Press release: Winners of £51 million government competition to develop world-leading self-driving car testing infrastructure unveiled

  • the 4 projects will test the speed, safety and potential opportunities for delivering CAV innovation, helping ensure the UK remains world-leading
  • 4 consortia have been selected in this first round, led by HORIBA MIRA, Millbrook Proving Ground, TRL and the Warwick Manufacturing Group

Four projects across 5 locations in the West Midlands have today (19 October) been awarded a total of £51 million in funding for creating the environments needed to fully test CAV technology.

  • HORIBA MIRA in Nuneaton will build a new site alongside its existing vehicle test tracks where automated vehicles can be tested at the limits of their speed and handling to ensure they are safe
  • Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire and Remote Applications in Challenging Environments (RACE) based in the Culham Science Centre in Oxfordshire will set up a range of different test areas mimicking increasingly realistic city driving environments, where automated vehicles can be tested before being taken onto public roads
  • 2 projects will adapt real world locations for testing of automated vehicles in live traffic:
    • TRL will lead a project to set up live test environments in Greenwich and Stratford’s Olympic Park in London
    • Warwick Manufacturing Group will set up real world test environments in Coventry and Birmingham

Reflecting the UK’s ability to compete globally in this hotly contested sector, Jim Hackett, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ford Motor Company, opened Ford Europe’s Smart Mobility Innovation Office at the Olympic Park in Stratford yesterday. It will initially host 40 specialists brought together to develop smart mobility technologies for cities.

All the CAV projects announced today will be fully operational and advancing technology development in this sector within the next 18 to 24 months.

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said:

Combining ambitious new technologies and innovative business models to address social and economic challenges lies at the heart of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy. Accelerating connected and autonomous vehicle technology development is central to achieving this ambition and will help to ensure the UK is one of the world’s go-to locations to develop this sector.

These projects, backed by government, form part of a globally unique cluster running from our automotive heartlands in the West Midlands, down through our innovation centres in Oxfordshire and Milton Keynes, through to London, Europe’s only megacity.

To achieve this, government and industry are working together to create the world’s most effective CAV testing ecosystem, integrating existing proving grounds and public road test sites across the UK’s existing automotive sector, strengthening existing capabilities and creating new ones.

This new ecosystem will be co-ordinated through MERIDIAN, a new government-backed and industry-led hub to develop CAV technology in the UK.

The MERIDIAN programme lays the foundation for a truly unique, world class, future transport technology testing ecosystem in which automotive and digital sectors can compete globally, and emerging businesses have unprecedented access to facilities.

Chair of the Auto Council Technology Group, Graham Hoare said:

Currently no other country has taken this innovative leveraged national approach and this can be a major differentiator on the global stage. This will be a globally unique set of capabilities that is co-ordinated and developed to provide a solution to industry that will enhance delivery efficiency, collaboration and knowledge growth.

Launch Director of MERIDIAN, Jim Campbell said:

As connected and autonomous vehicle technology becomes more complex, ensuring that the UK automotive industry has world-leading facilities to test and refine concepts is of imperative importance. Today’s announcement from government is a strong first step to ensure the UK achieves its ambition of becoming a global hub of CAV development in the coming years.

The MERIDIAN will offer world class CAV testing and development in the UK which allows us to accelerate research, development and adoption of these vehicles.

Director of Manufacturing and Materials at Innovate UK, Simon Edmonds, said:

This first wave of testbed infrastructure investment is crucial at establishing a UK cluster of excellence to test and develop autonomous vehicle technology. This is another good example of how the UK is leading the way on this exciting agenda, and how UK companies can take advantage of the massive opportunities it presents.

This important investment, as part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy, will further boost the UK’s opportunity to secure a share of the global connected and autonomous vehicles market that is expected to be worth up to £51 billion by 2020.

Automotive and technology companies will be able to accelerate their research programmes in real-life environments in UK cities, along with specially designed virtual and controlled test environments.

As well as securing high quality jobs for the future, it will unlock significant social benefits such as improving safety and provide better mobility access for the young, the elderly, and the disabled.

Yesterday the government introduced the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill as part of plans to boost the green transport revolution. The Bill will increase the access and availability of chargepoints for electric cars, while also giving the government powers to make it compulsory for chargepoints to be installed across the country and enabling drivers of automated cars to be insured on UK roads.

Notes to editors

1) The projects are the first to be funded from the government’s £100 million Connected and Autonomous Vehicles testing infrastructure programme announced in November 2016 and will be matched by industry.

2) The £51 million funding will be allocated across the UK: £31 million in the West Midlands, £7 million in Oxfordshire and Bedfordshire, and £13 million in London.

