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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A new cross-Europe project worth up to a potential €21 billion has been launched today with the goal of furthering advances in microelectronics and communication technologies.
The project is the sixth example of what is known as an Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI) approved under state aid rules.
It involves cooperation between 14 member states, who will provide €8.1 billion in funding towards the project. The European Commission expects private investments of €13.7 billion to add to this.
This is the biggest IPCEI to date and will involve 56 companies across the EU, which will participate in 68 projects.
European Commission executive vice president Margrethe Vestager spoke of the importance of European investment into microchip technologies in a speech today.
“Microchips are the backbone of innovation and of Europe's industrial competitiveness in a digital world,” she said.
“The green and digital transitions require new, advanced technological solutions. And this is why we must increase Europe's own chips research, development and production capabilities. We need to be pioneers and develop truly innovative solutions and their first industrial deployment in Europe.”
The European Parliament's Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) has published its annual report outlining its activities in 2022.
The panel published 14 studies last year as well as many more short ‘at a glance’ papers and hosted 13 events. Discussions were held on topics such as lump funding in EU research programmes, open strategic autonomy and more. One of the main topics discussed was the implications of the growing power of artificial intelligence. As pointed out by STOA chair Christian Ehler in the paper’s introduction, six STOA studies published last year concerned AI.
Marc Angel, vice-president of the European Parliament responsible for STOA, said that STOA’s work has “never been more important than it is now”.
“The past few years have brought unprecedented challenges, from both a scientific and a political viewpoint,” he said. “The pandemic showed in a very direct way how critical good scientific advice is to a sound policy response. But it also showed that science is not at a standstill, it evolves as our knowledge improves: an open and free debate is at the heart of the scientific method. Policy must also follow; an open debate is crucial to finding the correct policy response.”
The Swiss government is organising a Cyber Startup Challenge to find new innovations in smartphone security.
The challenge is organised by the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS) and runs until 31 August this year.
The winner of the competition will receive a contract for a proof of contract and will have the chance to showcase their product in a “real DDPS environment”.
EU is teaming up with the World Health Organization (WHO) to employ digital tools in world-wide efforts to track and tackle health threats.
Starting this June, the WHO will build on the EU’s digital COVID-19 certification system to establish the Global Digital Health Certification Network (GDHCN), a range of digital products to aid the fight against on-going and future health threats globally.
The cooperation is expected to evolve “with a stage approach” to cover more diseases and user cases, such as the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis.
A new European Commission report has identified and analysed over 800 EU-funded projects that are contributing to the EU mission “Restore our Ocean and Waters”.
The mission is one of five created under the Horizon Europe programme to tackle various issues, and has the goal of protecting and restoring oceans and seas.
The new analysis looked at projects funded by 16 different EU programmes, the majority from Horizon Europe and horizon 2020, but with others also coming from Interreg, LIFE2027, EMFAF, Erasmus+2027 and more.
A special dashboard has been created alongside the report, which offers a visualisation of the different projects.
More than half of the 76 million people working in science and technology in the EU are women, who represent 52.2% of the workforce, new data shows. This figure is unchanged from 2021.
Lithuania and the French island of Corsica have the highest percentage of women working in science and technology, at 64%. On the other end of the scale is the North-West region of Italy, where 45% of the workforce are women.
Despite the fact that women outnumber men overall in the field, they only make up 41% of the total number of scientists and engineers. This is an increase of 2% compared to 2012. However, the slow proportional increase is also down to an overall increase in the number of people employed as scientists and engineers, as the total number of women working in those sectors has grown by 2.3 million in the past decade.
A total of 73 projects from around the world have been selected as winners of the 2022 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) call for staff exchanges, which is aimed at creating links between academic and non-academic organisations to increase innovation and knowledge transfer.
The winning projects will receive a combined €77.5 million.
There were nearly 200 applications for the call, with 189 of them deemed eligible and therefore evaluated, meaning the call had a success rate of 38.6%.
This year’s call will open on 5 October.
The EU is opening new calls for proposals under Horizon Europe for Civil Security and Society worth over €170 million on 29 June.
There are six topics addressed under the calls, including fighting crime and terrorism, border management and increased cybersecurity.
A two-day event will be held on 27 and 28 June to provide potential applicants with more information on the calls.
You can find out more information about the event days here.
Germany and Ireland today signed off an agreement to kick off cooperation on green hydrogen research, including a pilot project exploring what a cross-border hydrogen value chain could look like.
Both countries have high ambitions for green hydrogen, which is set to become a key part of EU’s energy mix as the economy transitions towards net-zero.
Ireland hopes to become a green hydrogen exporter, using its surplus wind power to turn water into green hydrogen though electrolysis. Germany, a net importer of the gas, wants to ensure it can cover its needs with imported gas from Ireland and other countries, such as Namibia, with which it has signed a similar cooperation agreement.
It’s crunch time to seal the UK’s participation in the EU’s Horizon Europe research programme as the global R&D race heats up, the League of European Research Universities (LERU) says in latest statement.
LERU notes increasing R&D investments in China and the US, but says the EU and UK together “can cement Horizon Europe’s status as the world’s biggest and most impactful scientific programme and set the direction in areas of strategic importance, such as AI, engineering biology and quantum technologies.”
The UK was locked out of the EU’s €95.5 billion research programme for months, but the two recently returned to the negotiating table to seal the UK’s participation after resolving wider political disputes in the Windsor agreement.