Press release: Environment Secretary explores the future of farming at the Royal Norfolk Show

Farmers across East Anglia could produce, sell and export more than ever before following the UK’s exit from the EU with the help of cutting edge technology and innovation, the Environment Secretary said today.

On a visit to the Royal Norfolk Show on 28 June 2017, Environment Secretary Michael Gove met with researchers and businesses at the ‘Innovation Hub’ to find out more about the latest research and emerging agricultural technologies.

From a ‘FitBit for cows’ that provides real time information on the health of a herd, to a demonstration of how ‘agrimetrics’ data can support farmers and boost food production, pioneering agricultural technology (agri-tech) on display at the show could provide new opportunities for East Anglia’s farmers.

Speaking at the show, Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:

Emerging technologies will play a vital role in boosting productivity and growth, unlocking the full potential of our farming industry as we adapt to a rapidly changing world and maintain our leading role on the global stage outside the European Union.

The East of England is a real hotbed of agricultural innovation and the enthusiasm and passion of the region’s farmers, who exported a record £1.6bn of food and drink last year, is truly inspirational.

Agri-tech contributes £14.4bn to the UK economy every year, underpinning the UK’s food and drink industry, our largest manufacturing sector. The government has already invested £160 million through the Agri-Tech Strategy to help develop innovative solutions from the laboratory through to the farm.

Dr Belinda Clarke, Director of Agri-Tech East, an independent membership organisation supporting the development of the agri-tech cluster, said:

Innovation is most effective when it is focussed on solving clearly defined problems. By bringing progressive farmers, who are willing to pilot new approaches, together with those who have potential solutions, Agri-Tech East is facilitating a step-change in agri-food production that is productive, profitable and sustainable.

The Innovation Hub is a good showcase for the agri-tech cluster, showing how collaboration can accelerate innovation based on sound science.

The Environment Secretary also visited the show’s food hall, meeting with food producers from across the east of England, and visited the ‘Broads Village’ which showcases the importance of the National Park to industry, culture and landscapes.

Press release: Government commits to continue funding its share of Europe’s flagship UK-based nuclear fusion research facility

  • government pledges to meet its fair share of funding for the JET project until the end of 2020
  • payment assured if the EU extends the UK’s contract to host the Oxfordshire-based facility beyond 2018
  • announcement underlines government commitment to maintain high quality research in the UK and continued collaboration with EU partners

The government has signalled its willingness to maintain research collaboration with European partners after the UK leaves the EU by committing to underwrite UK funding for the Joint European Torus (JET) project, the Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark has announced today (27 June 2017).

Subject to the EU extending the UK’s contract to host the world-class nuclear fusion facility beyond 2018, the UK has agreed to underwrite its fair share of JET’s running costs, which is based at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in Oxfordshire.

The move supports the UK’s ambition to be the go-to place for scientists and innovators across the world, and secure the right outcome for the UK’s research base as we exit the EU.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said:

JET is a prized facility at the centre of the UK’s global leadership in nuclear fusion research, which is why the government is taking every possible step to secure its future and to maintain highly-skilled jobs in the UK.

Combined with our Industrial Strategy and investment of £4.7 billion for research and development, today’s funding commitment highlights the importance we place on this partnership and our desire for this valuable work to continue uninterrupted.

The JET project is home to the world’s largest and most advanced nuclear fusion reactor and has led global efforts to develop a clean, safe energy source. It supports 1,300 jobs in the UK, 600 of which are highly skilled scientists and engineers.

Science Minister Jo Johnson said:

For nearly half a century, the UK has hosted national and international researchers who have brought us closer to realising one of science’s greatest prizes – a clean, safe and virtually inexhaustible energy source.

Our exit from the EU has not altered our desire and willingness for the UK to continue playing a leading role in furthering our scientific understanding, and today’s announcement aims to provide the necessary reassurance for us to continue this partnership.

