduce emissions from the millions of vehicles already on our roads – the small switch to E10 petrol will reduce greenhouse gas emissions as we accelerate towards a greener transport future.’

SCI Newsletter - PoliSCI 7 September 2021 - The move to new fuel - image of two petrol pump nozzles

Plastic waste priorities

The UK Government will be consulting on the ban of a range of plastics in order to reduce environmental impact. The consultation follows similar bans in the past on plastic straws, cotton buds and the reduction in plastic bags, all in-line with the commitment to prevent avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042.

Such an Environment Bill will include new ways to implement the reduction of plastic pollution which include a deposit return scheme, an extended producer responsibility scheme and consistent recycling collections.

At the recent Ministerial Conference on Marine Litter and Plastic Pollution, Inger Anderson, Executive Director of UNEP talked about the impact of plastic in oceans and the thinking around tackling future plastic waste reaching marine life. She emphasised the importance of the design, use and disposal of plastics, with the need to revisit and inform the entire supply chain. She marked the key areas that are required for tackling this global challenge. These include engaging industry to reduce virgin plastic production, improving safe circularity, invest in waste management systems and increase national action.

SCI Newsletter - PoliSCI 7 September 2021 - Plastic waste priorities - image of plastic bottle pollution in the ocean

Calls for evidence 

Digital Regulation
The House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee is to hold an inquiry into the work of digital regulators. The committee will investigate the effectiveness of digital regulation and is seeking response to a series of questions in this area.

Deadline: 22 October 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
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.


SBRI: Digital Regulatory Navigation Platform (Health Products)
Organisations can apply for a share of £3 million to help develop a digital regulatory navigation platform for health product innovators. Eligible costs must be between £250,000 and £1 million and start by 1 November 2021, lasting up to 5 months.

Deadline: 20 September 2021


ISCF Transforming Foundation Industry - Small Scale R&D Strand 2
UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £1.5 million for small scale R&D projects as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. Projects must have a total eligible cost between £75,000 and £250,000 and last between 3 and 12 months, starting on 1 February 2022.

Deadline: 29 September 2021


APC 19: Developing automotive technologies and growing capability
UK businesses can apply for a share of £25 million for late-stage R&D projects to accelerate a net-zero automotive future in the UK. Projects must last between 18 and 42 months and have a total eligible cost between £5 million and £40 million.

Deadline: 6 October 2021


Women in Innovation Awards 2021/22
Women with innovative ideas and who will inspire others can apply for a £50,000 grant and bespoke business support. Projects must start on 1 April 2022 and last for one year.

Deadline: 13 October 2021


Future flight challenge phase 3: strand 2
UK businesses can apply for up to £65 million to develop integrated aviation systems and new vehicle technologies. The funding from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and eligible projects must cost between £500,000 and £4 million.

Deadline: 3 November 2021


EUREKA GlobalStars Taiwan digital industrial collaborations
UK businesses can apply for funding through Innovate UK for collaborative R&D projects focused on industrial research. Grants are available for a total of up to £300,000 for each project which must last between 3 and 24 months and start by 1 August 2022.

Deadline: 15 December 2021

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

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