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.

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You can read the full archive of this blog here.

 

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), EU innovation agency, has selected 26 new consortia to partake in its higher education initiative.

The initiative aims to help universities improve their entrepreneurial and innovation capacity. The 26 winners, which bring together almost 300 higher education institutions and their partners, will receive 31.2 million to do the job.

This is the second cohort of organisations taking part in the flagship scheme. A third call for proposals is set to be announced later this year for projects starting in 2023.

 

The European Association of Innovation Consultants (EAIC) has released the third edition of its guide to the EU’s €750 billion recovery fund, Next Generation EU. 

A year since the launch of the recovery plan, the report is updated with concrete examples of projects on the ground to help industry understand how the money is being used. The guide also summarises the open and planned calls for proposals in each country.  

Unlike with the main EU budget, each member state gets to decide how it spends the money, with the European Commission’s approval. This may make it more difficult for industry to keep track of where the investments are going; the guide aims to fill the knowledge gap. 

 

Research and innovation ministers from the 42 countries of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) signed a declaration on exploiting the potential of research and innovation to increase the resilience of the Euro-Mediterranean region against environmental, food security and socioeconomic challenges, as well as to promote science diplomacy.

It is the first time ministers meet in this format. They agreed on three research and innovation roadmaps on climate change, renewable energy and health.

“The scale of the current global challenges and their impact on our fragile regional ecosystem call for us to leverage the potential of research and innovation in finding new solutions to the climate crisis and transforming our energy and health systems,” said UfM secretary general Nasser Kamel

“The future lies in working together, building closer ties and finding innovative solutions to the shared climate, energy and health challenges. This is and will continue to be at the heart of our partnership and supported by Horizon Europe to respond to the three research and innovation roadmaps,” said Mariya Gabriel, EU commissioner for research and innovation.

 

The European Commission has amended the work programme for 2021-2022 of Euratom to include new funds for researchers displaced by the war in Ukraine.

The amendment provides an additional €2.5 million for the EUROfusion consortium. The money could be used on direct support for Ukraine’s fusion scientists and engineers and for buying equipment and hardware.

The Commission has introduced a new innovation action backed by €10 million in EU money. The scheme will be launched to improve the supply of nuclear fuel for 35 Russian-designed water-water energetic reactors operating in the EU and Ukraine.

“With this revision of the Euratom Research and Training Work Programme, we will support the Ukraine-based researchers and researchers displaced by the war to continue their important work on nuclear research and innovation,” said Mariya Gabriel, EU commissioner for research and innovation.

 

Switzerland’s research spending shrunk by 16% in 2021, compared with 2019, as a result of its exclusion from the EU’s Horizon Europe research programme.  

In 2021, the country spent CHF 2.2 billion on research and development, CHF 413 million less than in 2019, the last year observed.  

While Switzerland has been a long-running participant of the EU framework programmes, the European Commission did not allow it to associate to its newest seven-year rendition due to wider political disputes. The Swiss government says this is the main reason for the fall in R&D spending. 

 

Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council announced 23 June more than C$506 million (€371 million) in research grants.

“We are doubling down on science,” Francois-Philippe Champagne, Canadian minister for innovation, science and industry, said at a University of Ottawa event announcing the results of NSERC’s Discovery research programmes. Over the past five years, the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been boosting federal R&D funding as Canadian tech companies in artificial intelligence, quantum computing and climate tech gain greater international attention.

Most of the awards are to individual researchers over five years, and are intended to provide long-term, supplementary funding for their general research aims rather than pay for a specific project. Fields covered include climate change, chemistry, biology, mathematics, artificial intelligence, quantum computing and engineering. The grant awards also included C$73.8 million for one-year extensions to grantees whose work was disrupted by the pandemic.

 

EU research commissioner Mariya Gabriel has announced a new network of innovation-focused institutions that will help the EU craft its innovation and universities strategy. Speaking today, she launched the European Network of Innovative Higher Education Institutions, which will become the “tip of the spear” in making sure Europe comes up with new ideas and products.

Gabriel did not announce which institutions are part of the new network, but told delegates at the Education and Innovation Summit that they would report with “concrete recommendations” for policy at an education summit in December. Network members are nominated by member states and by the European University alliances, 41 groupings of universities the Commission has helped set up since 2019.

“In order to succeed, we need people with both entrepreneurial and technical competence in deep tech domains, because we require both start-up founders and start-up workers with the appropriate deep tech technical background,” she told the summit. “But to achieve this objective, we must operate at the elementary, secondary and university levels.”

The network should sit at the intersection of two policy areas currently being pushed in Brussels. In January this year, the Commission launched a European strategy for universities. And next month it is set to launch an innovation agenda, with five initiatives to make the EU a leader in strategic fields.

 

A 50 organisation-strong group led by Fraunhofer-Gesellschafthas been selected to launch the European Institute of Innovation and Technology’s (EIT) newest innovator community for the creative and cultural sectors.  

The Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) on Culture and Creativity will the EIT’s ninth sector-specific innovation network that will train and support entrepreneurs around Europe helping them turn research and ideas into products.  

The new KIC will aim to boost the innovation potential of the cultural and creative sectors and industries, speeding up their recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic which brought much of an industry to a months-long halt.  

The Fraunhofer-led group was selected through a call of proposals launched in October last year. It will get a grant of up to €6 million to get the KIC off the ground, which will grow to around €70 million per year once the community offers educational, support and business creation and acceleration programmes across Europe. The KIC is also expected to raise additional funding from the public and private sectors. 

 

The European Commission and EU member states are starting discussions on creating a Collaborative Cloud for Cultural Heritage to digitally safeguard European culture.

The infrastructure will provide technologies for digitising artefacts, researching artworks and documenting data. This promises to enable transdisciplinary and large-scale collaboration between cultural heritage scholars, curators, archivists and conservators, allowing smaller and remote institutions to participate in joint projects.

By 2025, the EU is set to invest €110 million in the initiative as part of the Horizon Europe research programme.

 

WomenTechEU, the EU’s support scheme for early-stage women-led start-ups, is set to provide grants and business services to 130 companies this year.

The second rendition of the programme will have a budget of €10 million, more than double the money spent in its pilot phase last year.

The scheme is one of the EU’s key projects aiming to tackle the gender gap in the bloc’s start-up scene. Today, only 6% of start-ups are founded by all-women teams, and women obtain only 10% of patent applications in the EU. Countering the long-standing trend is one of the main goals of the current EU research commissioner Mariya Gabriel.

 

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