The UK’s contract to maintain and run the JET project is managed by the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and is due to end in December 2018. As part of this contract, the EU currently provides around £60 million of funding per year, which represents 88% of JET’s running costs. The UK’s commitment to continue funding the facility will apply should the EU approve extending the UK’s contract to host the facility until 2020. A discussion will then take place on the appropriate funding split.

Professor Ian Chapman, CEO of UKAEA said:

International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is the largest scientific endeavour mankind has ever undertaken and JET is undoubtedly the best place in the world to prepare for ITER’s successful operation. UKAEA are pleased that the UK Government is committed to exploiting JET as we prepare to break fusion records in the next few years.

Today’s announcement follows previous UK commitments to continue European research collaboration. In 2016, the government announced UK businesses and universities should continue to bid for competitive EU funds, such as the EU’s Horizon 2020 research programme, while the UK remains a member of the EU, and the government will work with the Commission to ensure payment when funds are awarded - even when specific projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU.

Press release: Christine Tacon reappointed as Groceries Code Adjudicator

Consumer Minister Margot James has today (26 June 2017) announced the reappointment of Christine Tacon CBE as the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA).

Covering the UK’s 10 largest supermarkets, the Groceries Code was introduced in 2010 to ensure a level playing field between supermarkets and their direct suppliers. The Groceries Code Adjudicator was set up to enforce compliance with the Code in 2013. The news comes ahead of the Groceries Code annual conference on Monday 26 June.

Having held the role of Groceries Code Adjudicator since its launch, Ms Tacon has overseen significant progress in compliance with the Groceries Code.

A recent survey showed an 8% fall in suppliers reporting breaches of the Code in the last 12 months in 2015 and a 17% decrease compared to 2014, with both large retailers and small suppliers reporting improvements in awareness of the Code.

Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility, Margot James, said:

This reappointment recognises the significant and valuable contribution of Christine Tacon in ensuring suppliers get a good deal when doing business with supermarkets.

Under Christine’s guidance, the Groceries Code Adjudicator is now recognised internationally as a model example of modern enforcement. It is vital the government retains this expertise, which is why I am delighted to reappoint Christine and thank her for her work so far.

In 2015 Ms Tacon investigated alleged Code breaches by Tesco, which resulted in the supermarket adopting fairer payment practices and improved transparency in all its dealings with suppliers.

As a statutory requirement, the government reviewed the GCA’s performance in October 2016, and a full report will be made public later this summer.

Press release: Scottish limited partnerships to reveal identity of owners thanks to new laws

  • New laws will force Scottish limited partnerships to disclose ownership and control information
  • Partnerships who fail to comply within 28 days will face fines
  • Laws will help to improve transparency of partnerships and act as a deterrent against their use for criminal ends

Around 30,000 firms registered as Scottish limited partnerships will be forced to reveal their owners’ identities under laws.

There have been allegations that some of these companies have been using these arrangements as vehicles of crime, with a 236% increase in the number of Scottish limited partnerships registered between March 2011 and March 2016.

Scottish Partnerships (Register of People with Significant Control) Regulations 2017, which come into force on Monday (26 June 2017), will bring these firms into line with others in the UK, requiring them to disclose the identity of their beneficial owners within 28 days. If they fail to do so, these partnerships will face daily fines of up to £500.

UK government Business Minister Margot James said:

This government is committed to ensuring all businesses are run responsibly.

These new laws will help to improve transparency of Scottish limited partnerships and act as a deterrent against their use for criminal ends.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said:

These new laws are a sign of the UK government’s commitment to transparency around Scottish limited partnerships.

Campaign groups and media activity have highlighted growing concerns that SLPs had the potential to be used for criminal activity, and by introducing stronger deterrents the UK government is encouraging transparency.

Separately, earlier this year the government launched a review into ‘limited partnerships’ across the country, with a particular focus on those registered in Scotland following allegations that some of these businesses are being used for criminal purposes.

Unlike those set up in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Scottish limited partnerships have their own ‘legal personality’, meaning they can hold assets, borrow money from banks and enter into contracts. A limited partnership is a particular type of business made up of a number of partners, who can be people or other business entities.

