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UK funding at a glance: 24 May to 6 June

This week: Scottish healthcare, artificial intelligence, ‘science superstars’ and deception technologies

The health research charity Wellcome has said that unless the next government is “ambitious” for research, the UK risks losing its strategic global advantage.

Full story: ‘Be ambitious or lose R&D advantage,’ Wellcome tells parties

The next UK government must urgently boost the humanities and social sciences in higher education and research to “fully address” the country’s biggest challenges, according to the British Academy.

Full story: Next UK government ‘must urgently boost humanities’

A programme has been launched to support London-based growth companies focused on biology and data technologies.

Full story: Programme launched to support growing biotech companies 


Here is the rest of the funding news this fortnight…

Scotland invests in health research

The Scottish government is to provide £5 million in funding for healthcare research as part of its ongoing work to improve population health. Five Scottish institutions will receive a share of the money to conduct major healthcare research programmes, focusing on areas such as improving rural healthcare and managing gestational diabetes in pregnant women. Scottish health secretary Neil Gray announced that the Universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, St Andrews and Strathclyde, as well as Public Health Scotland, will each get up to £1m.

Aria seeks AI proposals

The Advanced Research and Invention Agency has announced plans via X to launch the second solicitation for its Safeguarded AI programme this summer. Aria is looking for teams to demonstrate how to safeguard AI systems. The agency is interested in proposals for a variety of applications, giving the examples of infectious disease epidemiology and spacecraft dynamics. Backed by £59 million, the programme aims to develop the safety standards required for transformational AI, according to Aria’s website.

Babraham selects ‘science superstars’

The Babraham Research Campus in Cambridge has selected six “science superstars”: life science startups seeking to develop impactful healthcare products. The research campus has awarded them a year’s free lab space, £10,000 in funding and access to its network of experts, mentors and investors. The six include Athernal, which is developing vaccines designed to lower the risk of cancer; the New Platelet Company, which manufactures universal platelets for blood transfusion; and U-Ploid Biotechnologies, which develops treatments for female infertility by improving egg quality within the IVF cycle.

Government to invest in AI upskilling

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology has announced £6.4 million of grant funding for artificial intelligence skills training at small and medium-sized businesses in the professional and business services sector. This is part of a £7.4m pilot scheme to subsidise the cost of AI skills training for these businesses; they can apply for up to 50 per cent of the cost of AI skills training. Dsit said that it aims to encourage employer investment in AI training and address AI skills gaps in the UK workforce. Applications for the funding are open until 18 August.

Support for a potential dementia cure

Alzheimer’s Research UK has awarded £100,000 to researchers based at Scottish universities to help them develop treatments for dementia. The money is part of a £4 million funding announcement to support UK researchers in finding ways to treat, diagnose and prevent dementia. Some £70,000 has been awarded to Shuzo Sakata at the University of Strathclyde, who is studying the link between sleep and Alzheimer’s disease. The remaining £30,000 has been given to Paula Beltran-Lobo at the University of Edinburgh, who is looking at how the protective blood brain barrier becomes damaged by the diseases that cause dementia. Both researchers are hoping their studies will help prevent dementia.

Deception technology funding

The UK Defence and Security Accelerator has launched a competition to develop deception technologies for the British army. The call, named Contemporary Deception for the British Army, has a budget of £900,000. Dasa is looking for proposals that can identify and develop deception technologies with the potential to help UK land forces gain “operational advantage” and increase their chances of survival. The deadline for funding proposals is 9 July.