PoliSCI we 29 Sep 17

28 September 2017

PoliSCI (w/e 29th September)

What’s been in the news?

Fourth round of Brexit negotiations ‘vital’ to progress, says Davis

David Davis, Brexit Minister, called this week’s talks with the European Union a ‘vital round of negotiations’. Davis credits Prime Minister’s Theresa May’s speech in Florence as a driving factor for the progress he believes has been made. The speech fulfilled its role ‘to change the dynamic and instil real momentum,’ he said.

Davis echoed the need for a two-year transition period, as announced by May last week, and said there had been development in conversations regarding security of citizens and businesses, as well as the financial obligation of the UK to EU partners. Davis said: ‘Our shared future can only be founded on partnership, friendship, and most importantly trust. This is what discussions have been about this week’.

However, while EU chief negotiator, Michael Barnier, admitted that ‘clarity’ had been given to some issues, he said the discussions showed no ‘significant progress’ towards a deal.

UKRI confirms new non-executive board members

A non-executive board for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has been selected, as announced by Jo Johnson, Universities and Science Minister. Included in the 12-strong line-up are Lord David Willetts, a former Science Minister, Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for the government, and Sir John Kingman, who is currently working as interim Chair of UKRI.

Board members will be working closely with Chief Executive Sir Mark Walport to ensure the strategic and successful running of research councils and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. ‘UKRI has a pivotal role in our future as a knowledge economy. This is an exceptionally strong board that will ensure the UK’s world leading research system stays at the frontier of science and innovation for decades to come,’ said Johnson.

Low carbon electricity produces over half of market share for first time

More than half (53.4%) of electricity generated in the last year was from low carbon technology, according to an annual energy trends and prices report by the Department for Business, Energy, Innovation & Skills (BEIS). The report, published on 28 September, covers both domestic and industrial consumers in the UK.

Figures were compared between the second quarter of 2016 and 2017, when low carbon electricity generation was at 46.7%. Renewable energy is also at an all-time high, at 29.8% of overall electricity generation, which BEIS attributes to the growing renewables market and increased capacity of offshore wind generators.

Upcoming events and networking opportunities

Calls for evidence

Deadline: 5 October 2017

Now accepting written submissions, the Science and Technology Committee has called for evidence in regards to its inquiry into research integrity. The inquiry is looking at trends in fraud and misconduct, as well as mistakes in research and publication errors.

Deadline: 13 October 2017

In response to the annual report from the Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, that highlighted the need for mainstreaming genomic medicine in the NHS in the next five years, the Science and Technology Committee is inviting evidence on her recommendations. The Committee is continuing from the interim report produced by previous members before the General Election.

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. 

Funding calls

Competition opens: Monday 4 September 2017

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 opens: Monday 18 September 2017

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 opens: Thursday 21 September 2017

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 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 good vehicles.

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