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.

 

The UK is hoping to spur growth in low-emission, resource-efficient foods through a new £16 million investment fund set up by the government’s innovation agency Innovate UK in partnership with the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). 

The hope is to attract projects looking to develop new food production systems that can turn out healthy food with a low environmental impact. 

Lee Beniston, associate director for industry partnerships and collaboration at BBSRC, said the call would help to develop alternative, more sustainable protein sources. 

“This will help to ensure the UK continues to be at the forefront of what is an innovative and rapidly evolving sector in the UK and globally.

The competition is set to open on 18 January 2023. Read here for more information.

 

The European Commission and the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) have signed an InvestEU guarantee agreement worth up to €114 million.

The agreement will unlock NIB financing of up to €480 million for investments in sustainable infrastructure, research, innovation and digitalisation across the Nordic and Baltic countries, as well as in Poland.

NIB will use the InvestEU guarantee to mobilise investments in clean energy, critical raw materials, and the development of innovative technologies across a range of sectors.

 

UK minister for maritime and industry Nusrat Ghani has announced £45 million in funding to maintain the country’s fleet of research vessels.

Maintenance and upgrades will be carried out on RRS Sir David Attenborough, RRS Discovery, and RRS James Cook. These three ships are being used for oceanic and arctic research, enabling scientists to study climate change and pollution.

“This research is invaluable, which is why we are committing the funding needed for the upkeep of these key research vessels,” said Ghani.

 

A new survey is calling for ideas on how a range of future trends - from the hydrogen economy to the "transhumanist revolution" - should impact the design of Horizon Europe in 2025-7. 

This Commission foresight project, called Research4Futures, is crowdsourcing ideas to inform Horizon's next strategic plan. 

In light of a series of trends expected before 2040, the survey is asking respondents how EU R&I policy should respond, and whether the framework programme is important to managing the disruption. 

The 11 areas it is soliciting opinions on are: artificial intelligence; climate change; converging technologies and ecosystems; crime and the economy; emerging global commons; geopolitical reconfigurations; health challenges; hydrogen economy; rising societal confrontations; resource crises; and transhumanist revolutions. 

The survey is found here

 

The European Commission has decided today to extend the period of validity of the horizontal block exemption regulation on R&D, which was due to expire at the end of the year. A new deadline has been set for 30 June 2023, when policymakers expect new rules to enter into force.

In 2019, the Commission had started an extensive review procedure of state aid exemptions for R&D based on which it is planning to implement a new exemption regulation.

More information on the review process can be found here.

 

The European Commission has launched the network of National Contact Points (NCPs) for EU research missions. 

The launch was announced on Wednesday by Julien Guerrier, director of the common policy centre at the Commission's research directorate. 

The experts will help researchers and innovators participate in the EU's five research missions.

The Commission has proposed five research missions under Horizon Europe, with the aim to bring together researchers and innovators who want to work on concrete projects for five societal challenges: climate change, cancer, clean oceans and waters, climate neutral cities and healthy soils. 

 

Electricité de France (EDF) is set to receive €50 million in state aid for research into small nuclear reactors, after the European Commission cleared the investment under EU state aid rules today. 

The project will look into the processes for the design and conception of small reactors based on a simple and modular design, which allows mass production. 

In parallel, the US has recently announced it will begin testing small modular reactors at a site in Romania.

 

The European Research Council's Scientific Council guiding the direction of the EU’s €16 billion frontier research fund will be joined by five new members for four-year terms starting next year.  

The new members are Harriet Bulkeley, professor at Durham University, whose research focuses on environmental governance and the politics of climate change, energy and sustainable cities; Thomas Henzinger, founding president and computer and communication sciences professor at Austria’s Institute of Science and Technology; Leszek Kaczmarek, neurobiologist at the Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology at the Polish Academy of Sciences; Luke O’Neill, leading immunologist at Trinity College Dublin; and Björn Ottersten, professor and founding director of Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust at the University of Luxembourg.  

The council has a total of ten members, with another five members’ terms renewed for another four years. These are professors Geneviève Almouzni, Ben Feringa, Mercedes Garcia-Arenal, Eystein Jansen and Jesper Qualmann Svejstrup. 

 

The EU’s doctoral and postdoctoral training programme Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) will have a budget of €1.75 billion for the next two years.  

Under the EU’s Horizon Europe research programme, MSCA will provide over €856 million in 2023 and €902 million in 2024 to researchers at all stages of their careers as well as doctoral, postdoctoral programmes and collaborative research and innovation projects. 

The details on what calls exactly the money will be spent can be found in the MSCA work programme for 2023/24, released yesterday. 

 

The new ‘pilot environment’ foreseen in Espoo will focus on pre-commercial development of microelectronics and quantum technology, building on the city’s existing research infrastructure.  

The new hub will contribute to the European push for technological sovereignty and is foreseen to be partly funded under the EU’s Chips Act, a plan to make the bloc a leader in the semiconductor industry.  

“We want to further strengthen Finland's capabilities in open technology development and build new cleanroom facilities that enable industrial scale scaling, as well as an ecosystem that aims at growth and the creation of new high-growth companies,” said Erja Turunen, executive vice president of digital technologies at VTT, the country’s biggest applied research centre.  

The project is jointly developed by VTT, the city of Espoo, Aalto University and the semiconductor industry group Technology Industries of Finland. 

 

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