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Delivery drones and personalised medicines to get funding from £12m innovation pot

A delivery drone is seen midair during a demonstration whereby drones from various companies flew in a joint airspace and were managed by an autonomous control system in Haifa, in an open area near Hadera, Israel March 17, 2021. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
Coventry City Council will use £268,175 to lead a project to explore the use of commercial drones. Photo: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

The UK government has awarded £12m to support innovative projects that range from testing delivery drone flights in Scotland, to developing new tech that could reduce the backlog of court cases.

The Regulators’ Pioneer Fund is supporting 24 regulator and local authority led projects across the UK.

It has awarded £250,000 for Argyll and Bute Council to partner with Skyports and Air Navigation Solutions Limited to undertake trials over the west-coast of Scotland testing the integration of drones within manned and unmanned airspace. The government said this could enable the timely and safe delivery of medicines and cargo in remote locations.

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In another project, over £555,000 was awarded to the Health & Safety Executive to lead a project to develop and test innovative approaches to specific health and safety challenges in the construction sector.

This could include wearable technologies monitoring the health of workers or drones that are used for inspection on construction sites.

“The pace of new technology – from AI in healthcare to drone delivery to nutraceuticals – is creating a huge opportunity for the UK to be a global leader in testing new technologies and setting appropriate regulatory standards, which are key to investor & customer confidence,” Science minister George Freeman said.

“Today’s funding will support 24 pioneering testbeds to experiment and innovate, while helping our brightest businesses in bringing game-changing products and services to market,” he added.

The selected Regulators’ Pioneer Fund projects will launch in January 2023 (for 8-month projects) and September 2023 (for 12-18-month projects).

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Coventry City Council will use £268,175 to lead a project to explore the use of commercial drones, with the aim of creating a fast, safe, cheap and sustainable delivery system in urban areas.

Starting at the local level, a series of workshops will bring together stakeholders and regulators to identify solutions to regulatory barriers that restrict. If successful, the findings could be applied across the whole of the UK.

Watch: NHS tests drone delivery for chemotherapy drugs