8 September 2020 | Bryony Parker

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

What’s been in the news?

The European Commission’s plan for secure and sustainable raw materials

The European Commission has launched an industry alliance as part of an action plan to secure Europe’s critical raw materials sustainably; materials that have a high supply risk and have great economic impact. The plans include improving circularity as the EU transitions to a greener economy.

Following a review of the existing list of critical raw materials, which comprises 30 materials, Lithium has been added as it is important for enabling the shift to electric vehicle manufacture.

Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President for Institutional Relations and Foresight said:
‘A secure and sustainable supply of raw materials is a prerequisite for a resilient economy. For e-car batteries and energy storage alone, Europe will for instance need up to 18 times more lithium by 2030 and up to 60 times more by 2050. As our foresight shows, we cannot allow to replace current reliance on fossil fuels with dependency on critical raw materials. This has been magnified by the coronavirus disruptions in our strategic value chains. We will therefore build a strong alliance to collectively shift from high dependency to diversified, sustainable and socially-responsible sourcing, circularity and innovation.”

SCI PoliSCI newsletter 8th September 2020 - image of lithium mining

New measures for safe COVID-19 vaccines

A series of measures have been outlined by the UK government which will allow the roll out of COVID-19 vaccines in a UK-wide vaccination programme. The measures include expanding who can administer the vaccine and launching a training programme to ensure it is distributed and administered as efficiently and safely as possible.

The measures also include permission for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to authorise administration to patients while it undergoes the full licensing process should a vaccine be discovered before 2021. This would be done providing the vaccine meets top safety and quality standards and should allow the efficient deployment of the vaccine if there is a public health urge to do so.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, said:
‘We are making progress in developing COVID-19 vaccines which we hope will be important in saving lives, protecting healthcare workers and returning to normal in future.

If we develop effective vaccines, it’s important we make them available to patients as quickly as possible but only once strict safety standards have been met. The proposals consulted on today suggest ways to improve access and ensure as many people are protected from COVID-19 and flu as possible without sacrificing the absolute need to ensure that any vaccine used is both safe and effective.”

SCI PoliSCI newsletter 8th September 2020 - image of an injection in the upper arm

UK’s first quantum computer

The UK government, in collaboration with industry, has backed the UK’s first commercially available quantum computer with £10 million in funding. This machine will be developed and located in Abington in Oxfordshire. Led by Rigetti Computing, the development will include companies such as Oxford Instruments, Standard Chartered and Phasecraft along with the University of Edinburgh.

CEO of Rigetti Computing Chad Rigetti said:
‘We are excited to deliver the UK’s first quantum computer and help accelerate the development of practical algorithms and applications.
By providing access to quantum hardware, the collaboration aims to unlock new capabilities within the thriving UK ecosystem of quantum information science researchers, start-ups, and enterprises who have already begun to explore the potential impact of quantum computing.’

Such computers will revolutionise sectors across the UK with significant economic benefits - it is expected that quantum computing will provide £4 billion of global opportunity by 2024. The development of these machines and their availability commercially will accelerate drug discovery and allow the UK to harness the opportunities the digital revolution can offer to benefit society.

SCI PoliSCI newsletter 8th September 2020 - image of a computer chip


Calls for evidence 


Potential of marine energy projects in Great Britain: calls for evidence

Seeking views from stakeholders on innovative marine energy technologies across the UK and their potential to better understand their development, timescales and any challenges faced.

Deadline: Date 30 September 2020


Funding competitions


Innovate UK Smart Grants: August 2020

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £25 million IUK funding for disruptive innovations in R&D. Projects must include at least one SME and can last between 6 and 36 months.

Deadline: 25 November 2020

View via the government website


Covid-19 Research Programme

The Health Foundation has launched a new research programme, with a focus on the impacts of COVID-19 in the UK; service change in the health and social care system and health inequalities.
Grants are worth between £100,000 and £200,000 for up to 12 months.

Deadline: 30 September 2020

Health Foundation website


Global Effort on COVID-19 (GECO) Health Research

A new cross-UK government funding call for researcher-led projects that aim to understand the COVID-19 pandemic and its health impacts in low and middle income countries.
Grants are worth up to £1m per award with a duration of 18 months.

Deadline: 28 September 2020

View via the UKRI website


Women in Innovation Awards 2020/21

10 Women in Innovation Awards are available to female entrepreneurs across the UK. The winner will receive a grant and a bespoke package of mentoring, coaching and business support.
The grant is £50,000 for a project duration of 12 months.

Deadline: 14 October 2020

View via the government website


National Institutes of Health (NIH)

This FOA solicits applications responsive only to the COVID-19 public health emergency through support of the CARES Act. The funds will support a total of 5-10 Transformative Research Awards that bring innovative approached to the prevention of outbreaks and response to coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

Deadline: 30 September 2020

View the opportunity and for more information here


Medical robotics for contagious diseases challenge

This challenge is aimed at entries that could provide innovative ideas in support to the COVID-19 pandemic and future global pandemics. The prize fund is worth £15,000.

Deadline: 30 September 2020

View opportunity here


IETF industrial energy efficiency and decarbonsiation studies

This competition aims to support projects for feasibility and engineering studies into energy efficiency and decarbonisation.

Deadline: 28 October 2020

View opportunity here

Show me news from
All themes
All categories
All years
search by