HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes

23 May 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.

The Commission approved on Monday a new EU co-funded Pfizer’s treatment against serious infections caused by multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria, which causes up to 35,000 deaths in the EU every year. 

The studies were conducted with the support of the Innovative Medicines Initiative project COMBACTE-CARE

“This is fantastic news coming from the EU co-funded project COMBACTE-CARE under the Innovative Medicines Initiative public-private partnership. It provides a new tool to fight antibiotic resistant bacteria, an area where any new breakthrough treatment makes a real difference on public health,” says Marc Lemaȋtre, Director-General of the European Commission’s directorate general for research and innovation. 

More details here

 

As Switzerland lowers funding for R&I, Swiss academics and researchers are concerned that "fewer financial resources available" will shape the quality of teaching and research. 

Last month, the Swiss government announced a CHF 29.2 billion ($32 billion) education, research, and innovation budget for 2025-2028 - a backdrop of CHF 500 million compared to an earlier budget proposed. 

"Taking inflation into account, it will be more difficult for the resources available to meet the needs generated by the increase in the number of participants in all areas of education," Education Minister Guy Parmelin said about the decision to lower the budget on March 8. 

The ETH Board - the umbrella association of Swiss universities - the Swiss National Science Foundation, and the Swiss Academy of Sciences released a joint statement yesterday in reply to the government's decision. 

"There is a risk that the level of services will be cut back and that some of the projects carried out in the interests of Switzerland's economy and society will have to be suspended."  

Read the Swiss government announcement here

Read the joint statement of the Swiss academics and researchers here

 

The European Commission has announced today an additional €10 million grant for MSCA4Ukraine, a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) initiative supporting displaced Ukraine researchers forced to flee their country because of the Russian invasion.

The MSCA4Ukraine fellowship scheme has already supported 125 displaced researchers from Ukraine. The additional funding will increase this number to 175.

“Thanks to Horizon Europe funding, researchers that had to flee Ukraine can continue their work. This successful MSCA scheme is one of the ways in which we provide tangible support to the Ukrainian research and innovation community. Helping Ukrainian researchers and innovators is essential both now and for the sake of the future,” said EU research commissioner Iliana Ivanova.

More details here.

 

The European Commission has announced that the Innovation Fund's 2023 call for proposals for net-zero technologies has attracted 337 applications from 27 countries, vying for a €4 billion budget. These proposals, totaling €24.6 billion in funding requests, aim to deploy innovative clean technologies with money coming from the EU Emissions Trading System.

The applications span various categories, with the most significant interest in energy-intensive industries, renewable energy, energy storage, and mobility, reflecting a diverse array of projects seeking funding.

“The Innovation Fund is a major catalyst to boost EU cleantech value chains, bolstering the EU’s green industrial leadership and reducing external dependencies and costs. Using the revenues of emissions trading to invest in the green transition, it will ensure that EU industries can thrive in the decarbonised economy of the future,” said Maroš Šefčovič, Commission executive vice-president for the European Green Deal.

Candidates will receive notification of the assessment outcomes in the last quarter of 2024, and those selected will enter into grant agreements during the initial quarter of 2025.

More details here.

 

Funders and higher education institutions have signed the Barcelona Declaration on Open Research Information, calling for an open and transparent access to research data.

Signatories committed to four main pledges, including prioritizing openness as the standard for both the utilization and production of research information, collaborating with supportive systems and services for open research information, advocating for the longevity of infrastructures supporting open research information, and collectively driving the transition towards openness in research information.

The document was prepared by a group of over 25 research information experts.

The Coimbra Group of around 40 European universities has also signed the declaration.

Read the full announcement here.

 

The German science and foreign ministries, plus the country’s state education ministers, have agreed on a new plan to bolster China expertise, worried that Germany lacks enough people with in-depth knowledge about the country.  

"China is increasingly becoming a competitor and systemic rival. Well-founded and independent Chinese expertise is therefore essential in order to be able to safeguard and assert German interests," said federal science minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger, announcing the plans.  

The paper is particularly focused on building Chinese language skills, including at universities.  

The announcement comes against a backdrop of growing EU concern that the bloc as a whole also lacks China expertise, with a Horizon Europe project launched in 2022 giving €4 million of funding to European research centres to study the country.  

Today, The Lisbon Council released a new report on the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in boosting environmental responsibility and innovation.

According to the study, "technological innovation in hardware and software can make environmental progress and AI not only compatible but deeply synergetic."

According to the Brussels-based think tank, advancements in AI technology can be harmonized with overarching environmental objectives by focusing on energy efficiency and ecological sustainability.

"We can make computing not only more powerful but also more sustainable," said David Osimo, lead author of the report. "The time for transformative change is now and Europe can be at the forefront of this revolution."

Read the report here.

 

Yesterday’s Joint Committee on Science and Technology in Brasilia reaffirmed the Swiss-Brazilian commitment to enhancing research and innovation collaboration.

During the event, the two countries reviewed past progress and set future priorities. Key officials led discussions on strategic areas such as entrepreneurship and innovation, biodiversity, and digitalisation.

Switzerland and Brazil signed the bilateral agreement on collaboration in science and technology in 2009. Since then, the countries met six times. The next committee meeting will take place in Switzerland in 2026.

More details here.

 

For years, China has been a leader in industrial chemicals production for years but played second fiddle to Europe and the US in the development of new technologies in the sector.

However, a recent study published by the Innovation Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) reveals that China is swiftly advancing in chemical innovation. This progress is evident in various indicators such as Chinese patents, R&D expenditures, and the publication of highly cited academic research papers.

According to the group, China will catch up with the global leaders within the next decade or two.

Read the complete study here.

 

The European Commission has launched a survey to gather feedback for the development of next year’s Horizon Europe work programme.

As of today, research organisations and lobby groups can contribute to shaping direction of the research and innovation programme in 2025.

Respondents can provide feedback on the six Horizon Europe clusters in Pillar 2, research infrastructures, European innovation ecosystems, the five EU Missions and cross-cutting activities, and the New European Bauhaus facility.

Submissions are accepted until May 6th, 2024 midday, CET.

More details here.

 

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