HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes

07 Dec 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.

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You can read the full archive of this blog here.


The umbrella body Science Europe has backed the Polish National Science Centre (NCN) after the Polish government announced plans to abolish it.

The current government has said it wants to abolish the NCN and merge it with other research funding agencies, raising concerns about the centralisation – and possible politicisation – of research funding in the country.

“Science Europe strongly opposes any actions that politicise research funding or infringe on the freedom and autonomy of research, which are shared values in the association as well as across the European R&I landscape,” said the body in a statement.


The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has published the results of a major study into R&D tax incentives – a key policy tool used by governments around the world.

Likely to be a valuable source of new data for policy wonks, it digs into a number of questions including whether R&D tax incentives raise business R&D investment.

One exploratory finding is that social returns to R&D spending are twice as large as the private gains, due to knowledge spilling over into other sectors.


A French-owned company has won a bid to build the first exascale supercomputer in Europe, capable of carrying out a billion billion calculations per second.

Eviden, owned by the French IT giant Atos, will create the supercomputer, known as Jupiter, which will be based at the Jülich Supercomputing Centre near Cologne. It will use chips from the US firm Nvidia, but also European-designed chips from the French firm SiPearl.

The budget is €273 million, with half coming from the pan-European EuroHPC joint undertaking, and the other half coming from German state and federal governments.

“Not only will JUPITER break the exaflop barrier, but the system will also use the European HPC processor Rhea, developed under the European Processor Initiative by SiPearl,” said Anders Dam Jensen, executive director of EuroHPC.


The UK has set out a new strategy for its engagement with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), with the science minister warning that the UK’s “return on investment is below where we would like it to be”.

Increasing investment in early career researchers is one of the measures it proposes to increase UK engagement with CERN.

There is “much more we can still do to ensure we take full advantage of all opportunities that are afforded by CERN membership,” said minister George Freeman. “This will allow us to continue being a key member and critical friend at CERN and to unlock the full potential our membership of CERN”.


The German Research Foundation (DFG) has issued recommendations for its researchers on participating in projects with counterparts in authoritarian countries.  

The guidelines aim to help researchers assess the risks of misuse of their research results. They will also inform the DFG’s review decision-making processes.  

They do not draw red lines to ensure respect for scientific freedom but set out a list of assessment and reflection steps for researchers to follow. These include giving the funder ‘as specific as possible’ explanation of potential risks, such as results being leaked for military purposes, and a reflection on the restrictions to freedom of research in the country. 


The European Commission’s proposals to reform the EU’s pharmaceutical legislation will push companies to carry out research and development outside of Europe, industry federation EFPIA argues in its assessment of the package published today.

In April the European Commission adopted a proposal to revise the EU’s pharmaceutical legislation, with the aim of making medicines more available, accessible and affordable, and boosting the attractiveness of the EU pharma industry.

This includes plans to reduce the baseline period of regulatory data protection, during which time other marketing authorisation applicants cannot refer to the preclinical and clinical trial data of an authorised product in their applications, from eight to six years.

EFPIA says this will undermine competitiveness and see Europe lose more R&D investment to the US and China, noting that the industry “saw R&D spending growth four times lower than China between 2018 and 2022”.

The industry body has made a series of recommendations for improving the reform.


MEPs are calling for Horizon Europe to receive an additional €140 million, compared to the draft budget for 2024 published by the European Commission.

The Parliament’s budgets committee adopted its position on next year’s EU budget on Monday, citing the fact the Horizon programme is heavily over-subscribed with many projects evaluated as ‘excellent’ going unfunded.

They want the extra funds to go towards the health, culture, and climate clusters, as well as the European Research Council and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions. This is not including budget increases related to the Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform.

The committee also reinstated appropriations on all lines reduced by the Council in its negotiating stance to the levels of the Commission’s original proposal. The draft resolution will be voted on 9 October.


Two of the three winners of this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics are past winners of European Research Council (ERC) grants. 

Ferenc Krausz of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Germany won an ERC advanced grant in 2010 while Anne L’Huillier of Lund University in Sweden won Advanced Grants in 2008, 2013 and 2019, and Proof of Concept grants in 2013 and 2017. 

The two scientists picked up this year’s Nobel Prize alongside French physicist Pierre Agostini of Ohio State University for their work on extremely short pulses of light that can be used to “measure the rapid processes in which electrons move or change energy”. 

“We can now open the door to the world of electrons,” said Eva Olsson, chair of the Nobel Committee for Physics. “Attosecond physics gives us the opportunity to understand mechanisms that are governed by electrons. The next step will be utilising them.”

ERC grants are among the most prestigious for scientists carrying out fundamental research in Europe. Many winners have gone on to win Nobel Prizes.


The Polish medtech company SDS Optic is in line for a €10 million loan agreement with the European Investment Bank (EIB), in a show of success for companies backed by the European Innovation Council (EIC). 

The Horizon Europe start-up fund EIC Accelerator gave the company nearly €4 million in funding, and the EIB is now providing further investment to scale up and commercialise its cancer detection technology inPROBE®.   

The EIC Accelerator is a new €7 billion fund under the EU’s Horizon Europe research programme that invests money in risky start-ups to help them grow and attract further investment from private and public funds.  


Martin Kern will stay on as director of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) for another four year term, its governing board has decided

Kern, a season Commission bureaucrat, has been director of the EIT since 2019, having previously held the same role in caretaker capacity as interim director.  

The EIT is an EU agency that runs nine sector-specific knowledge and innovation communities (KICs) that provides funding and education opportunities for European entrepreneurs in fields such as innovative energy, climate, health and cultural industries.


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