HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes

02 Dec 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.

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You can read the full archive of this blog here.

 

EU research commissioner Mariya Gabriel has announced a new network of innovation-focused institutions that will help the EU craft its innovation and universities strategy. Speaking today, she launched the European Network of Innovative Higher Education Institutions, which will become the “tip of the spear” in making sure Europe comes up with new ideas and products.

Gabriel did not announce which institutions are part of the new network, but told delegates at the Education and Innovation Summit that they would report with “concrete recommendations” for policy at an education summit in December. Network members are nominated by member states and by the European University alliances, 41 groupings of universities the Commission has helped set up since 2019.

“In order to succeed, we need people with both entrepreneurial and technical competence in deep tech domains, because we require both start-up founders and start-up workers with the appropriate deep tech technical background,” she told the summit. “But to achieve this objective, we must operate at the elementary, secondary and university levels.”

The network should sit at the intersection of two policy areas currently being pushed in Brussels. In January this year, the Commission launched a European strategy for universities. And next month it is set to launch an innovation agenda, with five initiatives to make the EU a leader in strategic fields.

 

A 50 organisation-strong group led by Fraunhofer-Gesellschafthas been selected to launch the European Institute of Innovation and Technology’s (EIT) newest innovator community for the creative and cultural sectors.  

The Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) on Culture and Creativity will the EIT’s ninth sector-specific innovation network that will train and support entrepreneurs around Europe helping them turn research and ideas into products.  

The new KIC will aim to boost the innovation potential of the cultural and creative sectors and industries, speeding up their recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic which brought much of an industry to a months-long halt.  

The Fraunhofer-led group was selected through a call of proposals launched in October last year. It will get a grant of up to €6 million to get the KIC off the ground, which will grow to around €70 million per year once the community offers educational, support and business creation and acceleration programmes across Europe. The KIC is also expected to raise additional funding from the public and private sectors. 

 

The European Commission and EU member states are starting discussions on creating a Collaborative Cloud for Cultural Heritage to digitally safeguard European culture.

The infrastructure will provide technologies for digitising artefacts, researching artworks and documenting data. This promises to enable transdisciplinary and large-scale collaboration between cultural heritage scholars, curators, archivists and conservators, allowing smaller and remote institutions to participate in joint projects.

By 2025, the EU is set to invest €110 million in the initiative as part of the Horizon Europe research programme.

 

WomenTechEU, the EU’s support scheme for early-stage women-led start-ups, is set to provide grants and business services to 130 companies this year.

The second rendition of the programme will have a budget of €10 million, more than double the money spent in its pilot phase last year.

The scheme is one of the EU’s key projects aiming to tackle the gender gap in the bloc’s start-up scene. Today, only 6% of start-ups are founded by all-women teams, and women obtain only 10% of patent applications in the EU. Countering the long-standing trend is one of the main goals of the current EU research commissioner Mariya Gabriel.

 

Hungary plans to increase its spending on research, innovation and development from 1.6% to 3% of its GDP by the end of the decade, the country's innovation minister János Csák revealed in an award ceremony for young science talents last week.

The ambition is in line with the EU’s goal to invest 3% of GDP in research and innovation as part of the recently renewed push to create a single European market for research. In 2020, the year the goal was set, only 5 countries hit the mark, with total EU investments averaging out at 2.3%.

 

The European Commission today signed off 28 new nuclear research projects and a new partnership on radiation protection and detection of ionising radiation. 

The Commission is spending €100 millionfrom the EU’s five-year €1.38 billion nuclear research and training programme Euratom on the 28 projects. The projects will contribute to nuclear safety, radiation protection, and safe use of nuclear power and of non-power applications of ionising radiation. 

The new partnership, PIANOFORTE, is one of the three initiatives through which the Commission is disbursing the Euratom research funds. Two more partnerships, EUROfusion and EURAD, cover fusion energy and radioactive waste management research projects.  

 

The EU has selected Bull SAS, a subsidiary of the French IT and consulting giant Atos, to build and deliver its newest supercomputer, MareNostrum 5.  

Starting in 2023, the supercomputer, to be located at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC), will be used to facilitate drug research, vaccine development, and virus spread simulations, among other medical uses. It is expected to be one of the five fastest supercomputers in the world. 

The EU’s €7 billion supercomputing programme, EuroHPC, will contribute half of the €151 million investment, with the rest covered by a Spanish-led consortium. 

EuroHPC already runs five supercomputers in Europe, with the newest one, LUMI, launched earlier this week in Finland. Another two are currently being built, while five new hosting sites were announced yesterday.  

 

The European Commission is looking to pilot a joint European degree label and test instruments for long-term transnational cooperation between universities, such as a giving a legal status for EU-supported university alliances, in a new Erasmus+ call for proposals

The aim of the call is to pilot approaches for deepening transnational cooperation between universities in Europe, building on existing Erasmus+ funded European university alliances. 

“With this Erasmus+ pilot, we seek to progress on the flagship initiatives of the European strategy for universities and take transnational cooperation to the next level,” said EU research and education commissioner Mariya Gabriel.  

The call has a budget of €2 million and is open until 6 October.  

 

EuroHPC, the €7 billion EU supercomputing partnership, has announced it will fund five new supercomputers in Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland and Poland.  

The German site at the Jülich Supercomputing Centre will host Europe’s first exascale supercomputer, JUPITER, capable of making of over a billion billion calculations per second. 

Four other supercomputers will have petascale or pre-exascale capabilities to power the development of novel scientific and industrial applications in medicine, engineering, materials and climate science.  

On Monday, EuroHPC launched its first pre-exascale supercomputer in Kaani, Finland, currently third-fastest in the world.  

 

The EU’s new start-up funding has invested the first €15 million of direct equity in a French start-up SiPearl, marking the end of a months-long wait for the funds to start flowing.  

With the help of a €2.5 million grant and a €15 million equity investment from the European Innovation Council’s (EIC) Accelerator programme, the company is aiming to bring to the market a high-performance, low-power European  microprocessor for exascale supercomputing, 

The EIC’s equity investments are a new type of funding under the Horizon Europe research programme. Last year, the fund got caught up in internal fights in the European Commission over how it should be managed, which caused delays to the funding promised to 92 companies in 2021.  

The EIC says the rest of the investments will be delivered once the restructuring of the EIC fund is completed in the coming weeks. “With these new arrangements in place, the time for implementing the grants and investment support for companies selected by the EIC Accelerator will be progressively reduced in order to meet the needs of fast-moving technology start-ups,” according to the press release. 

 

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