Projects selected for the Regulators’ Pioneer Fund (2022)


The competition for the third round of the Regulators’ Pioneer Fund launched on 19 July 2022 and closed on 29 September 2022.  Regulators and local authorities could apply for grants of up to £1 million for projects that would help create a UK regulatory environment that encourages business innovation and growth.  Projects would run for either 8 months (starting 1 January 2023) or for 12 – 18 months (starting 1 September 2023).

A competition brief and application form were published on the Regulators’ Pioneer Fund page. The Regulators’ Pioneer Fund received 44 applications in round 3.

Applications that met the eligibility criteria were sent for assessment.  Proposals were then assessed against the assessment criteria and an awarding panel made the final decision on funding. Applicants were notified of the outcome of the assessment process in November 2022.

The Regulators’ Pioneer Fund will invest up to £12 million in 24 projects [footnote 1]. A summary of each of the selected projects can be found in the tables below.

Find below details of the projects selected for funding by project duration.

8 month projects

Project led by Argyll and Bute Council

Project name: West Coast of Scotland Trial for Integration of Manned and Unmanned Air Space
Project grant: £250,000

Project overview

Argyll and Bute Council is collaborating with Skyports and Air Navigation Solutions Limited (ANSL), who provide Air Traffic Services under Licence to London-Gatwick Airport and Edinburgh Airport, to examine and establish a volume of airspace over the west coast of Scotland for a six-month period. During this time, the local authority and two companies will investigate the feasibility of the creation of a blanket area of low-density airspace over rural areas that would enable the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems with general aviation/scheduled manned aircraft.  This will require close working with the Civil Aviation Authority to look at ground breaking new regulations.

This project will be a foundational step towards unlocking UAV airspace in the UK without disenfranchising manned aviation and provide a network across the West Coast of Scotland, including inter island, to allow UAV trials for multi logistic delivery purposes.

Project led by the Care Quality Commission

Project name: Capturing innovation to accelerate improvement in health and social care
Project grant: £118,004

Project overview

Health and social care is changing. So are we.

Meeting the increasing demand and challenges faced by health and social care to deliver positive outcomes for our population requires innovation, creativity, and a willingness to try something new.

As the regulator of health and social care in England, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) is committed to championing and enabling innovation. And we want to accelerate our own learning to be an innovation-friendly regulator.

Through this project, we will explore and pilot ways of developing the right regulatory environment for innovation to flourish.

Over eight months, CQC will work with a group of innovators and partners within the health and care system. Our aim is to:

  • capture examples of high quality innovation and share this learning
  • explore and articulate the role of an enabling and supportive regulator in an innovative health and care system
  • pilot a suite of innovation-supporting activities and products to accelerate innovation and improvement based on research evidence about the ways CQC can impact improvement in health and social care.

Learning from this project will make sure that innovation in England’s health and social care system is safe and supported. It will help make it easier for health and social care to design and adopt high quality innovation and ensure that regulation is seen as an enabler, not a barrier, to innovation.

Project led by the Environment Agency

Project name: Using digital twin technology to enable low carbon industrial clusters
Project grant: £271,975

Project overview

Our project will, for the first time, use world-leading digital twin modelling to help industry shape industrial clusters based on real-world environmental constraints –enabling rapid deployment to support energy security and sustainable economic growth. This is the first time that cutting edge digital twin technology has been used with environmental data to explore environmental limits and optimise decarbonisation technology in industrial clusters. The concept of ‘digital twins’ allows the creation of a digital representation of real-world places and systems. We can use a virtual counterpart of a real system to try different combinations of technology in places, providing invaluable early insight into environmental risks and informing and streamlining regulation.

We will use digital twin technology to simulate the operation of multiple low carbon technologies in an industrial cluster. Using the outcomes from this project we’ll explore opportunities for industry to work innovatively to mitigate environmental impacts and avoid costly delays in deployment. This provides an entirely new capability to “see the future” and shape it –leading to faster deployment timescales and lower environmental risk. We will work with local and national Environment Agency specialists, Microsoft and their digital partners, industry representatives and other UK environmental regulators to achieve this.

