15 June 2020 | Tiffany Hionas

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

What’s been in the news?

VMIC collaborates with Oxford Biomedica

The Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC), funded by UKRI through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, has announced a collaboration with Oxford Biomedica. The alliance will ensure that once a covid-19 vaccine has been developed, there will be enough capacity to produce vaccines in mass quantities.

Both parties will be working to facilitate the manufacture of viral vector-based vaccines, specifically the adenovirus vector-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate, AZD1222.

As part of this collaboration, VMIC will provide Oxford Biomedica with manufacturing equipment to rapidly set up two new Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) production suites. The equipment will be located within Oxford Biomedica’s new commercial manufacturing centre, in Oxford, UK.

In addition to this, Oxford Biomedica will provide training to VMIC staff to ensure they have the capability to rapidly increase the UK’s capacity to manufacture viral vectors vaccines.

Vaccine syringe

Urge for Brussels to step-up role in COVID-19 vaccine planning

To strengthen Europe’s preparedness for pandemics, Brussels has been urged to take on more responsibility in vaccine planning and production.

Six governments from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Poland and Spain delivered a letter calling on the EU to rapidly accelerate vaccine production capacity by sharing the financial costs of vaccine development with pharmaceutical companies.

The letter from EU governments calls for a coordinated approach to production of vaccines, including a call to increase financial support via EU funds.

A deal was recently struck to support the fast production of a covid-19 vaccine, with the European Investment Bank investing in 100 million to back-up BioNTech’s vaccine programme known as BNT162.

European commission flags

Nine grant winners share £10 million to secure UK’s digital services

The UK government has announced the names of nine academic research teams that will share £10 million to develop solutions to strengthen the security of digital devices and services.

Grant winners will create enhanced software and applications that ensure code is secure and hacking attempts can be contained. Each team will create a working example of their solution, using prototype chips, to showcase the economic and societal benefits of their secure technology.

Read more here.

Computer algorithm

Calls for evidence

 Call for Proposals needing rapid access to the Diamond synchrotron. 

Diamond is offering priority rapid access for projects directly related to SARS-CoV-2 virtual proteins. 


Deadline: Not specified 


 The science of covid-19

Investigate the scientific and technological aspects of covid-19, including the transmission and spread of the virus, the development of vaccines and treatments and the application of digital technologies for tracking and modelling.

Deadline: 30 June 2020


This encourages research generation sequencing and other high-end genomics applications and genomic data analysis related to the  COVID-19 epidemic. Submit you proposals or access projects related to the COVID-19 crisis.


Deadline: 30 June 2020


Funding competitions


Covid-19 rapid response rolling call

DHSC and UKRI have launched a rolling call for proposals for research into covid-19. Research should cover an understanding of the disease, prevention and management of the covid-19 outbreak.

Deadline: 1 April 2021 

Support for R&D intensive SMEs

As part of the Chancellor’s £1.25Bn support package, £750m R&D funding (as grants and loans) will be available through Innovate UK’s grants and loan scheme. First payments will be made available mid-May.

Deadline: Not released

 Repurposing of UKRI grants for covid-19 purposes

Apply to repurpose your grant to support research into covid-19.

Deadline: Not specified 

 Future flight

As part of UKRI’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, the second phase of the Future Flight Challenge is launched. Funding is now available for innovations to help change the way we fly.

Deadline: Not specified

 Sustainable plastic solutions

Apply to win funding for early-stage, design projects to reduce plastics’ harm to the environment.

Deadline: 16 September 

 UK’s low carbon automotive capability

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £30 million for UK-developed late stage R&D, to support the automotive sector and the development of technologies capable of low emissions.

Deadline: 8 July

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