HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes

28 Sep 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.


Katja Becker, a biochemist and medical scientist, has been elected for a second term as president of the German Research Foundation, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). It means she will stay in the position for four more years. 

She became the first woman ever to hold the position when she was first elected in 2020. In her time, she has faced several challenges, including the coronavirus pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which led to the DFG suspending all German-Russian research cooperation.

Looking forward, Becker has said that securing funding for the DFG and research in Germany more generally is a “political priority” in a difficult economic time. 


EU policy to ensure sustainable food choices are affordable and easy to make, the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors told the European Commission in latest report in support of the preparation for an upcoming framework for sustainable food systems. 

“Measures to make healthy and sustainable diets more affordable, to regulate product placement and advertising, and to mandate food reformulation should be used together with transparent information and education on food literacy,” Eric Lambin, leader of the adviser group of sustainable food consumption said. 


Horizon Europe’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) will co-finance 16 doctoral training and 14 post-doctoral fellowship programmes in the latest €95 million funding round. 

MSCA, the EU’s researcher mobility programme, provides funding for regional, national and international PhD and post-doc trainings every year. This year, it received 107 applications and selected 30 winning projects, which include 511 organisations in 39 countries across a variety of disciplines. 


Swedish education minister Mats Persson today signed an implementation agreement for energy research cooperation with the US.

The agreement will allow the two countries to promote science and technology cooperation in energy, but also in other fields such as advanced scientific computing research, basic energy sciences, biological and environmental research, fusion energy sciences, high energy physics and nuclear physics.

“For the Swedish government, it’s very important to tackle the societal challenges we face using innovative and effective solutions. In the energy area, we need to collaborate with the best partners to identify and develop ways of addressing the growing need for clean and green energy production,” said Persson.


Universities, research and technology organisations and knowledge transfer professionals want to see changes to the European Innovation Council’s (EIC) provisions for intellectual property.  

The current rules for EIC Pathfinder and Transition calls mean universities and research organisations must grant immediate royalty-free rights to intellectual property generated in their laboratories by EIC-backed academics. They say this is at odds with regional and national rules and negates the work of university technology transfer offices (TTOs). 

Policy experts have been advocating for a change to the rules for months and recently gained the support of the EIC governing board, which put forward recommendations for changes to the European Commission, in charge of setting the rules. 


The EU is set to put €832 million in defence research and development projects this year under the €8 billion European Defence Fund (EDF). 

The money will fund 41 joint research projects developing the EU's high-end defence capabilities in areas such as naval, ground, air combat, space-based early warning and cyber defence.  

The European Commission proposed to put an extra €1.5 billion in EDF last week as part of the proposal to create a Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform (STEP) to reinforce the EU’s strategic autonomy. 


The EU science hub, the Joint Research Centre (JRC), and the Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE) have signed five-year deal to cooperate on research and innovation on sustainability-related topics. 

These include cities and buildings, future-oriented industrial policy, innovation for sustainability and circular economy.  


Just under a half of researchers who began a post-doctorate in Switzerland in 2015 left the country within six years, a new report from the Swiss Federal Statistical Office shows. 

Of the 2,800 people who began a post doctorate that year, 44% were no longer in Switzerland six years later. Just 27% of these people were employed – at the time of the study – in Swiss higher education institutions, while 14% were still in the post-doctorate. 

The study is the first in Switzerland to detail in-depth the career trajectory of post-doctorates who are awarded a mobility grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). 


Money spent on developing clean technologies isn’t a waste, according to the European Commission’s analysis of 184 demonstrator projects for climate neutrality in energy-intensive industries, worth over €3 billion. 

The analysis revealed public spending can leverage significant private investment and EU funds have a clear role in supporting technologies at different maturity levels. 

"This report sends a signal to industry, public and private investors, national governments and managing authorities to support and increase investments that will turn our ambition into a planet-compatible reality,” said Commission vice president Margarethe Vestager. 


The Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities has put forward a set of recommendations on how to build up frameworks to get the most out of international higher education cooperation. 

Education policy encourages universities to cooperate internationally through student exchange and joint programmes, among other means, but there’s little guidance on what is needed for the cooperation to return value.

The Guild sets out five recommendations to help maximise the impact: develop a nuanced and diverse set of learning activities, ensure sustainable and inclusive scalability, ensure policy priorities build on existing good practices, invest in pedagogic innovation, and make sure universities lead on changing the practice and narrative for innovation in internationalisation of education. 

Jan Palmowski, secretary-general of the Guildsays the paper tackles the question what the added value of a European degree is. “But this insight paper goes further, showing that a discussion about form must always build on content,” he notes.


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