PoliSCI: UK-New Zealand deal, sustainable farming incentive, AI rulebook and more

21 July 2022 | Semira Berhe

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UK and New Zealand flags

New Zealand collaborates with UK agritech sector to boost SME growth

Innovate UK has set up the Global Business Innovation Programme (GBIP), which is aimed at assisting UK agritech small and medium-sized firms (SMEs) pursue development and innovation opportunities through partnership with New Zealand peers. The agreement is set to enhance the research and development in the area of new technologies, grow significant scientific relationships, and foster business innovation initiatives.

Additionally, it aims to help 15 different innovation-focused UK businesses that are working on solutions to relevant industry challenges, such as the necessity for more efficient and precision farming which can be achieved by satellite data and robotics.

David Golding, Interim Deputy Director, Global at Innovate UK said: ‘This GBIP is a key part of Innovate UK’s commitment to foster the international growth of innovation-focused business in the UK. It will provide an ideal platform for UK agritech businesses to grow and scale by developing productive relationships with peers and other research, development, and innovation-focused organisations in New Zealand.’

The opportunities from the partnership could be vast. According to Technology Investment Network, the top 22 exporting agritechs alone earn revenues of over £821 million and are growing fast. Their investment in R&D has grown 6.5% in the last year, to over £59 million.”


Sustainable Farming Incentive opens

The Sustainable Farming Incentive has opened for applications in England. This programme is available to farmers who receive Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments. The scheme highlights the need for sustainable practices that improve food production and the wider environment.

Farming Minister, Victoria Prentis, said:

‘The Sustainable Farming Incentive is designed to be accessible and recognises the importance of domestic food production to our national resilience. Farmers will receive payment within three months of their agreements starting, and payment rates are more targeted and less prescriptive than previous EU schemes. We want to support farmers with the choices they take for their farms, and I urge them to apply.’

The Agricultural Transition Plan, the UK's new system of farming outside the EU, structured in the interests of UK farmers, is introducing three new environmental land management programmes, the first of which is the Sustainable Farming Incentive. By making investments in the ecosystems that support food production – healthy soil, clean water, and biodiverse ecosystems – the incentive of the scheme will ensure long-term food security.

The scheme will open with two soil standards recognising the importance of healthy soil for successful farming that will lead to a better environment. There will also be a moorland standard, where the scheme will pay farmers to evaluate the condition of moorland as a way to develop further activities in the future through existing and new schemes.

Artificial intelligence graphic

The UK is submitting proposals for a new AI rulebook to unleash innovation and increase public confidence in technology

The UK government has released an artificial intelligence (AI) paper which outlines its approach to regulating UK technology and proposes rules on future risks and opportunities, helping companies clarify and consume AI systems.

The UK at present has one of the world's leading AI sector, leading in Europe and third in the world in terms of private investment. Last year domestic firms acquired $4.65 billion in AI technologies. Benefits of AI technologies extend from the tracking of tumours in Glasgow to the general improvement of animal welfare in various Belfast dairy farms.

In addition, AI has had significant impact on accelerating production in the UK. This year's study predicts that more than 1.3 million UK businesses will use AIand invest more than £200 billion in the technology by 2040.

The paper outlines how developers can maintain proper standards in the AI sector. The six core principles that are highlighted by the government are:

  • To ensure that AI is used in a safe manner
  • To ensure that AI is technically secure and functions as designed
  • To allow AI to be appropriately transparent and explainable
  • To consider fairness
  • Identifying a legal person to be responsible for AI
  • To clarify routes to redress or contestability

The government will also look at ways to improve coordination among regulators and review their capacities to ensure they have the necessary tools to provide a global regulatory framework for AI. Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Acting Chair of the AI Council, said:

‘We welcome these important early steps to establish a clear and coherent approach to regulating AI. This is critical to driving responsible innovation and supporting our AI ecosystem to thrive. The AI Council looks forward to working with government on the next steps to develop the White Paper.’

Calls for evidence 

Consultation on Extending the UK REACH Submission
UK REACH is seeking views on proposed measures to extend the current UK REACH submission deadlines for transitional registrations. The UK REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals).

Deadline: 1 September 2022

Greenhouse gas removals (GGR) business models

The Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy is looking to set out the Government’s initial proposals for a business model to support deployment of engineered GreenhouseGas Removal (GGR) projects. They are seeking views on the early proposals, the main design elements of the business model, and options for developing a market for negative emissions in the UK.

Deadline: 27 September 2022

Further information can be found on the UK Parliament website.

Funding competitions

Horizon Europe
To find more on eligibility for Horizon Europe funding for your sector, you can view the national contact points on the Government website as well as search for the European Funding and Tenders. Further information on the UK’s association to Horizon Europe is available in the UK participation in Horizon Europe document.

Further information on the SME and start-up fund can be found on the European Commission website.

Horizon Europe Guarantee

This funding is to deliver the UK government’s Horizon Europe guarantee, open to UK-based organisations successful in the first and second wave of Horizon Europe grant awards.

Deadline: No submission deadline

Faraday Battery Challenge Round 5 Innovation: Feasibility Studies

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £25 million across two strands, for innovation in propulsion battery technologies for electric vehicles. Total costs must be between £100 000 and £750,000 and last up to 12 months.

Deadline: 17 August 2022

Design Foundations July 2022

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £2 million for early-stage, people and planet centred design projects to influence their future R&D activity. This competition is open to single applicants and collaborations. Project leads must be UK registered businesses of any size and public sector, charity or not-for-profit.

Deadline: 31 August 2022

APC22: Industrialising net-zero automotive technology

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of £40 million for late-stage R&D projects based around a net-zero automotive future. Project leads must be UK-registered businesses of any size. Consortia must include a vehicle manufacturer or Tier 1 supplier and must involve at least one micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME).

Deadline: 7 September 2022

Knowledge transfer partnerships (KTP): 2022 to 2023 Round 3

UK registered academic institutions, RTOs or Catapults can apply for a share of up to £9 million to fund innovation projects with businesses or not for profits. Organisations must be a UK registered higher education or further education institution, research and technology organisation (RTO) or Catapult collaborate.

Deadline: 14 September 2022

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

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