PoliSCI (w/e 24 May 2019)

24 May 2019

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

What’s been in the news?
english countryside

Defra publishes first 25 Year Environment Plan review

A new review has shown that Defra has either delivered or are progressing on 90% of the actions from its 25 Year Environment Plan in the first year since its publication. Since its January 2018 publication, substantial progress has been made on Defra’s 25 Year Environment Plan’s aim to produce a long-term approach to improving the natural environment in England, concludes a review by the department.

Arguably, the biggest achievement so far is the publication of the draft Environment Bill in December 2018, which Defra says ‘puts accountability for the natural world […] at the very heart of government’. Currently underway is the establishment of an Office for Environmental Protection, which will keep the government accountable for its adherence to environmental law and work on the delivery of the 25 Year Environment Plan.

Read the full article, here.


UK government introduce new plastics ban

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has announced a ban on sales of plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds from April 2020. While there will be a total ban on plastic drink stirrers, plastic straws will still be available to purchase at pharmacies. Plastic straws will only be available to use on request and cannot be displayed at bars and restaurants. This announcement follows evidence submitted to a Defra consultation that included questions on the use of plastic straws by disabled people. Plastic cotton buds will also be available to buy but only for research, for example in forensic science. The government will continue to work on reducing single-use plastics in the UK.

‘Urgent and decisive action is needed to tackle plastic pollution and protect our environment. These items are often used for just a few minutes but take hundreds of years to break down, ending up in our seas and oceans and harming precious marine life. So […] I am taking action to turn the tide on plastic pollution, and ensure we leave our environment in a better state for future generations,’ said Gove.


EU bioeconomy support a priority for Eastern European ministers

Ten agriculture and research ministers from EU’s Eastern member states are set to sign a declaration asking for more EU support for a cross-sector approach to R&D across the bioeconomy, including food, farming and bioenergy. Several factors for the low productivity of the sector in these countries, which is less than half of seen in Western Europe, have been identified, including the impact of Soviet and post-Communist histories, densely populated countryside in the East, and a lack of funding. While the Horizon Europe budget is still to be defined, it is expected at least €50m will be set aside for bioeconomy development.

‘We want to achieve [a] bioeconomy [that] is a cross-sectoral, horizontal issue: that in those countries we start strategic thinking which would require discussion across ministries. We need to join forces, agriculture and research ministries, to see the future and to try to use the European funds in a better way,’ said Barna Kovács to Sciences Business. Kovács is Secretary General of the BIOEAST group – a network of East European governments that aims to coordinate the bioeconomy work of the nations it supports.  

Calls for evidence

Deadline: 31 May 2019

Deadline: 12 July 2019

  • Science & Technology Committee: Technologies for meeting Clean Growth emissions reduction targets inquiry

Deadline: Open – accepting written submissions

For Parliamentary Calls for Evidence please see the Parliament Committee page.

Funding competitions

Deadline: 5 June 2019

The UK and South Korea have announced a joint funding competition for up to £1m for R&D projects under the EUREKA programme.  

Deadline: 3 July 2019

UK-based SMEs can apply for a share of £1.5m to develop innovative medical devices, diagnostics and regulated digital technology to evaluate their product in a real-world clinical setting.

Deadline: 10 July 2019

Up to £25m of collaborative match funding is available to support late-stage R&D in advanced low carbon propulsion capability in the automotive sector.

Deadline: 15 July 2019

A £2m pool of funding is available to UK businesses developing photonic technologies in partnership with organisations from EUREKA countries.

Deadline: 24 July 2019

Companies can apply for a share of this £240,000 Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition to develop innovative AI solutions for radiological diagnosis.

Deadline: 24 July 2019

A share of £25m is available to deliver ambitious or disruptive R&D innovations with significant potential for impact on the UK economy.


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