Notes to editors

  1. Scottish limited partnerships will need to provide information about the people or legal entities that have significant control.
  2. Guidance will be published alongside the regulations to help Scottish limited partnerships to establish who has significant control over them and to understand the detail of the new regulations.
  3. Information provided by Scottish limited partnerships will be available on the Companies House register.

Press release: Department responds to police identification of Hotpoint fridge freezer involved in Grenfell Tower fire

Following the Metropolitan Police Service’s statement that a Hotpoint FF175BP fridge freezer has been identified as the initial source of the Grenfell Tower fire, the government has ordered an immediate examination of the unit by technical experts to establish the cause of the incident.

This product, which was manufactured between 2006 and 2009, has not been subject to product recalls and this testing will establish whether any further action is required.

Consumers who believe they may own a Hotpoint fridge freezer model number FF175BP (white) or FF175BG (grey) should call Whirlpool Corporation’s freephone hotline on 0800 316 3826 or visit www.hotpointservice.co.uk/fridgefreezer to register their details for further updates.

At this stage there is no specific reason for consumers to switch off their fridge freezer pending further investigation.

Greg Clark, Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said:

The safety of consumers is paramount. The device is being subject to immediate and rigorous testing to establish the cause of the fire. I have made clear to the company that I will expect them to replace any item without delay if it is established that there is a risk in using them.

Customers can expect further updates from the manufacturer about the action it will take in relation to this product and are advised to follow standard safety advice, not overload plugs, ensure sockets are not damaged and check cables and leads are in good condition.

Business Minister Margot James wrote to trade associations representing all major household appliance manufacturers last week outlining the government’s expectation of action by their members should a household appliance be found to have played a part in the Grenfell Tower fire.

People with concerns about product safety can also call the Citizens Advice consumer service line on 03454 04 05 06 or our helpline on 0300 123 1016. The government website on product recalls, which will be updated should further action on the product be necessary, can be found at www.gov.uk/productrecall.

Press release: Government and utility companies announce package of support for Grenfell victims

  • suppliers agree to write off outstanding utility bills for victims of the fire
  • support comes on top of £5 million fund to pay for emergency supplies, food, clothes and other costs

The government today (Thursday 22 June) welcomed utility companies’ announcement of a package of support for victims of the Grenfell Tower fire.

The announcement includes commitments agreed with businesses in the energy and water sectors and comes on top of the £5 million fund previously announced by the Prime Minister to pay for emergency supplies, food, clothes and other costs.

Power companies supplying energy to Grenfell Tower residents have agreed to provide all those affected by the tragedy with reassurance and support. This includes agreeing to:

  • write off any outstanding debts for energy bills for people who lived in Grenfell Tower, while preserving prepayment and credit balances
  • not charging people for energy for the period after the fire
  • not put former residents who have been resettled on a more expensive tariff; and
  • put on hold any direct debit payments for Grenfell Tower residents

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said:

Businesses should play an active role in society and I am pleased that all the energy companies supplying Grenfell Tower have come together and agreed to a set of principles in support of families who have already lost so much.

Thames Water has confirmed that all accounts held by residents of Grenfell Tower have been frozen. For people who lived in Grenfell Tower, Thames Water:

  • has already written off any outstanding debts; and
  • will refund accounts where charges have been paid in advance once details of account holders are known

For those who have been evacuated from neighbouring properties, Thames Water will waive charges so those people will not be charged for a service they have not received.

Recognising the importance of making sure those affected are able to remain in contact with family and friends, telecommunications companies have been providing assistance to those affected in a number of ways including:

  • providing free chargers, handsets and pre-loaded SIM cards (main operators have provided the contact centre with advice on how to access these or have made specific alternative arrangements which the contact centre is aware of)
  • allowing those affected to use in-store web browsing and mobile charging facilities in the immediate area
  • working to identify customers (including those without ID) and to assist with accounts (freezing charges, providing credit etc) for those affected; and
  • working to reconnect broadband customers quickly as they are rehoused.

