The Emerging and Enabling Technologies sector group is the new home for support for early stage (emerging), cross-cutting (enabling) and broad scope (open) innovation across whole economy. (See the Delivery Plan 2016 to 2017 for more information on all the sector groups .)
Although this sector group contains the word technologies in its title, Innovate UK’s actions are guided by the principle that: “no-one buys technology; they buy what technology does for them.”
The focus here is very early stage technologies, those still emerging, or only recently emerged, from the research base.
By ‘emerging’, recognise those technologies, methods and approaches developed in the UK’s scientific research base – primarily in universities – that allow us to do things that simply couldn’t be done before (or could only be done in theory).
What these emerging technologies have in common is the potential to create totally new value propositions (and so to disrupt markets). Examples include graphene and quantum technologies.
Whilst sectors like Manufacturing and Materials or Health and Life Sciences turnover several hundreds of billions of pounds globally per year, by contrast, many of these early-stage, emerging technology sectors have very low, or even zero turnovers, typically below £10 million pa when we pick them up.
Examples of other high impact technologies include:
- space and satellites
- electronics, photonics and sensors
- robotics and autonomous systems
It has now been admirably demonstrated that:
- satellite technologies can be used in the fight against illegal fishing
- advanced sensors can help in the earlier diagnosis of disease
- compound semi-conductors can manage electrical power more effectively
- robots can perform tasks in environments too dangerous for people to work in
You can follow Innovate UK on:
Affordable Space Capability
MOD’s Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) are launching this competition to fund exploratory studies and demonstrations to develop concepts and technologies required for delivering a UK space-based military capability. A smaller number of successful projects will be taken forward for further development.
Areas of particular interest include:
- technologies providing wide-area surveillance combined with ways of detecting small objects of interest
- technologies providing very frequent or persistent coverage to observe short-lived events
- methods for detecting concealed objects
- technologies to provide secure communications using hand-held terminals from hard-to-reach locations
- secure use of existing commercial space infrastructures
The MOD are also interested in reducing build and operating costs. Cost reduction should be achieved without reducing reliability or assurance of systems. Proposals are particularly welcome which investigate the use of:
- novel platform technologies, including on-orbit propulsion and power systems, but excluding launch
- novel payload technologies, including deployable structures
This competition will be briefed at the CDE Innovation Network event on Tuesday 18 November 2014 – registration will open around 6 weeks before the event.
Further details are available via the website.
Space travel has been in the news recently with the last space shuttle flight on the 8th July 2011 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14063682). The ending of the operational space shuttle era which has lasted almost thirty years after its development has led to recent discussions concerning the future of NASA funding and space flight and research from national and international collaboration perspectives.
Here in the UK the European Space Agency (ESA) has a technology centre in Harwell headed by Martin Ditter. He explained the rational of the ESA UK location and the relationship with technology and research (http://www.theengineer.co.uk/in-depth/interviews/martin-ditter-of-esa-uk-harwell-research-centre/1000835.article).
In terms of enterprise ESA have recently opened a Business Incubation Centre to utilise mature space technologies to create opportunities within other business sectors. In addition Research Council, EU and KTP priorities include space as a preferred area. Other activity includes the UK Space Agency established in April 2011 as part of the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.
At an educational level Space is identified a key subject area to enthuse young people and stimulate STEM subject interest. Space technology has a university undergraduate and master’s level presence at several universities linked with engineering studies such as electronics, aerospace, robotics and mechanical. Other related opportunities such as space tourism (http://www.virgingalactic.com/) will only increase public activity and interest in Space.
This could be an opportunity for HEI’s to develop niche research areas related to space.
The Cooperation theme is divided into 11 different topics; clicking on the hyperlink below will display the focus of the calls covered under each of these.
Food, Agriculture, Fisheries and Biotechnology
Socio-Economic Sciences & Humanities
Joint Technology Initiatives (JTI)