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.


The Innovative Health Initiative has launched its first five projects with a designated total budget of €129 million. Half of the funding comes from Horizon Europe, with the rest from industry partners and other IHI contributors. 

The projects include three centred around cancer treatment, detection, diagnosis and care, one aimed at improving care of people with multiple sclerosis and the other to support treat those with Alzheimer’s disease who also have other health problems. 

The IHI was founded in 2021 and builds on the work of a previous partnership between the EU and the pharmaceutical industry, the Innovative Medicines Initiative.


The European Commission has decided to appoint Ciarán Nicholl as director for health and food in the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the Commission’s in-house service for science-based advice.

Ciarán Nicholl is an Irish national and since 2013 he has built up a unit for disease prevention in the health and food directorate and founded the European Commission's Knowledge Centre on Cancer. He joined the JRC in 1995 as a post-doctorate grant holder working in nuclear chemistry and he has ten years’ experience in JRC communication.


A total of 143 proposals for new Clusters of Excellence have been submitted to Germany’s research foundation, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), as part of a call for proposals under the country’s Excellence Strategy. 

These proposals will now go into a review process, with a final decision on which projects will receive funding made in May 2025. Funding will then begin on 1 January, 2026. A total of 70 Clusters of Excellence can be funded, with the German federal and state governments putting up €539 million per year. 

Of the 143 proposals, 45% describe themselves as being interdisciplinary, while 31% are in the field of life sciences, and 28% are in humanities and social sciences. 


Innovators in the Western Balkans can now get access to all European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) services through a one-stop-shop in Skopje, North Macedonia.  

The EU agency offers various training, funding and business acceleration support to companies and innovators across Europe in eight sectors, include digital, health and raw materials. The new hub in Skopje is the first one to bring EIT services from its 90 sector-specific hubs in one place.  

More one-stop-shops are expected to be launched by the end of next year to give innovators in better access to the EIT’s services as part of the EIT Regional Innovation Scheme (EIT RIS). The hubs will be located all around Europe’s less innovative regions, where innovators tend to need more support.  


The German Research Foundation (DFG) will hold its annual meeting from 26 to 28 June in Saarbrücken this year, focusing on sustainability and other current issues. 

To usher in the net zero transition, the foundation’s Presidential Commission on Sustainability will present its recommendations aimed at anchoring sustainability in the DFG’s work.  

The three-day gathering will bring together the management of the DFG to make funding decisions, select the winners of the prestigious the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize for early-career researchers and discuss the state of the research system. 


A new cross-Europe project worth up to a potential €21 billion has been launched today with the goal of furthering advances in microelectronics and communication technologies. 

The project is the sixth example of what is known as an Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI) approved under state aid rules. 

It involves cooperation between 14 member states, who will provide €8.1 billion in funding towards the project. The European Commission expects private investments of €13.7 billion to add to this. 

This is the biggest IPCEI to date and will involve 56 companies across the EU, which will participate in 68 projects. 

European Commission executive vice president Margrethe Vestager spoke of the importance of European investment into microchip technologies in a speech today.

“Microchips are the backbone of innovation and of Europe's industrial competitiveness in a digital world,” she said. 

“The green and digital transitions require new, advanced technological solutions. And this is why we must increase Europe's own chips research, development and production capabilities. We need to be pioneers and develop truly innovative solutions and their first industrial deployment in Europe.”


The European Parliament's Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) has published its annual report outlining its activities in 2022. 

The panel published 14 studies last year as well as many more short ‘at a glance’ papers and hosted 13 events. Discussions were held on topics such as lump funding in EU research programmes, open strategic autonomy and more. One of the main topics discussed was the implications of the growing power of artificial intelligence. As pointed out by STOA chair Christian Ehler in the paper’s introduction, six STOA studies published last year concerned AI. 

Marc Angel, vice-president of the European Parliament responsible for STOA, said that STOA’s work has “never been more important than it is now”. 

“The past few years have brought unprecedented challenges, from both a scientific and a political viewpoint,” he said. “The pandemic showed in a very direct way how critical good scientific advice is to a sound policy response. But it also showed that science is not at a standstill, it evolves as our knowledge improves: an open and free debate is at the heart of the scientific method. Policy must also follow; an open debate is crucial to finding the correct policy response.”


The Swiss government is organising a Cyber Startup Challenge to find new innovations in smartphone security. 

The challenge is organised by the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS) and runs until 31 August this year. 

The winner of the competition will receive a contract for a proof of contract and will have the chance to showcase their product in a “real DDPS environment”. 


EU is teaming up with the World Health Organization (WHO) to employ digital tools in world-wide efforts to track and tackle health threats.  

Starting this June, the WHO will build on the EU’s digital COVID-19 certification system to establish the Global Digital Health Certification Network (GDHCN), a range of digital products to aid the fight against on-going and future health threats globally. 

The cooperation is expected to evolve “with a stage approach” to cover more diseases and user cases, such as the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis.


A new European Commission report has identified and analysed over 800 EU-funded projects that are contributing to the EU mission “Restore our Ocean and Waters”. 

The mission is one of five created under the Horizon Europe programme to tackle various issues, and has the goal of protecting and restoring oceans and seas. 

The new analysis looked at projects funded by 16 different EU programmes, the majority from Horizon Europe and horizon 2020, but with others also coming from Interreg, LIFE2027, EMFAF, Erasmus+2027 and more. 

A special dashboard has been created alongside the report, which offers a visualisation of the different projects.


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