Safeguarding funding for research and innovation

Recognising the importance of science and innovation to society, productivity and economic competitiveness, the government last week provided reassurance to UK participants of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Programme with a commitment to safeguard funding for research and innovation projects.

As a result, British businesses and universities will have certainty over future funding and should continue to bid for competitive EU funds while the UK remains a member of the EU. The Treasury will underwrite the payment of such awards, even when specific projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU.

The announcement follows government’s commitment in last year’s Spending Review to protect UK science spending in real terms, providing £26.3 billion from April 2016 to April 2021.

You can read more here

Views sought on plans to boost apprenticeships

The government has published proposals for a new funding model for apprenticeships and further details on the apprenticeship levy. The funding will support people of all ages to gain high-quality skills and experience and help employers to offer more training opportunities and build a skilled workforce.

Under the plans for the levy, the government has proposed that employers that are too small to pay the levy – around 98% of employers in England – will have 90% of the costs of training paid for by the government, reassuring millions of small businesses.

Extra support, worth £2,000 per trainee, will also be available for employers and training providers that take on 16- to 18-year-old apprentices or young care leavers. Employers with fewer than 50 employees will also have 100% of training costs paid for by government if they take on these apprentices.

For further information, click here

The government is inviting employers and training providers to have their say on the initial funding proposals, to ensure final plans fully meet the needs of all those involved in the apprenticeship programme.

This consultation will be open until 5th September.


Horizon 2020 contracts ‘will be honoured’, Cameron says

Research contracts under the Horizon 2020 programme, signed before the date on which the UK leaves the European Union, will be seen through to the end, prime minister David Cameron has assured MPs.

Speaking at a House Common debate on 27 June, the first after the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, Cameron said that all Horizon 2020 contracts “will be honoured for their duration”.
“Science is an area in which we get more out from Europe than we put in and we’ll certainly want to safeguard that for the future,” Cameron said.

However, it will be a task for the next prime minister to decide whether the UK remains in the European Economic Area and under what terms, as well as what would happen to the UK’s access to Horizon 2020 after Brexit takes place, he said. Cameron added that the UK’s stance on freedom of movement would also be decided and negotiated by his successor.

Embedded Systems Engineering Degree Apprenticeship Approved

ESCO is delighted to announce that the Assessment Plan for a Degree Level Apprenticeship, for the role of an Embedded Electronic Systems Design and Development Engineer, has now been approved and the highest level of Government funding has been assigned. This completes the development process and the Apprenticeship is now ‘ready to deliver’. The Apprenticeship Standard and the associated Assessment Plan are available at:

ESCO anticipates that up to 50 new apprenticeship standards will need to written and approved by March 2017, when the new Apprenticeship Levy will be introduced.

Peter Brooks, ESCO CEO, said: ‘Developing this first Trailblazer Degree Apprenticeship and getting it to this stage has taken longer than expected, but it has been a useful learning process, which now stands us in good stead to support other businesses in our sector to develop and gain approval for further new Apprenticeship’.

Graeme Philp, CEO of GAMBICA and ESCO Council member, said: ‘As ESCO was one of the early adopters of the new Trailblazer Apprenticeship scheme, we have been able to work with Government to make two significant amendments to the scheme as originally proposed, in that degree apprenticeships are now accepted in principle and the role of professional institutions in the apprenticeship assessment process is now mandatory. These amendments greatly enhance the scheme for the electrical and electronic systems sectors and we anticipate that they will also be of real benefit to other business sectors.’

Derek Boyd, CEO of NMI and founder of the UK Electronics Skills Foundation, said: ‘ESCO’s engagement with the new Trailblazer Apprenticeship scheme is a major game changer for our sector in terms of addressing the significant skills gaps that exist. This initiative also complements the aims of the UK Electronics Skills Foundation, which has been working with universities and businesses to support undergraduates through their degree courses. Young people looking for a career in electronic or electrical engineering will have a wide choice of routes to gain the qualifications they need and achieve their ambitions.’

Learn all about Apprenticeships and the Apprenticeship Levy

ESCO and its member association members are holding a one day seminar and workshop on the Apprenticeship Levy, which will show how companies can take advantage of the significant funding opportunity that this represents as well as introducing ESCO’s role in assisting companies to develop and gain approval for new apprenticeship schemes.

