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UK vows ‘world-leading’ post-Brexit research and development plan

A new post-Brexit innovation strategy will help British businesses seize “vast opportunities,” Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng vowed Thursday. The U.K. government’s newly-launched proposal is aimed at boosting private sector investment in the U.K.’s research and development (R&D) sector.

Public spending on R&D was already due to rise to an annual £22 billion under plans unveiled in the spring, but Kwarteng is promising new, regular “innovation missions” to focus business and government attention on issues facing the U.K. These will be determined by the U.K.’s National Science and Technology Council.

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The strategy is said to be partly modeled on the U.K.’s successful COVID-19 Vaccine Taskforce, which saw the state and private sector work together on a project chaired by a venture capitalist, but funded mostly by public money.

The new strategy identifies seven R&D areas where the government believes the U.K. already has strengths, including robotics, genomics and artificial intelligence. Kwarteng said he wanted the strategy to focus on these and “rekindle our country’s flame of innovation and discovery.”

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“If we get this right, we can build the foundations for the new industries of tomorrow, and ensure British firms are at the front of the pack to turn world-leading science into new products and services that are successful in international markets,” he said.

Five research projects have also been allocated funding by UK Research and Innovation — the public body that directs research and innovation funding. That will see firms in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England’s North and Midlands given a share of £127 million.

BY ANDREW MCDONALD

Source: Politico

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RECOUP win Innovate UK funding for plastics recycling communications research

Charity, and leading plastics recycling organisation, RECOUP, have secured a grant from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, to co-fund an industry led communications and behaviour change research project in Kent.
RECOUP have brought together key industry partners, Kent Resource Partnership, Veolia, Viridor, Ocado, Ecosurety, British Plastics Federation, Plastics Europe and PPS Recovery Systems to deliver this groundbreaking piece of research aimed at understanding better the connection between communications and plastics recycling.

RECOUP’s Pledge2Recycle Plastics citizen facing brand will connect with the 673,00 households across Kent over a 12-month period, to gain citizen insights, deliver plastics recycling messages and evaluate the resulting tonnage and contamination data. The project is the first of its kind to both deliver and measure, (over an extended period) the impact recycling communications campaigns have on behaviour change.

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It is expected that the insights collected will provide evidence to support future plastics recycling engagement strategies.

Anne Hitch, Head of Citizen & Stakeholder Strategy at RECOUP and Pledge2Recycle Plastics project lead, commented, “this project represents a fantastic opportunity for the plastics industry opportunity to better understand better how we can reach 2025 recycling targets.

The aim of this project is to engage with Kent residents to understand if there is any confusion when it comes to plastics recycling and how we can encourage citizens to reduce, reuse and recycle plastics.

The citizens of Kent have an opportunity to help formulate future policy and provide the UK with a blueprint demonstrating the links between plastics recycling communications and behaviour change.”

The project will connect with over 1.5 million citizens in a ‘controlled structured’ way, RECOUP says.

The advice on plastics recycling has been pre-agreed with all Kent Councils, Veolia and Viridor to provide a consistent message with resources based on previous piloted Pledge2Recycle Plastics ‘Cutting the Confusion’ campaigns and resource pack aligned with WRAP and Recycle Now.

The project will provide understanding on how plastics recycling targets can be met with clear and the linkages between communications investment and recycling growth.

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Cllr Nick Kenton, Chairman of the Kent Resource Partnership said: “The 13 Kent councils are very pleased to be working alongside RECOUP and other partners to deliver this Kent-wide plastics recycling campaign.

“The aim of this project is to engage with Kent residents to understand if there is any confusion when it comes to plastics recycling and how we can encourage citizens to reduce, reuse and recycle plastics. We look forward to seeing which interventions help with the quality and quantity of plastic recycling here in Kent.”

Viridor’s Sustainability Director, Tim Rotheray, said: “Viridor knows that most people are committed to doing the right thing and recycling more. As a company which recycles and reprocesses plastic, Viridor is pleased to be part of an initiative that seeks to engage with residents and understand any confusion or barriers which exist.

“Following up on this research is the key ensuring residents are armed with the knowledge and the confidence they need. Above all, we want them to understand that their efforts to separate and retain valuable recycling really does make a difference, underpinning the circular economy which is the UK ambition.”

Source: Circular

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New grants announced to innovate horticultural food and drink industry

Growing Kent & Medway has announced £3million in R&D grants for projects that support inclusive economic growth and environmentally sustainable practices and innovations.