3) The winning CAV projects are:

Project title Location Public funding Total project value* Consortium partners
Smart Mobility Living Lab: London Greenwich and Stratford (Olympic Park) £13.4m £19.2m TRL (leader), Digital Greenwich, London Legacy Development Corporation, Cisco, Costain, Cubic, TfL, Loughborough University (London campus), and delivery partners, Millbrook and 5G Innovation Centre (University of Surrey)
UK Central CAV Testbed Coventry and Birmingham £17.6m £25.3m Warwick Manufacturing Group (leader), Amey, AVL, Costain, Coventry University, Horiba Mira, Transport for West Midlands, Wireless Infrastructure Group
MCTEE (Millbrook-Culham Test and Evaluation Environment) Millbrook (near Milton Keynes) and Culham (near Oxford) £6.9m £10m Millbrook Proving Ground (leader) and UK Atomic Energy Authority’s Remote Applications in Challenging Environments (RACE, at Culham Science Centre)
TIC-IT (Trusted Intelligent CAVs) Nuneaton £13m £26m HORIBA MIRA (leader) and Coventry University

* Full 50% industry match will be met through operation and maintenance of the project facilities.

4) Since the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles was created in 2015 the government has awarded more than £100 million to 51 projects researching and developing connected and autonomous technology advancement.

These projects are all collaborative, involving more than 150 individual organisations from SMEs to global companies. 51 of these projects include a number of high profile trials to understand how members of the public will interact with the vehicles. These include:

  • the GATEWAY consortia which will run four autonomous shuttles around the Greenwich peninsula in November this year (2017) for the public to use
  • the UK AUTODRIVE consortia which will operate up to 40 autonomous pods in Milton Keynes in 2018
  • the VENTURER consortia which has been undertaking a series of increasingly complex trials in the Bristol area
  • a third collaborative research and development competition, now open with £25 million of funding available to the winning projects, the competition closes on 25 October

Press release: Winners of £51 million government competition to develop world-leading self-driving car testing infrastructure unveiled

  • the 4 projects will test the speed, safety and potential opportunities for delivering CAV innovation, helping ensure the UK remains world-leading
  • 4 consortia have been selected in this first round, led by HORIBA MIRA, Millbrook Proving Ground, TRL and the Warwick Manufacturing Group

Four projects across 5 locations in the West Midlands have today (19 October) been awarded a total of £51 million in funding for creating the environments needed to fully test CAV technology.

  • HORIBA MIRA in Nuneaton will build a new site alongside its existing vehicle test tracks where automated vehicles can be tested at the limits of their speed and handling to ensure they are safe
  • Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire and Remote Applications in Challenging Environments (RACE) based in the Culham Science Centre in Oxfordshire will set up a range of different test areas mimicking increasingly realistic city driving environments, where automated vehicles can be tested before being taken onto public roads
  • 2 projects will adapt real world locations for testing of automated vehicles in live traffic:
    • TRL will lead a project to set up live test environments in Greenwich and Stratford’s Olympic Park in London
    • Warwick Manufacturing Group will set up real world test environments in Coventry and Birmingham

Reflecting the UK’s ability to compete globally in this hotly contested sector, Jim Hackett, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ford Motor Company, opened Ford Europe’s Smart Mobility Innovation Office at the Olympic Park in Stratford yesterday. It will initially host 40 specialists brought together to develop smart mobility technologies for cities.

All the CAV projects announced today will be fully operational and advancing technology development in this sector within the next 18 to 24 months.

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said:

Combining ambitious new technologies and innovative business models to address social and economic challenges lies at the heart of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy. Accelerating connected and autonomous vehicle technology development is central to achieving this ambition and will help to ensure the UK is one of the world’s go-to locations to develop this sector.

These projects, backed by government, form part of a globally unique cluster running from our automotive heartlands in the West Midlands, down through our innovation centres in Oxfordshire and Milton Keynes, through to London, Europe’s only megacity.

To achieve this, government and industry are working together to create the world’s most effective CAV testing ecosystem, integrating existing proving grounds and public road test sites across the UK’s existing automotive sector, strengthening existing capabilities and creating new ones.

This new ecosystem will be co-ordinated through MERIDIAN, a new government-backed and industry-led hub to develop CAV technology in the UK.

The MERIDIAN programme lays the foundation for a truly unique, world class, future transport technology testing ecosystem in which automotive and digital sectors can compete globally, and emerging businesses have unprecedented access to facilities.

Chair of the Auto Council Technology Group, Graham Hoare said:

Currently no other country has taken this innovative leveraged national approach and this can be a major differentiator on the global stage. This will be a globally unique set of capabilities that is co-ordinated and developed to provide a solution to industry that will enhance delivery efficiency, collaboration and knowledge growth.

Launch Director of MERIDIAN, Jim Campbell said:

As connected and autonomous vehicle technology becomes more complex, ensuring that the UK automotive industry has world-leading facilities to test and refine concepts is of imperative importance. Today’s announcement from government is a strong first step to ensure the UK achieves its ambition of becoming a global hub of CAV development in the coming years.

