RHC Newsletter April 2021

The Regulatory Horizons Council (RHC) is an independent expert committee that advises the UK Government on regulatory reform. It is supported by a team of civil servants in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Last year Ministers appointed Cathryn Ross as the Chair and five additional members

A Message from Samuel Omolade, Head of the Regulatory Horizons Council team

“There has been considerable progress across all four of our deep dive areas, with each team developing recommendations for regulatory reform. The Council has rapidly familiarised itself with the landscape of each area, conducted extensive stakeholder engagement, and ensured its recommendations are value adding in each case.

In exciting news, last week the Council also decided on its next workplan - three more deep dives but also a cross-cutting strand developing innovation principles. We continue to go from strength to strength as a team and I am extremely excited about the upcoming publication (May/June), our upcoming reports, and the next phase of work.”

Medical Devices

After workshopping three priority areas for deep dives with our key government stakeholders, the medical devices team started working with Birmingham Health Partners' Centre for Regulatory Sciences (BHP), who have produced four reports on our priority areas, based on multi-stakeholder views. We are currently finalising the recommendations report to government, taking into account the work of the BHP and our own research, working with our key government stakeholders to test our recommendations, which we plan to supply to government for comment and publication over the course of the next few months.

Unmanned Aircraft

In January we successfully ran our first, very well attended, workshop where we explored drivers of change and generated some possible future ‘scenarios’ for aviation with a focus on the development and regulation of unmanned aircraft (UA) in the UK. Since then we have been conducting an international benchmarking exercise to see what the UK might learn from other jurisdictions. This has involved conducting desk based research and a series of interviews with industry and overseas regulators. In addition we have been working on a vision for the future of UA, based on some key regulatory principles. We plan to share these products with stakeholders and contributors and evolve them over the coming weeks.

Genetic Tech

Since our last newsletter, we have completed an extensive engagement programme for how the governance of genetic technologies should be optimised, completing a series of workshops with over 100 stakeholders from industry, academia, policy makers and advocacy organisations. We’ve also had best practice sessions with officials from 5 countries (Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Norway, and the USA) to learn how they’ve adapted their regulatory systems to encourage innovation in the field of genetic technologies. We are now in the process of pulling this large quantity of evidence and views together into our recommendations to Government in the next few months.


We have recently completed our report on the UK’s regulatory approach to STEP – the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production. This report is written in answer to our overarching exam question of ‘how can the UK continue to move towards an innovation friendly, long-term regulatory framework for fusion.’ We intend to publish the report in May on gov.uk, publicise it to appropriate networks, and will be inviting the government to respond to our findings. We are also completing additional work on what an appropriate regulatory approach for commercial fusion would look like, as well as surveying key fusion stakeholders on their views on regulatory approaches to fusion.

Second tranche - RHC update

The Council discussed the focus of its work programme from approximately June to December and agreed to focus on the below.


  • The RHC has accepted a commission from the Cabinet Office’s Emerging Technology Board to explore the development of an anticipatory regulatory approach which offers greater flexibility in the testing and adoption of emerging neurotechnologies.

AI in Healthcare

  • In light of the National Strategy for AI, the RHC will work with partners across Government and Regulators to investigate the regulatory barriers to the implementation and adoption of AI in Healthcare.


  • Hydrogen is an important part of the UK’s goal of NetZero by 2050 and the regulatory regime has to reflect this level of ambition. The RHC will be scoping this area with a potential focus more on transport to look at regulatory issues currently facing this industry and work with Regulators and Government to develop opportunities for regulatory reform.

As well as the three Deep Dives, the Council also endorsed looking at Pro-Innovation Principles for Regulation for their first cross-cutting area of work. This will be a “cross-cutting” area that looks at the high-level principles that anyone involved in regulation should follow in order to allow innovation to flourish, what these might practically mean and why it matters.

We hope to update you further soon

Council Members

  • Cathryn Ross: Strategy and Regulatory Affairs Director at Thames Water as of June, Chair of RHC;
  • Professor Alastair Denniston: Consultant Ophthalmologist, AI Theme Lead at Centre for Regulatory Science and Innovation, University of Birmingham;
  • Dr Andy Greenfield: Programme Leader at the Medical Research Council’s Harwell Institute;
  • Matt Ridley: Writer and Businessman, previously Science Editor at The Economist;
  • Professor Joyce Tait: Professor and Co-Director at the Innogen Institute, University of Edinburgh; and
  • Dr Parag Vyas: Director of PV10 Consult, Chartered Engineer.
The five Council members, recruited through open competition, offer a range of expertise in different fields as well as an understanding of the intersection between regulation and innovation. To find out more about them, click the button below.

The RHC is committed to engaging with people from innovators, industry, academia, civil society, regulators and others to draw on external expertise and inform our work. We will develop recommendations for regulatory reform in a participatory way, and this will ensure that we account for a diverse range of perspectives.

We want to hear from you.

If you want to engage with us on the priority areas, or if you have expertise on horizontal regulatory themes, please get in through email via the button below, or via Twitter.


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