HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes

30 Sep 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.

 

Neurobiologist Monica Dietl is set to replace Marco Masia as executive coordinator of the Initiative for Science in Europe (ISE), a platform bringing together European learned societies and research organisations. 

Dietl has extensive experience in research policy. She is a research director at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and was most recently adviser to the director general for research and innovation at the French ministry for higher education, research and innovation.  

In Brussels, as senior policy officer at the European Commission’s research directorate, she was involved in the creation of the European Research Council. She also played an instrument role in setting up the COST Association as head of the COST office, and later went on to become its first director. She served two stints as director of the Brussels office of the CNRS, among other senior roles in the research policy bubble, including a senior expert role at Science|Business. 

 

ITER, the international megaproject for nuclear fusion research and engineering will soon have a new director-general.

The ITER Council has appointed Pietro Barabaschi to lead the project after an extraordinary meeting in Paris last week. Barabaschi replaces nuclear scientist Eisuke Tada, who has taken the role of interim director-general in May this year after the passing of Bernard Bigot.

Barabaschi studied electro-mechanical engineering, but has spent his entire career in the field of fusion research. He has worked for the Joint European Torus (JET). He has worked in various ITER sites, including San Diego and Munich.

“I will make it a priority to improve the integration of ITER Organization and Domestic Agencies, both essential elements of the ITER Project, now and even more in the forthcoming phases of commissioning of ITER,” said Barabaschi.

 

DIAMAS, a three-year EU-funded project, is set to map out the landscape for so-called Diamond Open Access publishing in the European Research Area as well as develop standards, guidelines and practices for the sector. 

Diamond is a type of open access publishing where scientific journal articles, books and other results are published with no fees to readers nor authors. It’s promoted as a sustainable, community-driven open access model by Europe’s Coalition S, a group of organisations committed to open access publishing, represented by the European Science Foundation in DIAMAS. 

Open access publishing has been making big gains in recent years, with more and more research organisations shifting towards open access platforms. Most recently, the Biden administration in the US ordered an end to publishers putting most taxpayer funded research behind paywalls.  

 

The European Research Council (ERC) has launched a science journalism programme which is now taking applications until 15 December.

The ERC will allocate €1.5 million to support an organisation or a consortium of organisations to set up a funding scheme for journalists interested in spending three to five months in research institutions. One proposal will be selected.

The ERC hopes the winning project will give journalists the opportunity to learn and work on in-depth reporting projects and to interact with scientists and scholars.

 

The European Commission has announced the winners of the 33rd edition of the EU Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS) and of the first-ever edition of EU TalentOn.

The winners were announced over the weekend in Leiden as part of a year-long string of events dedicated to science in the Dutch city. 

The projects that won the first prize of the EUCYS, which receive €7,000 each, come from Denmark, Ireland, Lithuania and Austria and covered disciplines such as mathematics, chemistry, biology and engineering.

The EU TalentOn winning teams that receive €8,000 each came up with scientific solutions to societal challenges linked to the five EU research missions in Horizon Europe.

“The work of young researchers is crucial to shape the future of science and to move forward with confidence in a post-pandemic era,” said EU research commissioner Mariya Gabriel.

 

The European Investment Fund (EIF) has announced today it will allocate €30 million in financing to help the Belgian Junction Growth equity fund pick scale-ups and SMEs with promising energy transition projects.

The fund aims to invest in companies developing technologies for clean energy production and energy efficiency in building and renovation industries in Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany. However, entities from other countries can apply as well.

The EIF contribution to the fund is supported by the European Commission’s InvestEU programme, as well as the Dutch Future Fund (DFF).

“The innovative solutions that Junction targets, can speed up the transition towards a carbon-free Europe and world, and we are happy to support that,” said EIF Chief Executive Alain Godard.

 

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.

 

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