The MERIDIAN will offer world class CAV testing and development in the UK which allows us to accelerate research, development and adoption of these vehicles.

Director of Manufacturing and Materials at Innovate UK, Simon Edmonds, said:

This first wave of testbed infrastructure investment is crucial at establishing a UK cluster of excellence to test and develop autonomous vehicle technology. This is another good example of how the UK is leading the way on this exciting agenda, and how UK companies can take advantage of the massive opportunities it presents.

This important investment, as part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy, will further boost the UK’s opportunity to secure a share of the global connected and autonomous vehicles market that is expected to be worth up to £51 billion by 2020.

Automotive and technology companies will be able to accelerate their research programmes in real-life environments in UK cities, along with specially designed virtual and controlled test environments.

As well as securing high quality jobs for the future, it will unlock significant social benefits such as improving safety and provide better mobility access for the young, the elderly, and the disabled.

Yesterday the government introduced the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill as part of plans to boost the green transport revolution. The Bill will increase the access and availability of chargepoints for electric cars, while also giving the government powers to make it compulsory for chargepoints to be installed across the country and enabling drivers of automated cars to be insured on UK roads.

Notes to editors

1) The projects are the first to be funded from the government’s £100 million Connected and Autonomous Vehicles testing infrastructure programme announced in November 2016 and will be matched by industry.

2) The £51 million funding will be allocated across the UK: £31 million in the West Midlands, £7 million in Oxfordshire and Bedfordshire, and £13 million in London.

3) The winning CAV projects are:

Project title Location Public funding Total project value* Consortium partners
Smart Mobility Living Lab: London Greenwich and Stratford (Olympic Park) £13.4m £19.2m TRL (leader), Digital Greenwich, London Legacy Development Corporation, Cisco, Costain, Cubic, TfL, Loughborough University (London campus), and delivery partners, Millbrook and 5G Innovation Centre (University of Surrey)
UK Central CAV Testbed Coventry and Birmingham £17.6m £25.3m Warwick Manufacturing Group (leader), Amey, AVL, Costain, Coventry University, Horiba Mira, Transport for West Midlands, Wireless Infrastructure Group
MCTEE (Millbrook-Culham Test and Evaluation Environment) Millbrook (near Milton Keynes) and Culham (near Oxford) £6.9m £10m Millbrook Proving Ground (leader) and UK Atomic Energy Authority’s Remote Applications in Challenging Environments (RACE, at Culham Science Centre)
TIC-IT (Trusted Intelligent CAVs) Nuneaton £13m £26m HORIBA MIRA (leader) and Coventry University

* Full 50% industry match will be met through operation and maintenance of the project facilities.

4) Since the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles was created in 2015 the government has awarded more than £100 million to 51 projects researching and developing connected and autonomous technology advancement.

These projects are all collaborative, involving more than 150 individual organisations from SMEs to global companies. 51 of these projects include a number of high profile trials to understand how members of the public will interact with the vehicles. These include:

  • the GATEWAY consortia which will run four autonomous shuttles around the Greenwich peninsula in November this year (2017) for the public to use
  • the UK AUTODRIVE consortia which will operate up to 40 autonomous pods in Milton Keynes in 2018
  • the VENTURER consortia which has been undertaking a series of increasingly complex trials in the Bristol area
  • a third collaborative research and development competition, now open with £25 million of funding available to the winning projects, the competition closes on 25 October

Press release: Industry-led review details plans to supercharge UK Artificial Intelligence (AI) industry

The Government has been urged to help the UK become the clear world leader in the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) – to boost productivity, advance health care, improve services for customers and unlock £630bn for the UK economy.

Experts from industry and academia today (Sunday 15 October 2017) unveiled new proposals for how Government can work with industry to stay ahead of the competition and grow the UK’s use of AI right across the economy – from smarter scheduling of operations in health care, to hiring on-demand self-driving cars.

The Industrial Strategy Green Paper, published in January, identified AI as a major, high-potential opportunity for the UK to build a word-leading future sector of our economy.

The independent review, ‘Growing the Artificial Intelligence Industry in the UK’, was announced as part of the Digital Strategy in March, and led by Dame Wendy Hall, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton, and Jérôme Pesenti, Chief Executive of BenevolentTech. The reviewers were asked to report on how this pioneering technology can best thrive and grow in the UK and will inform BEIS and DCMS policy making relevant to this exciting new sector.

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said:

I want the UK to lead the way in Artificial Intelligence. It has the potential to improve our everyday lives - from healthcare to robots that perform dangerous tasks.

We already have some of the best minds in the world working on Artificial Intelligence, and the challenge now is to build a strong partnership with industry and academia to cement our position as the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said:

Artificial intelligence presents us with a unique opportunity to build on our strengths and track record of research excellence by leading the development and deployment of this transformational technology.

