HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes

03 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.


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.


The European Innovation Council has awarded excellence stamps to 160 proposals  submitted by innovative companies for the March 2022 cut-off date of the EIC Accelerator.

While the proposals met the excellence criteria of the innovation fund, they were rejected due to budget limitations.

Since the kick-off of Horizon Europe in 2021, the EIC has awarded 302 seals of excellence. 

Excellent proposals submitted to EIC Accelerator or EIC Transition scheme that meet all the selection criteria, but cannot be funded under the available call budget, may be awarded a seal of excellence.

The seal of excellence, was first introduced under Horizon 2020, to help researchers who apply to oversubscribed calls find alternative funding for their projects. 



The Association of ERC Grantees (AERG) will offer membership to UK-based European Research Council (ERC) grant winners who had to turn down their grants after being cut off from Horizon Europe. 

The move opens the doors to at least 115 researchers who won the EU’s prestigious fundamental research grants last year but were asked to give up the grant after choosing to not relocate to the EU.  

“With this temporary solution, we hope to maintain the links between successful UK applicants and the wider European science environment, including ERC, that those applicants expressly applied to join,” the association’s statement says. 

The UK negotiated its membership in Horizon Europe as part of its trade and cooperation agreement with the EU, but the European Commission has since tied the country’s participation in the programme to broader political disagreements, blocking its researchers and innovation off partaking in Horizon Europe calls on an equal footing with EU member states. For ERC applicants based in the UK, this means they can no longer hold the grants if they do not relocate to a Horizon Europe country.  


Lithuania is set to invest €77.7 million in mission-oriented research by 2026, with the help of the EU recovery fund. 

The country’s three missions will aim to create a safe and inclusive information society, foster smart and climate-neutral development in the country, and produce healthcare innovations.  

The idea behind mission-oriented research involves employing research and innovation to tackle major societal challenges by setting up seed projects aimed at addressing selected issues in the hopes of mobilising further action beyond the programme. The European Commission runs five such climate and health-oriented missions under the EU’s Horizon Europe research programme. Over the past few years, more and more EU member states have been trying out the new approach.  

Lithuania’s missions will be closely tied to the private sector and thus promote public-private research projects, help commercialise new business ideas, support applied research, improve skills and fill existing gaps in science infrastructure. The programme will be largely managed by the country’s new innovation agency, which will be responsible for mobilising businesses and research institutions to action, selecting proposals and overseeing the implementation of the projects.  


The European Investment Bank (EIB) has announced €22 million in financing to Ryvu Therapeutics, a Polish clinical-stage drug discovery and development company working on to new therapies to treat severe blood cancers and solid tumours.

"It is great news for Europe's competitiveness and its location as a research hub for innovations that change and save people's lives," said Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission.

In 2021, the EIB Group's overall financing for innovation, digital transformation and human capital projects reached €20.7 billion worldwide, of which €1.5 billion went to Poland (up from €1.2 billion in 2020).

Ryvu Therapeutics is one of the main employers of highly qualified researchers in the Polish biotech sector. With R&D activities based in Kraków, the additional investment in Ryvu will contribute to the creation of new highly skilled jobs and encourage economic growth in the region, the Commission says.


The UK has launched formal consultations with the EU to end the 18-month delay to the UK’s association to the EU’s €95.5 billion research programme, Horizon Europe.  

The agreement was negotiated under the EU-U.K. Trade and Cooperation Agreement back in 2020 but later got caught in a political dispute over the Northern Ireland Protocol. Until the wider issues are resolved, the Commission is refusing to allow the UK to join the science programme on an equal footing with EU member states.  

Liz Truss, UK foreign secretary and the favourite to win the ongoing Tory leadership race, launched the formal consultation last night, officially accusing the EU of blocking the UK’s access to its science programmes.  

“The EU is in clear breach of our agreement, repeatedly seeking to politicise vital scientific cooperation by refusing to finalise access to these important programmes. We cannot allow this to continue,” said Truss. 

The frustration over the dispute has been growing over the summer. In June, 115 UK-based grantees of the European Research Council (ERC) lost their grants for fundamental research projects. The same month, the then-science minister George Freeman said the UK would walk away from Horizon Europe if the deadlock does not end before Autumn.  

Truss launched the consultation – a formal mechanism to resolve disputes under the TCA – a day before the next Tory leadership debate is set to take place in Northern Ireland.  


Portugal’s research and development spending reached €3.5 million, representing 1.69% of the country’s GDP, 10% more than it spent in 2020, according to provisional data. 

Research spending went up in all sectors, with companies leading the charge with 14.5% growth. They represent 59% of national expenditure, equal to 1% of GDP. In the higher education sector, investment went up by 3.4%.  

The boost in funding has allowed the country to increase the number of researchers employed by 5% compared with 2020. Portugal now has 69,628 people working in full-time equivalent positions in research and development.

Last year, the Portuguese government pledged to almost double public and private R&D spending, in line with the EU-wide 3% of GDP target. To reach the goal, private spending will have to double by the end of the decade, while public spending will have to increase to 1% of GDP. The boost in funding is set to be accompanied by reforms in the R&D sector.  


Till Mansmann has been named new green hydrogen innovation officer at Germany’s education and research ministry, replacing Stefan Kaufmann. 

Mansmann, a member of the Bundestag with experience in development and finance, will be responsible for steering the country's hydrogen research and development efforts, the translation of R&D results and cooperation with stakeholders outside the ministry.  


The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), EU agency for innovation ecosystems, will establish a community hub in Serbia in 2023. 

The hub will be tasked with increasing engagement with the EIT’s activities in the country, representing all eight (soon to be nine) sector-specific knowledge and innovation communities (KICs) that make up the EIT’s network.  

The eight KICs in sectors such as health, digital, raw materials and urban mobility provide training and business development support for innovators and entrepreneurs across the EU. While their presence is strong in some European regions, others barely get coverage. To involve more regions and divert money to less innovative regions, in 2014, the EIT launched its Regional Innovation Scheme (RIS), which has been reinforced in 2021. The new hub is part of the scheme, aiming to increase the EIT’s presence in Serbia, where by the end of 2020, the EIT, established in 2008, had channeled €1.2 million to innovation projects, resulting in over €9 million of raised investment.  


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