Energy suppliers

  • Utilita
  • E.ON
  • SSE
  • Ovo
  • Utility Warehouse
  • Flow Energy
  • Ecotricity
  • Npower
  • British Gas
  • Robin Hood
  • Edf Energy

Press release: Government’s clean energy drive invests £35 million in innovative projects

Speaking today (Tuesday 20 June) at the Rushlight Showcase, Minister of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Claire Perry announced funding for 2 innovative clean energy projects which will create local investment opportunities across the country.

Rushlight, a leading provider of clean technology events in the UK, hosts the Summer Showcase which is sponsored by BEIS and Innovate UK. At the event, Claire Perry announced that £35 million funding, from the BEIS Energy Innovation Programme, will go towards smart heating systems and innovation in using hydrogen as a potential heat source.

Under the new investment, £10 million will sponsor the second phase of work by the Energy Systems Catapult on its Smart Systems and Heat Programme. The programme will help develop local energy plans alongside Local Authorities, and bring down the cost of energy bills, while supporting the development of the UK’s low carbon heating projects.

A further £25 million will be invested in potential uses of hydrogen gas for heating, testing the possibility of domestic gas pipes for hydrogen and developing a range of innovative hydrogen appliances such as boilers and cookers.

Minister of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Claire Perry said:

The UK government is committed to leading the world in delivering clean energy technology and today’s investment shows that we are prepared to support innovation in this critical area.

Our aim is for the UK to be a global leader in innovation, science and research and our Industrial Strategy will help us to deliver our ambitious CO2 reduction targets while, creating jobs and opportunities for people across the country.

This investment follows the government’s commitment to double energy innovation investments set out in the Industrial Strategy green paper, to £400 million per year by 2021.

Philip New, Chief Executive of the Energy Systems Catapult, said:

This is very welcome. It is a reflection of the Energy Systems Catapult’s growing track record in delivering challenging and innovative programmes that have impact on some of the most intractable questions in the transformation of the energy system. Phase 2 will see our team working with others, building the foundations for innovative energy service business models, encouraging a new generation of energy service providers and testing new offers for British households.

More details of the BEIS Energy Innovation Programme and funding are available from the GOV.UK Energy Innovation page.

Notes to editors

  1. The government is investing £34.8 million in energy innovation projects: £25 million will be invested in hydrogen gas for heating and £9.8 million will be invested in the Energy Systems Catapult on its Smart Systems and Heat Programme.

ENERGY CUSTOMERS IN THE EAST OF ENGLAND WORST HIT BY BIG SIX PRICE HIKES

ENERGY CUSTOMERS IN THE EAST OF ENGLAND WORST HIT BY BIG SIX PRICE HIKES

  • Households in the East of England will see the highest bill values after the bill hikes come into effect
  • Those in the North West will see the biggest direct rise at £102
  • Bill payers in the South of England could save the most by shopping around
  • Customers on standard variable tariffs with Big Six suppliers that have hiked prices will see bills rise by £97 each on average

 New MoneySuperMarket analysis reveals EDF’s price rise this week combined with the other recent hikes from five of the Big Six energy companies could cost British bill payers £1.2bn collectively. Households on standard variable tariffs in the East of England will be worst hit by rising bills, totalling £1,263 on average – higher than any other area in the UK.1

Bill payers on standard variable tariffs with five of the Big Six suppliers2 have been informed of price hikes ranging from one to ten per cent. According to MoneySuperMarket, affected households will be paying £97 more a year for exactly the same amount of energy.

Before the price rises, bill-payers would have had an extra 600 kWh of energy3 for the same amount of money, which could power the following:

  • An LCD TV for two years
  • A microwave for six years
  • A vacuum cleaner for eight years
  • A low energy lightbulb for 30 years

Regional ‘winners’ and losers

Those in the East of England will be worst hit, with bills for those customers on standard variable tariffs typically totalling £1,2634 – the highest in the country. Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of households on Big Six tariffs in this area are with npower, which announced the highest price rise at 10 per cent, while a third (33 per cent) are with Scottish Power, which increased prices by eight per cent. Five per cent are with EDF, which this week announced another round of price hikes. Households in the East of England could save £389 by switching to a fixed rate tariff.

