News story: Introduction of Space Industry Bill shows UK’s commitment to commercial spaceflight

The Bill, which was outlined in the Queen’s Speech, is a clear signal of the UK’s commitment to enabling commercial spaceflight from UK spaceports, and a key part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy to ensure the UK businesses capture a share of this emerging global market.

Lord Callanan, Parliamentary under Secretary of State for Transport introduced the Space Industry Bill, which is a joint initiative by the Department for Transport, UK Space Agency and Civil Aviation Authority supported by the Health and Safety Executive.

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said:

The Space Industry Bill will ensure the UK remains a leading player in the commercial space age by enabling small satellite launch from UK spaceports. The measures in the Bill will help make the UK the most attractive place in Europe for commercial launch and enable UK businesses to capture a growing share of this emerging global market.

The emerging markets for small satellite launch and sub-orbital flight are forecast to be worth over £25 billion globally over the next 20 years. They offer exciting opportunities to grow the UK space sector, create local jobs and inspire the next generation of British scientists and engineers.

The main elements of the Bill are:

  • new powers to license a wide range of spaceflight activities, including vertically-launched rockets, spaceplanes, satellite operation, spaceports and other technologies
  • a comprehensive and proportionate regulatory framework to manage risk, ensuring that commercial spaceflight in the UK remains safe
  • measures to regulate unauthorised access and interference with spacecraft, spaceports and associated infrastructure, drawing on the UK’s extensive expertise – particularly in aviation security
  • measures to promote public safety by providing a regulatory framework to cover operational insurance, indemnity and liability

This legislation will ensure the UK can take advantage of new markets, overcome dependence on foreign launch services and benefit from the development of new spaceports and supply chains.

News story: Jobs boost as North Sea field makes first oil delivery

Located around 125 km east of the Shetland Islands, the £2 billion investment in the Kraken oilfield by oil and gas development and production company EnQuest, was made possible by the UK Government’s support for the sector.

The oilfield is expected to contain around 128 million barrels of oil and support more than 1,000 jobs in the UK for each year of its more than 20 year lifespan.

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said:

This is a landmark project for EnQuest and the UK oil and gas sector as one of the largest new oil fields to come on-stream in the North Sea in a decade.

This has been made possible through significant UK government support worth £2.3 billion over two years to encourage investments of this type in the North Sea, supporting thousands of highly-skilled jobs.

We’ll continue to build on this support for the oil and gas sector as it looks to seize the significant opportunities that lie ahead.

The North Sea currently supports around 330,000 jobs across the UK with a supply chain that had an estimated turnover of £28 billion in 2016.

Scottish Secretary, David Mundell said:

This is fantastic news and will help ensure skilled, secure jobs in the vital North Sea oil and gas industry, which is very much still open for business.

The UK Government is committed to helping the oil and gas industry maximise future prosperity. We stand ready to continue to support the industry as its seizes this tremendous opportunity.

The UK Government is continuing to encourage investment to ensure industry is able to maximise the recovery of oil and gas from the UK Continental Shelf in the North Sea.

The Kraken Area (Kraken and Kraken North) is estimated to have 3% of remaining UK oil reserves, 2% of total oil and gas reserves and, at peak in 2019, to be responsible for 3% of total UK oil and gas production.

News story: Product recall

Guidance on how to check latest recalls, register your appliance and who to contact for more information on product safety.

If there is a problem with the safety of a product, its manufacturer is responsible for making arrangements for its repair and replacement or refund. This includes contacting the people who have purchased it where possible and publishing a notice drawing attention to the risk the product poses and what the manufacturer is doing to remedy the issue.

Further information:

News story: Robotics and AI: apply in the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund

Innovate UK is making the funding available for robotics and artificial intelligence technologies in applications such as deep mining, nuclear energy, space and off-shore energy.

This is an Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund activity. It aims to develop robotics technologies that can take people out of dangerous work environments and go beyond human limits.

Demonstrator programme

There is up to £6 million available for projects that stimulate the development of robotics and artificial intelligence demonstrators.

This is the first phase of the competition. Projects should focus on technical feasibility studies of individual technologies, systems or subsystems in extreme or challenging environments.

