HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes

26 Nov 2021 | Live Blog

Horizon Europe is well underway, but the world of European R&D policy goes well beyond the confines of the €95.5 billion R&D programme. EU climate, digital, agriculture and regional policies all have significant research and innovation components. National governments often come up with new R&D policies, decide to fund new research avenues, and set up international cooperation deals. This blog aims to keep you informed on all of that and more.

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You can read the full archive of this blog here.

 

The first international framework on open science aims to boost cross-border cooperation and make science more equitable and inclusive.  

The recommendations call on all 193 United Nations member states to invest in open science infrastructures, set up targeted regional and international funding schemes and ensure all publicly funded research respects open science principles. 

Today, around 70% of scientific publications are hidden behind paywalls, making them inaccessible to many of the world’s scientists that could be building on the knowledge to speed up research and innovation. The UNESCO guidelines hope to initiate a stronger shift towards using open science as a tool to further scientific progress and reduce inequalities. 

 

Students and academics can now apply for the EU’s 2022 round of academic exchange programme worth €3.8 billion, the European Commission has announced.

The Erasmus+ programme will enable students and university staff to go abroad to study and learn new skills. “We want to give the opportunity to a greater number of people to take part and benefit from what Erasmus+ has to offer,” said Mariya Gabriel, EU commissioner for innovation, research, culture, education and youth.

In addition to the general call, the 2022 Erasmus+ work programme also includes other actions to be launched separately, such as the European Universities initiative.

 

New rules are set to apply starting next year to big cross-border innovation and infrastructure projects that aim to tackle European market failures.

Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEIs) will now have to be more transparent and inclusive to all EU member states, encourage the participation of small and medium sized enterprises, and align their objectives with current EU priorities.

IPCEIs are funded and defined by member states and operate under their own state aid rules allowing government subsidies in key sectors such as microelectronics, batteries and hydrogen.

 

This year’s EU Prize for Women Innovators 2021 was awarded to four women from the Netherlands, Denmark, Israel and Ireland.  

In the main category, the jury awarded Merel Boers from the Netherlands, co-founder and CEO of NICO-LAB, a company offering technology to help physicians improve emergency care; as well as Mathilde Jakobsen from Denmark, co-founder and CEO of Land, a digital platform that shortens and digitises the food supply chain; and Daphne Haim Langford from Israel, founder and CEO of Tarsier Pharma, a company developing disruptive medical solutions for the treatment and cure of autoimmune and inflammatory ocular diseases. Each winner will receive a €100,000 cash prize.

In the Rising Innovation category for under 30s, Ailbhe and Isabel Keane from Ireland will receive a €50,000 cash prize for their work creating fashionable wheel covers for wheelchairs.

Today’s ceremony marked the tenth edition of the annual award and took place at the European Innovation Council Summit, which celebrated the success of the EU’s new innovation investment fund.

 

The call for interests is open until 21 January 2022 to all European cities that want to be at the forefront of the EU’s transition towards climate neutrality.

The 100 selected cities will deliver the EU’s mission to have 100 climate-neutral cities in Europe by the end of the decade, leading the rest of the bloc by example towards the 2050 net-zero goal.

The European Commission will support the cities with tailor-made advice and assistance as well as help secure funding for the transition with the help of a ‘mission label’ showing investors the cities’ commitment.  Participants will also be able to take part in various pilot and demonstrator projects and engage in networking, learning and exchange opportunities.

The mission is a new type of European project under Horizon Europe that aims to reach critical mass in tackling big societal challenges, such as the green transition.

 

The first policy agenda of the renewed European Research Area (ERA) should include initiatives that aim to improve access to excellence and to strengthen the excellence of European science overall, the Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities said in a statement on Thursday.

EU research ministers are meeting on Friday to adopt conclusions on the governance of ERA and a policy recommendation on a pact for research and innovation.

The Guild says the ERA policy agenda should enable and encourage researchers from universities in less performing countries to succeed. The Guild calls for a clearer articulation of Widening objectives, and how different instruments relate to each other.

Read the full statement here.

 

Dortmund wins European Capital of Innovation award The European Commission has announced on Wednesday the winners of European Capital of Innovation awards.

Dortmund wins the top award and a cash prize of €1 million, Dublin and Malaga get the second place and will share a €100,000 cash prize. The Finnish city of Vantaa gets the “rising innovative city” accolade from the Commission and will be awarded €500,000.

The announcement was made at the European Innovation Council (EIC) summit in Brussels.

The prize was first awarded in 2014 and recognises cities with inclusive innovation ecosystems that connect citizens with the public sector, academia, and businesses. This year, the Commission received 39 applications from across the EU and countries associated in Horizon Europe.

 

Vladimír Šucha, the former director of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) has been appointed to head the EU representation in Bratislava.

As of 1 January 2022, Šucha will be the Commission’s official representative in Slovakia. He has been working for the Commission for 15 years, including as Director-General of the JRC from 2014 until 2019 and director in the Commission’s education directorate from 2006 until 2012.

Since early 2021, Šucha has been a senior policy adviser at UNESCO, working on a global system for using scientific knowledge to help manage societal changes. In an interview with Science|Business before leaving his JRC post in 2019, Šucha said the increasing gap in research and innovation performance between rich and poor countries in Europe is likely to amplify the impact of impending technological change, geopolitical shifts and the looming climate crisis.

 

MEPs have given the final green light to next year’s budget, which includes a boost to Horizon Europe.

The European Parliament negotiated with member states a total of €479.1 million for priorities in health, research, climate action, SMEs and the academic exchange programmes.

Of that amount, €100 million will go to Horizon Europe, €51 million for Erasmus+, €51 million for the EU’s new health programme, and another €5.5 million to Creative Europe.

The Council of the EU has formally approved the budget agreement on 23 November, and MEPs voted it by a large majority on Wednesday.

 

The first calls under the EU’s new €570 million Interregional Innovation Investment instrument (I3) are up. The money is set to help interregional projects scale up their innovations. 

In 2021 and 2022, the I3 will invest €145 million in partnerships between researchers, businesses, civil society and public administrations to identify and refine common areas of investment.  

The first ‘strand’ of funds will support mature interregional partnerships to help them accelerate market uptake and scale-up of innovative solutions, encouraging collaboration between more and less developed regions. The second ‘strand’ is geared towards new partnerships in less developed regions.  

The scheme is funding through Europe’s regional development funds and will run for seven years in a bid to create stronger value chains that encompass less developed European regions. 

 

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