HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes

30 Jun 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.

 

WomenTechEU, the EU’s support scheme for early-stage women-led start-ups, is set to provide grants and business services to 130 companies this year.

The second rendition of the programme will have a budget of €10 million, more than double the money spent in its pilot phase last year.

The scheme is one of the EU’s key projects aiming to tackle the gender gap in the bloc’s start-up scene. Today, only 6% of start-ups are founded by all-women teams, and women obtain only 10% of patent applications in the EU. Countering the long-standing trend is one of the main goals of the current EU research commissioner Mariya Gabriel.

 

Hungary plans to increase its spending on research, innovation and development from 1.6% to 3% of its GDP by the end of the decade, the country's innovation minister János Csák revealed in an award ceremony for young science talents last week.

The ambition is in line with the EU’s goal to invest 3% of GDP in research and innovation as part of the recently renewed push to create a single European market for research. In 2020, the year the goal was set, only 5 countries hit the mark, with total EU investments averaging out at 2.3%.

 

The European Commission today signed off 28 new nuclear research projects and a new partnership on radiation protection and detection of ionising radiation. 

The Commission is spending €100 millionfrom the EU’s five-year €1.38 billion nuclear research and training programme Euratom on the 28 projects. The projects will contribute to nuclear safety, radiation protection, and safe use of nuclear power and of non-power applications of ionising radiation. 

The new partnership, PIANOFORTE, is one of the three initiatives through which the Commission is disbursing the Euratom research funds. Two more partnerships, EUROfusion and EURAD, cover fusion energy and radioactive waste management research projects.  

 

The EU has selected Bull SAS, a subsidiary of the French IT and consulting giant Atos, to build and deliver its newest supercomputer, MareNostrum 5.  

Starting in 2023, the supercomputer, to be located at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC), will be used to facilitate drug research, vaccine development, and virus spread simulations, among other medical uses. It is expected to be one of the five fastest supercomputers in the world. 

The EU’s €7 billion supercomputing programme, EuroHPC, will contribute half of the €151 million investment, with the rest covered by a Spanish-led consortium. 

EuroHPC already runs five supercomputers in Europe, with the newest one, LUMI, launched earlier this week in Finland. Another two are currently being built, while five new hosting sites were announced yesterday.  

 

The European Commission is looking to pilot a joint European degree label and test instruments for long-term transnational cooperation between universities, such as a giving a legal status for EU-supported university alliances, in a new Erasmus+ call for proposals

The aim of the call is to pilot approaches for deepening transnational cooperation between universities in Europe, building on existing Erasmus+ funded European university alliances. 

“With this Erasmus+ pilot, we seek to progress on the flagship initiatives of the European strategy for universities and take transnational cooperation to the next level,” said EU research and education commissioner Mariya Gabriel.  

The call has a budget of €2 million and is open until 6 October.  

 

EuroHPC, the €7 billion EU supercomputing partnership, has announced it will fund five new supercomputers in Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland and Poland.  

The German site at the Jülich Supercomputing Centre will host Europe’s first exascale supercomputer, JUPITER, capable of making of over a billion billion calculations per second. 

Four other supercomputers will have petascale or pre-exascale capabilities to power the development of novel scientific and industrial applications in medicine, engineering, materials and climate science.  

On Monday, EuroHPC launched its first pre-exascale supercomputer in Kaani, Finland, currently third-fastest in the world.  

 

The EU’s new start-up funding has invested the first €15 million of direct equity in a French start-up SiPearl, marking the end of a months-long wait for the funds to start flowing.  

With the help of a €2.5 million grant and a €15 million equity investment from the European Innovation Council’s (EIC) Accelerator programme, the company is aiming to bring to the market a high-performance, low-power European  microprocessor for exascale supercomputing, 

The EIC’s equity investments are a new type of funding under the Horizon Europe research programme. Last year, the fund got caught up in internal fights in the European Commission over how it should be managed, which caused delays to the funding promised to 92 companies in 2021.  

The EIC says the rest of the investments will be delivered once the restructuring of the EIC fund is completed in the coming weeks. “With these new arrangements in place, the time for implementing the grants and investment support for companies selected by the EIC Accelerator will be progressively reduced in order to meet the needs of fast-moving technology start-ups,” according to the press release. 

 

UK-based winners of European Research Council grants are to get three more weeks to decide whether to move to the EU to keep their grant, or stay in the UK with a domestic alternative. 

London and Brussels have still not signed off on UK association to Horizon Europe, the programme under which ERC grants are administered, due to wider Brexit disputes. Unless they do, UK grantees cannot receive the money, so the ERC has told them to either find new host institutions or forgo the award. 

Originally, the deadline for them to make this decision was 8 June. But the ERC has now confirmed this has been shifted back until 29th June. 

The ERC has confirmed that so far, two UK grantees have said they are definitely staying in the UK, and so giving up the award. Another 16 have expressed interest in leaving for the EU or other associated countries. 

 

The European Commission has awarded 18 projects showcasing promising examples of the New European Bauhaus movement, which aims to give a cultural spin to the European Green Deal.  

This is the second edition of the prize that recognizes promising green and inclusive projects around Europe. This year’s winners were awarded across four categories: reconnecting with nature, regaining a sense of belonging, prioritization of places and people most in need, and public vote.  

The New European Bauhaus was started by the European Commission in 2020 in an attempt to put a human face to Europe’s net zero ambitions and spur innovations across the bloc. Five €5 million demonstrator projects for the initiative are funded under the EU’s research programme, Horizon Europe. 

 

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology’s (EIT) governing board, which steers the strategic direction of the EU innovation agency, has seven new members.  

The new members include Mark Boris Andrijanič, Slovenia's first minister for digital transformation; Pia Sandvik, CEO of Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE); and Silvia Lenaerts, vice-rector for valorisation and development at the University of Antwerp.  

Each one of the 12 governing board members serves a four-year term to guide and steer the EIT

Full list of new members can be found here

 

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