Funding grants of up to £250,000 will be made available to assist projects that aim to develop green technologies, processes or products for horticultural food and drink businesses across Kent and Medway.

A unique requirement of the funding application will be an expectation that businesses commit to delivering social value back to the region. Whether through community engagement or by raising awareness around career pathways in horticulture, food production or AgriFood technologies.

The grants were announced as part of Growing Kent & Medway’s official launch at Fruit Focus on Wednesday 21 July 2021. They offer businesses operating in food production, packaging, processing or enabling AgriFood technologies the first opportunity to benefit directly from the program.

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Dr Nicola Harrison, Program Director for Growing Kent & Medway, said: “The large-scale collaborative R&D grants we are making available will be awarded to projects that will help to establish the Kent and Medway area as a world-leader in climate-smart, sustainable horticultural food and drink production.

“These grants are an important part of our wider program to build on the region’s reputation and international gateway status. We are investing in state-of-the-art infrastructure and research facilities, scientific expertise and enterprise growth to make this region one of the most dynamic, competitive and successful horticultural and agri-tech locations in the world.”

Priority innovation themes set out for the grant funding include;

  • Minimising waste and maximising recycling
  • Improving resource use efficiency and sustainability
  • Increasing productivity
  • Resilient food production, such as supply chain resilience and nutritional security
  • Precision technologies, including sensor technologies, AI or robotics
  • Solving the challenge of access to labour.

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Oliver Doubleday, Chair of East Malling Trust, said: “Funding for research and innovation to support the horticultural industry has been at the heart of the Trust’s work for more than a century.

“Thanks to Growing Kent & Medway’s grant scheme, it will ensure the sector can make an even greater contribution to the development and sustainability of the local economy through the commercial application of science and research.”

Applications open from 6 September 2021 and must be a Kent or Medway-based businesses, or carrying out significant economic activity in the region, working in the horticultural food and drink sector or enabling technologies.

Source: Horti Daily

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Science schools and R&D spending at forefront of UK innovation plans

UK ministers are drawing up plans for new science-focused schools, billions of pounds in research and development spending and better access to private funding for tech-focused companies, as part of an innovation strategy to be launched next month.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng wants to make innovation one of the central pillars of the government’s industrial strategy, as the UK seeks to develop world-leading technology and life science sectors.

Officials at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have drawn up a 10-point plan to make the UK a “global leader in innovation”, according to people familiar with the document, which will be unveiled alongside a “science superpower” speech planned by the prime minister before the summer holidays.

Earlier proposals to create a position within BEIS for an “innovator in residence” — a guru who could disrupt Whitehall thinking and advise officials — have been dropped from the latest version of the document, according to people familiar with the matter.

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It will instead outline plans for the government to build schools focused on science, technology, engineering and maths, as well as setting up a scheme that will allow departments to create competitions in which innovative businesses compete to win funds.

Much of the new strategy focuses on improving regulatory and financial support for private companies to allow UK-based businesses to develop and scale up technologies across a range of areas, in line with a recent report by a deregulation task force led by former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith.

The document identifies seven “families” of innovation that will take priority in the UK, including quantum, advanced materials, life sciences, genomics, robotics and artificial intelligence.

Plans include helping with business investment and improving access to finance, including looking at rules that have prevented large institutions from investing in fast-growing but risky ventures.

The paper also says that the UK will need to develop pro-innovation policies and cut red tape that is holding back development in some sectors. The strategy will confirm plans to increase annual state investment in R&D to £22bn.

The government has already flagged its intention to invest in high-risk, high-reward science projects through its new Advanced Research and Invention Agency.

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Aria was originally a project of Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s former chief adviser.

Officials also want the UK to attract talented overseas workers with new “innovation” visas, as well as help companies forge partnerships overseas. The plans include setting out innovation chapters in future trade agreements and a “refresh” of the UK’s export strategy.

The plan contains high-level aspirations around developing world-class universities and research institutes.

One person familiar with the document said it would set out objectives that would feed into policymaking in specific sectors.

The person added that the plans were still in draft form and could change before the announcement next month. The innovation paper will sit alongside Kwarteng’s other plans, including a forthcoming net zero emissions strategy.

A government spokesperson said: “We do not comment on individual leaks, but it is no secret that we intend for the UK to stand as a world-leading centre for the development of brilliant ideas, innovation in industry and jobs for the future.”

Source: Telegraf

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