This important review exemplifies the world-class expertise the UK already has in AI, demonstrating the huge social and economic benefits its use can bring.

We will continue to work with the sector in the coming months to secure a comprehensive Sector Deal that make the UK the go to place for AI and helps us grasp the opportunities that lie ahead.

Many sectors across the UK economy are already embracing innovation through AI and benefitting from its use in how they do their business day-to-day including:

  • Health: Using the most advanced Artificial Intelligence, Your.MD has built the world’s first AI Personal Health Guide that provides users immediate trustworthy healthcare advice from the NHS to anyone with access to a mobile phone;

  • Banking: To help verify customer identity and increase security for HSBC customers, the bank has created an AI chatbot, Olivia, who can assist customers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with their enquiries;

  • Education: With technology that records patterns of behaviour, including what learning style works for each student, CENTURY, an AI platform, is helping children learn and teachers provide more personalised education programmes, with feedback and suggestions to help fill knowledge gaps;

  • Legal services: AI is helping lawyers to do legal searches and to draft the best standard documents, the law firm Pinsent Masons has developed its own team of computer scientists and legal engineers to put AI into practical context for its lawyers; and

  • Cars: Driverless cars are set to make the roads safer for pedestrians and car drivers alike, with companies like Oxbotica developing fully autonomous operating systems that diagnose vehicle issues and identify the best, most logical route on the move.

AI is also being deployed in a variety of different ways to assist businesses and consumers such as:

  • protecting consumers and shoppers against spam and bank fraud;

  • computer vision that monitors CCTV to improve safety;

  • managing and monitoring supply chains to reduce loss and waste;

  • improving electricity grid management to save costs and reduce CO2 emissions; and

  • using data to provide personal shopping recommendations.

Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Regius Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton said:

I was very honoured to be asked to co-chair this review at a time when AI is set to make major changes to the way we live and work. I’m particularly keen to ensure that we use it to inform the establishment of initiatives and programmes to help us extract the most value from artificial intelligence for the country; that includes an emphasis on increasing and improving our skill levels to prepare the workforce for the number of jobs the industry will need for the future.

AI has been around for a very long time as a concept and this latest surge of technological development is likely to see automation continue to escalate and accelerate in every walk of life. Now is the time for us all - scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs and the government - to come together and address the issues about how AI is going to impact society and seek ways to ensure that we’re able to deliver the great breakthroughs the technology has the potential to deliver.

Jérôme Pesenti, CEO of BenevolentTech, the technology division of BenevolentAI said:

In our AI review, we focused on recommendations that are both practicable and deliverable. By following these recommendations, Government, Academia and Industry can help strengthen the UK’s position in the global AI market. Our proposals are deliberately specific and boil down to three fundamentals – enable better access to data, create a greater supply of AI skills and promote the uptake of AI. I am looking forward to working with Government, Academia and Industry to drive these changes.

The report makes 18 recommendations for how to make the UK the best place in the world for businesses developing AI to start, grow, and thrive including:

  • Skills: increasing the UK’s AI expertise through new initiatives including an industry-funded Masters programme, and conversion courses to bring a broader range of people into the field;

  • Increasing uptake: helping organisations and workers understand how AI can boost their productivity and make better products and services, including public services;

  • Data: ensuring that people and organisations can be confident that use of data for AI is safe, secure and fair by making more data available, including from publicly-funded research; and

  • Research: building on the UK’s strong record in cutting-edge AI research, including making the Alan Turing Institute a national institute for AI.

These recommendations will now be carefully considered in discussions towards a potential Industrial Strategy sector deal between Government and the AI industry.

As part of the Industrial Strategy, the Government has increased investment in research and development over the next 4 years by £4.7 billion to create jobs and raise living standards, including through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

The Business Secretary announced in April that the first £1 billion of investment is being made in six key areas in 2017/18, driving progress and innovation that will create opportunities for businesses and sectors across the UK.

Press release: New leave allowance for bereaved parents will be one of the most generous in the world

  • New laws will give employed parents two weeks’ paid leave if they lose a child under 18
  • The bill goes significantly further than most other countries in providing this kind of workplace right for employees
  • Businesses will be able to claim back parental bereavement pay from the Government

Employees who have suffered the death of a child will benefit from significant new paid leave allowances under proposed laws published today (13 October).

While the Government expects employers to be compassionate and flexible at such a difficult time, there is currently no legal requirement for employers to provide paid time off for grieving parents.

But under proposed new laws, for the first time employed parents who lose a child under the age of 18 will have the right to two weeks’ paid leave to allow them time to grieve. This will honour the manifesto commitment to introduce a new entitlement for parental bereavement leave.

The Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill, introduced by Kevin Hollinrake MP and supported by the Government, will give a day-one right to parental bereavement leave and employees with a minimum of 26 weeks’ continuous service will be eligible for statutory parental bereavement pay.