Phase 2 will run in 2018. This will focus on experimental developments of fully-integrated systems that will be tested and demonstrated in realistic, extreme environments. To be considered to lead a project in phase 2 you must apply in phase 1.

Collaborative research and development

You can apply for a share of £10 million for collaborative research and development (R&D) that results in new and novel systems.

Projects should demonstrate a potential step-change in capabilities. Examples include:

  • innovative materials or systems, for example, actuators, sensors and telecommunications
  • improved robotic capabilities, such as structural and radiation tolerance
  • improved machine vision systems
  • improved situational awareness, navigation, localisation and mapping
  • more energy-efficient devices and systems
  • miniaturised systems, for example, sensors, components and integrated sub-systems
  • systems engineering including verification and validation tools and methodologies
  • mission planning and risk management

The focus is primarily on off-shore energy, nuclear energy, space and deep mining, however, other extreme and challenging environments may also be considered. We are particularly interested in projects that cut across sectors.

Part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund

Robots for a Safer World – part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund

The robots and artificial intelligence challenge is part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

By developing new technologies and systems that can be deployed in extreme environments, this challenge will create a safer working world for people, as well as supporting advances in industry and public services to make them more productive.

Government will invest £93 million in this challenge area over the next 4 years.

Competition information

  • both competitions are now open for applications
  • in the demonstrator competition, projects should last up to 12 months and range in size up to total project costs of £500,000. The competition closes on 19 July 2017
  • in the collaborative R&D competition, projects should last up to 36 months and range in size up to total project costs of £2 million. The competition closes on 2 August 2017
  • all projects must be led by a business
  • businesses can attract up to 70% of their project costs

News story: Innovate UK appointments confirmed

The appointments of Gerard Grech, Priya Guha and Simon Devonshire have been confirmed today (21 April 2017) by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Innovate UK finds and drives science and technology opportunities that will grow the UK’s economy – delivering productivity, new jobs and exports and keeping the country globally competitive in the race for future prosperity.

The board regularly reviews the management and performance of Innovate UK and ensures the organisation delivers its strategic priorities and that resource is allocated effectively in the delivery of these objectives.

Gerard Grech is currently the chief executive officer of Tech City UK, an organisation focused on accelerating the growth of digital businesses in London and across cities in the UK.

Priya Guha is Ecosystem General Manager of RocketSpace, a London start-up space. Priya was a UK diplomat for 20 years, with her most recent post being British Consul General to San Francisco.

Simon Devonshire OBE is co-founder of Talent Cupboard and was Entrepreneur in Residence at the former Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

These appointments have been made in accordance with the Cabinet Office’s Governance Code on Public Appointments. The appointments process is regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

News story: Acas council reappointments confirmed

The reappointment to the Acas Council of the 4 members has been confirmed today (21 April 2017) by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Acas provides free and impartial information and advice to employers and employees on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law. It supports good relationships between employers and employees which underpin business success.

The Acas Council sets the strategic direction, policies and priorities for the organisation, and makes sure that the organisation meets its agreed strategic objectives and targets. It consists of the Chair and 11 employer, trade union and independent members, appointed by the Secretary of State.

Sir Brendan Barber, Chair of the Acas Council said:

I am delighted that the Acas Council will continue to benefit from my colleagues’ invaluable experience in the field of employment relations. They play an essential role as independent and impartial workplace experts.

I look forward to working with them for another 3 years strengthening our reputation as Britain’s number one employment relations service for businesses and employees.


Jane McNeill QC

Jane McNeill is a member and former Head of Old Square Chambers, a leading employment set of chambers. She has been involved in many important and test cases in the fields of employment and discrimination law, including the part-time workers’ pensions (Preston) litigation, the test cases in the Supreme Court and Court of Justice of the European Union concerning the calculation of holiday pay (Williams v BA) and the equal pay litigation.

She has acted for individuals, groups of individuals and NHS Trusts in cases at first instance and appellate level involving whistleblowing and the interpretation and implementation of disciplinary processes and procedures.

She has been a Queen’s Counsel since 2002, a fee-paid Employment Judge since 2000 and has sat as a Recorder in the County Court since 2006. She is an accredited and practising mediator.

