HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes

22 Feb 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.

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

You can read the full archive of this blog here.

The European Parliament this week approved the new Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform (STEP), the EU’s plan to mobilise investments in the digital, deep tech, cleantech and biotech sectors, as part of wider agreement on the mid-term revision of EU’s long-term budget (MFF).  

It follows an agreement on the MFF budget between the European Council and Parliament earlier this month.  

STEP was originally intended to be a €10 billion package but with budgets across the bloc stretched, especially in light of a €50 billion package to support Ukraine, it was trimmed down to just €1.5 billion, all of which will be channelled through the European Defence Fund (EDF). Read more about the cuts to step here.

 

France is cutting €900 million from its research and higher education budget for 2024 in line with wider spending cuts totalling €10 billion in an effort to reduce its budget deficit with economic growth slower than expected.  

The government is also slashing €2 billion from environmental and energy transition programmes.

 

Only 9% of life science researchers understand EU and US legislation on artificial intelligence, according to a new survey of 125 life science professionals carried out by the Pistoia Alliance.  

The EU is on the verge of passing its groundbreaking AI act designed to create the world’s first regulatory framework around uses of the technology. Member states reached a unanimous agreement on the content of the act earlier this month, but it still must pass through more steps before final approval that should come later this spring.  

The US, on the other hand, has loose regulation of the technology and is only in the early phases of creating legislation.  

The new survey found that as much as 35% of life science professionals surveyed have “no understanding at all” of AI legislation. On top of this, 21% said that existing regulations were blocking their research.  

Read the full report here.

 

Industry association DIGITALEUROPE has published a series of recommendations aimed at making the European single market fit for the digital age.

“We applaud the push for common data spaces, robust cybersecurity and responsible AI development,” said director general Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl in her forward to the report.

“However, the devil lies in the details. Inconsistent digital laws and fragmented regulations in crucial areas have resulted in a labyrinth of burdens, deterring investors and stifling innovation,” she said.

The publication explores 10 obstacles, including connectivity, disparate data laws, and inconsistent procurement rules, and recommends solutions.

 

Representatives from the biotech industry and beyond have come together to call on the European Commission to be ambitious in its forthcoming Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative.

Europe is slow to translate biotech R&I into industrial application and manufacturing at scale, says a position paper signed by organisations including EuropaBio, Good Food Institute Europe, and the European Confederation of Pharmaceutical Entrepreneurs (EUCOPE).

The initiative, due to be presented in the coming months, is “a unique opportunity for the EU to build on its strong research and innovation base towards clear industrial, societal and market targets,” it reads.

The organisations offer five core principles which they say should underpin Europe’s approach to biotechnology and biomanufacturing. These include ensuring competitive market access for products in Europe, unlocking the full potential of the single market, and creating attractive investment frameworks.

You can read the position paper here.

 

The winners of this year’s EIT Awards were announced at the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Summit in Brussels on Tuesday.

The winners were recognised for their ground-breaking innovations in four categories: the Changemaker Award, the Innovation Team Award, the Venture Award, and the Public Award. They specialise in technologies from sodium-ion batteries to sustainable biofoams. Learn about the winners here.

The ten finalists for the European Prize for Women Innovators, awarded by EIT and the European Innovation Council (EIC), were also announced at the Summit, with the winners set to be revealed at the R&I Week opening on 18 March. See the full list of finalists here.

 

Climate investments in the EU economy grew by 9% in 2022, but must still double for Europe to hit its 2030 climate targets, according to a new report from the Institute for Climate Economics (I4CE).

The report tracked public and private investments in 22 sectors that are critical to the transformation of energy, building and transport systems, which totalled €407 billion in 2022, or 2.56% of GDP. At least €813 billion of investment, or 5.1% of EU GDP, are needed every year in those sectors, it calculates.

“Given the scale of the current deficit, and the expected reduction in EU climate funding in the years to come, some additional EU public funding is likely required to contribute to closing the Climate Investment Deficit,” the authors write.

You can read the report here.

 

Research ministers have endorsed last Friday a statement on principles and values for international cooperation in research and innovation. 

The statement calls for a roadmap for joint principles and values for international cooperation, in coordination with UNESCO, UNCSTD, OECD, International Science Council, G7, G20, Council of Europe, and other international fora. 

“Scientists and innovators, no matter where in the world they live and work, must be able to reach out to one another and work together across borders and cultural traditions, based on a foundation of mutual trust and understanding,” said Iliana Ivanova, EU commissioner for research and innovation. 

“This is what we are working towards: to establish a global ethical compass for research and innovation with people and values at its heart,” she said. 

 

The European Commission has launched futures4europe, a foresight platform brining experts and research and innovation policymakers from across the EU. 

With a view to supporting the reflection towards for the next Framework Programme, the platform provided 8 foresight policy briefs that have now been published by the Commission: 

 

Ireland’s research minister Simon Harris has announced the location of the first Talent and Innovation Attaché position as the West Coast of the United States. 

The Minister made the announcement as part of the US launch of the government’s 2030 strategy for international education and innovation. 

“I am really pleased to confirm the decision to announce the first of our planned six Talent and Innovation Attachés will be based in the United States,” Harris said. 

““The person will be based in San Francisco – the epicentre of innovation and talent in America and Ireland will now have a person permanently based there, dedicated to promoting Ireland as a destination for education and research,” he added.

 

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