Households in the North West will see the biggest direct rise following the price rises at £102 on average – but could save £386 by switching to a fixed deal.

What does this mean for bills?

On average, households affected by the price rises could save almost £400 by shopping around and switching providers, totalling £7.4 billion collectively. Those in the South of England could stand to save the most at £390. While British Gas customers might feel lucky to escape a rise, with a freeze on standard variable tariffs applying until August 2017, those customers are still typically paying £1,174 annually – 34 per cent more than those on one of the cheapest fixed deals on the market5.

Stephen Murray, energy expert at MoneySuperMarket, said: “EDF Energy dealt bill-payers another staggering blow yesterday by raising prices once again. At the start of March it hiked electricity bills by 8.4% – and it has now announced a further 9% to electricity and 5.5% to gas, meaning customers will see dual fuel bills rise to £1,160. EDF customers aren’t alone though. The message is loud and clear for the millions of people hit by Big Six price rises: shop around if you’re on a standard variable tariff, or if you’re on a fixed deal that’s coming to an end. Collectively, customers could save £7.4bn by standing up to price rises and shopping around – that’s well worth the seven minutes it takes to switch deals.”

 

 

Provider Average Bill Before Rise Price Rise Average Rise Expected ABV Following Price Rise
Npower £1,158 9.80% £113.48 £1,271.48
EDF £1,140 8.49% £96.74 £1,236.74
E.on £1,142 8.80% £100.50 £1,242.50
Scottish Power £1,184 7.80% £92.35 £1,276.35
SSE £1,184 6.90% £81.70 £1,265.70
Average / Total: £1,162 8.36% £96.95 £1,258.55

2 Providers are: npower, EDF, E.On, Scottish Power and SSE

3 Based on a household using the average amount of energy, at 4,000 kWh – applies to Npower customers who saw 15% increase to electricity prices

4 Regional analysis based on proportion of customers on each of the Big Six suppliers that have increased prices (excluding British Gas)

  Average Price Increase Average Bill Value After Rise Average Savings
North West (Norweb) £101.85 £1,256.28 £385.92
South East (Seeboard) £101.44 £1,257.28 £386.46
London Electricity £100.63 £1,254.24 £389.09
North East (Northern Electric) £99.22 £1,255.82 £388.08
South West (SWEB) £98.64 £1,253.54 £386.43
Merseywise, North Wales and Cheshire (Manweb) £98.27 £1,246.01 £385.19
East of England (Eastern Electricity) £97.78 £1,263.07 £389.24
South West (Swalec) £97.62 £1,249.82 £387.99
North of Scotland (Scottish Hydro Power) £97.61 £1,249.47 £389.38
Southern Electric £97.58 £1,261.22 £389.56
Yorkshire Electricity £97.48 £1,258.17 £387.48
Central and Southern Scotland (Scottish Power) £96.88 £1,247.10 £385.85
Midlands Electric £96.76 £1,261.69 £388.88
East Midlands £95.52 £1,262.14 £389.44

5 Saving figure includes British Gas. Average top ten cheapest deals is £875

 

Customer Distribution Amongst All Big 6 Providers
  British Gas E.ON EDF Energy Scottish Power npower SSE Average Savings After Rise
East Midlands 51% 6% 9% 17% 8% 9% £389.44
Eastern Electricity 52% 9% 5% 16% 11% 7% £389.24
London Electricity 48% 19% 10% 4% 14% 6% £389.09
Merseywise, North Wales and Cheshire (Manweb) 59% 12% 20% 1% 5% 3% £385.19
Midlands Electric 53% 8% 8% 19% 7% 4% £388.88
Northern Electric 53% 14% 10% 8% 10% 5% £388.08
North West (Norweb) 61% 9% 9% 2% 14% 4% £385.92
North of Scotland (Scottish Hydro Power) 43% 16% 21% 2% 8% 9% £389.38
Central and Southern Scotland (Scottish Power) 57% 16% 16% 1% 3% 7% £385.85
South East (Seeboard) 60% 10% 7% 3% 15% 5% £386.46
Southern Electric 50% 8% 9% 17% 10% 5% £389.56
South West (Swalec) 49% 12% 20% 2% 8% 8% £387.99
South West (SWEB) 58% 17% 7% 5% 7% 6% £386.43
Yorkshire Electricity 56% 11% 8% 13% 7% 4% £387.48

If you’re not sure which area you’re in, you can use our handy PES/Distributor Area Checker.

