- European Parliament’s science and technology panel publishes annual report
- Switzerland sets start-up challenge to find smartphone security solutions
- Commission and WHO launch digital health partnership
- Commission analyses 800 projects linked to ocean and water mission in new report
- Women still represent over half of employees in EU’s science and tech sectors
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.
A group of 32 companies have been selected as winners of the first European Innovation Council cut-off of the year and will receive a total of €195.8 million in funding. Of those companies, 40% have a female CEO, CTO or CSO – the highest proportion so far in the competition’s history.
There were a total of 476 applicants for the first cut-off which closed in January, with that number gradually whittled down to the final 32. The winners include a quantum technology company from Poland, a nano-coatings technology company from Latvia and a Swedish company developing a new softener for bone cement that will help in the treatment of patients with vertebral fractures.
A further 126 companies that did not receive funding but did meet all the criteria at the remote evaluation stage will receive a Seal of Excellence to prove their company’s worth when applying for other grants.
Another EIC Accelerator cut-off also just closed on 22 March, with 551 applicants.
The European Commission has launched a call for expressions of interest as part of a plan to establish 100 Regional Innovation Valleys, in which regional stakeholders collaborate with cross-border partners.
The programme is part of the New European Innovation Agenda that aims to make the EU a leader in deep-tech innovation.
The call for expression of interest for Regional Innovation Valleys was announced at an event in Brussels today to promote another initiative, the Partnerships for Regional Innovation (PRIs).
The Valleys initiative is meant to build on both the Smart Specialisation initiative and the PRIs.
“Innovation is Europe’s best response to the challenges of the green and digital transitions. For the first time, Cohesion Policy Funds and the Horizon Europe programme [will] work closely together to support interregional cooperation for innovation,” said Elisa Ferreira, European commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms.
“With the Regional Innovation Valleys we aim to establish a community of regions that meet local challenges and needs whilst contributing to the EU’s strategic priorities,” EU research commissioner Mariya Gabriel said announcing the call.
“Committing to become a regional innovation valley means building resilience in the face of global competition. We call on regions to join forces and develop a robust European innovation ecosystem,” Gabriel said.
A new report by the European Parliament has identified concerns over government interference in the affairs of universities and research institutions in Hungary, Croatia, Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Legal changes to the governance relationships between the government and universities in these countries could enable politicians to interfere in institutional matters in academia.
Members of the European Parliament have been sounding the alarm over declining academic freedom in the EU, after Hungary managed to force the Central European University to move from Budapest to Vienna.
In this report, the Parliament calls for a common definition of academic freedom across all member states and for a new monitoring system, including a bigger role for the Parliament's STOA committee as an "academic freedom clearing house".
The report also calls on the European Commission to introduce new calls in Horizon Europe and Erasmus+ for research projects on academic freedom.
Europe must jump onboard of the ongoing human space exploration revolution and increase investment to secure its space autonomy, leading space experts told the European Space Agency (ESA).
The panel of 12 experts presented their independent report on the state of European space exploration to the ESA Council in Paris last week.
“Europe’s goal should be to capture one third of this future market,” the report says. “Countries and regions that will not secure their independent access to space and its autonomous use, will become strategically dependent and economically deprived of a major part of this value chain.”
Today, Europe has no independent human launch capacity and relies on non-European partners to send humans to space. This must change if Europe wants to be a leading space economy.
The European Commission has published the latest edition of its regional competitiveness report, according to which, regions in Bulgaria and Romania score the lowest in the innovation sub-index.
Capitals Sofia and Bucharest are getting closer to EU average innovation performance, but regions outside the capitals are ranked well below EU and national averages.
The average innovation performance of the Warsaw region in Poland is also dragged down by lower scores in other regions.
Overall, the report shows regions in central and eastern Europe continue having difficulties in catching up with innovation performance in the rest of the bloc.
The report is available here.
EU-US technology and innovation working group meets to discuss cooperation in nuclear fusion research
The technology and innovation working group of the EU-US Energy Council has met earlier this month to discuss cooperation in nuclear fusion research.
The meeting was co-chaired by Maria Cristina Russo, director for global approach and international cooperation in research & innovation at the European Commission and Joshua Volz, deputy assistant aecretary for Europe, Eurasia, Africa, and Middle East, at the US Department of Energy.
A new Model Project Agreement (MPA) is to allow the EU and the US broaden the scope of joint research activities on fusion, and increase the number of fusion projects financed.
The European Research Council (ERC) has announced plans to restructure some of its evaluation panels and to introduce lump sum funding in Advanced Grants in the work programme for next year.
The ERC work programme for 2024 is to be formally adopted later this year, but the funding agency has decided to publish now details about the changes so researchers can adapt ahead of the publication of individual calls.
More details here.
A new ERC study that analysed 220 data repositories has found that over 90% of trusted ones are in line with basic open science requirements.
However, only three of the repositories met all the mandatory requirements for metadata and none of them met all the mandatory and recommended requirements that are set out in Horizon Europe grant agreements.
In general, the study highlighted how complicated it is to know whether data repositories meet open science requirements.
To help researchers, the ERC set out a list of repositories that researchers can use to comply with open science rules.
The European University Association (EUA) has called for a holistic assessment of the progress of the European Universities initiative.
European Universities brings higher education institutions from around 30 different countries to cooperate on education, research and innovation.
The idea for the initiative was proposed by the Commission back in 2017, with the goal of creating a European Education Area by 2025.
EUA has said that with the pilot phase of the initiative over, it is now necessary to measure the progress in a wider way, with focus so far too much focused on quantitative measurements.
It sets out its key considerations in a policy note available here.
A delegation from Switzerland’s Federal Office for Defence Procurement is in Singapore this week to attend the country’s defence technology summit. The trip comes after an invitation from the head of Singapore’s Defence Science and Technology agency, Merwyn Tan.
The visit will give representatives of both countries the chance to discuss collaboration on defence, defence technology and security.
The visit comes as Switzerland remains locked out of the EU’s research and innovation programme Horizon Europe owing to an ongoing disagreement about the country’s relationship to the EU.
It also comes as European countries and the EU in general attempt to ramp up spending on defence in light of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
In 2021, European defence spending reached over €200 billion for the first time, an increase of 6% on 2020. However, just prior to Russia’s invasion, the budget for the European Defence Fund was cut from an initially proposed €13 billion to just shy of €8 billion. Since then, there have been calls from MEPs to increase the budget.