Government commits £200m innovation fund to tackle Covid-19 and climate crisis

Computers capable of tracking diseases and a floating offshore wind test lab are just two of the technologies to benefit from a new £213m government investment pot that aims to upgrade scientific approaches to combatting Covid-19 and the climate crisis.

marine and airborne monitor and offshore floating wind will be championed through the funding

marine and airborne monitor and offshore floating wind will be championed through the funding

Science Minister Amanda Solloway unveiled the financial package on Wednesday (6 January), just days after the nation was instructed to enter back into lockdown to combat the spread of the coronavirus, which has surpassed infection rates recorded at its original peak last year.

The funding has been delivered through the World Class Labs funding scheme and made through seven of UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) research councils, in an effort to gain a better understanding of both the pandemic and also the climate crisis to help the UK reach net-zero emissions by 2050. 

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “The response from UK scientists and researchers to coronavirus has been nothing short of phenomenal. We need to match this excellence by ensuring scientific facilities are truly world class, so scientists can continue carrying out life-changing research for years to come as we build back better from the pandemic.

“From the world’s most detailed telescopes tracking disease to airborne drones monitoring greenhouse gas emissions, our investment will enhance the tools available to our most ambitious innovators across the country. By doing so, scientists and researchers will be able to drive forward extraordinary research that will enable the UK to respond to global challenges such as achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

The funding pot includes £27m for researchers at 43 of the UK’s Medical Research Institutes, to provide them with new equipment, including ultra-high performing computers and microscopes to examine diseases.

Efforts to cut emissions will also be explored, with a floating offshore wind turbine testing facility at the University of Plymouth, autonomous marine robotics that monitor ocean health in Southampton and airborne sensors in London that monitor greenhouse gas emissions, all splitting £25m from the funding pot.

Ten Point Plan

The funding follows the Government’s Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution, which was unveiled in November.

The £12bn plan will support up to 250,000 green jobs, with the Government aiming to secure three times as much investment from the private sector by 2030. A key aspect of the plan is to “level up” all areas of the country, with industrial heartlands in the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, West Midlands, Scotland and Wales all focal points of the strategy.

The plan confirmed reports that the UK will host 40GW of offshore wind by 2030, enough to power every home and support up to 60,000 jobs.

Matt Mace



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