 

Press release: David Sweeney appointed Executive Chair Designate of Research England

The Higher Education and Research Bill, subject to Parliamentary approval, proposes to establish Research England as a Council of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), to undertake the England only research and knowledge exchange functions currently performed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

During the transition to UKRI David will continue in his current role as Director of Research, Education and Knowledge Exchange within HEFCE alongside working as part of the shadow UKRI executive team to set up the new organisation. David will then transition to become the first Executive Chair of Research England upon the creation of UKRI in April 2018.

Research England will oversee the England-only functions in relation to research and knowledge exchange, including providing grant funding to English universities for research and knowledge exchange activities, developing and implementing the Research Excellence Framework in partnership with the UK Higher Education (HE) funding bodies, oversight of sustainability of the HE research base in England and overseeing the £900 million UK Research Partnership Investment Fund. This will secure and enhance the role of the dual support funding system for research, the protection of which will be enshrined in legislation for the first time as part of these reforms.

Announcing the appointment Science Minister Jo Johnson said:

David’s contribution to the UK’s world renowned science and innovation sector will ensure he will establish a strong, strategic vision for Research England. The appointment demonstrates the outstanding leadership he’s shown to the Higher Education Funding Council for England, and his extensive experience will be vital to the creation of UK Research and Innovation.

Sir Mark Walport, UKRI Chief Executive Designate said:

I am delighted that David Sweeney will continue his fine work that he has been undertaking at HEFCE when he becomes the first Research England Executive Chair in UKRI, subject to Parliament.

David Sweeney, Executive Chair Designate of Research England said:

I am delighted to be taking on this role. The UK’s research system is among the very best globally, with over 90% of our world-leading publications having university authorship. The partnerships between our universities and business, health, cultural and social organisations are central to economic growth as well as social and cultural impact. Research England will be an advocate to government on behalf of universities and challengers to universities to deliver to national agendas. The strategic decisions which universities make are central to the future of cities, regions, the nation and our world.

Research England will work with the other councils in UKRI to enhance our global research position and will liaise with the funding bodies in the devolved organisations to contribute at UK as well as England only level. We will also collaborate with the Office for Students as teaching and research agendas in universities are intrinsically linked to deliver both the highly-skilled graduates and new knowledge which our nation needs.

The role of executive chairs will be crucial to the ambition for UKRI to be a world-leading research and innovation organisation. Each of the 9 councils that will be part of UKRI will be led by an executive chair, a role which will combine the responsibilities of the current chair and chief executive of each council.

Notes to editors

1) The Higher Education and Research Bill proposes the creation of a new body – UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) – that will be the strategic centre of the UK’s research and innovation funding system. It will provide a strong and unified voice championing UK research and innovation, facilitating dialogue with government and partners on the global stage. The Bill also establishes 9 Councils within UKRI - 7 of the Councils reflect the functions of the existing Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England.

2) David Sweeney is a statistician and Director (Research, Education and Knowledge Exchange) at the Higher Education Funding Council for England. After gaining First Class Honours in Statistics at the University of Aberdeen, he worked at 2 Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) research institutes, as a consultant statistician then developing mathematical models of plant growth. His work on the computational aspect of this led into broader applications of IT in education and research, and he was Director of Information Services at Royal Holloway, University of London, before moving into university leadership as Vice-Principal (Communications, Enterprise and Research). In this role he was responsible for research strategy and for developing Royal Holloway’s research-led commercial and consultancy activities.

