24 September 2019

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

What’s been in the news?
 Free trade

Ambitious free trade agreement

Australia and the UK are planning a post-Brexit trade deal, hoping to launch a deal which reduces tariff and non-tariff barriers for UK exporters.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss feels Britain is ready to commit to this agreement as quickly as possible, stating that ‘a UK-Australia trade deal won’t just be a good thing – it’ll be a great thing, for our businesses, for our consumers, for our workers and for our two great countries.’

As the UK is one of Australia’s largest trading partners, with around 15,000 UK businesses exporting their goods to Australia, the future of a UK-Australia free trade agreement will increase opportunities for cooperation between the UK and Australian financial service sectors.

Trade between the countries was worth £16.6 billion in the year to March 2019 and more investment will help raise each other’s economy, following the launch of this rapid and ambitious free trade agreement.


The UK is falling behind in the march into the Fourth Industrial Revolution

British businesses fall behind in the transition to automation, finding themselves in an uncompetitive position, unless they manage to beat their G7 competitors in the march into the fourth industrial revolution.

A recent report states that the UK needs to capitalise on new technologies and to come forward soon with a UK Robot and AI Strategy to help businesses, industries and universities transition into automation.

Rachel Reeves, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee had openly spoken about the challenges a lack of automation can bring. Despite the UK’s excellent tech and research base, productivity, economic growth and job creation will be higher in countries who have capitalised on these technologies.

However, the report recognises that this transition risks reducing the quality of work in society, widening inequalities and increasing regional disparities. To ease the transition, and ensuring negative impacts are reduced, it is recommended that the government supports the most affected areas, delivering the necessary incentives required to enable a smooth transition.

 Air and climate quality

An integrated approach to air and climate protection

The upcoming summit will prioritise policy decisions around climate action and air quality. Historically, policy decisions around these two issues have been uncoordinated, with ‘parallel policy making’ seen as a key reason behind poor integration.

In the latest Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) Policy Brief, the benefits of an integrated approach to air quality and climate protection would make an important contribution to the strategies to advance the UN’s climate and sustainable development goals.

An integrated approach combines different expertise and insights to develop one common approach. The impact of the ‘whole’ or integrated response is intended to be greater than the sum of the non-integrated parts. 

Read more here.

Calls for evidence

  • Plastic food and drink packaging inquiry

Deadline: Open

  •   Commercial genomics inquiry

Deadline: Open

  • Electronic waste and the Circular Economy inquiry

Deadline: Open – accepting written submissions

  • Net zero government inquiry

Deadline: Open – accepting written submissions

  • Planetary Health inquiry

Deadline: Open

  • The new farming programme inquiry

Deadline: Open

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

Funding competitions

  •  Commercialising quantum technology: feasibility and industrial research projects round 1
  • Deadline: 30 October 2019

    UK businesses can apply for up to a share of £6 million to work on quantum technology innovation projects.

    Deadline: 30 October 2019

    UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £27 million to work on quantum products and services

    Deadline:  11 December 2019

    UK organisations can apply for a share of up to £2 million for 5G collaborative R&D projects.

    Deadline: 9 October 2019

    ‘Seed corn’ funding of up to £50,000 is available to consortia of UK businesses and research organisations for wave 2 of the UKRI Strength in Places Fund.

    Deadline: 6 November 2019

    UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £1.5 million, to develop automated tunnel examination. 

    Deadline: 20 November 2019

    Up to £3.5 million is available from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to enable data in accountancy, insurance and law.
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