HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes

02 Feb 2023 | 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.

 

Swiss and Austrian politicians have met yesterday to discuss deepening cooperation in education, research and innovation and the future of Switzerland in Horizon Europe. Swiss state secretary Martina Hirayama visited Austria for talks with Martin Polaschek, minister of education, science and research.

The two countries have so far worked together in 800 joint Horizon 2020 projects and 100 Eureka inter-governmental network projects, an initiative for cross-border cooperation projects in technology and market-oriented research and development.

But officials hope to further boost cooperation, as the Austrian government is among the EU member states pressuring the European Commission to allow Switzerland in Horizon Europe. Switzerland wants to become an associated country in Horizon Europe but the Commission has suspended talks over political disagreements concerning delayed broader EU-Swiss economic relations and delayed payments to EU’s cohesion budget.

 

EU leaders extended their welcome to Australia to join the EU’s Horizon Europe research programme, during a meeting in the margins of the G20 Summit in Bali.  

The three leaders attending the meeting – Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese, EU Council president Charles Michel, and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen – noted health, climate and digital as areas to explore for future cooperation under Horizon Europe. 

 

German Rectors' Conference yesterday declared its solidarity with Iranian students and scientists, following a massive wave of anti-regime protests.  

The rectors called on the Iranian government to stop using violence against peaceful protestors, which include university staff and students.  

“We condemn the massive violence that is being used in particular against members of the university who are concerned about the present and future of their country," said Peter-André Alt, president of the rectors’ conference. 

 

The European Commission has adopted a 23-step plan for nurturing a ‘strong and sustainable’ algae sector, which includes support for research and innovation through Horizon Europe and other means. 

The innovation-oriented steps include stimulating mechanisms to support the transfer of technology from research to market, funding pilot projects for supporting innovative SMEs and projects, and supporting the development of new and improved algae processing systems, novel production methods and algae cultivation systems.  

Today, algae cultivation in Europe is often expensive, low in scale, and there is limited knowledge of the markets, but can effectively used in food, animals and fish feed, pharmaceuticals, bio-packaging, or biofuel sectors. 

 

The European Commission has published today an analysis of 53 Horizon 2020 projects on aquaculture to gauge the impact of research funding on the sector.

The report outlines the research and innovation needed to achieve the goals set in the EU research mission to restore oceans and waters by 2030. 

According to the Commission, this report is part of the implementation of its strategic guidelines for a develop zero-carbon and low-impact aquaculture in the EU over the next decade.

The report is available here.

 

The UK's Russell Group has warned the government against making cuts to the country's research and development budget ahead of a nervously anticipated financial statement on November 17. 

The body of 24 research intensive universities said London should honour its previous commitment to put €20 billion extra into R&D by 2024-5. The chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, has signalled that spending cuts and tax rises will be on the agenda when he updates financial plans on Thursday. 

“Nobody is under any illusions about the difficult choices facing the government right now but we can all agree that growth is the priority," said Tim Bradshaw, the group's chief executive. 

 

EU research commissioner Mariya Gabriel and Turkey's industry and technology minister Mustafa Varank met today in Brussels for the first ever high level dialogue on science, research, technology and innovation. 

Brussels and Ankara said they focused on how to work together on topics including green industrial production, renewable energy, and climate-neutral cities. Turkey is already knitted into the EU's research network through associated membership to Horizon Europe. 

"Türkiye has been a key partner in EU research and innovation programmes over the last 20 years," Gabriel said in a statement. "Today, we have held the first EU-Türkiye high-level dialogue and agreed to deepen and broaden our joint efforts for the green and digital transitions."

 

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) will soon launch a new opportunity for Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) in artificial intelligence (AI).

The centres will train the next generation of AI researchers for a variety of careers in academia, business and the public sector, enabling the translation and adoption of AI.

More details here.

 

The Canadian government and the country's Cement Association have launched a joint roadmap to decarbonise Canada's cement and concrete sector by 2050.  

The roadmap commits government and industry to reduce CO2 emissions by 15 million tonnes by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.  

Concrete is the most used building material globally, and the cement used to make it accounts for 7% and 1.5% of global and Canadian emissions, respectively.  

“With this partnership, Canada will become a world-leading producer and exporter of low-carbon cement and concrete,” said François-Philippe Champagne, Canadian minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. 

 

The European Union and Egypt have agreed to invest in new infrastructure to create, store and transport hydrogen, seen as a clean replacement for fossil fuels. 

At the COP27 climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi issued a joint statement that promised to "facilitate and promote investments for boosting the production, storage, distribution and transport of renewable hydrogen and its derivatives." 

They said they would step up research and innovation cooperation to help speed along the creation of the hydrogen economy. 

The EU has already agreed similar hydrogen deals at COP27 with Namibia and Kazakhstan. 

 

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