HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes

20 May 2022 | 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.

 

The Horizon Europe-supported industrial partnership for innovative medicines and health technologies is looking for science and health experts to join its new Science and Innovation Panel (SIP) that will set the initiative's priorities and design calls for proposals. 

The SIP will bring together the organisations participating in the Innovative Health Initiative (IHI) – the successor of Horizon 2020’s Innovation Medicines Initiative – such as the European Commission, health industries, national representatives and the scientific community. The call for 10 experts is open until 21 February 2022.  

The IHI is set to formally launch its new seven-year framework for financing large-scale projects in a bid to advance health research and innovation in areas of unmet needs this Wednesday.

 

A group of 94 organisations have submitted a research and innovation manifesto for debate in the plenary of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

The manifesto is backed by over 600 universities, 400 resaerch institutes, 140 business associations and 15 regional and local bodies.

The signatories say the future of Europe will largely depend on its performance in science and technology. “In the coming years, research and innovation will be crucial to steer Europe’s recovery, preparedness and resilience, accelerate the twin green and digital transitions, and support the EU’s aspirations of open strategic autonom,” the manifesto says.

The conference plenary will take place on 21 and 22 to debate the first 90 recommendations adopted in the past weeks by the European citizens’ panels on European democracy  and climate change and health.

The full text and the list of supporters are available at researchforeurope.eu.

 

A total of 42 projects will be funded by the European Innovation Council’s (EIC) first transition grants call for turning EU funded research into commercially viable products. 

Of the 42 projects, 29 were selected in a bottom-up call for projects, while another 13 answer the EIC’s challenge-driven calls for energy harvesting and storage technologies as well as medical technologies and devices.  

Project examples include a new type of battery for long duration storage; an affordable, compact, multi-modal and high-throughput photonic-chip; and commercialising a code-free, gesture-controlled robot programming technology.  

The money provided by the EU’s new innovation fund, the EIC, will go to projects that draw on the results of research previously funded by the EIC Pathfinder and the European Research Council’s proof of concept grants. 

A total of 292 proposals were submitted in this first call which invited applications from single organisations, such as research teams, SMEs and spin outs, as well as consortia of up to five partners from different countries. 

 

The country’s VTT Technical Research Centre is investing €18 million in a new centre for piloting carbon neutral innovations for transport and industry, to be completed in the city of Espoo in 2024. 

The goal is to give companies a space to scale innovation to the market in hydrogen, clean and energy-efficient transport, industry and built environment sectors, facilitating the transition towards clean energy domestically and enabling exports.  

“We will have people working on things like the interplay of traffic, households, industry and energy production in the energy system of the future, all under one roof,” said Jussi Manninen, executive vice president at VTT. “The development of winning solutions requires close cooperation between industry, start-ups and research actors, and the piloting centre will provide a good framework for that.”   

 

The country is considering reforming laws governing science careers to improve stability, reduce administrative burdens and reinforce the transfer of knowledge, and asks citizens to have their say on how this should be done. 

Proposed changes include reducing the age of entry for postdoctoral researchers, introducing a new type of indefinite work contracts and reducing the precarity faced by early-career researchers.  

Spain’s reforms aim to boost the attractiveness of research careers as countries around the world enter ‘a war for talent’ trying to lure researchers through new academic recruitment programmes, visa schemes and open-door policies.  

 

Europeans are invited to submit existing sustainability, inclusiveness and aesthetics projects that reflect the goals of the EU’s green deal to this year’s New European Bauhaus (NEB) Prizes contest. 

In this year’s competition, 18 winners will be selected to receive up to €30,000 across four categories: reconnecting with nature; regaining a sense of belonging; prioritising the places and people that need it most; and fostering long-term, lifecycle and integrated thinking in the industrial ecosystem. 

The European Commission invites candidates of all nationalities and backgrounds to submit their examples of inspiring green transformations until 28 February.  

The NEB is the Commission’s attempt to put a cultural twist on the EU’s green deal, and the prizes awarded in this competition celebrate existing projects that are in line with the NEB’s purpose. 

 

The €5 million Horizon Prize for breakthrough early-warning technologies for epidemics was awarded to the EarlY WArning System for Mosquito-borne Diseases (EYWA) project.  

EYWA helps fight mosquito-borne diseases by enhancing the surveillance and control of the mosquitoes’ abundance and pathogens’ transmission using entomological, epidemiological, Earth Observation, crowd and ancillary geospatial data. It has been deployed in thousands of villages where is has proven to help prevent the spread of diseases.  

The €5 million prize was launched by the EU’s innovation fund, the European Innovation Council, in 2018 to find and award breakthrough innovations in early warning systems for vector-borne disease epidemics that affect over 1 billion people each year. 

 

Creative Europe, the EU’s programme for cultural and creative sectors, is set to disburse €385 million to help the sectors recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, €100 million more than in 2021. 

The money will be spent on calls for various cultural projects, the audio-visual value chain and cross-sectortal innovation projects, including those contributing to the New European Bauhaus, the European Commission’s programme seeking to give the EU’s green deal a cultural dimension.

 

The League of European Research Universities (LERU) says universities can provide expertise on export controls and input on challenges that would come up when implementing the Council’s guidelines in universities. 

In a new statement, LERU argues research-intensive universities face unique challenges when it comes to “dual use export control regulations” as their work, which involves cutting edge technologies, relies on free, and often international, exchange of ideas. 

The EU-US Trade and Technology Council (TTC) launched in 2021 in a bid to improve cooperation on ten trade, competitiveness, and technology issues, including export controls. 

 

Breakthrough Energy Catalyst, the climate investment fund founded by Bill Gates, has published a call for proposals for large-scale deep green tech projects based in Europe.

The call is the first to be launched under the EU-Catalyst partnership, a €820 million joint initiative by the European Commission, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and Bill Gates, aimed to speed up the scale-up of critical climate technologies developed in the EU and create markets for them.

The Commission is using money from Horizon Europe to back the partnership with Gates, but member states have openly criticised policymakers in Brussels for using the €95.5 billion EU research programme as a piggy bank for Commission’s pet projects.

Back in November, EU research ministers warned the Commission to make sure any new initiatives that involve taking money from Horizon Europe are first subject to political discussions within the EU’s formal decision-making process.

Read more details about the EU-Catalyst partnership here.

 

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