HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes

15 Aug 2022 | 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.


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.


Katja Becker, president of the German Research Foundation (DFG), says the government’s new research and innovation strategy must acknowledge the importance of basic research in achieving social and technological progress.  

Becker called for greater consideration of basic research in the government’s new research and innovation strategy following this week’s debate in the Bundestag. 

In addition to mission-oriented science, “research must also be capable of contributing to tackling the kind of challenge we may not even be aware of today,” said Becker. “And this is exactly what the Federal Government’s new Strategy for Research and Innovation should take into account.” 


The European Committee of the Regions welcomes the focus on closing EU innovation divide between EU regions in the New European Innovation Agenda, revealed by the European Commission this week.  

Europe’s regions have vastly different innovation capacities and the Commission’s new plan for boosting innovation spells out how it goes to bridge the divide by creating regional innovation valleys. The initiative is set to launch last year and help regions coordinate their R&I investments and policies.  

“We welcome the new European Innovation Agenda and recognise its potential to help cities and regions address these transformations, by promoting territorial cohesion and supporting innovation ecosystems,” said Vasco Alves Cordeiro, president of the European Committee of the Regions. “We are keen to help flagship projects like this grow in the context of the Innovation Agenda.” 


Horizon Europe is set to fund 71 staff exchange projects with €72 million this year as part of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) researcher mobility programme. 

Doctoral candidates, post-doctoral fellows and research support staff will go abroad to share knowledge, receive training, enlarge their networks, boost their creativity and entrepreneurship skills.  

Of the 71 projects, 26 will support researchers in the field of ICT and engineering, 10 in social science and humanities, and another 9 in environment and geosciences.  

The next call for MSCA staff exchanges will open on 6 October.  


The new European Innovation Agenda reinforces a limiting understanding of what universities do and can do to strengthen innovation, the European University Association (EUA) says in reaction to the new European Commission communication.  

While the universities welcome the overarching plan to tackle innovation’s biggest bottlenecks in Europe, the agenda, they argue, portrays universities “as providers of quantifiable inputs to industrial value chains” and fails to acknowledge them as creators of new ideas and innovations. This thinking stems from conventional ideas of what innovation is and, the statement notes, results in “far too narrow prescription of the remedies” in the Commission’s plan.  


The Commission has released the 2022 edition of the Science, Research and Innovation Performance (SRIP) report, explaining over more than 700 pages how research and innovation policies can help the EU navigate the climate and energy crises, and deal with the consequences of the war in Ukraine.

According to the report, the EU remains a strong player in terms of scientific production, accounting for 18% of global R&D investments and 21% of the world’s top-cited scientific publications.

However, the report notes that EU’s position in the world is eroding, partly because the bloc’s major trading partners have been improving their innovation performance. In addition, R&D investment in the EU declined during the COVID-19 crisis, with significant differences between sectors.

Top EU R&D investors in health and ICT services have increased their R&D investments between 2019 and 2020 (10.3% and 7.2% respectively), but top other sectors reported declining R&D investments during the crisis, such as ICT providers (-3.6%), chemicals (-3.7%), automobile (-7.2%), and aerospace (-22.6%).

The Commission says the declining business dynamism in the EU will have implications for innovation and economic growth.

On a more optimistic note, EU research commissioner Mariya Gabriel said the report shows that “research and innovation are central to build the sustainable and resilient future that Europe needs.”

The report was launched on the same day the college of commissioners agreed on a new European Innovation Agenda, aimed at multiplying and strengthening EU’s research and innovation systems.


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