07 October 2019

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

What’s been in the news?
 English flag vs EU flag

Science will be top of the agenda post Brexit

The prime minister is placing science and technology at the top of his agenda, hoping that future investments in this field will fuel a post-Brexit economy.

Although critics feel a no-deal Brexit will hinder the field’s potential to flourish, Boris Johnson cites the UK’s life science and technology sectors as an enormous strength to the UK’s economy.

Johnson feels the UK’s history of scientific discovery has too often been commercialised by other countries, stating that he is ‘changing that’ and wants ‘the lifesaving cancer treatments of tomorrow to be 'discovered and made in Britain.’

Since 2010, governments have pledged £7bn to fund UK R&D by 2022, but government spending has been set to treble, so that total public and private research spending would increase to 2.4% of GDP by 2027.

 Electric vehicle

EV transition calls for tax on road usage

Reaching zero net emissions by 2050 implies that the tax taken from petrol and diesel will eventually be reduced to nothing.

The IFS (the Institute for Fiscal Studies) feels Britain should move to a system of road pricing, stating that it would still be necessary to compensate for the £28bn loss of revenue from fuel, as the country transitions to electric powered cars.

Rebekah Stroud, an IFS economist and co-author of the report stated that, ‘cuts to fuel duties over the last two decades have contributed towards revenues being £19bn a year lower than they would have been.’

‘The bigger challenge is that revenues are now set to disappear entirely over the coming decades as we transition to electric cars. The government should set out its long-term plan for taxing driving, before it finds itself with virtually no revenues from driving and no way to correct for the costs – most importantly congestion – that driving imposes on others.’


Ocean-related solutions to mitigate climate rise

Ocean-related approaches to fighting climate change could play a considerable role in meeting the Paris Agreement’s target and keeping climate change within its cap at 1.5 degrees Celsius. Jane Lubchenco, an American environmental scientist co-authored a recent report highlighting the ocean’s key potential in being a source of solutions.

Jane Lubchenco and her collaborators have drawn similar conclusions to two recent international reports analysing different ocean-based activities to reduce and store emissions. Ocean-based renewable energy, ‘blue carbon’ ecosystems, and carbon storage in sea bed are all various ways to lessen emissions.

Lubchenco feels these solutions are ‘ambitious’ but also ‘necessary’ as they ‘pay major dividends toward closing the emissions gap in coming decades and achieve other co-benefits along the way.’

Calls for evidence

  • Plastic food and drink packaging inquiry

Deadline: Open

  • Commercial genomics inquiry

Deadline: Open

  • Electronic waste and the Circular Economy inquiry

Deadline: Open – accepting written submissions

  • Net zero government inquiry

Deadline: Open – accepting written submissions

  • Planetary Health inquiry

Deadline: Open

  • The new farming programme inquiry

Deadline: Open

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

Funding competitions

Deadline: 30 October 2019

UK businesses can apply for up to a share of £6 million to work on quantum technology innovation projects.

Deadline: 30 October 2019

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £27 million to work on quantum products and services

Deadline:  11 December 2019

UK organisations can apply for a share of up to £2 million for 5G collaborative R&D projects.

Deadline: 22 January 2020

Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund is funding an opportunity to apply for a share of up to £5.4 million. This involves taking part in the application of whole genome sequencing to analyse cancers.

Deadline: 6 November 2019

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £1.5 million, to develop automated tunnel examination. 

Deadline: 20 November 2019

Up to £3.5 million is available from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to enable data in accountancy, insurance and law.
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