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.

If you have any tips, please email them at [email protected].

You can read the full archive of this blog here.

 

The first research projects under the Quantum Austria programme have kicked off. The Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) and the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) are working together on a €107 million plan to increase the country’s capacity in quantum technologies, thanks to funding provided by the EU through the Next Generation fund.  

In the first part of the project is worth €20 million and is aimed at expanding Austria’s high performance computing infrastructures.

“With Quantum Austria, we are increasing the chances of success for Austria's researchers in the future-oriented field of quantum research,” said science Minister Martin Polaschek.

To date, the FWF has approved ten research projects worth€3.1 million at Austria's universities. Other applications are currently being reviewed and will be decided in the coming weeks.

 

The German government has decided to cut the budget of the Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

The cuts apply to DAAD’s institutional funding from the German Federal Foreign Office. The funding will be reduced from €204 million in 2021 to around €195 million euros this year. A further cut to €191 million euros is foreseen in 2023.

The DAAD has announced that scholarships and mobility funding in projects at German higher education institutions “must be significantly reduced at short notice”, meaning some 6,000 scholarships could be cancelled.

“The cuts to our core funding from the Federal Foreign Office decided by the Federal Cabinet represent a substantial reduction in the DAAD’s financial resources and thus in its global activities,” said DAAD president Joybrato Mukherjee.

“These cuts will also have a negative impact on the international attractiveness of Germany and its higher education institutions as a research location, especially at a time when international academic policy suggests it is particularly important for Germany to be a role model and to provide leadership,” Mukherjee said.

 

The European University Association (EUA) has picked 11 policy actions in the new European Research Area (ERA), as member states are set to decide on which of the 20 items listed in the ERA Policy Agenda will be taken up for implementation.

“EUA looks forward to the announcement of the commitments made by member states and hopes that these commitments meet the expectations of R&I stakeholders, and even more importantly, the great challenges faced by European R&I,” the association said.

More information about the ERA policy actions can be found here.

 

Jerzy Duszyński, the president of the Polish Academy of Sciences has visited Ukraine to discuss the future of scientific cooperation between the two countries.

The Academy is actively involved in supporting scientists who have been forced to leave their country. It also plans, together with foreign partners, to help those researchers who have decided to stay in the areas affected by the war.

Duszyński held working meetings in Lviv and Kyiv, including a meeting at the Ukraine’s ministry for education and science.

 

The European Commission has announced today a plan to invest over €1.8 billion in 17 large-scale innovative clean-tech projects with a third round of awards under the Innovation Fund.

Grants will be disbursed from the Innovation Fund to help bring breakthrough technologies to the market in energy-intensive industries, hydrogen, renewable energy, carbon capture and storage infrastructure, and manufacturing of key components for energy storage and renewables.

The selected projects are located in Bulgaria, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Sweden.

“Today's grants support innovative businesses across Europe to develop the cutting-edge technologies we need to drive the green transition,” said Frans Timmermans, the Commission’s executive vice president.

 

Prime minister Justin Trudeau has announced the reappointment of Mona Nemer as Canada’s Chief Science Advisor for a term of two years, starting 25 September.

“Now, more than ever, our government understands how critical science is to inform evidence-based decisions for innovation and growing the Canadian economy,” Trudeau said. “I look forward to continue working with Dr. Nemer to cement Canada’s global leadership in science and innovation.”

Nemer was first appointed in 2017 and reappointed for a two-year term in 2020. She steered the creation of science advisor positions across federal organisations. She also helped develop a policy to guide federal scientists, departments, and employees conduct and use federal research and science responsibly, and to better communicate the results to Canadians. This would be Nemer’s third term.

“I look forward to working with the scientific community and policy makers to champion science nationally and internationally for the benefit of all Canadians,” said Nemer.

 

The European Research Council (ERC) has announced its Work Programme for 2023 with a total budget of around €2.2 billion for grants. This amount will support more than a thousand top researchers across Europe.

Established by the ERC Scientific Council, the Work Programme for the coming year has been adopted by the European Commission on Monday.

The budget for the Proof of Concept grant scheme will increase from €25 million to €30 million.

The ERC will also introduce additional grounds for extending eligibility to candidates for Starting and Consolidator Grants who are seeking asylum or are victims of a natural disaster.

A special grant is foreseen to support ERC Science Journalism Initiative that will entail a support for journalists wishing to spend time at research institutions to better understand frontier research

The call for Starting Grants is planned to open on 12 July 2022. The Synergy Grant call is set to follow one day later on 13 July 2022.

Read more about the calls and deadlines here.

 

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has published a position paper on the future of German foreign science policy in a world affected by health and economic crises, war and shifting geopolitics.

DAAD argues for the design and expansion of a German "science diplomacy" that based on realpolitik, which consciously confronts global crises, dislocations and system rivalries.

“We live in a new 'world disorder', and this requires a novel approach to shaping the foreign science policy relations of the Federal Republic of Germany,” said DAAD president Joybrato Mukherjee. “In our multipolar world, we need today more than ever a strategically positioned 'science diplomacy' that enables understanding, dialogue and negotiation of conflicts in the scientific sphere, even in times of increasing conflicts and fierce global competition,” he said.

The paper, in German, is available here.

 

The British cell biologist Fiona Watt has been appointed as Director of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO). She will join EMBO as its sixth director, succeeding Maria Leptin who was recently appointed President of the European Research Council (ERC).

“We are pleased that Fiona Watt will become the next EMBO Director and look forward to working with her,” says Michael N. Hall, chair of the EMBO Council.

Watt is founding director of the Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine at King’s College London, UK. She is also executive chair of the Medical Research Council funding agency. Her research interest is the role of stem cells in adult tissue maintenance and how this information can be harnessed for regenerative medicine.

 

African and European research organisations have launched the second call for proposals under The Long-term Europe-Africa Partnership on Renewable Energy (LEAP-RE). The calls are funded with Horizon 2020 money and are aimed at increasing the use of renewable energy via a well-balanced set of research, demonstration, and technology transfer projects in both continents.

This programme is led by a consortium of 83 partners from European and African countries. The whole budget of the programme is around €32 million, including €15 million from the EU.

More details about the call can be found here.

 

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