HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes

27 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.

If you have any tips, please email them at [email protected].

You can read the full archive of this blog here.


The European University Association has criticised a move by the Swedish government to shorten the mandate of external members serving on university boards from three years to 17 months. 

Last month, the government moved to limit the term time of these members to speed up the appointment of security experts to the boards, citing concerns that universities were being infiltrated by agents of China, Iran and Russia. 

But the EUA says the move “sets a worrying precedent”. “It represents undue interference in the institutional governance of universities, with the government unilaterally changing a well-established process regulating the nomination of external members on university boards.”

It has called on the Swedish government to reconsider its decision. 


Academies of science in Europe and Asia are calling for urgent action to address the impact of climate change around the world. 

Around 90 scientists from 45 countries convened in Warsaw last week for the European Climate Conference organised by the Polish and German academies of sciences. 

The attendees agreed on a text that sets out 10 statements on the damaging consequences climate change will have on humans and societies and ways in which these challenges can and should be tackled. 

“Effective actions for climate neutrality mean deep transformations of most aspects of the economy, the energy system, international markets, and the global cooperation framework,” the attendees wrote.

They called for mitigation measures aligned with the Paris framework to be accelerated and for regulation and financial instruments to be used to support the transition towards climate neutrality. 


The Initiative for Science in Europe (ISE), an independent platform of scientific organisations, has set out its hopes and expectations for the European Commission’s research and innovation portfolio following the resignation of Commissioner Mariya Gabriel last week. 

Gabriel stepped down from her role as commissioner in charge of innovation, research, culture, education and youth to return to Bulgaria where she will become prime minister after a nine-month period as deputy prime minister. 

ISE has urged vice presidents Margrethe Vestager and Margarítis Schinás, who will take over from Gabriel, to continue the work setting up a programme dedicated to researchers’ careers. It has also called on them to put in place an independent observatory for innovation careers. 

In addition, the platform set out concerns that the vice presidents should be aware of. This includes simplifying certain funding schemes under the Widening programme of Horizon Europe, including basic research as a component of R&I actions across all funding schemes and protecting the MSCA and ERC programmes from budget cuts. 

ISE thanked Gabriel for her dedication and commitment to the broad portfolio she oversaw, and welcomed Vestager and Schinás as her replacements. The two vice presidents are not certain to remain in charge of Gabriel’s former portfolio long term, and a new commissioner could be chosen before the new Commission is instated next year. 


The League of European Research Universities (LERU) has spoken out against three amendments to the EU’s Data Act proposed by policymakers, ahead of the last round of negotiations on the final details of the proposal. 

LERU warns against charging universities any money for industry data it has requested for research (article 9), limiting the scope of what counts as an emergency situation that allows public bodies to request private business data (article 14), and introducing extra requirements that obstruct universities’ access to data used for research in support of the public sector.  

The European Parliament and member states are expected to reach a deal on the Data Act, a plan to promote industrial data sharing in the EU, on 23 May.  


The first €122 million call to create Regional Innovation Valleys today, kicking off the European Commission’s plan to connect regional deep-tech innovation valleys in up to 100 regions. 

The new flagship innovation programme builds on previous EU initiatives but goes beyond other funding schemes by putting the onus of managing funds on the regions themselves. The Commission’s goal is to have 100 regions sign up for cross-border cooperation and use it as a tool to help the bloc’s less innovative regions catch up. 

The calls are open until 17 October. An online info session will be held on 25 May. 


France is set to invest in four new ‘bioclusters’, 12 university hospital institutes and various research infrastructures, as part of its €1 billion health R&I boost. 

The new infrastructure will complement seven existing research programmes, seven university hospital institute, and one ‘biocluster,’ a network of various research organisations.   

France hopes the new investments, which are part of a €7.5 billion plan to transform the country’s health sector, will help attract high-level talent and translate science into innovation. 


To shake its reliance on third-country monopolies for raw materials, the EU must ensure stable long-term investment in materials R&I, the European Association of Research and Technology Organisations (EARTO) says in latest statement.  

In particular, EARTO calls for cutting-edge research and innovation to transform the EU’s manufacturing sector and stable long-term investment in research on materials substitution. 

EARTO’s statement is a reply to the European Commission’s public consultation on Critical Raw Materials Act, a plan to help the bloc secure and diversify its supply chains, proposed earlier this spring. 


The European Commission is set to have better oversight over the European Innovation Council (the EIC) after it moved the management of the innovation fund to its directorate for R&I, away from an executive agency.

Up until today, the EIC was managed under EISMEA, the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency, but parts of it will now be overseen directly by the Commission, with Keith Sequeira remaining in the top position as head of unit.

The move affects only parts of the EIC, with EISMEA retaining control over other the EIC equity fund, among other units.

The change in management comes after months of rumours that the Commission is tightening its grip on the €10 billion start-up, which has had a rough start under the EU’s Horizon Europe research programme.

Here the new organisational charts for DG RTD and EISMEA.


The G7 Science and Technology Ministers met in Sendai this week to affirm their commitment to joint work on improving the global research and innovation landscape, ahead of the G7 summit in Japan.

Following the meeting, the ministers promised to collaborate in promoting open science principles, ensuring global research security and integrity, and fostering international science collaboration.

In a joint statement, the ministers singled out four areas in which they strive to demonstrate leadership: safe and sustainable use of outer space; the workings between climate change and seas and oceans; support for research infrastructures; and promotion international talent mobility.


The Irish government is setting up a Research and Innovation Policy Advisory Forum to structure its dialogue with stakeholders.

The forum will be made up of ten to 15 national and international experts, who will inform and support policymaking on questions such as research careers, equality and inclusion, strategic foresight and synergies in the national R&I system. It will be chaired by the minister for higher education, research and innovation.

At EU level, the European Commission runs a similar platform, the ERA Forum, which brings together Commission officials, member states and R&I lobbies to discuss research policy.

A call for members will be open between 26 May and 30 June. The first meeting is expected to be held in autumn 2023.


Subscribe to Live Blog Entries