Kevin Hollinrake MP, bill sponsor, said:

Sadly I have had constituents who have gone through this dreadful experience and while some parents prefer to carry on working, others need time off.

This new law will give employed parents a legal right to two weeks’ paid leave, giving them that all-important time and space away from work to grieve at such a desperately sad time.

Margot James, Business Minister, said:

We want parents to feel properly supported by their employer when they go through the deeply distressing ordeal of losing a child.

That’s why Government is backing this bill which goes significantly further than most other countries in providing this kind of workplace right for employees.

Francine Bates, CEO of The Lullaby Trust said:

We warmly welcome this new law giving paid leave to bereaved parents. Losing a child is one of the most devastating experiences that a parent can go through and it is vitally important that they are supported by their employer and not made to return to work before they are ready.

We know many bereaved parents who have campaigned tirelessly for paid compassionate leave after the death of a child and are very pleased to see that the UK is now leading the way in supporting parents who need time away from work to grieve for their child.

Debbie Kerslake, Chief Executive of Cruse Bereavement Care, said:

Cruse Bereavement Care welcomes legislation introducing parental bereavement leave recognising that the death of a child is devastating.

It is vital that at such a distressing time those who are bereaved can take time away from work.

Small employers will be able to recover all statutory parental bereavement pay while larger employers will be able to reclaim almost all of it.

Details of the proposed new law were published today in Parliament ahead of the bill’s second reading on 20 October, with the ambition of it becoming law in 2020.

Notes to editors

  1. Currently under the Employment Rights Act, employees have a day-one right to take a “reasonable” amount of unpaid time off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependant, including making arrangements following the death of a dependant. What is “reasonable” depends on the circumstances but in practice the length of time off will be agreed between the employer and their employee
  2. In the unlikely event that employee and employer can’t agree what is “reasonable”, this can be resolved through Acas or an employment tribunal
  3. Acas has also published good practice guidance for employers on managing bereavement in the workplace.
  4. We estimate the annual cost of statutory payments under this proposal to be between £1.3m and £2m

Press release: Universities and Science Minister calls on universities to do more to commercialise UK research and innovation

  • new proposals to develop a Knowledge Exchange Framework to compare how effective universities are at business engagement and knowledge exchange are outlined
  • the Minister also announced the first successful projects from the £100m Connecting Capability Fund and the successful regions selected for the third wave of the Science and Innovation Audits

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson today (12 October 2017) outlined his vision to secure the UK’s status as a pioneering nation and called for universities to secure more return from the research conducted by institutions across the UK.

Speaking at the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s (HEFCE) annual conference, Jo Johnson reinforced the importance of science and innovation in the Industrial Strategy and urged universities to deepen collaborative relationships with businesses to ensure the UK’s innovative strength has real-world and economic impact.

As part of this, new analysis published today by HEFCE of the Higher Education Business and Community Interaction Survey highlights the progress already being made in improving knowledge sharing between UK universities and the commercial sector, which has continued to grow in 2015-16, with income reaching a record £4.2 billion. Despite this progress, the UK still lags behind comparable countries like the United States in terms of intellectual property income per research resource and the number of successful spin-off companies.

Jo Johnson said:

Universities have a vital role to play in their local communities and in the national economy. Given the record levels of public investment in R&D, it is essential that universities engage with businesses and communities to make the most of their knowledge and research.

There are great examples of this across the country but the system needs to find a new gear. University income from business engagement is growing more slowly than the economy as a whole, with British universities producing fewer spin-outs and less licensing income per pound of research resource than US counterparts. As a greater proportion of R&D takes place in universities in the UK than in other countries, it’s especially important that we get this right.

To help close this gap, the Science Minister announced plans to ask Research England within the new UK Research and Innovation body to consult the sector on the development of a new, public Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) to benchmark the performance from university-business collaboration and knowledge exchange. This builds upon the work undertaken by the knowledge exchange steering group led by Professor Trevor McMillan, and complements his proposal that the sector should develop clear statements of purpose in order to increase the effectiveness of engagement with business and the wider community.

Alongside the Research Excellence Framework and the Teaching Excellence Framework, the KEF will act as a benchmark for universities to ensure they are making the most of the opportunities available and help ensure that the UK benefits from the research, skills and knowledge in the higher education sector.

Additional funding for the Rutherford Fund:

The Government has been clear on its ambition to foster greater international collaboration in science and innovation, recently signing a Science and Technology Agreement with the United States and outlining plans to seek an ambitious science and innovation agreement with the EU. Celebrating the important contribution international scientists and researchers make to UK innovation, the Science Minister pledged an additional £18 million for the Rutherford Fund budget to attract the brightest minds to the UK. The funding is on top of the £100 million the Government has already invested and will enable an additional 200 fellowships to start this year, ensuring the UK remains the go to place for innovation and scientific discovery.

