Could Your Experiment Fly On The International Space Station?

Researchers, universities and businesses will compete to get their science into space, in a new funding call announced today by the UK Space Agency

International Space Station. Credit: NASA

International Space Station. Credit: NASA

There is a growing community of scientists looking to experiment in microgravity – where astronauts and objects float weightlessly. The UK Space Agency will select a number of ideas for development which could then be flown on board the International Space Station.

The UK can propose national experiments through the European Space Agency’s European Exploration Enveloped Programme, ensuring UK science benefits directly from human spaceflight.

The unique environment of the ISS offers a great opportunity to investigate novel materials, life in space, the human body, fluid physics, new technologies and many other things. Previous experiments with UK involvement have created new metal alloys, studied microorganisms and analysed changes to the human voice.

The European Space Agency announced in December 2016 that it intends for all of the astronauts that were selected in Tim Peake’s 2009 class to be assigned a second mission.

Libby Jackson, Human Spaceflight and Microgravity Programme Manager at the UK Space Agency, said:

“This programme gives UK researchers and businesses the chance to do real science in space.

“Microgravity provides a unique facility for scientific research, allowing us to gain new knowledge that will improve life on Earth.”

Ideas are welcomed from all UK organisations, including university-led academic research proposals and industry-led commercial research proposals.

Applications ideas will then be invited to provide full detailed experiment proposals. Subject to confirmation must be received by 28 February 2018. Selected of future funding, a number of these experiments will be selected for development and nomination to ESA for flight.

View full details of the call

Chilean Presidential Elections

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

We congratulate Sebastián Piñera on his election as the next President of Chile. We congratulate the Chilean people for participating in another successful election and demonstrating their commitment to democratic values.

The United States and Chile share a strong partnership based on our commitment to shared democratic ideals, human rights, and economic opportunity. We are confident the United States and Chile will continue to work closely to promote security, prosperity, and good governance within our hemisphere and across the globe. We value the close relationship we have had during President Bachelet’s administration and we look forward to working with President-elect Piñera when the new administration takes office in March.

UK Company Paying A Global Workforce With Bitcoin

Victvs Ltd

Victvs Ltd

In response to increased worldwide awareness of the rising value and potential applications of cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, one Leeds based company is leading the way in offering Bitcoin payments to members of their global workforce.

Victvs Ltd based in Leeds, is a global company providing business support services in over 100 countries.  With a global network of over 1000 people, managing international payments to so many countries can be very difficult.   Victvs see Bitcoin as a welcome additional option through which to pay their global network and from 1st

December 2017, began offering its members the option of receiving payment in the cryptocurrency.

Victvs CEO and founder Ben Clayson, believes that Bitcoin and Blockchain technologies hold exciting potential for his global workforce, “As the connected global workplace evolves, new tools and technologies like Bitcoin are being created to provide people with greater individual control over resources including finance.  We believe that cryptocurrency payments will have real benefits for the members of our global network and we expect to see developments in Blockchain technology having a profound effect on our industry in the near future.”

From the point of view of international beneficiaries, receiving payments in Bitcoin comes with far lower processing fees and much quicker receipt of payment than traditional banking methods.  Whilst the legislation surrounding cryptocurrencies is still unclear in many countries, Bitcoin and others including Ethereum and Monero are gaining in popularity all over the world.

Contrary to popular belief, payments made in Bitcoin are not anonymous and the funds can be exchanged for material goods, with everything from sushi to properties now being offered with a Bitcoin price.  Despite not being expected to replace traditional currencies, there is no escaping the phenomenal growth of cryptocurrencies and Blockchain.


Notes to the Editor

  • Victvs Ltd was founded in Sep 2013 by Benjamin Clayson and Andrew Gregory
  • Provides global business support services – helping clients do better international business
  • Services provided by Victvs include: micro logistics, inspections and audits, professional examination management and international crisis support
  • Victvs Ltd is based in Castleton Mills, Leeds.  We employ 29 people in the UK and we work with over 1000 people in over 100 countries

Contact: For press enquiries, please contact Dawn Lightwood (Marketing & PR) on 0113 887 0185 or email

Preferred Candidate Chosen For The Role Of Executive Chair Of The Medical Research Council

Professor Fiona Watt FRS has been selected as the Government’s preferred candidate to be the Executive Chair of the Medical Research Council (MRC) when it becomes a constituent part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) in April 2018

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

Professor Watt is currently Director of the Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine at King’s College London. Here she leads a team of 80 academic researchers and is internationally recognised in her field with particular expertise in the stem cells of healthy and diseased skin.

The current MRC Chief Executive, Sir John Savill FRS, steps down at the end of March 2018 before UKRI is launched.

Professor Watt said:

I am deeply honoured to be selected as the Government’s preferred candidate to lead the MRC at this time of extraordinary opportunity for the UK’s biomedical researchers.

Sir Mark Walport, UKRI CEO Designate, said:

Professor Fiona Watt is a distinguished biomedical scientist who will be an outstanding leader of the Medical Research Council. I am delighted she has been selected as the Government’s preferred candidate for the role of MRC Executive Chair.

The post of MRC Executive Chair is potentially subject to a pre-appointment hearing by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. The Committee will consider this in due course. If a pre-appointment hearing is requested then arrangements will be made for this in the New Year.

Ministers Take Action To Bolster PIP Services

The government has accepted the recommendations of Paul Gray's second independent review of Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Department for Works & Pensions

Department for Works & Pensions

As part of its ongoing commitment to strengthen its services for disabled people, the government has accepted the recommendations of the second independent review of Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

The review, commissioned by the government and led by Paul Gray, was published in March 2017. Action will be taken on the recommendations including simplifying communications for people claiming PIP, and exploring how to ensure evidence is collected and reviewed as effectively as possible to support people’s claims.

Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Sarah Newton, said:

We’re determined to make the PIP application process as simple as possible both for the independent assessors and the people applying for it. That’s why we commissioned the second review on top of the strong steps we’ve already taken, so we can fully understand what works best, and what we need to improve on.

Working closely with disabled people and their representatives, we’ll continue to explore how to help meet the needs of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

PIP was introduced to replace the outdated Disability Living Allowance (DLA) system. At the core of PIP’s design is the principle that awards should be made according to someone’s overall level of need – taking into account both physical and non-physical conditions. Under PIP 29% of claimants are now receiving the highest rate of support, compared to 15% under DLA.

The first independent review was published in December 2014. Since then, significant improvements have been made to the PIP assessment process including:

  • restructuring decision letters to make them easier to understand
  • working with the Money Advice Service (MAS) to ensure PIP claimants can get bespoke budgeting advice if they need it
  • introducing SMS messaging to keep a claimant informed throughout the journey of their claim
  • introducing the Video Relay Service for claimants who use British Sign Language (BSL) so they are able to communicate with the department more easily
  • introducing the Next Generation Text (NGT) for deaf or hard of hearing claimants unable to use BSL or those unable to speak
  • amending the PIP (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2013 by removing the requirement for DLA claimants to wait a minimum of 28 days when they transfer to PIP if they became terminally ill

Assessment providers have also introduced Mental Health Champions, who are experienced professionals with direct and relevant work experience of helping people with mental health problems.

About PIP and the independent review

PIP is designed to help with the extra costs associated with a disability or health condition. It is not means tested and not linked to someone’s ability to work.

Read the government’s response to the second independent review.

Read Paul Gray’s second independent review.

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