Low-carbon aerospace technology backed by £273 million government innovation fund

The UK government has backed an innovation fund for low-carbon aerospace technology to help job opportunities for the global green flight revolution

Among the low-carbon aerospace technology being funded are solar-powered aircrafts, ultra-efficient wings and medical treatment-carrying drones.

The Aerospace Technology Institute estimates that ATI Programme projects are set to secure 81,000 jobs while contributing £97 billion of economic value to the UK.

This funding aims to help the UK aerospace sector seize jobs and growth opportunities from the global green flight revolution and other emerging sectors like drone technology – which have already been seen starting up in the medical sector in the NHS, too.

The projects could create more than 8,800 jobs

The new £155 million in joint government-industry funding is to support new projects unlocking the latest in green aerospace technology and innovation – such as hydrogen and battery technology – as well as increasing ultra-efficient manufacturing processes and technologies – such as digital and additive manufacturing.

These will generate further job opportunities and leads in emerging technologies and sectors, given the further £105.5 million of government-industry funding will be shared by projects focused on developing air transport systems and enabling new vehicle technologies through the Future Flight Challenge.

The government predicts that these projects can create more than 8,800 jobs, as well as make motorways safer and improve journey times by using electric drones to survey hazards.

They will be able to use electric drones to distribute medical treatments across Scotland, and to cancer patients who live in distant regions also, cutting down distribution costs.

Camera Drone (UAV) Ready to Fly at Sunset
© Dreamstime Agency

The Business Secretary will also announce up to £12 million is to be made available through the Regulators’ Pioneer Fund to back initiatives that could unlock industries of the future through regulation – from flying cars to vaccine-carrying drones.

Finally, a Drone Ambition Statement has been published also, outlining how government and industry can work together to seize on drones’ potential £45 billion of benefit to the economy by 2030

The Aerospace Technology Institute Programme competition winners are backed by £155 million in funding, they include:

  • High-Density Aerospace Solar Power led by Microlink Devices UK – £6.7 million to secure a high-volume, highly automated manufacturing capability in solar cells for the UK that could be used on electric aircraft
  • UToPEA led by Yasa – – £11.1 million to transfer knowledge of high-power, high-torque, super low weight electric motors and power electronics from the premium automotive sector into the urban air mobility (electric air taxi) market. YASA’s aerospace division was spun-out as Evolito Ltd in 2021
  • eXtra High Performance Wing led by Airbus – £19.9 million to develop ultra-wide span wings, providing significant performance benefits through weight reduction
  • NGC3 led by Crompton Technology Group – £5.3 million to develop weight reduction components aimed at facilitating carbon composite wings

17 projects will share £105.5 million in funding to develop and demonstrate integrated aviation systems and new vehicle technologies. The projects will work with the Civil Aviation Authority to ensure they are delivered safely and effectively. They include:

  • Project HEART, based in Orkney and Bedford – £10 million to explore using aircraft powered by hydrogen or electricity to open up greener regional connectivity across the UK
  • Open Skies Cornwall – £2.4 million to work with Royal Mail and NHS Kernow to use drones to provide residents on the Isles of Scilly with regular, reliable deliveries of mail and medical supplies
  • CAELUS 2, based across Scotland – £10.1 million 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 requiring them to travel
  • Skyway, based in Reading – £12.9 million to use drones to quickly and efficiently survey infrastructure, such as motorways and ports, reducing the need for costly transport system closures and improving delivery times

Further funding initiatives in technology and innovation

£12 million has also been added to the funding pot, made available through the Regulators’ Pioneer Fund, to support initiatives by local authorities which can enable the UK’s regulatory environment to keep pace with better, greener innovation.

Previous funding has additionally supported the development of a world-first regime for crash-protected containers that drones can use to carry sensitive goods such as vaccines and a project to unlock regulatory barriers to flying taxis.

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