Category Archives: News

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

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.

200 Suppliers Now Signing Up To Contracts Finder Every Week

Contracts Finder - which makes it easier for small businesses to find opportunities to supply to government - is celebrating a breakthrough year of growth

Contract Signing

Contract Signing

The Contracts Finder platform now has more than 22,000 registered suppliers, with almost two-thirds of them small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – a 53% increase since the beginning of this year. Around 200 suppliers sign up to use the platform every week.

The site now regularly features more contract notices than TED, the EU procurement portal.

Contracts Finder is managed by the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), as part of the Cabinet Office, with the aim of increasing procurement transparency and providing more opportunities for SMEs to supply goods and services to the public sector.

Automatic email alerts are distributed to interested suppliers, with suppliers able to tailor their searches to deliver news about opportunities in their own specialism.

Caroline Nokes, Minister for government Resilience and Efficiency, says:

Contracts Finder is a great way for small and medium sized businesses to search for opportunities in central government and the wider public sector. Smaller businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, and I am keen that they are able to access as many opportunities as possible, helping the Government to achieve our aspiration of spending £1 in every £3 with SMEs by 2022.

Ian Fishwick, Chief Executive of Adept Telecom, Commercial Director for Innopsis, and member of the Cabinet Office SME Panel, says:

Almost all public sector buyers are now registered to use the service including councils, emergency services, central government, universities and the NHS. We are closer than ever to having a single website where you can find the bulk of public sector tenders.

Emma Jones, Small Business Crown Representative, says:

Contracts Finder is the go-to place for SMEs to find government and public sector opportunities. More and more organisations are using it with twice as many UK opportunities published when compared with the TED website. I’d urge SMEs to log on for free and find out what opportunities are out there. We’d like to see the platform go even further and become the single location on which government’s major suppliers also list their opportunities, whilst making performance data on existing contracts more transparent.

Open Contracting

Contracts Finder supports the UK Government’s commitment to the Open Data Contracting Standard (ODCS), ensuring that all stages of the public procurement process are open and transparent.

The UK is the first G7 country to implement the OCDS for contracts administered by a central purchasing authority – CCS.

This means that the whole process of awarding public sector contracts is visible to the public for the first time. Data and documents are disclosed at all stages of the contracting process. This allows deeper analysis of contracting data by a wide range of users.

The government is currently exploring measures to further increase business with SMEs, including by asking larger suppliers to advertise subcontracting opportunities through Contracts Finder.

For more information on Contracts Finder and to sign up to alerts, visit

Twenty Three Universities Join Student Visa Pilot

Home Office to extend scheme which streamlines process for international Masters students wanting to study in the UK

Parliament Street (SW1)

Parliament Street (SW1)

A pilot which is looking at streamlining the process for international Masters students wanting to study in the UK has been extended to an additional 23 universities, the Immigration Minister announced today.

Currently in its 2nd year with the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Bath and Imperial College London, the pilot will streamline the process for international students looking to study on a Masters course of 13 months or less in the UK.

It also provides greater support for students who wish to switch to a work visa and take up a graduate role, by allowing them to remain in the UK for 6 months after they have finished their course.


Universities taking part are given responsibility for eligibility checks, meaning that students can submit fewer documents than required in the current process alongside their visa applications.

Applicants that do not meet immigration rules will be refused. All students will continue to require Home Office security and identity checks.

The additional 23 universities to benefit from the pilot include 2 in Scotland, 2 in Wales and 1 in Northern Ireland as well as universities from across England.

Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis said:

I am delighted to announce the expansion of this pilot which is part of our ongoing activity to ensure that our world-leading institutions remain highly competitive.

The UK continues to be the 2nd most popular destination for international students and the number coming to study at our universities has increased by 24% since 2010.

This is a clear indication that genuine students are welcome and there is no limit on the number who can come to study in the UK.


The most recent Home Office statistics show that the number of students applying for visas increased by 8% over the past year, and there has been a 9% increase in the number of students applying to Russell Group universities.

The 23 additional universities will be able to apply the pilot to their 2018/19 intake. The universities were selected as their visa refusal rates are consistently the lowest in their area or region.

The 23 universities to be added to the pilot are:

  • Cardiff University
  • Goldsmiths University of London
  • Harper Adams University
  • Newcastle University
  • Queen’s University Belfast
  • The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
  • University of Bristol
  • Durham University
  • University of East Anglia
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Essex
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of Leicester
  • University of Liverpool
  • University of Manchester
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Reading
  • University of Sheffield
  • University of Southampton
  • University of Wales Trinity St. David (Swansea Campus)
  • University of Warwick
  • University of York

Sign Up To Attend The Severn Growth Summit In January 2018

The UK Government has committed to abolishing the Severn Tolls by the end of 2018. Sign up to attend the Severn Growth Summit to see how you can benefit

Severn Crossing

Severn Crossing

The Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns has announced that he will host the first cross-border, Severn Growth business summit on 22 January 2018 at the Celtic Manor Resort.

He is calling on local partners and businesses from across the South West of England and the South East of Wales to come together to explore how links between the two economies can be strengthened following the announcement of the abolition of the Severn Tolls.

Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said:

Our decision to abolish the Severn tolls sends a powerful message to businesses, commuters and tourists that the UK Government is committed to strengthening the Welsh economy.

By strengthening the links between communities in south Wales and south-west England, we will transform the joint economic prospects of both regions, creating a growth corridor stretching from Cardiff through Newport to Bristol.

I want to ensure that visitors and investors know what Wales has to offer and I want the world to know our nation is open for business.

You can sign up to attend the Severn Growth Summit here

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