Mike Gooddie

Mike is Director of Human Resources for the Canal & River Trust, prior to that he was vice president of Labour Relations for Asda.

Mike began his career with Shell as a graduate trainee working in both the UK and Australia, before progressing on to senior HR positions with British Airways, GNER and the BBC. He has held non-executive positions for Manchester Airport Group (MAG), Community Integrated Care (CIC) and York Archaeological Trust (YAT). He is a graduate of Leicester University and a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA).

Neil Carberry

Neil Carberry is Director for Employment, Skills and Public Services at the CBI, a role he has held since February 2011. Neil has worked at the CBI for the past decade on a wide range of business issues, including employment, employee relations, pay, education, skills and public service reform.

He is a member of the CBI’s Management Board. Before joining the CBI, Neil worked in consultancy on HR issues for financial services firms. He is a member of the Low Pay Commission, which makes recommendations about the level of the UK’s National Minimum Wage. He has an MSc in Industrial Relations from the London School of Economics and is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD. He is the Chair of BusinessEurope’s Employment Working Group.

Paul Nowak

Paul Nowak was appointed Assistant General Secretary of the TUC in February 2013, and was subsequently confirmed as Deputy General Secretary by the TUC General Council in February 2016.

He has responsibility for a number of key policy areas including public services and transport, and for the TUC’s organisation in the English regions and Wales, union organising, inter-union relations and the organisation of the TUC’s annual Congress.

These reappointments have been made in accordance with the Cabinet Office’s Governance Code on Public Appointments. The appointments process is regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

News story: Lord Robert Smith named new chairman of the British Business Bank

Business Minister Margot James has today (21 April 2017) announced the appointment of the Lord Smith of Kelvin as the new non-executive chairman of the British Business Bank.

Lord Robert Smith joins the UK’s national development bank for businesses with over 20 years of chairman experience, most recently as Chair of the Green Investment Bank and of the Scotland Devolution Commission. Lord Smith would begin the role following the successful completion of the sale of the Green Investment Bank, officially taking over from interim Chair, Christina McComb.

Business Minister Margot James said:

With a wealth of knowledge and experience of venture and development capital, I am pleased to be announcing that Lord Robert Smith is joining the British Business Bank.

The British Business Bank plays a crucial role in helping the UK’s 5.5 million small businesses access the finance they need, which will be a great match with Lord Robert Smith’s evident passion for, and background in, supporting the UK’s start-ups and small businesses. I would also like to pay thanks to Christina McComb who has acted as interim Chair for the Bank during the search for a new Chair.

The British Business Bank manages government’s access to finance programmes for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), ensuring finance markets work for smaller businesses, allowing them to prosper, grow and build UK economic activity.

The government’s Industrial Strategy is committed to further improving access to finance across the country, with a £400 million government investment into the bank announced in the government’s autumn statement in 2016. This is expected to attract £1 billion of private sector equity finance, to help small businesses access the capital they need to scale-up.

Keith Morgan, CEO of the British Business Bank, said:

We are pleased Lord Smith will become our new Chairman. Lord Smith’s impressive track record of leadership and his depth of experience will be invaluable to the Bank as it enters a new period of growth and development.

Interim Chair Christina McComb took up the position after the inaugural Chairman Ron Emerson stepped down in September 2016. The British Business Bank is currently supporting more than 54,000 businesses, working with over 90 finance partners. Its programmes support over £3.4 billion of finance to UK smaller businesses and participate in a further £5.1 billion of finance to UK small mid-cap businesses.

News story: Non-executive director appointment to the National Nuclear Laboratory

This appointment takes effect from 21 April 2017. The decision was taken on the basis that:

  • Ms Flint’s skills and experience closely match the needs identified by a recent independent board review
  • her service a non-executive director associate has established her not only as an excellent and clearly appointable candidate but as the likely appointee if the post were advertised and competed
  • NNL is currently undergoing a major programme of business transformation and Ms Flint’s in-depth knowledge of this will be very helpful in the next 2 and a half years, and also help ensure board continuity
  • Ms Flint’s appointment would ensure improved gender diversity in the non-executive side of the board
  • the time, effort and expense involved in running a competitive recruitment would represent poor value and that a direct appointment is a sensible and a pragmatic course of action

National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL)