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Next wave of industry and society challenges


Next wave of industry and society challenges

The next wave of major industrial and societal challenges to receive investment through the government’s modern Industrial Strategy have been confirmed.

The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund brings together the UK’s world-leading research base with our best businesses to transform how we live, work and move around. It will put the UK in the best position to take advantage of future market opportunities.

The fund is delivered by UK Research and Innovation and is part of government’s £4.7 billion investment in R&D over 4 years that will support the delivery of its modern Industrial Strategy.

Details of the next wave of challenges confirmed are:

  • Accelerating Detection of Disease - Businesses and charities are expected to jointly invest up to £160 million, alongside a £79 million government investment, as part of the Accelerating Detection of Disease programme. The project will support research, early diagnosis, prevention and treatment for diseases including cancer, dementia and heart disease. The pioneering initiative will recruit up to 5 million healthy people. Volunteered data from the individuals will help UK scientists and researchers invent new ways to detect and prevent the development of diseases.
  • Digital Security by Design – a £70 million government investment will be combined with up to £117 million expected private industry investment to develop new technologies. These will range from a new and secure hardware prototype that can cope with cyber-attacks, to software protected from new vulnerabilities appearing online – each to ensure that every UK organisation and consumer online is as secure and resilient to cyber threats as possible.

Welcoming the announcement UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport said: “As our use of internet connected devices has rapidly increased, so too has our vulnerability to broader and more sophisticated cyber threats. This challenge will drive changes in the UK’s digital computing infrastructure to enhance cybersecurity for businesses, government and citizens. It will help make the UK a market leader in delivering digitally secure products and services.”

  • Driving the Electric Revolution - an £80 million investment to deliver the switch to electrification across many sectors from automotive to energy distribution in order to meet the UK’s carbon reduction targets. The investment will help ensure the UK is able to supply products both in the UK and abroad, and is expected to be matched by up to £154 million from industry.  

UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport said: “Driving the Electric Revolution will strengthen the UK's capability to deliver next generation electric vehicles, hybrid aircraft and smart grids. It will ensure these industries, both large and small, are rooted here in the UK attracting inward investment into our manufacturing base.”

  • Industrial Decarbonisation - The government has committed £170 million towards deploying technologies like carbon capture and hydrogen networks in industrial clusters to support the mission to establish the world’s first net zero industrial cluster by 2040. Additionally, industry will invest up to £261 million into new technologies to reduce emissions from heartlands of heavy industry such as steel, chemical and refineries in the North East, North West, South Wales and Scotland.
  • Manufacturing Made Smarter – UK manufacturers wanting to adopt the latest digital technologies will be able to bid for a new £30 million R&D competition opening today (Wednesday 24 July). The competition is the first from the Manufacturing Made Smarter challenge to support the transformation of UK manufacturing by encouraging the development and integration of industrial digital technologies.

UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport said:  “The Manufacturing Made Smarter challenge will boost UK productivity by encouraging the adoption of digital technologies across a wide range of sectors. It will ensure we can deliver long-term prosperity through clean growth and establish the UK as a global leader of the fourth Industrial Revolution.”

  • Low Cost Nuclear - up to £18 million of government money will be invested through the government in the creation of innovative mini nuclear power stations which are smaller and less expensive to build than traditional nuclear plants. A consortium led by Rolls-Royce has proposed a significant joint investment of more than £500 million focused on designing a first-of-a-kind small modular reactor (SMR). This will be an Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund project subject to a final decision to invest, including with business case and other approvals, and this consortium representing the best option for pursuing this technology. Further questions on the approach to this challenge are welcomed until 16 August. If you would like more details please contact LCNEOI@innovateuk.ukri.org. More details can be found on our Low-cost nuclear web page. 
  • Smart sustainable plastic packaging - Funding will be used to find ways to cut waste in the supply chain, develop new business models and create new sustainable recyclable materials. Businesses are expected to jointly invest up to £149 million, alongside a £60 million government investment, to help fight the global battle against single use plastics.

UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport said: “Plastic pollution is a global crisis that affects our oceans and our land. The new investment through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will establish the UK as a leading innovator in smart and sustainable plastic packaging solutions, delivering cleaner growth across the supply chain, with a dramatic reduction in plastic waste entering the environment by 2025.”

In addition last month the Government confirmed an investment in Quantum Technologies  - a £153 million Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund which will be matched by industry with over £200 million of investment expected from the private sector.

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