HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes

30 Sep 2022 | 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 European Commission is continuing the roll out of European university alliances aimed at encouraging transnational higher education cooperation with a new €384 million call.  

The call includes funding for intensifying cooperation in existing university alliances, including adding new members, as well as the developing new alliances.  

Funded by the EU’s Erasmus+ education programme, the call includes two novelties: it is now fully open to higher education institutions in the Western Balkans and provides the EU’s Seal of Excellence to those proposals that score highly but fail to get funding due to budget constraints.

 

Research organisations wishing to take part in the European Commission-led push to reform how research is assessed in Europe can now sign up to the effort.  

Thus far, 51 organisations across Europe have signed the agreement which sets out the pathway for reforms to be co-created by a newly established coalition of universities, research centres and infrastructures, academies, funders, and other organisations working with research.  The first meeting of the coalition will take place on 1 December. 

The initial agreement was drafted by more than 350 organisations after the European Commission kicked off the process earlier this year. The goal is to find more holistic ways to assess research in Europe, moving from statistics centred around publications to measuring the value and impact of research.  

 

The European Commission today opened the third set of €200 million calls under the EU’s €7.5 billion Digital Europe programme.  

There’s €170 million for projects on data spaces, AI, cloud-to-edge infrastructure and digital education programmes, as well as €30 million for creating European Digital Innovation Hubs which will support private companies and the public sector in their digital transformation.  

The calls are open to businesses, public administrations, and other entities in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Ukraine.

 

The new initiative, funded with Italy’s share of EU recovery money, is open to young scientists who applied for fellowships from the EU's researcher mobility scheme, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA), and were awarded the seal of excellence.  

The seal of excellence is a consolation prize awarded to proposals that were good enough to win funding but failed to make the cut due to limited budgets. EU member states are encouraged to find alternative funding for these projects. Italy’s new initiative will support 400 young researchers in Italian research organisations with €60 million. A similar scheme has also been set up in Romania with the help of the EU recovery fund.  

 

The House of Lords science and technology committee is urging newly appointed prime minister Liz Truss to appoint a science minister “at the earliest opportunity.”

Truss was appointed prime minister on 6 September but has yet to name a science minister. In a letter to Truss, the Lords science committee says a quick appointment of a science minister would help the UK government advance work on its plan to increase R&D expenditure to 2.4% of GDP.

The Lords’ letter comes at a time when the UK government is trying to negotiate a deal with the EU on science cooperation. Due to political disagreements in the aftermath of Brexit, the UK and the European Commission have yet to reach an agreement on the UK’s association to Horizon Europe.

 

The European Commission will officially launch a grant scheme for Ukrainian researchers at the end of October, the European University Association has announced last week. 

The scheme is funded under the EU's Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and is meant to help Ukrainian researchers continue their work at academic and non-academic organisations in EU member states and Horizon Europe associated countries, while maintaining their connections to research and innovation communities in Ukraine.

The Commission will publish call documents on 28 September, but researchers will be able to submit applications only after 24 October. Once the online submission portal opens, applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until all available funds are committed. Preliminary information for applicants is available on the MSCA4Ukraine website.

Researchers can go here to register for an online launch event and information session scheduled for 6 October.

 

The European Commission is calling on aeronautical and aviation stakeholders to join the industry Alliance for Zero-Emission Aviation (AZEA), a project aiming to develop and roll out the technologies needed in thetransition to hydrogen and electric aircraft.

The alliance will help its members with fuel and infrastructure requirements of hydrogen and electric aircraft at airports, sourcing renewable fuels and electricity, standardisation, certification, practices for airline operators, and air traffic management.

So far, 74 entities have joined the alliance, according to the European Commission. Among these are companies of all sizes, aeronautics industry, airlines, aircraft lessors, airports, energy providers, business associations, civil society organisations and agencies, including the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and Eurocontrol. 

 

The Initiative for Science in Europe (ISE) today published a manifesto calling for an EU-wide effort to boost the careers of young researchers and the attractiveness of pursuing a research career.

“Europe needs more scientists,” according to the manifesto published together with CNRS and Ciência Viva. The manifesto comes a year after the former president of the European Research Council, Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, called on the EU to help early career researchers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whilst recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU is now facing an economic crisis of proportions that was generated by Russia’s invasion in Ukraine. Because of that, doctoral students and postdocs in Europe are facing “significant” difficulties, the manifesto says.

The manifesto says research organisations and universities should improve the employment and working conditions of early career researchers.

 

The European Commission has appointed a new member to the governing body of the European Research Council for an initial period of four years.

French mechanical engineer Sylvie Lorente takes up her mandate retroactively from 1 July 2022. Lorente is associate dean for research and innovation in the College of Engineering and chair professor in the department of mechanical engineering at Villanova University, US.

“I am pleased to welcome Professor Sylvie Lorente to the ERC Scientific Council,” said Mariya Gabriel, EU commissioner for research and innovation. “She will help complement the expertise of the other sitting members, the outstanding female and male researchers who govern Europe’s premier organisation for funding frontier research.”

 

The Lisbon School of Economics and Management (ISEG) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) are to organise a high-level conference bringing together academics and other experts to discuss innovation for a sustainable future.

Delegates will discuss how to finance disruptive innovations needed for the EU’s green transition.

“Deploying targeted capital for the green transition and developing an efficient EU innovation ecosystem is key for the Portugal and Europe to play a leading role in the global tech race,” said EIB Vice President responsible for Portugal, Ricardo Mourinho Félix.

The event will take place on 23 September in Lisbon. Registrations are open here.

 

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