We will investigate how digital twin technology can be used as a positive tool to understand and plan to mitigate environmental limits as part of the overall ambition to facilitate the development of the first UK low carbon industrial cluster.

Project led by Greater London Authority

Project name: Developing a market based approach to enable significant SuDS investment through collaborative streetworks
Project grant: £264,000

Project overview

This project will develop a strategic and innovative market-based approach to facilitate the delivery of critical sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) at scale through the Infrastructure Coordination Service (ICS) collaborative streetworks programme. The Independent Review into 2021 London floods and Thames Water’s draft Drainage and Wastewater Management Plan (dDWMP) have promoted their importance with Thames Water planning to increase delivery from a current rate of 20 hectares every 5 years to 7,000 hectares by 2050. A recent pilot project promoted by the ICS and delivered by Cadent Gas and Enfield Council identified an opportunity to enable 25%cost saving in the delivery of SuDS through the ICS collaborative streetworks programme, however blockers remain preventing the approach being scaled. This project will seek to exploit the opportunity identified by leveraging the learning from UK environmental markets to address identified blockers to investment and enable scaled collaborative delivery. The project will also identify any wider opportunities for application of market based approaches to improve investment in critical flood resilience measures in London.

We expect that this work will support delivery of significant benefits to London’s businesses and communities by removing blockers to investment, reducing SuDS delivery costs, increasing flood resilience, and supporting innovation and local economies. We would be happy to share the outputs of this study with other local authorities interested in this approach.

Project led by the Health and Safety Executive

Project name: Enabling Innovation in Industrial SafetyTECH
Project grant: £555,268

Project overview

Great Britain’s health and safety (H&S) performance has seen significant improvements over the last 30 years. However, Health & Safety Executive (HSE) statistics show that each year over a million workers are injured or made ill by their work. This affects individuals, families, employers, government and wider society. 

Technology is changing rapidly and should be embraced to keep the workplace a safer and healthier place for all. Industrial Safetytech (IS) is the term for innovative technologies, products and services that are redefining approaches to H&S management. It can play a crucial role in promoting compliance to H&S legislation, especially for Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs). However, regulations established to protect the public interest can become barriers to innovation. Addressing this potential regulatory barrier requires regulators and innovators to collaborate, to promote and stimulate emerging technology. This project employs a regulatory sandbox approach enabling experimentation with technological innovations. It benefits both regulator and industry, providing clarity to innovators on regulatory expectations and confidence to industry to invest in and adopt Industrial Safetytech. 

HSE will lead this ground-breaking project in partnership with Safetytech Accelerator Ltd to generate practical evidence-based assessments of IS against regulatory frameworks in Construction. The project outcomes will support safe deployment of emerging technology providing confidence to large business and SMEs around IS adoption. This initiative will generate and harness new thinking, methods and technological approaches to improve regulatory delivery and performance, thus enabling innovative new products and services to come to market for the benefit of all.

Project led by the Information Commissioner’s Office

Project name: Enabling innovation – piloting a multi-agency advice service for digital innovators
Project grant: £199,391

Project overview

The UK digital sector contributed nearly £151 billion to the economy in 2019, with 1.7 million filled jobs in the sector in 2020. Regulatory clarity and certainty are crucial to its continued growth, giving innovators confidence to bring new ideas to market. 

Regulation of the digital sector is changing, with new legislation being considered across online safety, data protection, financial services, cybersecurity and competition in digital markets. Offering joined-up regulatory advice would reduce burdens and complexity for businesses navigating multiple regulatory remits when developing new products and processes. The Digital Regulation Co-operation Forum (DRCF) is a collaboration between the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), Ofcom, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). It seeks to deliver greater co-operation and coherence between these regulators of digital businesses. 

The DRCF aims to help make the UK the most innovation-friendly jurisdiction in the world by making it easier for firms that operate across digital regulatory boundaries to do business. To advance this ambition, the DRCF will undertake exploratory research and pilot a multi-agency advice service for digital innovators needing joined up advice from multiple regulators. 

The service will be designed around the views, needs and working practices of innovators across the digital economy. Success will be measured by the accessibility of the pilot service and the impact of our advice on the businesses who use it. By August 2023, the project will deliver a report to the DRCF on whether and how to introduce a multi-agency advice service for innovators.

