16 March 2020 | Tiffany Hionas

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

What’s been in the news?

The UK government has pledged to increase spending on science

On the 11th March, the UK government announced the biggest ever increase in funding for research and development. Chancellor Rishi Sunak plans that the government will increase R&D investment to £22 billion by 2024-2025.

The government aims to invest £800m in a new blue skies research agency modelled on the US Advanced Research Projects Agency, £800m in carbon capture and storage, £1.4 billion in animal health science infrastructure, £900m in nuclear fusion, space and electric vehicles, £640m for a new Nature for Climate Fund to protect wild habitats and 1bn to develop greener transport.

 Coronavirus vaccine

The EU and UK increases funding to support vaccine development and treatment

The European Commission will invest an additional €37.5 from the Horizon 2020 programme towards research on vaccine development, treatment and diagnostics against the coronavirus.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: ‘The emergency funding from Horizon 2020 enables researchers to work immediately to tackle the outbreak of the Coronavirus on several fronts. Seeing the research community getting in action so rapidly gives us new hope that we will soon be one step closer to our goal of stopping the spread of the virus.’

The UK promises to also invest an extra £46m to develop a vaccine, of which, £16m will be offered to some of the most vulnerable countries to help increase the level of action against the outbreak.


 Sir Mark Walport

UKRI Chief Executive gives rousing SCI lecture

Sir Mark Walport delivered his Public Evening Lecture at SCI in February on ‘Science and Business: Preparing for the Future’, at a moment where the strength of the science, business, and political sectors are being tested by numerous global challenges.

From the multifaceted fight against climate change to the current outbreak of COVID-19, they are tasked with providing an array of workable solutions to a myriad of issues, against a set of growing population and political upheaval worldwide.

In order for the UK to maintain its position as a globally competitive economy, he said, the country must be a world leader in innovation as this Fourth Industrial Revolution progresses.

Read more here

Calls for evidence

Deadline: 24 April 2020

Deadline: 01 May 2020

 Deadline: 30 April 2020


Funding competitions

Apply to investigate new methods for preventing and controlling COVID-19, particularly in low-and middle-income countries.

Deadline: 01 April 2020

Apply for a share of up to £1 million for early stage projects in smart and sustainable plastic packaging.

Deadline: 22 April 2020

Apply for a share of up to £25 million to deliver ambitious or disruptive R&D innovations.

Deadline: 01 July 2020

Applicants are invited to spend up to 36 months (full or part time) on secondment in the biomedical sciences sector.

Deadline: 13 May 2020

Apply for funding in innovation projects across 3 streams. 

Deadline: 15 April 2020

Apply for a share of up to £4 million for collaborative R&D projects addressing major cyber security challenges.

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