HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes

18 Jul 2024 | 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.

Today, the Commission announced the first pre-operational platform of the European Digital Twin Ocean (EU DTO), aimed at boosting marine research.

The initiative is funded by the EU's Horizon Europe programme and is set to enhance our understanding of how pollution and human activities impact the ocean's vital functions in climate regulation and biodiversity preservation.

“It is still a prototype, but once it’s fully up and running, the platform will become a game-changer in ocean management, providing essential information and precise, real-time predictions,” she said.

Read the full announcement here.

The concept of digital twins has a long history in engineering, where the creation of digital copies of machines or systems allows performance testing and fine-tuning without the cost of rebuilding the original for each round of changes. But in recent years, new applications of digital twins have proliferated, underpinning products and services in medicine, energy, planning and other sectors. Read more about it here.


The next EU framework programme for research and innovation, FP10, should give more room to more collaborative projects across European and associates countries, and fund more projects at lower TRLs, EU-LIFE says.

EU-LIFE, the alliance of independent European research institutes in the life sciences, published a position paper contributing to the design FP10, which is due to start in 2028.

“Excellent research groups need collaborative approaches to tackle societal challenges, but currently calls require too broad impact and the incorporation of too many stakeholders per project,” reads the document.

Read the position paper here.


Today, the Commission announced the winners the EU 2024 Prize for Citizen Science, the general public engagement in scientific research activities.

A jury of experts selected three winning projects from a batch of 288 applications. 27 received honorary mentions. Among the winners, two were funded by Horizon 2020 and the third involves a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) fellow.

“I warmly congratulate the winners of this year’s EU Citizen Science Award, but would also like to commend all participants,” said EU research commissioner Iliana Ivanova.

“[These initiatives] improve the excellence and impact of our research, and also deepen the relationship and trust between science and our societies,” Ivanova said.

Read more about the winners here.


The European Commission has launched the ERA Talent Platform, a centralised online platform providing researchers and their organisations with access to a range of services related to career development. These include the EURAXESS service centres for researcher mobility, the Research Career Observatory, and the the RESAVER pension scheme.

“This is another milestone on our journey towards a vibrant, interconnected European Research Area where talent knows no boundaries,” said research commissioner Iliana Ivanova. It is hoped the one-stop-shop will help the EU to attract and retain scientific talent.


New EU rules making so-called high-value datasets available for reuse have taken effect, covering six categories of data identified by the Open Data Directive: geospatial, earth observation and environment, meteorological, statistics, companies and mobility.

This data produced by the public sector has the potential to support innovation, including artificial intelligence applications. For example, agricultural companies could use satellite imagery, weather data and soil health information to implement precision farming techniques, while meteorological data can be used to produce better weather predictions and related applications. Find out how to access the datasets here.


Last week, Switzerland renewed its participation in the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) in Grenoble, France, securing access for Swiss scientists to a premier neutron source and over 40 experimental stations from 2024 to 2028, with a potential extension to 2033.

The renewal, backed by a CHF 12 million commitment and potentially increasing to CHF 26.4 million, underscores the vital role of ILL's facilities in Swiss research, fostering numerous high-quality publications and collaborative projects.

The ILL's high-flux reactor supports advanced instruments crucial for diverse scientific fields such as materials science, chemistry, and molecular biology, reinforcing its status as an essential infrastructure for cutting-edge research.

More details here.


On Monday, the Commission launched the initial Destination Earth (DestinE) system, initiative aimed at creating a highly accurate digital twin of the Earth using Europe's high-performance computers to simulate climate change and extreme weather effects.

DestinE is designed to enhance Europe's preparedness for natural disasters, climate change adaptation, and the assessment of socioeconomic and policy impacts, with plans to achieve a complete digital Earth replica by 2030.

“The launch of the initial Destination Earth (DestinE) is a true game changer in our fight against climate change,” said Margrethe Vestager, executive vice-president for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age.

“This first phase shows how much we can achieve when Europe puts together its scientific excellence and its massive supercomputing power. Today, the future is literally at our fingertips,” she said.

More details here.


Today, the Commission's Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) signed a contract to supply up to 665,000 doses of the Zoonotic Influenza Vaccine, with an option for 40 million more, to participating EU Member States to prevent avian flu.

The vaccine is aimed at high-risk groups like poultry farm workers and veterinarians and is the only preventive avian influenza vaccine currently authorized in the EU.

“Today we announce an agreement on behalf of participating countries to secure access to over 40 million doses of avian influenza vaccine,” said health and food safety commissioner Stella Kyriakides.

“Our European Health Union serves to protect people’s lives and livelihoods, and being prepared for health threats is at the core of our work,” she said.

Read the full announcement here.


On Wednesday, EIT Health, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology network of health innovators backed by the EU, announced the winners of the 2024 EIT Health Catapult programme, a competition and training initiative for start-ups tackling biotech, medtech and digital health.

The three winners - CELEX Oncology (UK), Acorai (Sweden), and Dymium (Germany) - were selected from nine finalists at the health.tech conference in Munich.

The EIT programme awards the best business concepts, fast-tracking start-ups to become part of the EIT Health Community. Also, industry leaders from EIT Health Catapult’s Industry partners, such as AstraZeneca, will provide additional support to finalists and winners.

“Every year, EIT Health Catapult discovers start-ups from across Europe that have the potential to positively change the lives of millions of people around the world,” said EIT Health CEO Jean-Marc Bourez.

“Announcing CELEX Oncology, Acorai, and Dymium as the three primary winners of the 2024 edition of the programme is yet another step on the journey of European healthcare innovation, that we at EIT Health are as proud as ever to be backing,” he said.

Read the full announcement here.


The US National Science Foundation said that, in the fiscal year beginning 1 October, it will start piloting new procedures for checking that research it funds isn’t taking unnecessary risks with national security.

Its new “Trusted Research Using Safeguards and Transparency (TRUST) framework” will help its grant officers check research projects on three levels: “assessing active personnel appointments and positions,…identifying instances of noncompliance with disclosure and other requirements,…(and) inclusion of potential foreseeable national security considerations.”

It didn’t provide more details about exactly how it will operate, beyond saying that it will start testing the new procedures on quantum science-related grantees before expanding it to other sensitive topics.

The initiative is the latest ratcheting-up of research security measures in the US, in the wake of mounting anxieties in Washington about China or other nations stealing sensitive scientific or technology secrets through collaboration with American researchers.

The NSF was mandated by the 2022 CHIPS & Science Act to raise safeguards. Most US allies, including the UK, EU, Canada and Australia, have also started toughening research security in measures coordinated through the Group of 7 leading industrial nations.

Read the NSF announcement here.


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