HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes

23 Nov 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.

If you have any tips, please email them at [email protected].

You can read the full archive of this blog here.

 

The House of Lords science and technology committee is urging newly appointed prime minister Liz Truss to appoint a science minister “at the earliest opportunity.”

Truss was appointed prime minister on 6 September but has yet to name a science minister. In a letter to Truss, the Lords science committee says a quick appointment of a science minister would help the UK government advance work on its plan to increase R&D expenditure to 2.4% of GDP.

The Lords’ letter comes at a time when the UK government is trying to negotiate a deal with the EU on science cooperation. Due to political disagreements in the aftermath of Brexit, the UK and the European Commission have yet to reach an agreement on the UK’s association to Horizon Europe.

 

The European Commission will officially launch a grant scheme for Ukrainian researchers at the end of October, the European University Association has announced last week. 

The scheme is funded under the EU's Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and is meant to help Ukrainian researchers continue their work at academic and non-academic organisations in EU member states and Horizon Europe associated countries, while maintaining their connections to research and innovation communities in Ukraine.

The Commission will publish call documents on 28 September, but researchers will be able to submit applications only after 24 October. Once the online submission portal opens, applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until all available funds are committed. Preliminary information for applicants is available on the MSCA4Ukraine website.

Researchers can go here to register for an online launch event and information session scheduled for 6 October.

 

The European Commission is calling on aeronautical and aviation stakeholders to join the industry Alliance for Zero-Emission Aviation (AZEA), a project aiming to develop and roll out the technologies needed in thetransition to hydrogen and electric aircraft.

The alliance will help its members with fuel and infrastructure requirements of hydrogen and electric aircraft at airports, sourcing renewable fuels and electricity, standardisation, certification, practices for airline operators, and air traffic management.

So far, 74 entities have joined the alliance, according to the European Commission. Among these are companies of all sizes, aeronautics industry, airlines, aircraft lessors, airports, energy providers, business associations, civil society organisations and agencies, including the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and Eurocontrol. 

 

The Initiative for Science in Europe (ISE) today published a manifesto calling for an EU-wide effort to boost the careers of young researchers and the attractiveness of pursuing a research career.

“Europe needs more scientists,” according to the manifesto published together with CNRS and Ciência Viva. The manifesto comes a year after the former president of the European Research Council, Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, called on the EU to help early career researchers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whilst recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU is now facing an economic crisis of proportions that was generated by Russia’s invasion in Ukraine. Because of that, doctoral students and postdocs in Europe are facing “significant” difficulties, the manifesto says.

The manifesto says research organisations and universities should improve the employment and working conditions of early career researchers.

 

The European Commission has appointed a new member to the governing body of the European Research Council for an initial period of four years.

French mechanical engineer Sylvie Lorente takes up her mandate retroactively from 1 July 2022. Lorente is associate dean for research and innovation in the College of Engineering and chair professor in the department of mechanical engineering at Villanova University, US.

“I am pleased to welcome Professor Sylvie Lorente to the ERC Scientific Council,” said Mariya Gabriel, EU commissioner for research and innovation. “She will help complement the expertise of the other sitting members, the outstanding female and male researchers who govern Europe’s premier organisation for funding frontier research.”

 

The Lisbon School of Economics and Management (ISEG) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) are to organise a high-level conference bringing together academics and other experts to discuss innovation for a sustainable future.

Delegates will discuss how to finance disruptive innovations needed for the EU’s green transition.

“Deploying targeted capital for the green transition and developing an efficient EU innovation ecosystem is key for the Portugal and Europe to play a leading role in the global tech race,” said EIB Vice President responsible for Portugal, Ricardo Mourinho Félix.

The event will take place on 23 September in Lisbon. Registrations are open here.

 

Neurobiologist Monica Dietl is set to replace Marco Masia as executive coordinator of the Initiative for Science in Europe (ISE), a platform bringing together European learned societies and research organisations. 

Dietl has extensive experience in research policy. She is a research director at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and was most recently adviser to the director general for research and innovation at the French ministry for higher education, research and innovation.  

In Brussels, as senior policy officer at the European Commission’s research directorate, she was involved in the creation of the European Research Council. She also played an instrument role in setting up the COST Association as head of the COST office, and later went on to become its first director. She served two stints as director of the Brussels office of the CNRS, among other senior roles in the research policy bubble, including a senior expert role at Science|Business. 

 

ITER, the international megaproject for nuclear fusion research and engineering will soon have a new director-general.

The ITER Council has appointed Pietro Barabaschi to lead the project after an extraordinary meeting in Paris last week. Barabaschi replaces nuclear scientist Eisuke Tada, who has taken the role of interim director-general in May this year after the passing of Bernard Bigot.

Barabaschi studied electro-mechanical engineering, but has spent his entire career in the field of fusion research. He has worked for the Joint European Torus (JET). He has worked in various ITER sites, including San Diego and Munich.

“I will make it a priority to improve the integration of ITER Organization and Domestic Agencies, both essential elements of the ITER Project, now and even more in the forthcoming phases of commissioning of ITER,” said Barabaschi.

 

DIAMAS, a three-year EU-funded project, is set to map out the landscape for so-called Diamond Open Access publishing in the European Research Area as well as develop standards, guidelines and practices for the sector. 

Diamond is a type of open access publishing where scientific journal articles, books and other results are published with no fees to readers nor authors. It’s promoted as a sustainable, community-driven open access model by Europe’s Coalition S, a group of organisations committed to open access publishing, represented by the European Science Foundation in DIAMAS. 

Open access publishing has been making big gains in recent years, with more and more research organisations shifting towards open access platforms. Most recently, the Biden administration in the US ordered an end to publishers putting most taxpayer funded research behind paywalls.  

 

The European Research Council (ERC) has launched a science journalism programme which is now taking applications until 15 December.

The ERC will allocate €1.5 million to support an organisation or a consortium of organisations to set up a funding scheme for journalists interested in spending three to five months in research institutions. One proposal will be selected.

The ERC hopes the winning project will give journalists the opportunity to learn and work on in-depth reporting projects and to interact with scientists and scholars.

 

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