HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes

26 Sep 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 Irish government is teaming up with industry to recruit 400 PhD students to undertake research in the country in a bid to attract and retain talent. 

The selected Irish and international students will receive a stipend of €28,000 to conduct research tackling major national and global challenges, including climate change and adaptation, pandemics, and water poverty. 

The government is set to invest millions of euros in the scheme over a number of years, to be matched by private investors.  

The first call for proposals aimed at higher education institutes is currently being draft and will open later this year.

The new talent scheme complements Ireland’s recently announced Impact 2030 research and innovation strategy. “This programme will establish Ireland as a globally renowned hub of talent development and knowledge creation," said Simon Harris, minister for further and higher education and research. 


The German Research Foundation (DFG) is set to fund eight new research groups with €31.4 million to boost artificial intelligence research in the country.  

The eight groups will cover AI uses for horticultural crops, biomedical data and chemical process engineering, among others.  

“The aim is for these Research Units [is] to engage and network with each other and with other national and international actors in the field – not only at their universities but also at various events,” said DFG President Katja Becker. 

The scheme is part of the DFG’s €90 million two-part AI initiative approved in 2019. The second part of the project funds 15 junior research groups aiming to attract the next generation of academics with a research focus on AI methods.  


The EU’s Horizon Europe research programme is ‘progressively’ turning into a source of funding for the European Commission’s political priorities, EuroTech Universities Alliance said in a recent statement.  

With the digital and green transition at the forefront of Europe’s future ambitions, EU policymakers are diverting money from bottom-up science to policy-driven projects, setting benchmarks for digital and green spending in the Horizon Europe budget. This has already led €1 billion from the research budget to be diverted to the European Chips Act, the Health and Emergency Response Agency and the Hydrogen Valley initiative, universities claim.  

The alliance demands more transparency in how the Horizon Europe budget is being spent and advocates for an additional set of indicators to be added to the Horizon Europe Dashboard to enable real-time assessment of the spending. 


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.


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