Connecting Capability Fund:

Jo Johnson also announced the first four projects to receive funding from the £100 million Connecting Capability Fund. Focused on university collaborations to boost the commercialisation of research, the first round will see groups of universities from England share £20 million to address areas such as age-related diseases, access to finance for spinouts, and support for SMEs as they scale-up.

Science and Innovation Audits Wave 3:

Emphasising the value of greater collaboration to further innovation, Jo Johnson confirmed the next 12 regions that will undertake a Science and Innovation Audit (SIA) to map their local research, innovation, and infrastructure strengths. Now in its third wave, the SIA process has already brought together businesses, universities, Local Enterprise Partnerships and the Devolved Administration equivalents to identify the opportunities for inward investment and regional growth, and will explore strengths in a number of sectors and disciplines across the UK including the marine economy in the Highlands and Islands and applied digital technologies in the North East of England.

NOTES:

The twelve consortia that will be part of the 3rd wave of the Science and Innovation Audits are:

  1. Cyber Resilience Alliance (led by Worcestershire LEP with support from The Marches, Gloucestershire and Swindon and Wiltshire LEPs)
  2. Maximising the Marine Economy of the Highlands & Islands (Led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise)
  3. North West Nuclear Arc Consortium (led by Bangor University with support from Welsh Government and North West England LEPs)
  4. North West Coastal Arc Eco-Innovation Partnership (led by Lancaster University with support from North West England LEPs and the Welsh Government)
  5. Northern Powerhouse Chemicals & Processing Science (led by Tees Valley Combined Authority with support from North East, Humberside, and Liverpool City Region LEPs)
  6. Northern Powerhouse in Health Research (led by Northern Health Science Alliance and includes LEPs, universities and teaching hospitals from across the Northern Powerhouse)
  7. The South Wales Crucible (led by Swansea University)
  8. Upstream Space (led by UKSA/Scottish Enterprise comprising Scotland; Leicester; Belfast and a corridor between Cambridge and Portsmouth)
  9. Precision Medicine Innovation in Scotland (led by the University of Glasgow)
  10. Applied Digital Technologies (led by North East LEP)
  11. Sustainable Airports (led by Brunel University, looking at Heathrow)
  12. The Knowledge Quarter, London

The first four funding projects within the Connecting Capability Fund are:

  1. East of England – Essex University, University of East Anglia and University of Kent will collaborate on a project which aims to address the region’s productivity challenges by supporting company development and entrepreneurial skills growth
  2. North of England – Higher Education Institutions in Manchester, Leeds, and Sheffield will collaborate on a project which aims to establish an investment fund to improve access to finance for university spinouts
  3. South of England – this will be an extension of an existing collaboration between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey (the SETsquared Partnership) which aims to better support SMEs as they scale-up
  4. The universities of Oxford, Birmingham and Dundee, and the Francis Crick Institute are collaborating on a project which aims to support the development of new therapeutics to tackle age-related diseases

Knowledge Exchange Framework:

Following the Innovation & Science Strategy 2014, HEFCE sought to increase the effectiveness of university knowledge exchange by establishing a knowledge exchange (KE) framework and steering group. The Vice-Chancellor of Keele University, Trevor McMillan, was asked to champion this within the sector. A number of tools and good practice guides for KE (such as “Good practice in tech transfer”) have already been developed and have been used by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) when developing their KE strategies.

Extensive data is already collected about universities’ KE performance via the Higher Education Statistics Agency’s (HESA) annual Higher Education Business Community Interaction Survey, and Research England will consult the sector as to how this data can be used to develop a balanced scorecard. Other recommendations from the McMillan Group are being taken forward, including the sector developing a set of common principles for effective KE, and the leadership of HEIs committing to adopting these principles.

Press release: Draft Tariff Cap Bill published by government

  • Draft legislation designed to place a temporary cap on energy prices will be scrutinised by Parliament
  • Publication comes as regulator announces a further million vulnerable consumers are to be protected by its existing price cap this winter
  • Government remains committed to putting an end to households being charged excessive prices for their energy

Draft legislation that would see rip-off energy prices capped for millions of households has been published by the government today (Thursday 12 October).

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has outlined measures in the draft bill that would limit the cost of standard variable tariffs (SVTs) and other default tariffs that customers are moved onto at the end of a fixed-term deal.

Around two-thirds of energy consumers in Great Britain are currently on this type of tariff – that is around 18 million customer accounts, four million of which are on pre-payment meters and are already protected by a price cap.

As Ofgem announced yesterday, a further million vulnerable households will be protected from unfairly high bills this winter, meaning five million people this winter will be protected by price caps.

This has been welcomed but the government believes no-one should be overcharged by their energy company. It is now up to the energy companies and Ofgem to act – if they fail to act, the legislation will ensure customers get a fair deal.

