HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes

08 Jun 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 Initiative for Science in Europe (ISE), an independent platform of scientific organisations, has set out its hopes and expectations for the European Commission’s research and innovation portfolio following the resignation of Commissioner Mariya Gabriel last week. 

Gabriel stepped down from her role as commissioner in charge of innovation, research, culture, education and youth to return to Bulgaria where she will become prime minister after a nine-month period as deputy prime minister. 

ISE has urged vice presidents Margrethe Vestager and Margarítis Schinás, who will take over from Gabriel, to continue the work setting up a programme dedicated to researchers’ careers. It has also called on them to put in place an independent observatory for innovation careers. 

In addition, the platform set out concerns that the vice presidents should be aware of. This includes simplifying certain funding schemes under the Widening programme of Horizon Europe, including basic research as a component of R&I actions across all funding schemes and protecting the MSCA and ERC programmes from budget cuts. 

ISE thanked Gabriel for her dedication and commitment to the broad portfolio she oversaw, and welcomed Vestager and Schinás as her replacements. The two vice presidents are not certain to remain in charge of Gabriel’s former portfolio long term, and a new commissioner could be chosen before the new Commission is instated next year. 


The League of European Research Universities (LERU) has spoken out against three amendments to the EU’s Data Act proposed by policymakers, ahead of the last round of negotiations on the final details of the proposal. 

LERU warns against charging universities any money for industry data it has requested for research (article 9), limiting the scope of what counts as an emergency situation that allows public bodies to request private business data (article 14), and introducing extra requirements that obstruct universities’ access to data used for research in support of the public sector.  

The European Parliament and member states are expected to reach a deal on the Data Act, a plan to promote industrial data sharing in the EU, on 23 May.  


The first €122 million call to create Regional Innovation Valleys today, kicking off the European Commission’s plan to connect regional deep-tech innovation valleys in up to 100 regions. 

The new flagship innovation programme builds on previous EU initiatives but goes beyond other funding schemes by putting the onus of managing funds on the regions themselves. The Commission’s goal is to have 100 regions sign up for cross-border cooperation and use it as a tool to help the bloc’s less innovative regions catch up. 

The calls are open until 17 October. An online info session will be held on 25 May. 


France is set to invest in four new ‘bioclusters’, 12 university hospital institutes and various research infrastructures, as part of its €1 billion health R&I boost. 

The new infrastructure will complement seven existing research programmes, seven university hospital institute, and one ‘biocluster,’ a network of various research organisations.   

France hopes the new investments, which are part of a €7.5 billion plan to transform the country’s health sector, will help attract high-level talent and translate science into innovation. 


To shake its reliance on third-country monopolies for raw materials, the EU must ensure stable long-term investment in materials R&I, the European Association of Research and Technology Organisations (EARTO) says in latest statement.  

In particular, EARTO calls for cutting-edge research and innovation to transform the EU’s manufacturing sector and stable long-term investment in research on materials substitution. 

EARTO’s statement is a reply to the European Commission’s public consultation on Critical Raw Materials Act, a plan to help the bloc secure and diversify its supply chains, proposed earlier this spring. 


The European Commission is set to have better oversight over the European Innovation Council (the EIC) after it moved the management of the innovation fund to its directorate for R&I, away from an executive agency.

Up until today, the EIC was managed under EISMEA, the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency, but parts of it will now be overseen directly by the Commission, with Keith Sequeira remaining in the top position as head of unit.

The move affects only parts of the EIC, with EISMEA retaining control over other the EIC equity fund, among other units.

The change in management comes after months of rumours that the Commission is tightening its grip on the €10 billion start-up, which has had a rough start under the EU’s Horizon Europe research programme.

Here the new organisational charts for DG RTD and EISMEA.


The G7 Science and Technology Ministers met in Sendai this week to affirm their commitment to joint work on improving the global research and innovation landscape, ahead of the G7 summit in Japan.

Following the meeting, the ministers promised to collaborate in promoting open science principles, ensuring global research security and integrity, and fostering international science collaboration.

In a joint statement, the ministers singled out four areas in which they strive to demonstrate leadership: safe and sustainable use of outer space; the workings between climate change and seas and oceans; support for research infrastructures; and promotion international talent mobility.


The Irish government is setting up a Research and Innovation Policy Advisory Forum to structure its dialogue with stakeholders.

The forum will be made up of ten to 15 national and international experts, who will inform and support policymaking on questions such as research careers, equality and inclusion, strategic foresight and synergies in the national R&I system. It will be chaired by the minister for higher education, research and innovation.

At EU level, the European Commission runs a similar platform, the ERA Forum, which brings together Commission officials, member states and R&I lobbies to discuss research policy.

A call for members will be open between 26 May and 30 June. The first meeting is expected to be held in autumn 2023.


The German Research Foundation (DFG) is putting €76 million in new research training groups to boost support for early-career scientists in eleven areas. 

The 11 new groups will cover topics such as genesis of the universe, quality of health research and nucleic acids for the next five years.  

DFG currently funds 220 such training groups, which enable doctoral researchers to complete their doctorates by following a structured subject-specific research and qualification programme. 


The UK is to pump an additional £103 million into expanding and upgrading several research infrastructures around the country. 

The majority of this money – some £79.3 million – will be taken from a £150 million pot that has been specially set aside to help deal with the impact of delays in the UK gaining association to the EU’s Horizon Europe research programme. 

Facilities that will receive a share of the money include the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, the National Oceanography Centre’s state-of-the-art deep-sea research facility and the UK Digital Heritage Centre at the University of Liverpool. 

Christopher Smith, international champion at the UK Research and Innovation, which is managing the investment, welcomed the financing. 

“The investments, made across the UK, will provide UK researchers with advanced equipment, facilities and technology, and help maintain the UK’s position as a leader in research and innovation,” he said. 


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