HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes

26 Nov 2021 | 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 European Innovation Council (EIC) has announced a €12 million investment in a potential COVID-19 treatment developed by French biotechnology company Xenothera.

The anti-COVID19 treatment, XAV-19, is based on a patented antibody production technology.

“Xenothera is a great example of how the European Union is helping top innovators unfold solutions to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mariya Gabriel, EU commissioner for research and innovation.

“The EIC Fund's ambitious commitment, alongside other investors, is an important step to boost Xenothera in their development of an antibody treatment for COVID-19 infection,” said Gabriel.

This investment is part of €500 million packaged of equity investments announced by the EIC this month.

Since its launch in 2020, the EIC Fund has now approved 111 investments in highly innovative start-ups and small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs).

 

The legal framework of the new EU Cybersecurity Competence Centre and its corresponding network of national centres was approved today, allowing the new centre aimed at boosting EU cybersecurity research and capacity to come to live.

The new centre is currently being established in Bucharest with the help of the European Commission. Once fully up and running, it will coordinate the work of national cybersecurity agencies, pool resources from EU, member state and industry funds, and define a roadmap for the development and deployment of cybersecurity innovations.

 

Germany and Canada are set to start ten joint hydrogen research projects, furthering their collaboration in the field.

“The selected funding projects are intended in particular to strengthen the cooperation between universities and research institutions in our two countries and form the basis for larger joint projects with partners from industry and especially medium-sized companies in Germany and Canada,” said German research minister Anja Karliczek.

The projects will cover topics such as energy materials, the improvement of manufacturing processes for fuel cells, Power-2-X technologies and the system integration of green hydrogen.

The new endeavour builds on 50 years of science and technology collaboration between the two countries, focused on Industry 4.0, artificial intelligence in production technology, development of new materials, and fuel cells.

 

The European Commission today announced the first five calls of the new €5.3 billion EU health programme, EU4Health, will open on 29 July.

The call will ask for projects updating the European Cancer Information system to monitor and assess cancer screening programmes, forming an EU network of youth cancer survivors and ensuring supply and access to therapeutics as well as cover areas such as inter-speciality cancer training programmes and quality and safety of radiation technology in diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Applications will close on 17 September.  

 

EuroHPC, a public-private partnership aimed at boosting the EU’s supercomputing ecosystem to world-class level, is one step away from starting a new €7 billion chapter after the European Parliament voted through its final report on the initiative.

The partnership is one of eleven partnerships with industry and member states run under Horizon Europe that must be greenlighted by policymakers – and will be the first pass through the process. All the partnerships have a similar legal framework, and the adoption of EuroHPC sets the scene for a faster agreement on the remaining ten partnership due to launch by the end of year.

The EU member states settled on their joint position on EuroHPC in May, paving the way for its speedy adoption following the Parliament’s report. The details are settled, and final verdict will come during a meeting of finance ministers in July, enabling the imminent launch of the partnership under Horizon Europe later this summer.

 

The European Commission today launched a new digital forum in a bid to stimulate cross-border cooperation and improve the uptake of research results across Europe.

On the new Knowledge Valorisation Platform, users will be able to share best practices, knowledge, and expertise for improving EU policies, including filling out a survey to help co-create a code of practice for the smart use of intellectual property.

“As we emerge from this coronavirus pandemic and transition towards a green and digital economy, the uptake of research results really matters. The Knowledge Valorisation Platform will help us work together with Member States and key stakeholders to accelerate this process,” said EU research commissioner Mariya Gabriel.

 

The EU start-up funder, the European Innovation Council, is putting a second tranche of equity funding into promising deep tech companies, bringing its total investment in 111 start-ups to €500 million.

The EIC Fund, a new tool set to make the European Commission a hotshot tech investor, bought its first shares in 42 start-ups in January. Today’s investments in 69 new companies marks the second batch of direct funding for start-ups in areas such as health, circular economy and the Internet of Things.

In the next seven years, the Commission hopes to directly invest more than €3.5 billion in start-ups in a bid to help them scale-up as part of the €10 billion EIC programme for boosting innovation under Horizon Europe.

The investments, which give the Commission 10 to 25% of the ownership, range between €0.5 and €15 million per company are awarded together with grant funding worth up to €2.5 million. The fund will hold on to the shares for a few years until the company attracts enough private investors to scale-up without EU backing.

 

After three years of negotiations, EU policymakers today agreed on a new regulation for assessing health technologies in a deal expected to bring more innovative health technologies and medicines on the market.

“The Regulation will be a significant step forward to enable joint scientific assessments of promising treatments and medical devices at EU level,” said EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides. It will be crucial “when it comes to facilitating access to innovative medicines and addressing unmet medical needs with important benefits for patients across the EU.”

The new rules will enable member states to jointly evaluate the properties and effects of health technologies before they are allowed to hit the market. The new permanent framework, which replaces current EU-funded project-based rules for cooperation between different countries, will also cover joint scientific consultations, the identification of emerging health technologies, and voluntary cooperation.

 

The EU’s researcher training initiative, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, today opened its first calls for proposals as part of this year’s €822 million round of funding under the Horizon Europe research programme.

The MSCA Doctoral Networks call for PhD programmes in academia and industry opened today with a budget of €402.95 million alongside the €242 million MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowships call for researchers with up to eight years of post-PhD research experience wishing to develop new skills in EU-funded mobility projects.

The two calls will close in autumn, on 16 November and 12 October, respectively. Around the same time, two more calls for proposals will go live: one for staff exchanges deepening research collaboration between different institutions and disciplines, and a second one geared at co-financing new and existing PhD and post-doc programmes in Horizon Europe countries.

This is the programmes 31st year and the first one under Horizon Europe. "The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted once more the importance of Europe's reliance on highly skilled researchers able to detect and tackle upcoming challenges,” said EU research commissioner Mariya Gabriel. “In this context, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions are a crucial instrument.”

 

Spain’s research agency has selected 3,194 winning projects in the country’s ‘most important’ call for research worth €412 million.

With €135 million, the agency will finance 1,273 projects aimed at generating new knowledge, while another €277 million will be pumped into 1,921 top-down projects addressing research challenges set out by the government. The financing covers projects in life sciences, social sciences and humanities, and mathematical, physical, chemical and engineering sciences.

This year’s call received a €50 million top-up thanks to Spain’s two-year €1 billion ‘shock plan’ which aims to support R&I for the country’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

 

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