Project led by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency

Project name: Developing approaches to make AI algorithms more interpretable using AI as a medical device as an exemplar
Project grant: £167,863

Project overview

A key concern for regulators and end users relating to AI algorithms that support clinical decision making is that they are not always transparent about the chain of reasoning resulting in a specific decision being recommended. This can affect trust in AI algorithms and their subsequent adoption by end users. While the preferred solution may be to use inherently transparent models (white box or glass box) models, there is a potential role for more complex black box models, provided any decisions recommended by the latter are explainable, allowing them to be appropriately interpreted by the end user in their context. 

Explainability is about understanding how the algorithm arrived at a decision: for example, what factors did the algorithm consider and what weight did it assign to them? Interpretability, on the other hand, refers to the degree to which a human user can understand how a decision made by an algorithm applies to their own context. For clinician end users, a basic degree of explainability would be required for understanding the internal logic of the algorithm so that they have confidence in either accepting the algorithm’s decision or overruling it. 

This project aims to produce a workable methodology to support regulation and clinicians for both transparent and complex models. This will improve the possibility of introducing complex AI safely into the clinical pathway

Project led by the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control

Project name: Developing guidelines to accelerate innovation for microbiome therapeutics and diagnostics
Project grant: £52,438

Project overview

The research of the human body-associated microbes, the microbiome, can advance our understanding of human health and disease, providing new solutions for public health and allowing us to move towards personalised medicine. The complex and novel nature of microbiome therapeutics and diagnostics poses a challenge for both the regulators and companies, with the absence of specific guidelines delaying the approval process and discouraging companies from starting the process in the UK –they would commonly choose to first launch their products or business in the USA where microbiome activity is more prominent and more established.

In order to encourage innovators to invest in the UK health care, the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) aims to develop appropriate internal and external guidelines that will facilitate the regulatory process, bringing confidence to the microbiome field and ensuring the safety of our patients. To achieve this, the NIBSC will collaborate with the different MHRA departments, as well as with its extended national and international network of scientists, clinicians, companies and regulators, to ensure that it can capture the views and requirements of the field. NIBSC will further utilise this knowledge to deliver public communication pieces aiming to inform and educate scientists, clinicians and patients on this emerging field.

Project led by the Office for Nuclear Regulation

Project name: Pilot of a regulatory sandbox on artificial intelligence in the nuclear sector
Project grant: £170,950

Project overview

Regulators have an important role in minimising regulatory uncertainty around innovation and play a key role in enabling the adoption of innovative approaches and technologies. The Office for Nuclear Regulation’s (ONR) Innovation Hub is currently trialling a number of products for internal and external use to enable innovation in the nuclear sector where it is in the interest of society and is consistent with safety, security and environmental protection expectations.

Working with the Environment Agency, this project will pilot a regulatory sandbox process to support adoption of innovative technologies and approaches in the nuclear sector. Regulatory sandboxing is when regulators and industry work together in a non-regulatory environment to explore how innovative proposals can progress to deployment. Artificial intelligence (AI) has been chosen as the pilot topic and the project will focus on two potential applications in the nuclear sector. The pilot sandbox will enable innovators in AI to access regulatory advice in a safe space to derisk future deployment, while maintaining independence from regulatory decision making.

This would be the first application of a regulatory sandbox by nuclear regulators in the UK and the learning will be shared with key stakeholders and industry.

Project led by Wakefield Council

Project name: Navigating SMEs through the complexities of ‘Precautionary Allergen Labelling Risk Analysis’ through the use of innovative technologies
Project grant: £66,259

Project overview

The aim of the project is to provide businesses, particularly SMEs with a free, interactive tool to assist them in the learning, understanding and application of precautionary allergen labelling (PAL) risk analysis. There are currently no existing support resources comparable to the one being produced. The tool will be a ‘first of its kind’, interactive interface, which will allow users to select from a series of diverse retail and hospitality business formats from a traditional coffee shop, through to a more complex restaurant providing a range of dishes that include ‘free-from’ allergen offerings. Once the user has selected an operational model with similarities aligned to their existing operating model / workplace, they will be able to navigate the outlet’s operational layout and characteristics and complete a series of hypothetical risk-based scenarios that will aid decision making in completing their PAL risk analysis. The scenarios have been designed to challenge the thinking of Food Business Operators (FBO) and their employees, to help them distinguish the difference between controlled and uncontrolled cross-contamination of allergens through good food hygiene and safety practices.

