HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes

21 May 2024 | 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.

Science Europe launched the ‘Vote for Science’ campaign, an initiative aimed at keeping research and innovation policy at the top of the EU legislative agenda for the next five years.

The campaign calls on the candidates for the European Parliament elections and the upcoming leaders of the European Commission to commit to five pledges for research and innovation: including investing in society, culture and competitiveness, integrating science communication and establishing common rules to enable and protect the freedom of scientific enquiry.

The upcoming elections are our opportunity to shape a future where science drives progress and addresses the critical challenges we face, by electing leaders who are committed to funding research, protecting academic freedom, and fostering collaboration and inclusion,” said Lidia Borrell-Damián, secretary-general of Science Europe.

More details here.

 

On Monday, the UK government launched the UK Semiconductor Institute, a new independent institute tasked with building on government’s £1 billion strategy to grow the semiconductor sector.

“Building on the early success of the strategy, the UK Semiconductor Institute will unify the semiconductor sector to focus our talented researchers on securing our status at the cutting edge of semiconductor science. This is a hugely significant milestone on our journey to becoming a science and tech superpower by 2030,” said Technology Minister Saqib Bhatti.

More details here.

 

Today, the Council of the EU approved the Artificial Intelligence Act, a new law aimed at harmonising rules on AI systems across 27 member states and protecting fundamental rights and EU values from the risks posed by the technology.

The legislation employs a 'risk-based' approach, imposing stricter rules for higher risks to society, and aims to set a cross-border standard for AI regulation as the first of its kind worldwide.

“The adoption of the AI act is a significant milestone for the European Union,” said Mathieu Michel, Belgian secretary of state for digitisation, administrative simplification, privacy protection, and the building regulation.

“With the AI act, Europe emphasises the importance of trust, transparency and accountability when dealing with new technologies while at the same time ensuring this fast-changing technology can flourish and boost European innovation,” Michel said.

Read the announcement here.

 

Today, the European Commission has announced an investment of over €1 billion in 54 ambitious defence industrial projects through the European Defence Fund (EDF).

The projects will receive €1031 million in EU funding. They aim to advance technological excellence across various critical defence areas, including cyber defence, land, air, and naval combat, space asset protection, and CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear) defence.

Additionally, the EDF's European Defence Innovation Scheme (EUDIS) has provided numerous opportunities for SMEs, start-ups, and new entrants to the defence sector.

More details here.

 

The European Commission has revealed the winners of the 2023 Gender Equality Champions Award, an annual recognition prize launched in 2022 aimed at celebrating the results achieved by European academic and research organisations through the implementation of Gender Equality Plans.

For 2023, the awardees are the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) from France, the Universitat Rovira i Virgili from Spain, and the Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest from Ireland.

Each institution will receive a €100,000 prize.

“I warmly congratulate the winners of the Horizon Europe Award for Gender Equality Champions. Their remarkable achievements in creating more gender-equal working environments are an inspiration to organisations across the European Research Area,” said research commissioner Iliana Ivanova.

More details here.

 

On Wednesday, the Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities shared its perspective on the upcoming EU Research Framework Programme (FP10).

The organisation advocates for a forward-thinking approach to FP10, emphasising that it should bolster Europe’s competitiveness and resilience through scientific leadership.

According to the group, FP10 should prioritise research and innovation activities, making knowledge creation a central goal across all its programmes. It should also synergise with other EU initiatives, such as the European Regional Development Fund, Erasmus+, and EU4Health, to enhance research capacities at national, regional and institutional levels and to expedite the introduction of new innovations.

The Guild’s recommendations are grounded in seven key principles: ensuring a substantial and stable budget of at least €200 billion; building on proven instruments that enhance Europe’s scientific excellence; harnessing researchers’ creativity in projects focused on specific challenges; integrating innovation within scientific excellence; protecting research excellence through academic freedom and openness; facilitating further international cooperation; and enhancing research excellence across Europe and reduce disparities in R&I.

Read the Guild’s full paper here.

 

On Wednesday, the League of European Research Universities (LERU) published a blueprint for the next EU framework programme, due to start in 2028.

Among the recommendations to strengthen the programme, LERU emphasises the need for the European Commission to lead by setting a €200 billion budget for FP10 and ensuring this budget is ring-fenced to maintain financial stability.

“The EU needs to rethink the multi-annual financial framework. Now it protects those budgets that are directly distributed to member states, while the programmes managed by the European Commission, like the framework programme, are the victim of the constant effort of member mtates to reduce the EU budget, and of all EU policy makers to shift funding to new priorities,” said Kurt Deketelaere, LERU’s secretary-general. “This must stop.”

Read LERU’s blueprint for FP10 here.

 

An expert group set up by the European Commission to provide advice on the use of new technologies has concluded its report, Signe Ratso, deputy director-general for research and innovation at the Commission, has said.

Speaking at the EU Digital Summit on Wednesday, Ratso said the Commission hopes to publish the report soon. The Innovation-Friendly Regulations Advisory Group “has been looking into the use of digital technologies in the public sector, and particularly what is related to the virtual world and metaverses,” she said.

The group of 11 experts, appointed by the Commission at the end of 2022, focused on the implication of digital technologies for the EU regulatory landscape, and their applications in areas such as citizens’ involvement in decision-making.

 

On Monday, UK joined the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC), the EU supercomputing scheme unlocking an enhanced share of the Horizon-funded portion, worth £770 million from 2021-2027.

EuroHPC unites cutting-edge supercomputing resources from 35 countries, encompassing Norway, Turkey, and all 27 EU member states, to advance research in future computing technologies.

The partnership seeks to enhance global leadership in supercomputing by combining resources and expertise to foster scientific excellence in the field.

“This deal will only strengthen the UK’s science and tech superpower credentials, by giving our scientists and businesses even greater access to a leading network of expertise and powerful computing systems from Finland to Portugal,” said UK science, innovation and technology secretary Michelle Donelan.

More details here.

 

Fraunhofer, the largest organisation for applied research in Europe, calls for a ring-fenced FP10 budget of €200 billion .

On Monday, the German-based organisation released a position paper presenting recommendations for advancing Europe as a leading hub for research and innovation by boosting Europe’s industrial competitiveness and stressing the pivotal role of R&I in driving the green and digital transformation. 

Fraunhofer’s document proposes five key improvements for FP10, including a new coordinating governance structure that prioritises green and digital transformation; increasing the FP's attractiveness for all R&I actors; enabling transfer from basic research to innovative products; and simplifying the mechanisms for researchers and research support staff to access FP10.

Read the full position paper here.

 

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