HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes

23 May 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.

Today, the European Commission has announced an investment of over €1 billion in 54 ambitious defence industrial projects through the European Defence Fund (EDF).

The projects will receive €1031 million in EU funding. They aim to advance technological excellence across various critical defence areas, including cyber defence, land, air, and naval combat, space asset protection, and CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear) defence.

Additionally, the EDF's European Defence Innovation Scheme (EUDIS) has provided numerous opportunities for SMEs, start-ups, and new entrants to the defence sector.

More details here.

 

The European Commission has revealed the winners of the 2023 Gender Equality Champions Award, an annual recognition prize launched in 2022 aimed at celebrating the results achieved by European academic and research organisations through the implementation of Gender Equality Plans.

For 2023, the awardees are the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) from France, the Universitat Rovira i Virgili from Spain, and the Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest from Ireland.

Each institution will receive a €100,000 prize.

“I warmly congratulate the winners of the Horizon Europe Award for Gender Equality Champions. Their remarkable achievements in creating more gender-equal working environments are an inspiration to organisations across the European Research Area,” said research commissioner Iliana Ivanova.

More details here.

 

On Wednesday, the Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities shared its perspective on the upcoming EU Research Framework Programme (FP10).

The organisation advocates for a forward-thinking approach to FP10, emphasising that it should bolster Europe’s competitiveness and resilience through scientific leadership.

According to the group, FP10 should prioritise research and innovation activities, making knowledge creation a central goal across all its programmes. It should also synergise with other EU initiatives, such as the European Regional Development Fund, Erasmus+, and EU4Health, to enhance research capacities at national, regional and institutional levels and to expedite the introduction of new innovations.

The Guild’s recommendations are grounded in seven key principles: ensuring a substantial and stable budget of at least €200 billion; building on proven instruments that enhance Europe’s scientific excellence; harnessing researchers’ creativity in projects focused on specific challenges; integrating innovation within scientific excellence; protecting research excellence through academic freedom and openness; facilitating further international cooperation; and enhancing research excellence across Europe and reduce disparities in R&I.

Read the Guild’s full paper here.

 

On Wednesday, the League of European Research Universities (LERU) published a blueprint for the next EU framework programme, due to start in 2028.

Among the recommendations to strengthen the programme, LERU emphasises the need for the European Commission to lead by setting a €200 billion budget for FP10 and ensuring this budget is ring-fenced to maintain financial stability.

“The EU needs to rethink the multi-annual financial framework. Now it protects those budgets that are directly distributed to member states, while the programmes managed by the European Commission, like the framework programme, are the victim of the constant effort of member mtates to reduce the EU budget, and of all EU policy makers to shift funding to new priorities,” said Kurt Deketelaere, LERU’s secretary-general. “This must stop.”

Read LERU’s blueprint for FP10 here.

 

An expert group set up by the European Commission to provide advice on the use of new technologies has concluded its report, Signe Ratso, deputy director-general for research and innovation at the Commission, has said.

Speaking at the EU Digital Summit on Wednesday, Ratso said the Commission hopes to publish the report soon. The Innovation-Friendly Regulations Advisory Group “has been looking into the use of digital technologies in the public sector, and particularly what is related to the virtual world and metaverses,” she said.

The group of 11 experts, appointed by the Commission at the end of 2022, focused on the implication of digital technologies for the EU regulatory landscape, and their applications in areas such as citizens’ involvement in decision-making.

 

On Monday, UK joined the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC), the EU supercomputing scheme unlocking an enhanced share of the Horizon-funded portion, worth £770 million from 2021-2027.

EuroHPC unites cutting-edge supercomputing resources from 35 countries, encompassing Norway, Turkey, and all 27 EU member states, to advance research in future computing technologies.

The partnership seeks to enhance global leadership in supercomputing by combining resources and expertise to foster scientific excellence in the field.

“This deal will only strengthen the UK’s science and tech superpower credentials, by giving our scientists and businesses even greater access to a leading network of expertise and powerful computing systems from Finland to Portugal,” said UK science, innovation and technology secretary Michelle Donelan.

More details here.

 

Fraunhofer, the largest organisation for applied research in Europe, calls for a ring-fenced FP10 budget of €200 billion .

On Monday, the German-based organisation released a position paper presenting recommendations for advancing Europe as a leading hub for research and innovation by boosting Europe’s industrial competitiveness and stressing the pivotal role of R&I in driving the green and digital transformation. 

Fraunhofer’s document proposes five key improvements for FP10, including a new coordinating governance structure that prioritises green and digital transformation; increasing the FP's attractiveness for all R&I actors; enabling transfer from basic research to innovative products; and simplifying the mechanisms for researchers and research support staff to access FP10.

Read the full position paper here.

 

With one month left ahead of the start of Europe’s largest science conference, ESOF organisers have published the agenda for this years' edition in Katowice, Poland. The conference programme is available here.  

This year’s ESOF may be the last edition in this format, as EuroScience – the association behind it – has gone bankrupt after failing to secure funding for the 2026 event. 

This year’s edition will go on as planned in Katowice, Poland, but uncertainty looms over the future after the European Commission, a co-funder of the conference, changed the way it allocates money for the biennial event, prompting other supporters to pull out. 

 

The Baltic country has started preparations for its position paper on FP10, according to Tadas Tumenas, head of LINO, Lithuania’s office for research, development and innovation in Brussels.  

The talks started on Wednesday and focused on the goals and structure of FP10, its budget, the future of the Widening programme, the role of FP10 in bolstering the European Research Area. 

More details here.  

 

In a paper published today, the League of European Research Universities (LERU) has urged the European Commission to make better use of research universities’ expertise and insights when devising its upcoming industrial policy.

The recommendation is part of a policy paper where the group representing 24 research-intensive universities from 12 European countries has outlined 16 key research and innovation policy objectives for the next European Parliament and Commission.

Other than a greater involvement of universities in EU’s industrial policies, LERU’s paper outlines other key points, including developing a future-proof multiannual financial framework to provide solid and stable financial backing and building a real European Research Area (ERA) by eliminating European and national obstacles to the free circulation of knowledge.

The group also stressed the need for EU institutions to develop clear and specific pathways between programmes, to avoid funding gaps, loss of talent and innovation leakage.

“In an increasingly competitive global landscape, our universities stand as beacons of progress, driving innovation, and pushing the boundaries of human understanding” said Linda Doyle, Chair of LERU. “Universities not only address pressing societal challenges but also lay the groundwork for future breakthroughs and discoveries that will benefit generations to come.”

Read the LERU paper here.

 

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