The seminar and workshop will be held on Wednesday 28th June at 1 Drummond Gate Conference Centre in central London.  For further information on this event, please go to

28th June ESCO Seminar & Workshop – ‘Apprenticeship Levy – how your company can benefit’

Date: Tuesday 28th June 2016

Time: 9.30am-17.00pm

Venue: ETC Venues, 1 Drummond Gate, London SW1V 2QQ

On Tuesday 28th June, ESCO and its member association members are holding a one day seminar and workshop programme on the Apprenticeship Levy and how your company can turn a defacto tax into a funding opportunity.

The Apprenticeship Levy launches in the 2017-18 tax year, with all employers obliged to pay 0.5% of their total payroll costs above £3M, into the levy fund. Both contributing and non-contributing companies will have the opportunity to access the levy fund to contribute to the funding of approved apprenticeship schemes. If companies do not engage in apprenticeships, they will not receive any return for their contribution to the levy fund.

ESCO and its association members, BEAMA, GAMBICA, NMI and techUK, have developed a strategy to assist their member companies to use the levy funds for appropriate apprenticeships.

The one day seminar and workshop will outline the opportunities for companies, the role of ESCO and the need for industry collaboration. Most important, it will allow company representatives to influence the development of the new ESCO apprenticeship service.

ESCO members and their members can attend the seminar and workshop at a discounted rate of £100 plus VAT while the event is also open to non-members at the rate of £125 plus VAT.

If you are interested in attending or would like to find out more information please find attached the event flyer ESCO Apprenticeship Levy Flyer

To book online, go to

The ESCO Council states its position in support of EU membership

The Electrotechnical Systems Council (ESCO) exists to ensure that the UK benefits from electronic and electrical systems innovation in smart energy, smart healthcare, smart manufacturing and smart transportation.

The choice in the EU referendum of 23rd June is one for the British people but the impact on our economy and its sectors should feature in the debate.  The UK electrical and electronics sectors are thriving as part of the EU, representing 6.8% of our economy and employing some 1.16million people through 46,000 large, medium and small companies.  Our sector benefits from EU membership in three important ways: straight forward access to our major trading partner, a wider base to recruit and deploy skilled people and high innovation impact through UK and EU research.

Straight forward access to the EU – an established single market where standards are key…

European standards in the single market enable confidence that products designed and made in Europe meet the technical standards which many UK experts have helped to develop.  UK products are recognised across Europe and beyond because of our active participation in European standards and UK consumers and companies benefit from consistency, reduced cost and improved product safety.  The UK presently holds high influence and voting weight in the European Standards Organisations and by working together with our European partners, 160,000 national standards have already been harmonised to fewer than 19,000 European standards  today.  EU standards are essential to our success in electrical and electronic systems and we must continue to fully participate in these important regulatory activities.

A wide recruitment base for scarce talent across the EU…

We face a deficit of home-grown, qualified electrical and electronics engineers in the UK.  Government and industry are working together to rectify this through schemes like the Electronic Systems Degree Apprenticeship, but we have no short-term fix.  Free access to the EU engineering pool is essential to prevent a skills shortage from impacting our economic progress.  Indeed, the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s 2015 ‘Skills and Demand in Industry’ report found that 64% of respondents identified a shortage of engineers as a ’threat to their business’.  With EU membership, companies will continue to choose the right people for the job from the wider EU talent pool without the bureaucracy of work permits, whilst British engineers will maintain the opportunity to work anywhere in the EU too.

Innovation impact – through European collaboration, grants and investment…

As we understand and embrace emerging digital technologies, like the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0, it is increasingly evident that we need to foster innovation and collaboration beyond our borders.  Smart energy, transportation and manufacturing are already European conversations that we must continue to influence from within.  Digital technologies represent an opportunity for SMEs and big business alike and we must build on the UK’s lead in IT, electronics and research to shape and access the wider opportunity, which the European Union represents.  The UK attracts significant innovation and investment funds that would be put at risk were we to leave.  Indeed, 47% of the EU’s Foreign Direct Investment finds its way here – the ideal European base for commercial and research activity.


