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.

Climate investments in the EU economy grew by 9% in 2022, but must still double for Europe to hit its 2030 climate targets, according to a new report from the Institute for Climate Economics (I4CE).

The report tracked public and private investments in 22 sectors that are critical to the transformation of energy, building and transport systems, which totalled €407 billion in 2022, or 2.56% of GDP. At least €813 billion of investment, or 5.1% of EU GDP, are needed every year in those sectors, it calculates.

“Given the scale of the current deficit, and the expected reduction in EU climate funding in the years to come, some additional EU public funding is likely required to contribute to closing the Climate Investment Deficit,” the authors write.

You can read the report here.

 

Research ministers have endorsed last Friday a statement on principles and values for international cooperation in research and innovation. 

The statement calls for a roadmap for joint principles and values for international cooperation, in coordination with UNESCO, UNCSTD, OECD, International Science Council, G7, G20, Council of Europe, and other international fora. 

“Scientists and innovators, no matter where in the world they live and work, must be able to reach out to one another and work together across borders and cultural traditions, based on a foundation of mutual trust and understanding,” said Iliana Ivanova, EU commissioner for research and innovation. 

“This is what we are working towards: to establish a global ethical compass for research and innovation with people and values at its heart,” she said. 

 

The European Commission has launched futures4europe, a foresight platform brining experts and research and innovation policymakers from across the EU. 

With a view to supporting the reflection towards for the next Framework Programme, the platform provided 8 foresight policy briefs that have now been published by the Commission: 

 

Ireland’s research minister Simon Harris has announced the location of the first Talent and Innovation Attaché position as the West Coast of the United States. 

The Minister made the announcement as part of the US launch of the government’s 2030 strategy for international education and innovation. 

“I am really pleased to confirm the decision to announce the first of our planned six Talent and Innovation Attachés will be based in the United States,” Harris said. 

““The person will be based in San Francisco – the epicentre of innovation and talent in America and Ireland will now have a person permanently based there, dedicated to promoting Ireland as a destination for education and research,” he added.

 

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has launched a European Solar Academy, to support solar technologies and SMEs with a focus on training and reskilling employees.

The academy will have a starting budget of €4 million, and is the latest skills initiative to be launched within the EIT Campus. Existing programmes include the European Battery Academy and the Deep Tech Talent Initiative.

“The new Solar Academy […] shows that the EIT ecosystem is a trusted network that is agile and ready to deliver on key policy priorities,” said Nektarios Tavernarakis, chair of the EIT governing board.

The announcement was made during the EIT Summit in Brussels on Tuesday 20 February.

 

Postdoctoral researchers won €260 million in Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action grants in 2023 to fund their work in universities, research centres and businesses.  

In total, 1,249 researchers won grants out of 8,039 overall applications, making a success rate of 15.8% for two. This was spread over two calls: European Postdoctoral Fellowships 

and Global Postdoctoral Fellowships, with €221.40 million awarded to 1,110 researchers for the former and €39.07 million awarded to 139 researchers for the latter.  

The first projects are due to start at the earliest in April 2024.  

Alongside the winners, 1,737 applicants who received a quality score of 85% or above but who did not get funding due to limited budgets were awarded a Seal of Excellence stamp. This instrument helps them to secure national funding for their proposals.  

The next call for MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowships will open on 10 April 2024.

 

A new strategic guide to ensure the EU allocates funding to battery research and technology in the best possible way has been published today by BATT4EU, a European co-programmed partnership. 

The guide highlights the global importance of batteries in the green transition and Europe’s lag behind, for example, China in financing battery research and innovation.  

The European battery market could be worth as much as €250 billion per year by 2025, according to the European Battery Alliance. To capitalise on this potential, Europe must optimise its funding of batteries. 

“Innovation is… costly and despite the generous funding made available to Europe’s industry and research organisations, it is essential that limited available financial resources are allocated in the best way to maximise the impact of research and innovation efforts,” BATT4EU states.  

You can read the full Strategy for Research and Innovation here.

 

University alliance LERU has warned against EU institutions rushing through legislation on a European Health Data Space before June European elections, expressing concerns over inconsistencies being written in that could impact scientific research and innovation at universities.  

LERU has published nine recommendations to the EU to ensure that the regulation, which the group welcomes, is in the best interest of researchers. These include creating a definition of scientific research that is consistent with other EU data frameworks, clearly defining all data categories, ensuring coordination between national health data access bodies and the EHDS, among others.  

The proposal for a regulation on the EHDS was launched in 2022 and it is currently being negotiated in trilogue discussions between the European Council, Parliament and Commission.

 

The European Commission has published its first annual single market and competitiveness report, tracking yearly developments according to the nine competitiveness drivers identified in the EU’s 2023 Long-term competitiveness Communication.

These include the functioning of the Single Market, access to private capital, public investment and infrastructure, research and innovation, energy, circularity, digitalisation, education and skills, and trade and open strategic autonomy.

The report notes that R&I investments in the EU have fallen slightly to 2.2% of GDP, well below the target of 3%. It calls for more focus on strategic technologies, “including those with dual-use potential”, and for steps to “strengthen the translation of research results into practical business applications”.

“More efforts are needed to pull in investments, boost our strategic technologies and ensure that our workforce is equipped with the right skills,” said Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice President of the Commission.

 

The UK government has laid out the measures it is taking to simplify the funding process, in its response to an independent review of research bureaucracy, published in July 2022. The review was led by Professor Adam Tickell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Birmingham.

The response details how funders will free up time for researchers, develop new ways of collecting and analysing data, harmonise their application processes, and more.

“Reducing unnecessary bureaucracy is a task that requires constant vigilance and ongoing effort,” said Science and Technology Secretary, Michelle Donelan in her forward to the government response. The full document can be consulted here.

 

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