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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The European Commission and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) have launched a new call for research projects to advance a promising vaccine against Rift into clinical trials.
Overall, the Commisison will contribute €35 million from Horizon Europe, while up to €50 million will be made available by CEPI.
The potentially deadly Rift Valley fever can spread to humans who get in contact with the blood or organs of infected animals, or who are bitten by infected mosquitos. The severity and frequency of outbreaks are expected to get worse with climate change. However, no vaccines have been approved for human use so far.
Mariya Gabriel, commissioner for research and innovation said the funding and cooperation with CEPI will enable the EU to keep its leading role in “coordinating global research efforts to prevent and tackle health threats.”
The European Innovation Council (EIC) has issued an update on its progress delivering grants and equity investments to promising start-ups as part of its €7 billion Accelerator fund.
The EIC has now signed off 100 grant agreements since it launched the full-fledged Accelerator programme, which offers grants, blended finance and equity investments for start-ups, in March 2021.
Due to issues within the European Commission, many companies had been promised funding over the past year and a half, but the signing of agreements had been delayed until a proper fund for distributing equity investments is set up.
The fund is yet to be set up, but most agreements for grants awarded in 2021, which are not managed through the equity fund, have now been signed off.
You can find the full numbers here.
The League of European Research Universities (LERU) is set to continue its cooperation with CE7, a group of seven central European universities.
Working together, the two groups representing universities from different parts of Europe will aim to improve framework conditions for research and education as well as stimulate collaborative research across the bloc.
The new framework for non-discrimination and gender equality in science, technology and innovation will aim to align equality plans in Spain's public research and funding bodies with existing government strategies.
The plan, yet to be revealed, proposes 28 actions and more than 130 initiatives along 3 axes: raising awareness of existing gender gaps, creating inclusive working environments, and promoting measures to accelerate the necessary changes.
The framework builds on two pieces of legislation recently adopted in the country: the reform of science, technology and innovation law that introduces obligatory and annually evaluated gender equality plans in all public research institutions as well as the Comprehensive Law on Equality and Non-Discrimination.
It remains to be seen when the plan will be unveiled, but Diana Morant, Spain’s science and innovation minister, announced this week that her ministry is finalising the framework.
At EU level, starting this year, the European Commission has also introduced mandatory gender equality plans for institutions receiving funding from the Horizon Europe research programme.
Open science in Portugal is getting a boost, after the country’s main science funder, the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), announced its researchers will from now on be able to publish their research for free on open science platforms.
A total of 12 agreements with publishers, three of which have entered into force, will facilitate cost-free open science publishing in the country for next three years, enabling the first 2000 articles to be published still in 2022.
“This is a central element in the FCT's open science policy, together with the creation of open access repositories of all the science generated by the national scientific ecosystem,” said Madalena Alves, president of the FCT Board of Directors. “There is still a lot to do, but I have no doubt that we are in the right direction.”
The open science publishing movement has been rapidly growing in Europe in the past few years after the Commission launched a major push for open access several years ago, including its Plan S coalition. Last month, the US followed in its footsteps after the White House ordered an end to publishers putting most federally funded research behind paywalls.
A merger between central Europe’s two leading education technology companies, Codecool and Software Development Academy (SDA), is set to create one of Europe's biggest digital skilling and sourcing hub.
The merged company is projected to train 15,000 - 20,000 students each year on software development, testing and cybersecurity, among other skills, in eight countries: Poland, Hungary, Romania, Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Estonia, and Albania.
Responding to an EU-wide skill gap, both companies have worked with private companies and governments on big digital skills programmes, including reskilling 10,000 ICT specialists in Albania and 600 engineers in Hungary.
“There is a global battle for digital talent, especially coders and programmers, so our main aim remains to provide high-quality digital skilling for employees and employers - but on a much larger scale,” said Michał Mysiak, CEO of SDA, who will lead the merged company as the CEO.
The Incubation Forum for Circular Economy in European Defence (IF CEED) held its first conference in Luxembourg last week. Some 150 defence experts from over 20 countries, met to take stock of results and discussed the way forward.
IF CEED aims to mitigate the defence sector's environmental footprint by applying the circular economy principles of the EU’s Green Deal to the design and production of military capabilities and devices.
It is based on a community of experts coming from Defence ministries, industry, research and financial institutions and academia.
Since its launch in October 2021, the Forum has managed built up a network of several hundred of experts, working in nine different thematic areas, including critical raw materials, additive manufacturing, green procurement, spare parts management, and sustainable eco-design.
IF CEED is a two-year programme, managed by the European Defence Agency (EDA), and co-funded by the European Commission' EU LIFE programme and the Directorate of defence of Luxembourg.
Slovenia and UK plan to open a joint call for research proposals and are setting up an event to help researchers from the two countries network ahead of its opening.
The event will be held by the Slovenian Research Agency (ARRS), together with the British Embassy in Slovenia, on 13 October. An introduction to the upcoming call, a look into good practices of cooperation between researchers in the two countries and networking are on the agenda.
The UK is currently locked out of the EU’s Horizon Europe research programme but is working on setting up bilateral science ties with countries around the world.
More details are available here.
Thailand and the European Research Council (ERC) are set to sign off a new scheme allowing researchers from Thailand to join EU’s prestigious ERC-funded fundamental research teams.
The ERC runs similar arrangements with Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Singapore, South Africa, and United States.
The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) will continue providing its researchers with access to a platform for settling the fees incurred when publishing article in open access journals.
Open access publishing is on the rise in Switzerland but comes with extra administrative work on settling publishing fees. The SNSF has been running a pilot project with service provider ChronosHub since 2021 aiming to simplify the financing of freely accessible publications. Following the successful pilot, the service will continue until at least the end of 2023.
"The aim if possible is for all results originating from SNSF-funded research to be freely accessible," said Matthias Egger, president of the SNSF. "The easier we make OA publication for researchers, the closer we'll get to that target. And ChronosHub is helping us a long way in that direction."