Whilst the EU is not perfect, we have achieved much through EU membership and much more now depends on collaboration in an increasingly interconnected world.  An exit vote would damage collaborative relationships, diminish our influence in countless ways and lessen the legal protections we enjoy that today bar non-tariff barriers.  The UK is an attractive place for electrical and electronics companies to innovate, educate and invest and ESCO advocates a ‘remain, reform and re-vitalise’ agenda within the EU to ensure we can continue to benefit from UK and EU support for our technology sector.

Brian Holliday

Chairman, ESCO Council

16th May 2016

Plans for new Masters’ Degree level apprenticeship announced

ESCO is delighted to be able to announce that permission has been granted by the Minister of State for Skills, for the development of a new Masters’ Degree level apprenticeship for a Process Automation Engineer. This will be the first at this highest level for the sectors represented by ESCO and indeed one of the first in the UK under the new Trailblazer apprenticeships programme.

Development to date on this has been by some of the leading companies in the field working alongside ESCO member GAMBICA, ESCO and Imperial College.

Further details will be available shortly on the Standards in Development page on the website.

European Commission seeks feedback on the impact of regulation on innovation

It is a high priority for the Commission to ensure that the conditions are right for innovation in Europe – and they are interested in input from industry across Europe.

DG Research and Innovation, with the support of E&Y/Technopolis, is running a survey on the “Impact of Regulation on Innovation” in order to improve the regulatory framework for fostering new technologies and new forms of innovation.

You can have your say by participating in the survey: “Impact of Regulation on Innovation”. Your contribution will be an important step in furthering the analysis on how the regulatory environment at EU level can hamper or stimulate innovation.

The survey will run until 9 May 2016.

In a speech given in June 2015, Carlos Moedas, the Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, defined three strategic priorities: Open Innovation, Open Science and Open to the World.

With the aim of helping build an Open Innovation ecosystem in Europe, the European Commission’s concept of Open Innovation is characterised by:

  • combining the power of ideas and knowledge from different actors (whether private, public or civil society/third sector) to co-create new products and find solutions to societal needs;
  • creating shared economic and social value, including a citizen and user-centric approach;
  • capitalising on the implications of trends such as digitalisation, mass participation and collaboration.

There are three main areas of work:

  • Regulatory reforms
  • Boosting private investment in research and innovation
  • Maximising Impacts

See the Open Innovation Home page for more details

BSI’s Scott Steedman joins the ESCO Council

photo Dr-Scott-Steedman

ESCO is delighted to announce that Dr Scott Steedman CBE, Director of Standards at BSI, has joined the ESCO Council.

Scott joined BSI in January 2012. An engineer by background, Scott has spent most of his career working in industry for consulting and contracting companies on major infrastructure and building projects around the world. He is a former Vice President of the Royal Academy of Engineering where he continues to act as Editor-in-Chief of the Academy’s flagship magazine, Ingenia.

Brian Holliday, Chairman of the ESCO Council, said: ‘We are very pleased that Scott has joined the Council. In addition to his extensive academic and business experience, his pivotal role at BSI allows him to add much needed expertise in the important area of standards, especially in the development of new standards for emerging technologies which have the potential to address some of the key societal challenges facing the modern world.

‘The internet of things is one such emerging technology, and has the potential for use in many domestic and industrial applications and which will require broad cooperation on the development of international standards to ensure interoperability across diverse platforms .’

Scott Steedman remarked: ‘Taking a strategic view of the role of standardisation is becoming increasingly important as technology convergence, servitisation and digitisation transform the economies of leading industrial countries around the world.

‘ESCO is very well placed to provide this focus for the UK electrical and electronics industries in their interface with European and international standardisation. We look forward to it developing as a significant element in the UK national committee of the IEC (the International Electrotechnical Commission, the principal international standards body for these technologies). This will enable UK industry to work with BSI with renewed vigour in driving the standards agenda, and offering strategic support to the several thousand industry experts who represent UK interests on the international stage.’

Nominations now invited for the British Engineering Excellence Awards

Since the British Engineering Excellence Awards were launched in 2009, the winning entries have ranged in size from chip designs to pipe laying systems, with the Grand Prix – the best of the best – awarded to a kinetic energy recovery system, an engineer who designed a system to save water on a massive scale, a marine communications company and, in 2015, to a start up company developing deployable space structures. It demonstrates the breadth of the UK’s engineering and innovation capabilities. And every year the quality of entries improves.

To read more and to learn more and to find out how to enter, click here

Page 1 of 712345...Last »