The tool will be licensed to allow national regulators the permissions to host or signpost the tool through web integration, to promote a standardised approach and provide a national resource to aid businesses with effective PAL analysis and in turn detract from general or blanket statements, i.e., ‘may contain’ being used without appropriate and proportionate risk analysis, which can often devalue the use of PAL, and exclude and mislead consumers with food allergies.

12-18 month projects

Project led by Birmingham City Council

Project name: Transport Regulatory Sandbox – Dynamic traffic management and digitisation of street spaces and traffic orders.
Project grant: £615,632

Project overview

Working in collaboration with Department for Transport, creating the first Transport Regulatory Sandbox, to tackle the Dynamic traffic management and digitisation of street spaces. Government already has a vision for reforming how streets and highways are planned and managed in the future. DfT have consulted on three key principles:

  • create digital Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs):
  • transform engagement and consultation with local communities
  • simplify and speed up the time it takes to make TROs:

Birmingham City Council will partner with other local authorities to deliver a Rules of the Road project (under the Future Transport Zone UK Pathfinder and with DfT funding). This will be a universally adopted TRO management process, supported by a platform/software engine, that enables the creation of a real time Rules of the Road digitised map.

Building on this project, we wish to explore a wider acceleration of standardisation and digitisation of highway assets. This would provide real time, dynamic street, and kerbside management. This would specifically focus on:

  • kerb space and highway asset digitisation to allow for booking and loading of freight deliveries, booked parking bays.
  • enable more flexible operational envelopes for automated vehicle solutions, providing last mile delivery solutions.
  • simplification of TRO application and implementation processes, building on DfT’s existing ambitions for TRO reforms.

Project led by the Care Quality Commission

Project name: Driving innovation and accelerating improvement in medicines sustainability
Project grant: £222,216

Project overview

Medicines sustainability is about reducing environmental harms from medicines. A core principle of medicines sustainability focuses on reducing carbon emissions that can result from their manufacture, procurement, transport and point of use. Health and care services produce around 5% of the United Kingdom’s total CO2. The largest proportion of this comes from medicines and equipment, making the issue a key consideration in our transition to a net zero economy.

The project will directly address environmental sustainability challenges associated with medicines across the health and care landscape. It will focus on understanding how better sustainability can be fostered within both individual providers and local systems settings. The CQC will use the new evidence base created by this project to evolve how we regulate medicines sustainability and crucially, how we can drive innovation in this area. The project will also look at the use of digital tools to support medicines sustainability and seek to identify gaps in this market as well as anticipated future needs. This information could be used by both businesses and providers to develop innovative digital solutions to help address this issue.

Project led by the Care Quality Commission

Project name: Assessing Integrated Care System performance in understanding and responding to the health and care needs and experiences of people most likely to experience poorer care and inequalities
Project grant: £599,900

Project overview

Integrated Care Systems need to understand the health and care needs and experiences of people and communities, including those of people more likely to experience poorer care and inequalities, and to reduce health and care inequalities. This aligns with the government’s Levelling Up agenda and CQC’s strategic ambitions to deliver regulation driven by people’s experiences and needs and to reduce inequalities. CQC has new powers to assess ICS performance in this area.

This project will work collaboratively with research, system and voluntary sector partners to provide a rigorous, scalable approach to assessing, reporting on and driving improvement in people’s experiences of integrated care; how ICBs are performing in relation to their People and Communities strategies; and how ICBs are performing in acting on people’s needs and experiences to reduce inequalities in health and care provision. It will support Integrated Care Boards to develop a rigorous consistent model for tracking and demonstrating their progress in these areas.

