£273m funding to revolutionise UK’s aerospace innovation technologies

The UK government has announced today – 18 July 2022 – a £273m investment into revolutionising the UK’s aerospace innovation technologies.

The UK government’s most recent announcement outlined the goals intended with this investment:

  • Solar-powered aircraft and NHS treatment-carrying drones are among the latest innovations that will be backed by £273m of government and industry funding;
  • A package will help the UK aerospace sector seize jobs and growth opportunities from the global green flight revolution and other emerging sectors like drone technology; and
  • The announcement comes on the first day of the Farnborough International Airshow, where the Business Secretary will deliver a keynote speech today (18 July 2022).

Advancing the UK’s aerospace innovation technologies

The £273m will be invested to develop novel technologies, such as solar-powered aircraft, ultra-efficient wings, and medical treatment-carrying drones. Additionally, low-carbon aerospace innovation, economic growth, and jobs will also be advanced due to this funding. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng intends to announce this at the Farnborough International Airshow today (18 July 2022).

Eighty-one thousand jobs have been created so far through the Aerospace Technology Institute Programme, with a current value of £97bn added to the UK economy. Currently, £155m of joint government-industry funding has been announced to support new projects unlocking the latest in green aerospace innovation, such as hydrogen and battery technology. This funding is also set to support ultra-efficient manufacturing processes and technologies – such as digital and additive manufacturing – which generate further job opportunities and leads in emerging technologies and sectors. 

Additionally, a further £105.5m 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 projects are projected to create more than 8,800 jobs. They include making motorways safer and improving journey times by utilising electric drones to survey hazards and utilising electric drones to distribute medical treatments across Scotland, including cancer patients.

The Business Secretary will also announce that up to £12m is to be made available through the Regulators’ Pioneer Fund to back initiatives that could unlock future industries through regulation, including flying cars and vaccine-carrying drones. A Drone Ambition Statement will be published today – 18 July 2022 – outlining how the UK government and industries can work together to seize drone potential and create a £45bn benefit to the economy by 2030.

“The return of the Farnborough International Airshow after a four-year absence is a clear example of the aerospace and aviation sector’s recovery. Today’s package of support will further this recovery and help the sector seize on the enormous opportunities for growth that exist as the world transitions to cleaner forms of flight,” explained Kwasi Kwarteng, Business Secretary.

“Through funding for the latest in green technologies, such as solar and hydrogen-powered aircraft, and setting out our vision for the fast-growing market for commercial drones, we are once again placing the aerospace sector directly at the centre of our plans to deliver jobs and grow the economy.”

Among 31 Aerospace Technology Institute Programme competition winners, those supported by £155m of UK government-industry funding, are:

High-Density Aerospace Solar Power led by Microlink Devices UK

This project has been awarded £6.7m to secure a high-volume, highly automated manufacturing capability in solar cells for the UK that could be utilised on electric aircraft.

UToPEA, led by Yasa

This project has been awarded £11.1m to transfer knowledge of high-power, high-torque electric motors and power electronics utilised in Formula One into the urban air mobility (air taxi) market.

X-WING ALPHA, led by Airbus

This project has been awarded £19.9m to develop ultra-wide span wings, providing significant performance benefits through weight reduction.

NGC3 led by Crompton Technology Group

This project has been awarded £5.3m to develop the weight reduction components to facilitate carbon composite wings.

Seventeen projects will share £105.5m – due to the Future Flight Challenge – to develop and demonstrate integrated aviation systems and new vehicle technologies. They will work with the Civil Aviation Authority to ensure the projects are conducted safely and effectively.

These projects include:

  • Project HEART, based in Orkney and Bedford, was awarded £10m to explore using aircraft powered by hydrogen or electricity to open up greener regional connectivity across the UK;
  • Open Skies Cornwall was granted £2.4m 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, was provided £10.1m to utilise 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; and
  • Skyway, based in Reading, was bestowed £12.9m 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.

Furthermore, a new £12m funding pot will be made accessible 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. Bids for up to £1m per project will open on 21 July 2022.

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

Future plans preceding these investments

“The steps we have set out today will ensure our aviation sector remains world-leading and fit for the future, helping to deliver on our ambitious climate change goals and boost high-skilled job opportunities,” said Robert Courts, Transport Minister.

“Integrating drones into our transport system will play a huge part in better connecting communities, from potentially delivering vital NHS treatments in isolated communities to capturing high-quality aerial imaging for rescue teams.”

A drone ambition statement has been generated in association with the Drone Industry Action Group, outlining how the UK will embed a business environment that supports the development of drone technologies and can deliver approximately 650,000 jobs in the sector by 2030. This will be achieved through government investments like those made today through the Future Flight Challenge, effective regulation, a consultation on enabling 5G connected drones for commercial use, and improving public communications to underline the potential benefits of commercial drones.

The ATI Programme and Future Flight Challenge are critical elements of the government’s jet zero policy, which includes the Jet Zero Council, established to convene government, industry, and academia, and jointly chaired by the Business Secretary and Transport Secretary. It is intended for a final jet zero strategy to be published this summer.

The UK government will also work with the industry through the Aerospace Growth Partnership, which launches a new strategy ‘Destination Net Zero’ tomorrow – 19 July 2022 – to deliver the sector’s transition to greener forms of aviation.

Subscribe to our newsletter


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Featured Topics

Partner News



Latest eBooks

Latest Partners

Similar Articles

More from Innovation News Network