The government will ask the Commons’ Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee to scrutinise the Draft Domestic Gas and Electricity (Tariff Cap) Bill. The proposed legislation would mean a cap would run until 2020 at which point the independent regulator, Ofgem, would recommend to government whether it should be extended on an annual basis, up to expiry in 2023.

The Prime Minister said:

I have been clear that our broken energy market has to change – it has to offer fairer prices for millions of loyal customers who have been paying hundreds of pounds too much.

Today’s publication of draft legislation is a vital step towards fixing that, and in offering crucial peace of mind for ordinary working families all over the country.

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said:

People who show loyalty to well-known brands are paying hundreds of pounds a year too much on standard variable tariffs and I am determined that this practice should end.

We have published draft legislation today, sending a clear message to the industry that we will protect the interests of their customers if they do act now to tackle the detriment found by the Competition and Markets Authority.

As the Competition and Markets Authority review of the retail energy market found last year, customers of the Big Six suppliers on standard variable tariffs and other default tariffs face a £1.4bn-a-year detriment. The government is determined to tackle this detriment, including through the introduction of smart meters that will enable consumers to see the cost of their energy usage and more easily find the best tariff for them.

Press release: Boost for island wind projects as UK government announces new funding for renewable generation

  • Latest auction brought forward over 1GW of clean electricity for Scotland
  • UK decarbonising faster than any other G20 nation, with renewables now providing 30% of the UK’s electricity supply

The UK government intends to allow wind projects on the remote islands of Scotland to compete in the next competitive auction for less established renewable technologies (Contracts for Difference) to be held in spring 2019, it was announced today. The UK government has also announced that up to £557 million of support will be available for future Contracts for Difference auctions.

Ahead of the launch of the UK government’s Clean Growth Strategy, Energy Minister Richard Harrington said:

The UK government’s Clean Growth Strategy has set out how the whole of the UK can benefit from the global move to a low carbon economy.

Scotland already has a strong record in exploiting the potential of clean growth, with more than half of Scottish electricity consumption coming from renewable sources.

We want to go further creating thousands of good jobs and attracting billions of pounds worth of investment. That’s why we are ensuring that remote island wind projects in Scotland, which have the potential to benefit the island communities directly, have access to the same funding opportunities as offshore wind in the next renewables auction round.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said:

Wind projects on the remote islands of Scotland have the potential to generate substantial amounts of electricity for the whole of the UK and I am delighted they will have the opportunity to compete in the next round of Contracts for Difference. This UK government investment is vital in realising the potential of less established renewable technologies, as well as providing Scottish jobs in the projects supported.

Clean Growth is at the heart of the Industrial Strategy, and the UK government is determined to unlock opportunities across the UK, while cutting carbon emissions as the world moves to towards a low carbon future.

The last competitive auction to bring more renewable projects into the market ended in September and brought forward commitments for enough electricity generation to power 3.6 million homes. It secured 3.2GW of electricity from offshore wind projects including the Moray East offshore wind farm which will provide 950MW of capacity, capable of powering over 950,000 homes.

A 2013 report for the UK and Scottish governments concluded that wind projects on the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland could supply around 3% of the UK’s total electricity demand.

With over 700MW of wind projects with current planning consents on these islands, this announcement gives certainty that the UK is an attractive place to invest. This will also benefit the skilled UK supply chain, with many projects expected to spend over 50% of their capital and operating costs within the UK.

The Clean Growth Strategy looks across the whole of the economy and the country. It includes ambitious proposals on housing, business, transport and the environment, as well as the power sector.

Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, met members of the Scottish Island Renewable Delivery Forum in April on the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. In August UK Energy Minister Richard Harrington chaired a roundtable in Aberdeen with a range of stakeholders to discuss how wind projects on the islands of Scotland (Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles) can directly benefit the local communities.

Notes to editors

  • The UK government has submitted an application to the European Commission seeking State aid approval for this change to the Contracts for Difference scheme.

Press release: Nuclear Safeguards Bill introduced today

  • Equivalent high standards of Euratom to be maintained

The UK will establish a domestic nuclear safeguards regime under measures contained in the Nuclear Safeguards Bill, introduced to Parliament today (Wednesday 11 October).

As set out by Business Secretary Greg Clark on 14 September 2017, the government is committed to a domestic nuclear safeguards regime which will deliver to existing European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) standards, exceeding those required by the wider international community.

The Bill, first announced in the Queen’s Speech, will bolster the roles and responsibilities of the UK’s existing nuclear regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), once the UK leaves Euratom.

The UK will continue to be a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and work is ongoing on new agreements with international parties to ensure it continues to meet relevant international standards.

Energy Minister Richard Harrington said:

The Nuclear Safeguards Bill will help secure the future of the UK’s nuclear industry and high standards of nuclear safety and safeguards once we leave Euratom.