Project led by the Civil Aviation Authority

Project name: Hydrogen Challenge
Project grant: £961,650

Project overview

To reach Net Zero flying by 2050, the aviation industry has been investing in the development of hydrogen propulsion solutions that offer the potential for no carbon emission flights. However, hydrogen as an aviation fuel is at an early stage of development. Industry does not have yet a comprehensive understanding of the risks to aviation safety, and what the right pathway towards certification is. To address these issues, the project will establish a CAA-led Regulatory Challenge on Hydrogen as aviation fuel. This Challenge will facilitate collaboration among the CAA, the aviation industry and academia to enhance the understanding of hydrogen-related risks to aviation safety, identify gaps in CAA policies, and propose recommendations to develop new net-zero policies.

This project will support the UK transitioning to a net zero economy, by supporting aviation industry and setting the scene in reducing any regulatory burdens on the introduction of hydrogen in aviation at a commercial scale. This project will also help to make the UK a world leader in the use of hydrogen in aviation, influence the development of future global standards, and create opportunities for investment.

Project led by Coventry City Council

Project name: Better local regulation to unlock the value of urban drones
Project grant: £268,175

Project overview

The use of commercial drones in the urban environment has the potential to create enormous value to the UK economy, reduce carbon emissions, create jobs and save costs. However, when Coventry City Council took part in an urban airport demonstration, roads had to be closed when drones flew. With constraints like this, the full benefit of drones will not be delivered. The aviation industry is working to develop airspace regulation that will permit the wider use of drones. Coventry City Council in partnership with the Midlands Aerospace Alliance will tackle non-aviation regulatory barriers to urban drone use enabling public and private organisations to deliver faster, safer, cheaper and with less impact on the environment. This will be done through a series of workshops with local authority regulators other regulators and stakeholders from transport, aviation and local potential beneficiaries. Each will be given the opportunity to benchmark from experience in other relevant projects in the UK and other countries.

A report of findings including a framework for implementation will be shared with other Local Authorities to allow the whole of UK to benefit. The proposal relates to the transition to a net zero economy, lower cost of living and levelling up.

Project led by the Environment Agency

Project name: Using data to improve efficiency and effectiveness of regulation of the water sector and stimulate innovation
Project grant: £680,000

Project overview

The three water regulators – the Drinking Water Inspectorate, the Environment Agency and Ofwat – want to explore how they can improve regulation and stimulate innovation to tackle the challenges facing the water sector (public and private) using the data they hold.

Data is now the driving force of the world’s modern economies. It fuels innovation in businesses large and small. Individually the regulators collect and hold a vast array of data.

By sharing data and making more data open the regulators will give businesses and the public the opportunity to exploit the data which will create opportunities for innovation in:

  • how the regulators and policy makers act on the data.
  • how the public acts on it (for instance on data on flooding, pollution and drought)
  • by utilising data from the public about the local environment.

This project would enable the regulators to collaboratively explore whether more of the data they each collect and hold could be shared between them to provide a more joined-up, efficient and effective service to water companies, businesses, local authorities and landowners they regulate, support and advise. It may also provide an improved foundation of data to support the development of policy in the area of drinking water supply, since we are no longer driven by European Directives and Regulations.

They will also explore whether some or all of that data could be made publicly available increasing transparency and allowing innovators to bring new products and services to market.

Project led by the Financial Reporting Council

Project name: Company and Organisational Data Explorer (CODEx)
Project grant: £796,000

Project overview

The UK is committed to economic growth, support for longer-term investment and a drive to maintain and enhance the UK capital markets. A key enabler for all these goals is a data ecosystem that provides useful and insightful analysis to the widest audience and at the lowest cost. To achieve this, you need both the data and tools to access and analyse it. The UK is a world leader in collecting company and organisational data. However, access and usability could be optimised. To optimise access and usability, we propose: The Company and Organisational Data Explorer (CODEx), a regulatory toolkit for structured data, creating a common set of analysis capabilities that allow data to be connected and reused and a public platform for structured data, creating a common interface, location and toolkit to simplify access, analysis of, and consumption of, public data. This project would be led by the Financial Reporting Council, using our expertise as developer of the UK digital reporting taxonomies (enabling reporting to HMRC, Companies House, Charities Commission, and the FCA). The project would connect with initiatives across UK regulators and aim to create a common set of components that could be reused across the Government.

