Covid-19 update 18.05.2020



Government invests £35m to protect critical freight routes

Vital freight routes into, out of and around the UK will continue to run, thanks to a multi-million-pound government scheme to help ensure critical goods, such as food and medical supplies, can move freely.

The government has signed agreements with six operators to provide up to £35million to help ensure there is enough freight capacity to prevent disruption to the flow of goods.

The decision has been made to protect 16 of the most important routes covering the Channel, the Short Strait, the North Sea and routes between Great Britain and Northern Ireland which were previously at risk of closure due to a drop in demand as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19). They will now be designated as Public Service Obligation routes for a period of up to nine weeks.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “From the very beginning of the outbreak, we have committed to do whatever it takes to minimise the disruption caused by COVID-19. By taking this action, we have helped protect the movement of goods and services in and out of the UK, safeguarding the flow of supplies across the Union.

“The Department for Transport is working closely with the transport sector and devolved administrations to monitor the situation on all freight routes (not just those in the scheme) in order to ensure critical goods, such as food and medical supplies, can move freely.”

The agreements follow the UK, French and Irish governments’ recent pledge to work together on temporary measures to ensure COVID-19 does not threaten vital freight routes between the countries.


Revolutionising the way we fly: apply for up to £30m business funding

Organisations can apply for a share of up to £30m to develop ways to support the safe operation of novel modes of air transportation – minimising the environmental footprint and improving connectivity.

Flying taxis, drones delivering medical supplies, small electric aircraft, vertical take-off and landing vehicles and autonomous aircraft are some of the innovations that could transform aviation and broader transportation in the future.

The government has set aside £125m as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund Future Flight Challenge to make the UK a world leader in aviation systems, products and markets. The funding supports development of capabilities to enable safe operations of these new modes of air transportation.

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, has up to £30m from the fund to support projects that develop and demonstrate integrated aviation systems for new electric and autonomous aircraft.

Find out more about the Future Flight Challenge here.


£300m Coronavirus Business Innovation support package

A range of continuity grants, loans and additional business advisory support services have been made available for organisations which are existing Innovate UK award holders.

Up to £90m is available in continuity grants, paid upfront, to SMEs and third sector organisations who are existing Innovate UK award holders and who are at risk of abandoning their project due to a sudden shortage or even unavailability of funds directly related to COVID-19.

Up to £210m is available in continuity loans to SMEs and third sector organisations that have a challenge in continuing a live project for which they are have an award from Innovate UK.

More information and details on how to apply are here.

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