UK Research and Innovation injects £118m into Scots firms and researchers

The UK government has injected about £118 million into top Scottish businesses and researchers to tackle major societal challenges that will help the UK build back better.

Among Scottish projects awarded funding is the Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre in Renfrewshire. Picture: contributed.
Among Scottish projects awarded funding is the Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre in Renfrewshire. Picture: contributed.

The sum has been distributed among recipients through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), which works with parties including universities, research organisations, businesses, and government to “create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish”.

UKRI is currently funding 155 Scottish projects across 24 researchers and 124 businesses that look to advance medicine manufacturing, create the UK’s first remote low-carbon aviation test centre and demonstrate the viability of a drone-enabled distribution network for medical items and organs, for example.

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The funding falls under UKRI’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), which has already ploughed £1.7 billion into companies across the UK – spanning clean growth, ageing society, the future of mobility, and artificial intelligence and data economy.

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Among the Scottish projects to be awarded funding through ISCF is the Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre, which will be located near Glasgow Airport. UKRI awarded £13m to help fund the centre, which aims to help the UK lead in small molecule pharmaceutical and fine chemical manufacturing.

Another medical project has received £1.5m to improve medical delivery in Scottish urban and rural areas. The project unites expertise and skills from large and small organisations, universities and non-profit research and technology bodies to demonstrate the technological and socio-economic viability of a drone-enabled distribution network for medical items such as organs, blood products, high-value medicines and medical consumables across Scotland.

Additionally, almost £2m has been invested to create the UK’s first remote low-carbon aviation test centre at Kirkwall Airport in Orkney. The project will trial a host of “exciting” aviation technologies including low-carbon aircraft that utilise electric, hydrogen or synthetic fuel to replace conventional fossil fuels.

Another project in Orkney has been given £15m to show the capabilities of a self-contained smart energy network, and its potential impact. The project, which is being led by The European Marine Energy Centre, is installing flexible technologies to address the current restrictions locally and to allow energy to be supplied at minimum cost, which can be replicated across the UK and internationally.

Crucial

Mike Biddle, ISCF programme director at UKRI, said: “The projects we’ve seen so far in Scotland will help tackle the Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. For example, the Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre will help advance innovations to healthcare to meet speed, scale and demand, which we’ve learnt to be crucial over the past 12 months. We’re already starting to see these innovative ideas be brought to life and we look forward to seeing the results over the coming months and years.

“We’ve seen 63 per cent of all project participants anticipate that annual turnover will increase as a result of engaging with the Challenge Fund. We encourage the top minds in industry and academia across Scotland to come together and apply for funding to help bring research to life and develop real-world applications that will see benefits on a local and national level.”

It is anticipated that ISCF funding will result in more than 6,000 jobs being created over the next five years.

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