PoliSCI (w/e 13 October 2017)

12 October 2017

What’s been in the news?

UK government announces Clean Growth Strategy

The UK government has announced the launch of its Clean Growth Strategy and Industrial Decarbonisation and Energy Efficiency Roadmap Action Plan. The plan estimates that by 2050 the chemical industry could reduce its emissions by 79-88% – a net reduction of 14.6–16.1 MtCO2e – through a combination of carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS), biomass fuel, energy efficiency gains, industrial clustering, and fuel switching.

The Clean Growth Strategy includes investment of up to £20m in a fuel switching innovation programme aimed at overcoming the barriers holding back deployment of alternative fuels, and up to £100m for CCUS. £99m will be invested in innovative technology and research for agri-tech, land use, greenhouse gas removal technologies, waste, and resource efficiency.

Full report and SCI position to follow.

Final round of funding for £48bn railway revamp confirmed

The final stage of the government’s ‘record’ investment into British railways has been announced by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. A total of £48bn will be invested into its development from 2019 to 2024, with a focus on maintenance and renewing existing infrastructure to improve reliability and punctuality for customers. Last year, over one in ten trains were late and 26.4% of all complaints received were on the punctuality and reliability of railway services.

‘As a commuter, I know how frustrating it is to be delayed by problems on the line. Passengers want a railway they can rely on and that’s where this huge investment will make a real difference to their everyday lives,’ said Grayling. ‘This investment is about boosting reliability and punctuality for millions of journeys, and we will do this alongside building major upgrades around the country and delivering new, faster, more comfortable trains.’

Digital apprenticeships amongst first T levels announced

The first three T levels ­– Digital, Construction, and Education and Childcare – have been announced by Education Secretary Justine Greening. The replacement scheme for apprenticeships will launch in 2020 and receive £500 million each year. Content for the qualifications has been developed by industry experts at Rolls-Royce, Lloyds Bank, and EDF, amongst others.

The government has introduced T levels to ‘help deliver a generation of home-grown talent post-Brexit’ and will be equivalent to the more academic A-levels. There will be six routes in total, combining relevant broad knowledge and skills, before being broken down into specialisms for younger people to see a ‘clear path’ for their future. ‘We are transforming technical education in this country,’ said Greening. ‘It is more important than ever that we create an outstanding further education and skills system, giving all young people the opportunity to fulfil their potential.’

Post-16 technical education reforms: T level action plan is available to read here.

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Calls for evidence

  • Brexit – medicines, medical devices and substances of human origin: Health Committee

Deadline: 26 October 2017

Written submissions are now being accepted by the Health Committee, in response to an inquiry on regulatory arrangements on medicines, medical devices, medical products, and substances of human origin after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Evidence for new opportunities and risks are encouraged to ensure a smooth transition between changes in regulation.

  • Electric vehicles: developing the market and infrastructure: Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee

Deadline: 3 November 2017

Experts are called to provide oral and/or written evidence to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee. Topics of particular interest include how electric vehicles can help meet the government’s target to end all sales of diesel and petrol cars by 2040 and the infrastructure requirements for alternative vehicles.

  • Disposable Packaging: Coffee Cups and Plastic Bottles: Environmental Audit Committee

Deadline: Open-ended

Re-opening their previous inquiry, which successfully saw 100 submissions of evidence from academics and industry experts, the Environment Audit Committee are investigating the environmental impact of disposable drinks packaging. Actions being taken by the government and industry to reduce waste are a priority in this inquiry.

  • Brexit – energy security: EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee

Deadline: Open-ended

The EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee has announced a short inquiry to evaluate the impact of Brexit on the energy industry in the UK, and what issues should be prioritised by the UK government when pursuing a new energy relationship with the EU.   

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

Funding competitions

Competition closes: Wednesday 1 November 2017 12:00pm

Proposals submitted for a UK medicines manufacturing and innovation centre will focus on how small-molecule-pharmaceutical and fine-chemical manufacturing processes, to benefit UK productivity. Innovate UK will invest up to £13 million in the centre, with the project lasting up to 3 years; starting by 1 February 2018.

Competition closes: Wednesday 1 November 2017 12.00pm

£30 million is to be invested to create three new advanced therapies treatment centres in the UK. Successful centres will ultimately form a network for research and innovation, and will be coordinated through the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult. Proposals should be on a national level to increase patient access to advanced therapies, and should establish best practice for manufacturing and sale of these products.

Competition closes: Wednesday 1 November 2017 12:00pm

Innovate UK is set to invest up to £15 million in the medicines manufacturing sector through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. Projects need to improve the productivity, competitiveness and growth of at least one small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) in the UK involved in the project. The competition is split into two parts – feasibility projects and industrial research and development projects.

Competition closes: Wednesday 15 November 2017 12:00pm

The Department for Transport, along with Innovate UK, is offering up to £7.9 million to support growth in research and development in national and international rail markets. Projects should address the areas of minimal disruption to train services and/or intelligent trains and should last between six months to two years. Proposals must include at least two organisations, one of them an SME.

Competition closes: Wednesday 13 December 2017 12:00pm

As part of the government’s aim for zero emissions from all vehicles of UK roads, Innovate UK and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles are offering up to £18 million to fund projects that will enable industry-led research into zero-emission vehicle technology, particularly for medium and heavy goods vehicles.  

Competition closes: Wednesday 6 December 2017 12:00pm

To tackle challenges in health and life sciences, Innovate UK is investing £15 million into improving quality of products and sustainability. Projects must involve innovation in the following priority areas: increasing agricultural productivity, improving food quality and sustainability, cell and gene therapies, precision medicine, medicines discovery, preclinical technologies or advanced biosciences.

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