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Weekly Policy Round-up: 10 November 2017

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Innovate UK announces loans for late stage innovation

Dr Ruth McKernan, CEO of Innovate UK, today announced the launch of a loans programme for UK SMEs in the later stages of product and/or service development. Speaking at the Innovate 2017 conference, Dr McKernan said the loans are designed to help businesses ‘fill the gap between proof of concept and then getting their product, or service, out on the market’.

Each successful business will receive a loan between £100,000 and £1m to help fund their project. The pilot loan scheme will take place over two years – ending in late-2019 – and will invest up to £50m for innovative projects. ‘The UK really needs businesses to innovate so that we can stay competitive as an advanced economy, and so we can create jobs that will drive up growth and productivity,’ said Dr McKernan, adding that we ‘need to be able to do things others can’t’ to succeed in this aim.

Read the full story here.

GSK President confirmed as new Chief Scientific Advisor

The government has announced its new Chief Scientific Advisor – Dr Patrick Vallance, President of R&D at GSK. Vallance will also assume the role of Head of the government’s Office for Science, and will provide the Prime Minister with advice on policy matters relating to science and technology. He will begin his new role in March 2018.

‘I am hugely excited about this opportunity to serve the UK government at a time when science has never been more important to the UK’s economy and future,’ Vallance said. ‘Science, engineering and technology have a vital role to play at the heart of policy-making and are critical to economic growth and prosperity in the UK as well as addressing many of the greatest challenges of our time.’

Winners of £68m robotics fund announced

Four projects will receive funding totalling £68m for research into robotics and AI in extreme conditions, said Claire Perry, Energy Minister, at Innovate 2017. Projects aim to develop robotics for safer working environments in areas such as off-shore energy and deep mining, and will be backed through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) will manage four winning research hubs with this focus – including a hub co-funded by the UK Space Agency – which will receive £44.5m over three and a half years.

EPSRC Chief Executive, Prof Philip Nelson, said of the win: ‘These new robotics hubs will draw on the country’s research talent to nurture new developments in the field of robotics and provide the foundations on which innovative technologies can be built. The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund is helping us achieve a joined-up approach to research, discovery and innovation.’

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