He joined HEFCE in 2008 as Director (Research, Innovation and Skills) and led the development and implementation of the first Research Excellence Framework including the new impact agenda element. He is currently responsible for research policy and funding, knowledge exchange and university/business relations. He also leads on the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund and held the Health Education brief until recently. He has advised many overseas governments on research assessment and funding and was a member of the Finch Group on Open Access to Research Outputs.

David was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Aberdeen in 2012, was Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Newcastle, NSW in 2015 and is a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society.

Press release: Business Secretary announces Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund investments

  • Funding will focus on 6 key areas:
    • healthcare and medicine
    • robotics and artificial intelligence
    • batteries for clean and flexible energy storage
    • self-driving vehicles
    • manufacturing and materials of the future
    • satellites and space technology
  • Government has committed to increasing investment in research and development by £4.7 billion over the next 4 years. The extra £2 billion per year by 2020 to 2021 is the biggest increase in total government R&D investment since records began in 1979.

The government is investing £1 billion in cutting-edge technologies to create jobs and raise living standards, Business Secretary Greg Clark announced today (21 April 2017).

The funding from the flagship Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) will be spent across 6 key areas over the next 4 years, driving progress and innovation that will create opportunities for businesses and sectors across the UK.

The government has worked with businesses and academics to identify core industrial challenges, where research and innovation can help unlock markets and industries of the future in which the UK can become world-leading.

Through the ISCF, government will bring together the UK’s world leading research with the ambitions of business to meet these challenges head-on. The funding allocations announced today are designed to help deliver a step-change in the UK’s ability to turn strengths in research into commercialised products.

The first 3 areas set to receive investment through the fund – healthcare and medicine, clean and flexible energy, and robotics and artificial intelligence – were announced at the 2017 Spring Budget. The Business Secretary has today confirmed the total investment in each field (subject to business case approval):

  • clean and flexible energy or the ‘Faraday Challenge’: an investment of £246 million over 4 years to help UK businesses seize the opportunities presented by the transition to a low carbon economy, to ensure the UK leads the world in the design, development and manufacture of batteries for the electrification of vehicles
  • cutting-edge healthcare and medicine: an investment of £197 million over 4 years to develop first-of-a-kind technologies for the manufacture of medicines that will speed up patient access to new drugs and treatments, building on the exporting strengths of the UK’s biopharmaceutical sector
  • robotics and artificial intelligence (AI): an investment of £93 million over 4 years to make industry and public services more productive, by developing AI and robotics systems that can be deployed in extreme environments which occur in off-shore energy, nuclear energy, space and deep mining

Greg Clark also confirmed today that, subject to business case approval, the 3 additional areas that will be receiving ISCF grants in the next 4 years.

  • driverless cars: to ensure the UK’s reputation as a world-leader in driverless car technology, a sector predicted to be worth £63 billion by 2035, the government will be investing a further £38 million in new collaborative research and development projects, working with industry partners to develop the next generation of AI and control systems need to ensure the UK is at the forefront of the driverless cars revolution
  • manufacturing and future materials: through a new £26 million fund for research and development programmes, the government will support the UK’s civil aerospace industry, a sector which employs over 230,000 people, to develop the next generation of affordable light-weight composite materials for aerospace, automotive and other advanced manufacturing sectors
  • satellites and space technology: building on the UK’s global reputation for satellite technology, a growth industry that underpins mobile technology, the ISCF will provide funding for a £99 million satellite test facility supporting new launch technologies and the manufacturing and testing capabilities that will allow the UK to construct future satellites and deliver payloads into orbit

Further announcements on allocations, including dual support funding, will be made in due course. Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said:

As part of our Plan for Britain this government wants to create a modern Industrial Strategy to support the key sectors of our economy and spread jobs, prosperity and opportunity around the whole country.

Through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund we will provide an enormous boost to our world-class research and development sector, to help turn brilliant British innovations into new businesses and good jobs.

