15 September 2020 | Bryony Parker

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

What’s been in the news?

Government calorie guidelines for food industry

The UK government have agreed a set of voluntary guidelines for members of the food industry in order to encourage healthier eating and thereby reduce excessive calories in everyday foods by up to 20% by 2024.

The guidelines, forming part of the government’s obesity strategy, follow the strong association of Covid-19 cases among those who are overweight. In support of this, Public Health England (PHE) research shows that more severe risks apply to people who are severely overweight including hospitalisation to Intensive Care Unit and even death from Covid-19.

Public Health Minister Jo Churchill said: “We can all do our bit to stay healthy, to help protect us from coronavirus and take pressure off the NHS.

The food industry can play their part, by making it as easy as possible for everyone to eat more healthily. These guidelines will help them take positive action.”

The guidelines outline approaches to calorie reduction and reformulation along with timelines and next steps for PHE. The delivery, takeaway and eating out sectors are particularly encouraged to take action and will play a crucial role in combatting obesity and providing healthier options for consumers.

SCI PoliSCI newsletter 15th September 2020 - image of a person working in a takeaway

Net-zero and ‘Greening’ the post-Covid recovery

Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, Secretary of State for BEIS, was questioned last week on the government’s road to recovery post-Covid-19 and its alignment with achieving net-zero; the goal the UK government have committed to by the year 2050. Extra emphasis was put on tackling climate change while there is time still to do so, with reference to the Paris Agreement goal of preventing a global temperature rise of 1.5°C, following the impact of the pandemic.

There was a focus to ensure the Government’s support of low carbon industries and other pressing inquiries including electronic waste, energy efficiency and hydrogen. The inquiry was launched following on from the Committee’s meeting in May based around the impact of Covid-19 on the environment.

Furthermore, the Government’s response to this comes at a crucial time: in 2021, the UK are to host COP26 and have the opportunity to be the global leader in transitioning to a greener economy.

SCI PoliSCI newsletter 15th September 2020 - graphic of a lightbulb in hands

Further funding for the automotive sector

An extension to the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge fund has been made to further address key areas of development for future disruptive technologies.

Part of an almost £44 million of funding, allocated to the Faraday Battery Challenge, will go towards finalising the development of the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre in Coventry, as well as contributing to the innovative development of batteries for electric vehicles.

Challenge Director for The Faraday Battery Challenge Tony Harper said:

“In order for batteries to play their full environmental and economic role in achieving Net Zero we need to deploy at scale and build supply chains for today’s technology, shift from strong potential to commercial dominance in a new generation of batteries and continue to build world-class scientific capability to sustain us into the future. The announcement today confirms our commitment and determination to build on the hard-won progress the UK has made in the last 3 years on all these fronts and to accelerate progress post COVID-19.”

SCI PoliSCI newsletter 15th September 2020 - image of an electric vehicle on charge


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


Manufacturing made smarter: digital supply chain, industrial research

Available to projects that aim to develop digital technologies to aid UK manufacturing supply chains in terms of performance and optimisation.
Grants are for project costs between £1-3 million which start by 1 April and last up to 24 months.

Deadline: 7 October 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: 16 September 2020

Health Foundation 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


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

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