HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes

03 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.

 

Internal market commission Thierry Breton has been glad-handing EU leaders to build support for a European answer to Washington's Inflation Reduction Act. 

Through the act, the US is pumping billions of subsidies into green industries, including electric cars and hydrogen fuel. This has worried Brussels that US incentives could create an unfair playing field, putting EU companies at a disadvantage. 

France's economy minister Bruno Le Maire has signalled he wants a EU-wide package to counter Washington. This week Breton has also been meeting with leaders in Poland and Belgium to scope out an EU "clean tech act", changes to state aid rules and a "basket of EU financing solutions". 

Official forms for early uptake of the unitary patent have been made available by the European Patent Office (EPO).

The unitary patent system will enable inventors to get unifiorm protection in up to 25 EU member states through a single request submitted to the EPO.

The full rollout of the system is intended to start on 1 June. Until then, the EPO has introduced two transitional measures that would allow applicants to get accustomed to the new system. Holders of European patents can now request a unitary patent with uniform protection in the EU.

The unitary patent will be enforced by the Unified Patent Court (UPC). So far, 17 EU countries have ratified the the UPC agreement.

The Korean government is proposing significant tax cuts for semiconductor manufacturing to catch up with other countries bolstering their industries.  

Under the proposal, big businesses in chips, secondary battery and vaccine industries would be entitled to tax breaks of up to 15%, while tax breaks for small and medium enterprises are to be raised up to 25%.  

The world’s leading economies have been racing to boost their chips industries, which serve as a backbone to many strategic technologies and the global manufacturing supply chain. 

The Spanish government has announced the creation of over 1,600 new jobs in public research organisations and the transition of nearly 2,500 temporary roles to permanent positions, as part of moves to attract talent back to the country. 

Of the new positions, 899 are for researchers and 771 for technical and management staff.

Most of the temporary roles being made permanent are at Spanish National Research Council. Others are at the Centre for Energy, Environmental and Technological Research and the Carlos III Health Institute 

The total of 2,476 jobs represents a 26% increase in the permanent staff of these three public research organisations. 

There is also one new permanent position at the Ministry of Science and Innovation. 

Spain is attempting to strengthen its research environment by creating new jobs to attract people back to the country

The government estimates that between 2011 and 2016 more than 5,000 research positions were lost.

EU member states have agreed on a proposal to track and reduce methane emissions in the energy sector.

This includes new requirements for the oil, gas and coal sectors to measure, report and verify emissions of what is the second most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide.

Jozef Síkela, Czech minister of industry and trade, said the proposal will help the EU meet its commitments to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030, set under the global methane pledge.

“Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, responsible for about 30% of current global warming. This regulation will help us understand where methane emissions come from and address them effectively,” he said.

The proposal will now go to the Parliament to find an agreement on a final text.

The European Commission will host information days on 17 and 18 January to explain the new calls relating to the missions in the 2023 - 24 Horizon Europe work programme.

The missions that will be covered are:

  • Adapting to climate change
  • Cancer
  • 100 climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030
  • Restoring oceans and waters by 2030
  • Soils

Spain has announced €288.6 million to fund over 1,700 research projects in environmental protection and the digital transition. The budget, set by the ministry of science and innovation, is based on money from the European Recovery and Resilience fund.

The environment projects are aimed at climate change mitigation, protection of water and marine resources, creating a circular economy, pollution prevention and control, and the protection of biodiversity

The digital transition projects aim to promote the infrastructure, skills and technologies necessary to digitise the country’s economy and society.

France and Germany have called for fast-track subsidies to support key industrial sectors in Europe, amid concerns the EU is falling behind in global competitiveness and is weighed down by overly strict regulations. 

It comes after the US adopted the sweeping new $700 billion Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) that will, among other things, provide vast subsidies to support green technology

Finance ministers Bruno Le Maire of France and Robert Habeck of Germany wrote in a joint statement that they want targeted subsidies and tax credits for industry overseen by umbrella state aid programmes that would eschew the usual rigorous checks from the Commission. 

Both ministers are planning a trip to Washington in January to discuss the consequences of the IRA. 

An association representing sufferers of long-COVID in Europe has called on the EU to create a €500 million emergency fund to research the disease. 

At least 17 million people experienced long-COVID symptoms in Europe during the first two years of the pandemic, according to a report by the World Health Organisation published in September this year. 

It said there was an “urgent need for more analysis, more investment, more support, and more solidarity with those who experience this condition.” 

The call by Long-COVID Europe was made during an EU-US conference on long-Covid held on December 13

The Commission simultaneously published an opinion by an independent expert panel on the impact of long-COVID, which stated the need to embed research at all levels of care and rehabilitation.

The US announced in March this year $1 billion to research long-Covid over the next four years. 

Canada has announced the five partners that have won a CAD90 million (€62.2 million) call to help start-ups get professional intellectual property (IP) support over the next four years. 

It is part of the government’s ElevateIP programme, which partners business accelerators and incubators with start-ups to guide them in navigating IP rules and procedures. 

The five partners are:

  • Springboard Atlantic
  • Mouvement des accélérateurs d’innovation du Québec
  • Communitech Corporation
  • The Governors of the University of Calgary, in support of Innovate Calgary and Economic Development Lethbridge
  • Development Lethbridge

Each partner will support start-ups in different provinces and territories. 

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