- Solar-powered planes and drones carrying NHS treatment are among the latest innovations backed by £273million in government and industry funding
- Package to help the UK aerospace sector capture the jobs and growth opportunities of the global green flight revolution and other emerging sectors like drone technology
- The announcement comes on the first day of the Farnborough International Airshow, where the Business Secretary will deliver a keynote speech today
Solar-powered planes, ultra-efficient wings and drones carrying medical treatments are just some of the technologies backed by £273m to advance low-carbon aerospace innovation, economic growth and employment, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng will announce at the Farnborough International Airshow today (Monday July 18).
So far, 81,000 jobs have been created through the Institute of Aerospace Technology scheme, with £97billion of value added to the UK economy to date. Today, £155 million in joint government-industry funding was announced to support new projects unlocking the latest innovations in green aerospace, such as hydrogen and battery technology, and processes and ultra-efficient manufacturing technologies, such as digital and additive manufacturing – generating more job opportunities and leads in emerging technologies and sectors.
An additional £105.5 million from government and industry will be shared by projects focused on developing air transport systems and enabling new vehicle technologies through the Future Flight Challenge. The projects could create more than 8,800 jobs and include making motorways safer and improving journey times using electric drones to monitor hazards, using electric drones to distribute medical treatment across Scotland, including to cancer patients.
The Business Secretary will also announce that up to £12m will be made available through the Regulators Pioneer Fund to support initiatives that could unlock the industries of the future through regulation – from flying cars to drones carrying vaccines. Finally, a drone ambition statement will be released today outlining how government and industry can work together to realize the potential benefits of drones of £45 billion to the economy by 2030.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said:
The return of the Farnborough International Airshow after a four-year absence is a clear example of the recovery of the aerospace and aviation sector. Today’s support package will support this recovery and help the sector seize the huge growth opportunities that exist as the world transitions to cleaner forms of flight.
By funding the latest green technologies, such as solar-powered and hydrogen-powered aircraft, and defining our vision for the rapidly growing commercial drone market, we are once again placing the aerospace sector directly at the center of our plans to create jobs. and grow the economy.
Among the 31 winners of the Aerospace Technology Institute program competition, backed by £155 million in funding from government and industry, are:
- High Density Aerospace Solar Power led by Microlink Devices UK – £6.7 million to secure high-volume, highly automated solar cell manufacturing capacity for the UK that could be used on electric aircraft;
- UToPEA led by Yasa – £11.1m to transfer knowledge of high torque electric motors and power electronics used in Formula 1 to the urban air mobility market (air taxis);
- Airbus-led X-WING ALPHA – £19.9m to develop ultra-wide-span wings, delivering significant performance benefits through weight reduction; and
- NGC3 led by Crompton Technology Group – £5.3m to develop weight reduction components aimed at facilitating carbon composite wings.
Under the Future Flight Challenge led by UK Research and Innovation, 17 projects will share funding of £105.5 million to develop and demonstrate integrated aviation systems and new vehicle technologies. Projects will work with the Civil Aviation Authority to ensure they are delivered safely and efficiently. They understand:
- Project HEART, based in Orkney and Bedford – £10m to explore the use of hydrogen or electric powered aircraft to open up greener regional connectivity across the UK;
- Open Skies Cornwall – £2.4million to work with Royal Mail and NHS Kernow to use drones to provide residents of the Isles of Scilly with regular and reliable deliveries of mail and medical supplies;
- CAELUS 2, based across Scotland – £10.1million to use electric drones to support the distribution of medical products and medicines across Scotland, including helping to treat cancer patients in their local community, rather than forcing them to travel; and
- Reading-based Skyway – £12.9m to use drones to quickly and efficiently monitor infrastructure, such as motorways and ports, reducing the need for costly transport system shutdowns and improving delivery times .
A new £12 million funding pot will be made available through the Regulators’ Pioneer Fund to support bold initiatives by regulators and local authorities that enable the UK’s regulatory environment to keep pace with cutting-edge innovation. Tenders of up to £1million per project will open on July 21.
Previous funding has supported the development of a world’s first crash-protected container scheme that drones can use to transport sensitive goods such as vaccines and a project to unlock regulatory barriers to flying taxis.
Transport Minister Robert Courts said:
The milestones we have set out today will keep our aviation sector world-leading and future-ready, helping to achieve our ambitious climate change goals and boosting high-skilled job opportunities. .
Integrating drones into our transport system will play a huge role in better connecting communities, from potentially delivering life-saving NHS treatment in isolated communities to capturing high-quality aerial imagery for rescue teams.
A Drone Ambition statement has been produced in conjunction with the Drone Industry Action Group, outlining how the UK will integrate a business environment that supports the development of drone technologies and can create 650,000 jobs in the sector by 2030. This goal will be achieved through government investment. like those achieved today through the Future Flight Challenge, effective regulation, consultation on enabling 5G connected drones for commercial purposes, and improved public communications to highlight the potential benefits of commercial drones.
The ATI The program and the Future Flight Challenge are key elements of the government’s Jet Zero policy, which includes the Jet Zero Council, created to bring together government, industry and academia, and chaired jointly by the Business Secretary and the Secretary to transport. A final Jet Zero strategy will be released this summer.
The government will also work with industry through the Aerospace Growth Partnership, which is launching a new ‘Destination Net Zero’ strategy tomorrow, to ensure the sector’s transition to greener forms of aviation.
Notes to Editors
The ATI The program is a joint investment by government and industry. Its aim is to provide funding for research and technology development in the UK in a competitive manner, in order to maintain and develop the UK’s competitive position in civil aerospace. It is open to UK companies of any size for research funding. Alongside the main strategic program, it will also manage two funding streams aimed at providing tailored support and mentoring to SMEs.
The 2021 spending review has increased government funding for the ATI program at £685 million.
Estimates of jobs created and value added to the economy by ATI are published by the ATInot the government.
The Future Flight Challenge is investing up to £125m to develop greener means of flight, such as all-electric aircraft and drone deliveries, by advancing electric and autonomous flight technologies. The investment is complemented by £175m from industry. The challenge aims to bring together technologies from electrification, aviation systems and autonomy to create new modes of air transport and capacity
The drone ambition statement outlines the following building blocks for delivering a thriving industry, including:
- the government’s Future of Flight Plan and Future of Flight Industry Group in developing a path to new uses and users of aviation and airspace;
- Funding to ensure the UK supports and builds on the best of UK drone technology, including through the Future Flight Challenge, investing in and demonstrating new operating models and developing new frameworks to allow drone capabilities to thrive;
- Implementation of sectoral skills and CPD programs to support the effective adoption and integration of drones by end users;
- Support drone innovators in their ambitions to start and grow their businesses in the UK, and convene the Drone Industry Action Group to support collaboration between government and the drone community;
- Broader regulatory support to enable routine drone operations, including a AAC and an updated airspace modernization strategy, and Ofcom consultation to deliver robust drone communications and connectivity aimed at enabling 4G and eventually 5G for commercial use; and
- Active public outreach and communications highlighting the potential positive uses and benefits of commercial drones.