CODEx will keep the UK at the forefront of regulatory experimentation for digital reporting, will maximise the digital opportunity for the UK, provide greater transparency to the public and support regulators in using data to deliver better services at a lower cost to the public.

Project led by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)

Project name: Using High-fidelity Synthetic Data as synthetic control arms and to boost sample sizes in clinical trials
Project grant: £750,387

Project overview

Clinical trials are a critical part of how new medicines are tested before use in the NHS to improve patient care and wellbeing. In standard clinical trials, patients are either given a treatment or not by random selection. This can be challenging in some health conditions, as random assignment to a control group could deny patients access to treatments that could extend their life or improve symptoms. Many clinical trials also find it difficult to recruit enough patients, particularly those investigating rare diseases.

Recent improvements in computing power have allowed researchers to create artificial patients, with similar health information to real patients in clinical trials. This artificial data could help to ‘boost’ smaller clinical trials, lessening the number of patients needed to be successful. Artificially generated information could also be used to better reflect groups in society that are less well represented in clinical trials, including different age groups and ethnicities.

This project will focus on the use of computer-generated data to help boost small clinical trials, and to see if this can improve the value of these trials. Following this, we will create an entirely artificial control group for a clinical trial. In the future, these approaches could be combined with, or even replace, real patient information. Success in this project could help to change the way clinical trials are performed in common and rare diseases, lowering their cost and improving how new treatments are tested before they are applied in the NHS.

Project led by Milton Keynes City Council

Project name: Regulating Unmanned Aerial Vehicles within Smart City Environments
Project grant: £998,815

Project overview

As part of our Smart City work, Milton Keynes City Council will work with Cranfield University’s Drone Innovation Hub and Satellite Applications Catapult Westcott DronePort to prove, trial, test and demonstrate new drone-based services that operate alongside our robotics delivery services and self-driving passenger shuttles. The18-month, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy-funded project builds on our reputation as an ‘urban laboratory’ and will use new technologies to create enhanced and differentiated services, benefitting the city and everyone in it and help create more high-tech, high-skill jobs for our people in anew and growing sector. By integrating our ground-and air-based services, we see opportunities to reduce traffic congestion, and the resultant carbon emissions, creating a healthier environment for all in line with our Net Zero ambitions. Beyond the environmental improvements, we see potential to transform the way services are delivered, for example in areas as diverse as high-speed, safe and secure package delivery, equipment or buildings inspections, or in terms of healthcare provision, for example to transfer vital medical equipment or supplies as part of an

Regulators’ Pioneer Fund Competition Brief6emergency response, by creating the ability to share real-time positional information. The project itself is designed to demonstrate the new technologies, show that they are safe, secure and reliable and aid the development of UK-wide regulation in this area. We plan to establish a testbed that allows ongoing experimentation and we believe our pioneering work will also create a blueprint for wider adoption and deployment, both within Milton Keynes and beyond.

Project led by Plymouth County Council

Project name: Maritime Regulatory Innovation Framework (MRIF) – Developing regulatory frameworks to support maritime innovation
Project grant: £842,490

Project overview

Through this project, we will develop an evidence base and a framework for testing autonomous and prototype vessels for R&D. This will allow UK innovators and businesses to take a leadership role in testing new and emerging technologies. The new framework will be co-designed by the MCA, local authorities, academia, business and other stakeholders and will be developed to be shared across the country. It will provide dedicated professional and academic resource to scope, quantify and map the overlapping legislative and operating elements, while working in partnership with key stakeholders as well as national and international regulators and relevant authorities, to identify and address the industry’s needs to drive R&D in a safe, timely and cost effective manner. By creating workable and safe regulations, this will allow the UK to take a leading role as an international centre for zero emissions and autonomous vessel innovation and manufacturing hub.

