HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes

03 Oct 2023 | 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.

If you have any tips, please email them at [email protected].

You can read the full archive of this blog here.


The European Commission’s proposals to reform the EU’s pharmaceutical legislation will push companies to carry out research and development outside of Europe, industry federation EFPIA argues in its assessment of the package published today.

In April the European Commission adopted a proposal to revise the EU’s pharmaceutical legislation, with the aim of making medicines more available, accessible and affordable, and boosting the attractiveness of the EU pharma industry.

This includes plans to reduce the baseline period of regulatory data protection, during which time other marketing authorisation applicants cannot refer to the preclinical and clinical trial data of an authorised product in their applications, from eight to six years.

EFPIA says this will undermine competitiveness and see Europe lose more R&D investment to the US and China, noting that the industry “saw R&D spending growth four times lower than China between 2018 and 2022”.

The industry body has made a series of recommendations for improving the reform.


MEPs are calling for Horizon Europe to receive an additional €140 million, compared to the draft budget for 2024 published by the European Commission.

The Parliament’s budgets committee adopted its position on next year’s EU budget on Monday, citing the fact the Horizon programme is heavily over-subscribed with many projects evaluated as ‘excellent’ going unfunded.

They want the extra funds to go towards the health, culture, and climate clusters, as well as the European Research Council and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions. This is not including budget increases related to the Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform.

The committee also reinstated appropriations on all lines reduced by the Council in its negotiating stance to the levels of the Commission’s original proposal. The draft resolution will be voted on 9 October.


Two of the three winners of this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics are past winners of European Research Council (ERC) grants. 

Ferenc Krausz of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Germany won an ERC advanced grant in 2010 while Anne L’Huillier of Lund University in Sweden won Advanced Grants in 2008, 2013 and 2019, and Proof of Concept grants in 2013 and 2017. 

The two scientists picked up this year’s Nobel Prize alongside French physicist Pierre Agostini of Ohio State University for their work on extremely short pulses of light that can be used to “measure the rapid processes in which electrons move or change energy”. 

“We can now open the door to the world of electrons,” said Eva Olsson, chair of the Nobel Committee for Physics. “Attosecond physics gives us the opportunity to understand mechanisms that are governed by electrons. The next step will be utilising them.”

ERC grants are among the most prestigious for scientists carrying out fundamental research in Europe. Many winners have gone on to win Nobel Prizes.


The Polish medtech company SDS Optic is in line for a €10 million loan agreement with the European Investment Bank (EIB), in a show of success for companies backed by the European Innovation Council (EIC). 

The Horizon Europe start-up fund EIC Accelerator gave the company nearly €4 million in funding, and the EIB is now providing further investment to scale up and commercialise its cancer detection technology inPROBE®.   

The EIC Accelerator is a new €7 billion fund under the EU’s Horizon Europe research programme that invests money in risky start-ups to help them grow and attract further investment from private and public funds.  


Martin Kern will stay on as director of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) for another four year term, its governing board has decided

Kern, a season Commission bureaucrat, has been director of the EIT since 2019, having previously held the same role in caretaker capacity as interim director.  

The EIT is an EU agency that runs nine sector-specific knowledge and innovation communities (KICs) that provides funding and education opportunities for European entrepreneurs in fields such as innovative energy, climate, health and cultural industries.


The European Association of Research and Technology Organisations (EARTO) is “greatly concerned” with a budget reshuffle in Horizon Europe aimed at finding money for STEP, a new platform for strategic technologies.

In a paper published last week, EARTO says it would be “unacceptable” and counterproductive to take money out of Horizon Europe’s Pillar II and route it to the European Innovation Council (EIC). “Pillar II has a well-established track record of significant RD&I contributions to the policy objectives STEP aims to support,” the paper says.


The European Commission has launched the European Cancer Imaging initiative, a major milestone in its plan to deploy a federated infrastructure of cancer data for researchers, innovators and healthcare providers.

The initiative is part of the EU’s plan for beating cancer and it aims to deploy digital technologies in cancer research, treatment and care, to achieve more precise and faster clinical decision-making, diagnostics, treatments and predictive medicine for the benefit of cancer patients.

The imaging platform is linking 36 datasets of images of nine cancer types, amounting to over 200,000 images of 20,000 patients. More information is available here.


The new EU Commissioner for research and innovation, Iliana Ivanova, this week makes her first official international trip since taking up the role earlier this month as she heads to her native Bulgaria.

Today she will meet with Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov and President Rumen Radev. She will also meet with various other ministers in charge of science, innovation, education and culture. 

On Friday she will give a speech at the Spinoff Bulgaria conference in Sofia. 


Switzerland, Sweden and the US are the world’s most innovative countries in 2023, a new report from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) states.

In its latest edition of the Global Innovation Index, it lists the UK and Singapore as the two other countries to make up the top five. Finland, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and South Korea round out the top 10.

Global government R&D budgets increased between 2021-22, the report says, based on preliminary data. However, this is largely carried by big increases in Japan and South Korea, and to a lesser extent in countries such as Germany. This has made up for budget reductions in many other countries.

Another developing trend is the global value of venture capital investments in innovation, with a big drop off in the past year due to impact by high interest rates.

Read the full report here


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