The UK is home to some of the world’s best innovators at the very forefront of global excellence. The funding I am announcing today, providing hundreds of millions of pounds of support to develop the next generation of technologies across a range of sectors, shows our determination and commitment to making sure the UK remains at the very forefront of research innovation for years to come.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, said:

Addressing the UK’s productivity gap is key to raising living standards and ensuring we are match fit to compete in the global economy. That is why I created the £23 billion National Productivity Investment Fund.

As we leave the EU, we are determined to help Britain’s innovators compete with the best and seize the opportunities ahead, and this money will help advance our position as a global leader in developing cutting-edge technologies.

To hit the ground running, Innovate UK has confirmed that it will be supporting a £10 million first wave of projects through the ISCF in each of the 6 areas with a number of smaller projects, starting in 2017 to 2018*. Thirty-five projects have been selected for funding with innovations in projects ranging from fast chargers for electric vehicles and using 3D scanning technology to aid care for hospital patients, to the use of aerospace technology in the creation of biomedical prosthetics.

Chief Executive of Innovate UK Dr Ruth McKernan said:

The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will deliver the science that business needs. By supporting business-led innovation, the industrial strategy will accelerate business growth, boost productivity and create high-skilled jobs.

By announcing these first challenges we are giving businesses the green light to start finding solutions to some of our major societal and industrial challenges and at the same time helping us fully realise economic impact from our world class science base.

Chair of Research Councils UK, Professor Philip Nelson said:

For innovation and growth to be successful there needs to be a strong and coherent innovation chain that joins up fundamental research and industrial expertise across all sectors. The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund supports the necessary environment for new discoveries to arise, innovation to flourish and novel products and services to be delivered. The first of these challenges will maintain and strengthen the UK’s leading position as the best place in the world to research, innovate and grow business.

To support delivery of the ISCF, the government announced at the Spring Budget it will invest £250 million over the next 4 years to continue to build the pipeline of high-skilled research talent.

This will include an additional 1,000 PhD places and support for new fellowships for early and mid-career researchers, both in areas aligned to the Industrial Strategy. This will be supplemented with targeted investment to attract global talent from overseas to the UK, helping to maintain the UK’s position as a world-leader in science and research.

The ISCF was created to ensure that research and innovation takes centre stage in the government’s Industrial Strategy, with investment earmarked for technologies where the UK can build on its world-leading strengths and help innovative businesses to tap into large and growing global markets, as well as the industries of the future.

The fund is being administered by Innovate UK and the Research Councils until the new body UK Research and Investment (UKRI) is formed in 2018. UKRI, under the leadership of its recently appointed Chief Executive Sir Mark Walport, will play a key role in strengthening the UK’s competitiveness through the Industrial Strategy.

The government has now concluded its 8-week consultation on its Industrial Strategy following its open call to people, businesses and local groups across the country to contribute to the vision set out in the green paper. Responses will now be considered before a white paper is published later in the year.

Notes to editors

The 35 projects Innovate UK are funding, subject to the completion of due diligence, through the £10 million investment are made up of 73 different collaboration partners, right across the country and all the projects led by SMEs.

See below for case study examples of the first wave of ISCF projects funded through Innovate UK.

Aerospace technology in creation prosthetics

Birmingham based Wallwork HT are innovators in coating technology and have teamed up with University of Leeds to develop a coating for Titanium alloys that uses technology developed for aircraft landing gear and translates it to the biomedical sector use in prosthetics.

3D scanners for wound care in hospital

Chester based Cadscan are looking to develop a novel, non-invasive diagnostic platform to assist in wound categorisation, treatment planning and monitoring of healing, designed specifically for non-specialist use in a primary care setting. By enabling more consistent diagnoses and treatment it will contribute to lower healthcare costs, faster rates of healing, less incorrect use of antibiotics and greater quality of life for patients with long term health conditions.

Robotics

Bristol based OC Robotics are developing Snake-arm robots for use in the nuclear and aerospace industries. They are developing an intelligent system capable of identifying features/objects of interest, carrying out appropriate activities on the features and then presenting the data with augmented-reality, with tagged locations and all without human intervention.