HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes

28 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 Commission has today launched a public consultation to get feedback on its Technology Transfer Block Exemption Regulation (TTBER), which, in certain cases, allows companies to share their technology with others without violating EU competition law. 

The aim of the regulation is to make it easier for companies to legally share their technology in order to boost innovation and increase competition. 

The public consultation is open until 24 July this year and follows on from a ‘Call for Evidence’ about how the TTBER is applied in practice, which was launched last November. 


The ERC has selected a consortium of organisations that will provide support to science journalists around the EU, such as funding extended stays with research teams and providing specific training on ethical reporting. 

The FRONTIERS project is the winning consortium, which will receive a grant of €1.5 million to cover the period of 2023 to 2027. 

The consortium includes partners such as the Centre for Ethics in Science and Journalism from Italy, the NOVA University of Lisbon, the Pompeu Fabra University in Spain and Enspire Science from Israel, which will coordinate the project. 

ERC president Maria Leptin said of the project: “Quality journalism is necessary to safeguard democracy, which is our collective responsibility. All institutions and bodies should contribute, and the ERC is certainly no exception. I hope we can send a strong signal to the research and media communities – and beyond.”


The European University Association (EUA) has called on the European Commission to not let protection measures interfere in international collaboration between universities. 

The association was responding to a public call for evidence as part of its Defending European democracy initiative

The EUA acknowledged that there is risk in certain international collaboration in research and academia, but backed the ‘open by default’ principle that served the Commission’s 2021 ‘Global approach to research and innovation’. 

A ‘blanket ban’ on cooperation with higher education institutions in countries deemed as a threat to the EU risks hindering progress, the EU states. 

The EUA also called for greater protection for academic freedom and institutional autonomy as well as promotion of the role universities play in democratic societies. 


The EU should include research and innovation needs and priorities in its upcoming defence of democracy policy package, the University of Bergen told the European Commission in latest public consultation on the topic.  

Universities play a key role in contributing to the public debate by providing knowledge and innovation, offering education and playing as a forum for discussion. The EU’s policy in defence of democracy should support their role, the university suggests. 

The paper lists four areas of action: prioritise research within the humanities to foster dialogue, acknowledge importance of research on the European heritage and art, fund legal and political research, and promote research on human and civil rights and AI. 


The latest Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) funding call for postdoctoral fellowships opened today with a budget of €260 million. 

The call, open until 13 September, will fund 1200 projects allowing researchers that hold a PhD to continue their academic careers through advanced training and international, interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral mobility. 

Like many Horizon Europe programmes, the MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowships attracts a surplus of applications and not all excellent proposals can be funded due to insufficient budgets. To help those that fail to receive funding find it elsewhere, last week the European Commission awarded Seal of Excellence certificates to 1,607 such researchers. 


Poland is set to grant its oil and gas company PKN Orlen €158 million to install 100 MW of green hydrogen capacity in its refineries, after the European Commission approved the state aid. 

The money will be invested in Orlen’s LOTOS Green H2 project enabling the of use the sustainable gas in refinery production processes. The green hydrogen electrolyser is set to start running from 2027, gradually increasing its production up to 13,600 tonnes of renewable hydrogen per year.  

The project feeds into the EU’s ambition to become a major green hydrogen economy as it races to reach net zero emissions by 2050. 


Spain has become the latest country to join the Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) project as a full associated member. SKAO is an international radio telescope project being constructed in sites in both Australia and South Africa. 

As a full member, Spain will support the financial costs of the project with a contribution of €41.4 million, to be paid out during the initial construction phase between 2021 - 2030, Spain’s Ministry of Science and Innovation announced

The formalisation of Spain’s association to the project means Spanish companies can participate in the construction of the two radio telescopes. 

News of Spain’s association comes after an announcement in late March by German Federal Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger that Germany would pursue full membership of SKAO. 


The European Innovation Council (EIC) will fund 44 new projects in six strategic areas in the latest €167 million Pathfinder funding round. 

The EU innovation agency’s Pathfinder programme funnels money into high risk research projects exploring early-stage ideas for radically new technologies. This latest call set out six strategic areas for projects: carbon dioxide and nitrogen management and valorisation; integrated energy storage; cardiogenomics; tech to support a shift from episodic to continuous healthcare; DNA-based digital data storage; and quantum information processing, communication and sensing. 

The projects will feed into the EIC’s portfolio of projects that explore different approaches to solving tech questions set out by Pathfinder challenges, looking to increase societal impact. 


A new EU scheme is set to give out remote fellowships to Ukrainian researchers to help them continue work disrupted by Russia’s war. 

The grants will run for six to 12 months and will fund teams to carry on research project in collaboration with EU counterparts. Priority will be given to projects directly showing close collaboration with European scientists and contributing to the running and reconstruction of Ukrainian research infrastructures.           

Principle investigators from Ukraine can submit applications on behalf of their research teams until 8 May. The funds will be provided under Horizon Europe’s EURIZON project. 


The European Commission has released yet another update of the draft annotated grant agreement (AGA), a guide to Horizon Europe grant agreements. 

The guide, an essential source for applicants who struggle to understand legal language, simplifies the terms and conditions of the grant process, such as calculating personnel costs, security, protecting intellectual property rights and clauses on confidentiality 

The first draft guide was released in July 2021, shortly after the launch of the first big Horizon Europe calls. It was again updated in November 2021.  

You can find the new AGA here


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