HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes

02 Feb 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.

 

Thailand and the European Research Council (ERC) are set to sign off a new scheme allowing researchers from Thailand to join EU’s prestigious ERC-funded fundamental research teams.  

The ERC runs similar arrangements with Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Singapore, South Africa, and United States.  

 

The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) will continue providing its researchers with access to a platform for settling the fees incurred when publishing article in open access journals.  

Open access publishing is on the rise in Switzerland but comes with extra administrative work on settling publishing fees. The SNSF has been running a pilot project with service provider ChronosHub since 2021 aiming to simplify the financing of freely accessible publications. Following the successful pilot, the service will continue until at least the end of 2023. 

"The aim if possible is for all results originating from SNSF-funded research to be freely accessible," said Matthias Egger, president of the SNSF. "The easier we make OA publication for researchers, the closer we'll get to that target. And ChronosHub is helping us a long way in that direction." 

 

The European Commission’s science hub, the Joint Research Council (JRC), is getting two new directors to lead its sustainable resources and health, consumers and reference materials directorates.

Alessandra Zampieri will head the sustainable resources directorate after leaving her post as deputy director and head of the disaster risk management unit at the JRC. Guy Van den Eede, meanwhile, will be responsible for the health, consumers and reference materials directorate, a position which he has held as acting director since 2019.

 

The EU’s research missions aiming to tackle five societal challenges in climate and health will be guided by new groups of experts.   

The so-called mission boards will be tasked with raising citizens’ awareness, advise the European Commission on the implementation of the five missions, building on the work of the previous mission boards. 

Each one of the five groups will have 15 members from business, public administration, science, culture, citizen engagement, and civil society organisations whose mandate will run for three years.  

The missions are a new part of the EU’s Horizon Europe research programme aiming to mobilise action across the bloc to tackle five societal challenges: beating cancer, saving the world’s oceans and soils, encouraging climate adaptation, and leading cities to climate neutrality. 

Names of the new board members can be found here

 

The League of European Research Universities (LERU) has published its position on the future of EU’s research infrastructures.

According to LERU, the EU should put more emphasis on smaller and medium-sized research labs which are crucial for university-based research.

The position also notes the EU should identify and remove the administrative and legal barriers to the joint use of funding sources for research infrastructures. The EU should also consider funding research infrastructure for their entire lifecycle, not just the costs of construction and launch.

“[Research infrastructures] are vital to the research carried out at universities and have a crucial role in promoting innovation, yet many barriers exist which prevent them reaching their full potential,” said LERU secretary general Kurt Deketelaere.

 

The EU is seeking feedback on the implementation of the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA), the European Commission has announced.

The partnership was established in 2017 to pool the knowledge and financial resources of the EU and participating states to build R&I capacities and develop innovative solutions for water and agriculture systems in the Mediterranean area.

The project will run up until 2028, but the Commission is due to publish a midterm evaluation.

In the evaluation, the Commission will assess the relevance, effectiveness and added value of PRIMA, and will provide recommendations for the future design of the initiative.

 

The European Research Council (ERC) has announced 55 Proof of Concept grants worth €150,000 will go to frontier scientists to explore the commercial and societal potential of their research.

The winning projects cover a variety of fields, including the use of artificial intelligence algorithms and earth observation data management features to identify the state of world food security by region; the use of sound fields to separate blood components as an alternative to centrifuge; and a new type of time-temperature indicators for the transport of food and pharmaceutical products.

The grants were awarded to researchers working in 14 countries: Israel (9), Germany (9), Spain (7), France (7), the Netherlands (6), the UK (4), Sweden (3), Portugal (2), Norway (2), and Turkey (2). In addition, researchers in Finland, Cyprus, Denmark, and Belgium have each won one.

More details here.

 

The UK government has announced today that it will extend the financial support provided to Horizon Europe applicants, originally launched in November 2021.

According to the government, the extension will ensure that eligible, successful UK applicants will continue to have access to funding to replace Horizon Europe funding.

The guarantee will now be in place to cover all Horizon Europe calls that close on or before 31 December 2022, with the majority of grant signature dates expected before the end of August 2023.

The government says it will continue to work with the EU to reach an agreement on formalising the UK’s association to Horizon Europe.

Joanna Burton, policy manager at the Russell Group, said the extension of the Horizon guarantee will allow researchers to continue to apply for grants. “We hope the formal consultations process will see constructive engagement from the EU so we can find a solution that will unlock the enormous benefits of UK association to scientists and researchers on both sides of the channel,” said Burton.

 

The European Investment Bank has announced a €18 million loan to Tapojarvi, a family-owned Finnish business that specialises in handling, processing, and recycling services for the mining and steel industry. The loan is backed by a guarantee from the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).

Tapojarvi will use the money on an innovative slag processing and valorisation plant located in Umbria, Italy. The project will also cover the initial testing and ramp-up phases to transform the slag into valuable by-products and reduce landfilling.

The EIB says the project will also contribute to creating more than 500 jobs during the implementation phase.

 

The ERA-LEARN project has launched a survey to find out what are the challenges and benefits of participating in Horizon Europe partnerships.

The survey is mainly looking at the participation levels of countries with low R&D performance in Horizon partnerships. Based on the results of the survey, ERA-LEARN will publish a report with best practices and recommendations to enhance the participation of these countries in European research partnerships.

The survey is open until 15 September.

 

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