We are bringing forward the UK’s first new nuclear power plants in a generation and it is in our mutual benefit to maintain the successful working relationship we have now with Europe, and the rest of the world, on nuclear matters. This is what we will be looking to secure in negotiations with our partners.

Nuclear safeguards are processes which allow countries to show to the international community that civil nuclear material is used for peaceful purposes.

The UK will withdraw from Euratom in 2019 as a result of the decision to leave the EU and the Nuclear Safeguards Bill will ensure that the UK has the right regime in place for the ONR to regulate nuclear safeguards.

Press release: Government confirms up to £557 million for new renewable energy projects

  • Last auction saw cost of offshore wind halved and secured enough renewable capacity to power 3.6 million homes.
  • UK decarbonising faster than any other G20 nation

Energy Minister Richard Harrington confirmed today (11 October 2017) that up to £557 million will be made available for less established renewable electricity projects as part of the government’s Clean Growth Strategy, to drive economic growth and clean up the energy system.

Since 1990 the UK’s emissions are down by more than a third while the economy has grown by two-thirds. Low carbon generation provided more than half (52%) our electricity this summer, according to National Grid, while PwC analysis shows the UK decarbonising faster than any other G20 nation.

The Clean Growth Strategy, which will be published this week, will build on this success and ensure Britain remains a global leader in the move towards a low carbon economy. It will ensure the whole country can benefit from new technologies, jobs and businesses that are good for consumers, the environment and the economy.

As part of the strategy, developers will compete for up to £557 million of funding in Contracts for Difference auctions which drive down energy costs for consumers and increase business confidence. The latest auction saw the cost of new offshore wind fall by 50% compared to the first auction held in 2015 and resulted in over 3GW of new generation which could power 3.6 million homes.

Energy Minister Richard Harrington said:

The government’s Clean Growth Strategy will set out how the whole of the UK can benefit from the global move to a low carbon economy.

We’ve shown beyond doubt that renewable energy projects are an effective way to cut our emissions, while creating thousands of good jobs and attracting billions of pounds worth of investment.

The Clean Growth Strategy will look across the whole of the economy and the country. It includes ambitious proposals on housing, business, transport and the environment, as well as the power sector. It will also show how actions taken to tackle emissions have helped to reduce energy bills for households.

The next Contracts for Difference auction is planned for spring 2019.

Press release: Lord Deben and Paul Johnson reappointed to Committee on Climate Change

The Committee provides independent advice to government and Parliament on reducing UK emissions and preparing for the impacts of climate change.

Lord Deben has led the Committee since 2012. His 5-year term, due to end this year, has been extended for a further 5 years until September 2022.

Paul Johnson’s 5-year term, which also concludes this year, has been similarly extended for a further 5 years until 2022.

The reappointments were made by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, and agreed by the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Claire Perry, Minister for Climate Change and Industry, said:

I welcome the reappointment of Lord Deben as Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change and of Paul Johnson as Committee Member.

The UK was the first country to introduce legally binding emission reduction targets under the Climate Change Act and we have led the G7 group of countries in cutting our emissions, while growing our economy by more than two-thirds since 1990. The independent advice provided by Lord Deben, Paul Johnson and the entire Committee will help us continue to lead the world in clean growth.

Commenting on his reappointment, Lord Deben said:

Britain is a leader in the world’s battle against climate change and I am delighted and honoured to continue as Chairman of the Committee.

Since 2012, amongst many other tasks, the CCC has advised government on the fourth (2023 to 2027) and fifth (2028 to 2032) carbon budgets, advised the devolved administrations on emission reduction targets and reported to Parliament annually on UK progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Notes to editors

  1. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) is the independent statutory body established under the Climate Change Act (2008) to advise the UK government on building a low-carbon economy and preparing for climate change. Further information about the CCC is available at: www.theccc.org.uk.

  2. Lord Deben was the UK’s longest-serving Secretary of State for the Environment (1993 to 1997) and has held several other high-level ministerial posts, including Secretary of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1989 to 1993). He has consistently championed the strong links between environmental concerns and business interests. He also runs Sancroft, a corporate responsibility consultancy working with blue-chip companies around the world on environmental, social and ethical issues. In addition, Lord Deben is Chairman of Valpak Limited and Chairman of The Personal Investment Management and Financial Advice Association.

  3. Paul Johnson has been Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) since January 2011. He is also currently visiting professor in the Department of Economics at University College London. Paul has worked and published extensively on the economics of public policy, with a particular focus on income distribution, public finances, pensions, tax, social security, education and climate change. As well as a previous period of work at the IFS his career has included spells at HM Treasury, the Department for Education and the Financial Services Authority (FSA). Between 2004 and 2007 he was deputy head of the Government Economic Service. Paul is also a member of the Banking Standards Board and of the executive committee of the Royal Economic Society. He was an editor of the Mirrlees Review of the UK tax system.