HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes

26 Nov 2021 | 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 European Commission today announced the names of 21 entrepreneurs that have been shortlisted for this year’s EU prize for women innovators. 

The list includes 21 company founders and CEOs from Western Europe and Horizon Europe associated countries, including Israel, Switzerland and Turkey. 

The tenth edition of the prize aims to shed light on women innovators in Europe, where only 8% of companies are founded by all-women teams. This lack of diversity, the Commission notes, translates into low capital investments in female-led and managed companies, reducing women’s ability to bring innovations to the market.  

Seventeen candidates are competing for three prizes of €100,000 each in the main prize category, while three women will contend for the €50,000 rising innovator title for under-30s. 

 

The European Commission is asking students to develop innovations tackling the challenges facing the oceans and the marine environment during a two-day hackathon this week.

A total of 75 students from around Europe are expected to come up ideas for marine litter management, alternative food from the oceans, climate change and the protection and restoration of coastal ecosystems. They will be assisted by 30 experts from industry, policy and academia. 

Healthy oceans are critical to the wellbeing of the planet as they regulate weather, store CO2, and provide food, oxygen and energy. But decades of pollution and climate change are threatening their welfare. “By involving young academics, we hope not only to find innovative solutions to some of our most pressing challenges, but also to raise awareness among Europeans and make them aware of the urgency to act now and to protect our oceans,” said EU oceans commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius.

 

The European Commission has launched an online consultation platform on the EU-US Trade and Technology Council (TTC), allowing Businesses, think tanks, labour, non-profit and environmental organisations and academics to share their views on the future technology cooperation with the US.

“The EU – US Trade and Technology Council is a critical initiative to cement transatlantic leadership on these key topics,” said Commission executive vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis.

The TTC was launched in June as a forum for the EU and US to coordinate policies on key global trade, economic and technology issues. An inaugural meeting of the TTC took place in Pittsburgh last month.

 

The two countries have signed a memorandum of understanding to continue research cooperation in the humanities and social sciences.

The Czech Republic has renewed its commitment to support Austria’s Institute of Human Sciences (IWM) for another two years. During this period, Czech researchers will be able to apply for fellowships at the Austrian institute and join international research networks.

"With the help of Czech funding, young, talented Czech researchers can come to the IWM as Fellows and develop professionally and network scientifically in this prestigious institute,” said Czech ambassador Ivana Červenková

"Austria is very pleased about the closer cooperation with the Czech Republic as a central European hub for exchange in the humanities and social sciences," said federal minister for research, Heinz Fassman.

The institute is funded by the federal government and the city of Vienna, but it also receives donations from Poland and Czech Republic and private sponsors.

 

The European Parliament’s research, industry and energy committee today voted to support the deal for a Horizon Europe partnership for metrology, paving the way for the adoption of the legislation in coming weeks.  

The vote consolidates the committee’s support for the rules governing the research partnership negotiated by the European Parliament and EU member states. The final step before the partnership can launch will be a vote in plenary, followed by a green light from EU member states in November.

The partnership will be a continuation of previous collaborations between the European Commission and national metrology institutes on the science of measurements under the EU research programmes dating back to 2009. It will seek to harmonise European efforts in the field to boost innovation digital and green innovation across the bloc. 

 

The new EU start-up fund, the European Innovation Council (EIC), has selected the first 65 start-ups to receive €363 million in grants and equity financing from the EU’s new research programme, Horizon Europe. 

The 65 start-ups and SMEs will receive up to €17 million each to develop and scale up innovations such as a thermotherapy system to treat head and neck cancer, self-correcting quantum hardware for building fault-tolerant commercial quantum computers, and a robotic system that enables endovascular surgery without exposure to X-rays.  

A total of €227 million will be invested directly in companies through the EIC investment fund. The rest will be distributed through grants.  

The Commission officially launched the €10 billion EIC in March following a three-year pilot project in a bid to boost the EU’s start-up ecosystem. 

 

Ukraine today became a Horizon Europe associated country thanks to an agreement that allows the country’s researchers and innovators to participate in the seven-year research programme as well as the Euratom programme for nuclear R&I on an equal footing with EU member states. 

The country had been a Horizon 2020 associated country since 2015, receiving more than €45 million in EU support as part of the seven-year framework programme. “I welcome Ukraine to Horizon Europe and Euratom,” said EU research commissioner Mariya Gabriel. “I am confident Ukraine will build on these past successes.” 

 

The Spanish ministry of science and innovation today upped its investments in the national hydrogen centre under a revised funding agreement.  

The centre for hydrogen and fuel cells research will receive €14 million from the ministry and another €14 million from the regional government to carry out its work until 2031, following on from its successes in the last 14 years.  

The extra funding will allow the centre located in the province of Ciudad Real to hire more staff improving its research into the production, storage, transformation, integration, distribution, and applications of hydrogen technologies. 

 

Interest in research projects boosting excellence in the Widening countries - including the Western Balkans - is up, with the first two dedicated Horizon Europe calls receiving a total of 244 proposals of which 26 will receive funding.

There’s a total of €180 million available for 12 projects building new centres of excellence, or upgrading existing ones in Widening countries, and €21 million for networking between research institutions from Western Balkan countries and their counterparts from EU member states and Horizon Europe associated countries. 

The projects will be funded through Horizon Europe’s budget for Widening aimed at increasing participation of countries that struggle to secure grants from the programme. In the next seven years, 3.3% of the €95.5 billion Horizon Europe budget will be spent on widening activities, significantly more than in the previous research programme, Horizon 2020.

Editor’s note: This blog post was updated 12 October to correct the number of submitted proposals, the budget available and the scope of the Teaming for Excellence call.

 

A three-year Horizon 2020 pilot has concluded that lump sum funding for research and innovation projects is fit for wider use in the new EU research programme, Horizon Europe.  

Currently, EU research project funding is based on the reimbursement of actual costs, which comes with obligations on actual cost reporting, time sheets and financial ex-post audits. Lump sum funding removes the need for such administrative burden. The Commission hopes switching to more lump sum funding will simplify participation in Horizon Europe, leading to error reductions and stronger focus on the content of the projects. 

The findings of the pilot project are detailed in a new report, which concludes that lump sum funding works in practice and can be used in Horizon Europe.

 

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