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 has launched a new €4 million call for proposals under Horizon Europe to support the All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Alliance (AAORIA), a grouping of countries on either side of the Atlantic formed in 2022 to promote research aimed at protecting the ocean.
This latest call is for a Coordination and Support Action with a compulsory international element that should also aim to build on existing initiatives, such as the All-Atlantic Ocean Youth Ambassadors, joint actions and already developed working groups.
The AAORIA is a partnership between the EU, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Cabo Verde, Morocco, South Africa and the United States.
The deadline for proposals under this call is 21 September 2023. More information on the application procedure is available here.
Sixteen companies are set to receive €30 million in grant funding from the Spanish government through the EU recovery plan, after receiving seals of excellence from the European Innovation Council (EIC). Comunidad de Madrid will be funding three additional recipients of the EIC seals.
The seals of excellence are awarded to research and projects that would deserve funding from Horizon Europe, the EU’s €95.5 billion research and innovation programme, but do not receive it due to oversubscription and budget limitations.
The seals are a quality label that member states can use to grant funding from their own resources or from other nationally-managed Eu programmes.
The European Investment Fund (EIF) has committed €60 million in equity to Alpine Space Ventures (ASV), a Germany-based venture capital fund focusing on the private space industry.
The funding is backed by InvestEU and the CASSINI investing facility of the European space programme, as well as by the European Recovery Programme of the German government.
ASV is quickly emerging as one of the leading NewSpace funds in Europe. The fund focuses on the entire value chain of satellite constellations and Earth observation.
To date, ASV has already invested in four companies: small satellite manufacturer Reflex Aerospace, electric propulsion company Morpheus Space, carbon composites expert Blackwave and Source Energy, a provider of integrated energy solutions for space vehicles.
The European Investment Fund and Lithianua’s SME Bank have signed a new guarantee agreement under the InvestEU programme to guarantee a portfolio of more than €37 million in new loans for micro and small enterprises and small mid-caps in the Baltics, Finland and the Netherlands.
The agreement will provide guarantees for loans in three key policy areas: sustainability, innovation and digitalisation, and micro finance.
“SME Bank's mission is to simplify the lives of SME owners by leveraging technology to enhance access to financing opportunities,” said CEO of SME Bank Virginijus Doveika.
Sixteen new projects involving 180 organisations will join the European Institute of Innovation and Technology’s (EIT) flagship programme aimed at helping universities innovate.
Each project, involving a mix of universities, industry, research and public organisations, will receive up to €750,000 to build up the universities’ entrepreneurial capacity in fields such as AI, machine learning and clean tech.
This EIT’s flagship programme launched in 2021 and has since invested €55 million to support projects involving 260 higher education institutions and 100 non-academic partners.
The European University Association has criticised a move by the Swedish government to shorten the mandate of external members serving on university boards from three years to 17 months.
Last month, the government moved to limit the term time of these members to speed up the appointment of security experts to the boards, citing concerns that universities were being infiltrated by agents of China, Iran and Russia.
But the EUA says the move “sets a worrying precedent”. “It represents undue interference in the institutional governance of universities, with the government unilaterally changing a well-established process regulating the nomination of external members on university boards.”
It has called on the Swedish government to reconsider its decision.
Academies of science in Europe and Asia are calling for urgent action to address the impact of climate change around the world.
Around 90 scientists from 45 countries convened in Warsaw last week for the European Climate Conference organised by the Polish and German academies of sciences.
The attendees agreed on a text that sets out 10 statements on the damaging consequences climate change will have on humans and societies and ways in which these challenges can and should be tackled.
“Effective actions for climate neutrality mean deep transformations of most aspects of the economy, the energy system, international markets, and the global cooperation framework,” the attendees wrote.
They called for mitigation measures aligned with the Paris framework to be accelerated and for regulation and financial instruments to be used to support the transition towards climate neutrality.
The Initiative for Science in Europe (ISE), an independent platform of scientific organisations, has set out its hopes and expectations for the European Commission’s research and innovation portfolio following the resignation of Commissioner Mariya Gabriel last week.
Gabriel stepped down from her role as commissioner in charge of innovation, research, culture, education and youth to return to Bulgaria where she will become prime minister after a nine-month period as deputy prime minister.
ISE has urged vice presidents Margrethe Vestager and Margarítis Schinás, who will take over from Gabriel, to continue the work setting up a programme dedicated to researchers’ careers. It has also called on them to put in place an independent observatory for innovation careers.
In addition, the platform set out concerns that the vice presidents should be aware of. This includes simplifying certain funding schemes under the Widening programme of Horizon Europe, including basic research as a component of R&I actions across all funding schemes and protecting the MSCA and ERC programmes from budget cuts.
ISE thanked Gabriel for her dedication and commitment to the broad portfolio she oversaw, and welcomed Vestager and Schinás as her replacements. The two vice presidents are not certain to remain in charge of Gabriel’s former portfolio long term, and a new commissioner could be chosen before the new Commission is instated next year.
The League of European Research Universities (LERU) has spoken out against three amendments to the EU’s Data Act proposed by policymakers, ahead of the last round of negotiations on the final details of the proposal.
LERU warns against charging universities any money for industry data it has requested for research (article 9), limiting the scope of what counts as an emergency situation that allows public bodies to request private business data (article 14), and introducing extra requirements that obstruct universities’ access to data used for research in support of the public sector.
The European Parliament and member states are expected to reach a deal on the Data Act, a plan to promote industrial data sharing in the EU, on 23 May.
The first €122 million call to create Regional Innovation Valleys today, kicking off the European Commission’s plan to connect regional deep-tech innovation valleys in up to 100 regions.
The new flagship innovation programme builds on previous EU initiatives but goes beyond other funding schemes by putting the onus of managing funds on the regions themselves. The Commission’s goal is to have 100 regions sign up for cross-border cooperation and use it as a tool to help the bloc’s less innovative regions catch up.
The calls are open until 17 October. An online info session will be held on 25 May.