11 October 2019

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

What’s been in the news?

EU will have its own AI regulations

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, has announced that she will focus on delivering ethical and human centred rules on artificial intelligence. Vestager will lead the EU Commission’s group on AI, which comprises of a body of 52 experts across industry, civil society and academia, to enforce regulation and address guidelines to make AI trustworthy.

Vestager hopes to implement ethical guidelines to build the EU’s reputation as the world’s technology watchdog but has promised not to over-regulate to an extent that could disrupt innovation or slow progress.

She will also oversee start-up growth strategies and rules for digital platforms. Her focus on start-ups will be crucial as start-ups have become powerful catalysts for innovation and digitalisation.

 Carbon emissions

The Environment Agency tackles carbon emissions with new plan

The Environment Agency (EA) has announced on 10 October that it will become a net zero carbon organisation by 2030. It aims to ensure its supply chains will remove as much carbon out of the atmosphere as it emits.  

To achieve this goal, the Environment Agency will have to reduce the emissions of its own activities and supply chain by 45% and address remaining emissions through measures, such as tree planting.

Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, stated, ‘Alongside working with communities to plan and adapt for the unavoidable impacts of climate change, we must also take action as an organisation to reduce our own contribution to this existential threat.’

To achieve its ambitious goals, the EA will produce a carbon reduction plan. Taking a collaborative approach, it will work with suppliers and stakeholders to harness technological innovations to reach its goals.

 Air pollution

China air pollution levels are set to be improved

A team of experts from China and the UK has analysed emissions from major contributors to ambient air pollution, including coal, oil, natural gas and biomass power plants.

When China introduced the Ultra-Low Emissions (ULE) Standards Policy in 2014, experts created a nationwide model by compiling data from thermal energy production to estimate future reductions. Using China's Continuous Emission Monitoring Systems network (CEMS) for the first time, they collected data covering 96-98% of Chinese thermal power capacity.

Between 2014-2017, the team of experts discovered significant annual decreases in emissions. The team predicts that emissions will continue to reduce if they persist with meeting the ULE standard.

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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