Project led by Powys County Council

Project name: Intelligence Support for Private Sector Housing teams
Project grant: £818,798

Project overview

Improving contact with Local Authorities for property agents and landlords during a time of increasing legislation is crucial for better business regulation. This project will bring together Housing authorities to improve they way they work together, ensuring that enforcement is targeted where most needed, and guidance is consistent for cross-boundary businesses. Regional coordination for Housing enforcement teams across England will achieve better communication and sharing intelligence will ensure that threats can be prioritised and resources used most effectively. For businesses in the property sector this could achieve fewer visits and avoid duplication from having to provide identical information to a number of different authorities and departments. Businesses will be supported through advice and reassured that the problem traders will be targeted for enforcement.

Project led by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency

Project name: Outcome based regulation
Project grant: £990,000

Project overview

The UK has a strong commitment to tackle climate change and recognises that this also presents an unprecedented economic opportunity. Reducing emissions go hand-in-hand with sustainable economic growth–Building Back Better and Building Back Greener. The challenge is to understand how regulations/regulatory approaches can contribute to achieving this ambition, be ‘innovation friendly’, maintain the UK’s high standard and continue to protect people and the environment.

This project will explore and test an outcome-based regulation (OBR) approach, with a focus on supporting the achievement of net zero. It will bring together regulators, other public sector organisations, operators and businesses to explore what OBR might mean for existing practices, processes and what it means for regulators in their approach to setting and assessing compliance. Trialling OBR in Scotland’s largest industrial cluster provides the opportunity to test in a complex regulatory landscape, encompass emerging and innovative technologies with a focus on hydrogen and the bioeconomy. This will also provide a robust test case for further exploration with small and medium enterprises and other sectors. In doing so, the project will generate deeper understanding of the holistic regulatory environment in industrial clusters including economic, environmental, and national/regional policies, strategies, and incentives. This, in turn, will improve understanding of investment drivers and constraints, make dialogue with business and industry more productive and support innovation.

The project will explore how new approaches to regulation can contribute to a collaborative ecosystem which achieves strategic and economic outcomes significant at a Scotland and UK level.

Project led by the Solicitors Regulation Authority

Project name: Making Alternative Dispute Resolution work better for individuals and businesses
Project grant: £119,691

Project overview

The prompt resolution of legal disputes is critical to the lives and well-being of individuals seeking justice as well as the effective conduct of business. Greater use of alternative methods of Dispute Resolution (DR),especially through the use of technology, could reduce both the workload of the courts and the backlog of cases that has been compounded by the pandemic.

We see an opportunity to carry out further research with partner organisations, experts and others interested in better understanding the use of DR as a mechanism for resolving disputes. We believe there is an opportunity to look at creating technological pathways that help individuals and businesses resolve disputes or reach agreement on an issue that might otherwise be contentious. We know the Civil Justice Council (CJC)and other government departments are keen to explore the new, interesting and cost effective ways of using technology that might help remove barriers to the uptake of DR, improve the user experience, reduce bureaucracy and costs. Ultimately the outcome of our project should provide consumers and businesses with accessible and affordable alternatives to court proceedings.

Project led by Tameside Council

Project name: Greater Manchester Business Compliance Service
Project grant: £503,728

Project overview

Businesses in the UK must comply with a vast array of regulations to ensure their products and services can enter the market.

This project will bring together the Greater Manchester (GM) local authorities to provide local businesses with compliance advice and support, freeing up their time to focus on innovative new products, processes and services. Greater Manchester’s new Business Compliance Service will provide a one stop shop for business compliance advice and support, staffed with dedicated Business Compliance Officers, available Monday to Friday. They will also proactively contact businesses to ensure that they understand what they need to do to comply with regulations covering environmental health, trading standards and licensing. The aim is that the additional signposting advice and support will free up business’ time and allow them to focus on creating innovative new products and services, creating growth, additional jobs and create a more prosperous local economy to assist in levelling up the country. The service will be flexible to demand and changing requirements for businesses, for example providing focused and dedicated support in the event of changing legislation or as new opportunities arise for Greater Manchester businesses through the levelling up agenda or as a result of the UK’s exit from the EU.

As a lasting legacy, staff within the Business Compliance Service will also create a suite of self-help compliance products and tools, as suggested by businesses and for businesses hosted on our new GM Business Compliance website, to ensure a longevity to the service beyond the conclusion of this project.


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