HORIZON BLOG: Research and innovation in the new seven-year budget

26 Oct 2021 | Live Blog

In June, the European Commission has published the official work programme, detailing budgets and deadlines for calls over the first two years of Horizon Europe. This blog will keep you apprised on the rollout of the EU's €95.5 billion R&D programme.

Tips are welcome at [email protected]. You can read the full archive of this blog here.

 

The European Parliament’s research, industry and energy committee today voted to support the deal for a Horizon Europe partnership for metrology, paving the way for the adoption of the legislation in coming weeks.  

The vote consolidates the committee’s support for the rules governing the research partnership negotiated by the European Parliament and EU member states. The final step before the partnership can launch will be a vote in plenary, followed by a green light from EU member states in November.

The partnership will be a continuation of previous collaborations between the European Commission and national metrology institutes on the science of measurements under the EU research programmes dating back to 2009. It will seek to harmonise European efforts in the field to boost innovation digital and green innovation across the bloc. 

 

The new EU start-up fund, the European Innovation Council (EIC), has selected the first 65 start-ups to receive €363 million in grants and equity financing from the EU’s new research programme, Horizon Europe. 

The 65 start-ups and SMEs will receive up to €17 million each to develop and scale up innovations such as a thermotherapy system to treat head and neck cancer, self-correcting quantum hardware for building fault-tolerant commercial quantum computers, and a robotic system that enables endovascular surgery without exposure to X-rays.  

A total of €227 million will be invested directly in companies through the EIC investment fund. The rest will be distributed through grants.  

The Commission officially launched the €10 billion EIC in March following a three-year pilot project in a bid to boost the EU’s start-up ecosystem. 

 

Ukraine today became a Horizon Europe associated country thanks to an agreement that allows the country’s researchers and innovators to participate in the seven-year research programme as well as the Euratom programme for nuclear R&I on an equal footing with EU member states. 

The country had been a Horizon 2020 associated country since 2015, receiving more than €45 million in EU support as part of the seven-year framework programme. “I welcome Ukraine to Horizon Europe and Euratom,” said EU research commissioner Mariya Gabriel. “I am confident Ukraine will build on these past successes.” 

 

The Spanish ministry of science and innovation today upped its investments in the national hydrogen centre under a revised funding agreement.  

The centre for hydrogen and fuel cells research will receive €14 million from the ministry and another €14 million from the regional government to carry out its work until 2031, following on from its successes in the last 14 years.  

The extra funding will allow the centre located in the province of Ciudad Real to hire more staff improving its research into the production, storage, transformation, integration, distribution, and applications of hydrogen technologies. 

 

Interest in research projects boosting excellence in the Widening countries - including the Western Balkans - is up, with the first two dedicated Horizon Europe calls receiving a total of 244 proposals of which 26 will receive funding.

There’s a total of €180 million available for 12 projects building new centres of excellence, or upgrading existing ones in Widening countries, and €21 million for networking between research institutions from Western Balkan countries and their counterparts from EU member states and Horizon Europe associated countries. 

The projects will be funded through Horizon Europe’s budget for Widening aimed at increasing participation of countries that struggle to secure grants from the programme. In the next seven years, 3.3% of the €95.5 billion Horizon Europe budget will be spent on widening activities, significantly more than in the previous research programme, Horizon 2020.

Editor’s note: This blog post was updated 12 October to correct the number of submitted proposals, the budget available and the scope of the Teaming for Excellence call.

 

A three-year Horizon 2020 pilot has concluded that lump sum funding for research and innovation projects is fit for wider use in the new EU research programme, Horizon Europe.  

Currently, EU research project funding is based on the reimbursement of actual costs, which comes with obligations on actual cost reporting, time sheets and financial ex-post audits. Lump sum funding removes the need for such administrative burden. The Commission hopes switching to more lump sum funding will simplify participation in Horizon Europe, leading to error reductions and stronger focus on the content of the projects. 

The findings of the pilot project are detailed in a new report, which concludes that lump sum funding works in practice and can be used in Horizon Europe.

 

The European Commission has signed a cooperation strategy with the Western Balkans at the Brdo Summit on Wednesday.

The strategy will promote promote scientific excellence, prevent brain drain, and help countries in the region to pursue reforms of their education systems.

“The Innovation Agenda for the Western Balkans will open these opportunities to students, researchers, innovators and cultural operators so that they access new markets, become more competitive and build sustainable prosperity,” said EU research commissioner Maryia Gabriel.

The strategy is part of the Brdo Declaration, a document that reaffirms the EU’s commitment to expand in the Western Balkans, as China and Russia are increasingly raising investments in the region. However, some EU countries have recently voiced their reluctance to welcome any new members in the near future.

 

German chemist Benjamin List, the recipient of two ERC advanced grants, has won the 2021 Nobel Prize in chemistry for developing asymmetric organocatalysis, a greener way to build molecules. List shares the award with British chemist David W.C. Macmillan.

“It is fantastic news that another ERC grantee has taken home a 2021 Nobel Prize,” said ERC president designate, Maria Leptin. “The number of ERC grantees who go on to win a Nobel bears witness to that giving top researchers the freedom to pursue their scientific dreams truly pays off,” Leptin said.

The announcement was made one day after former recipients of EU research grants Klaus Hasselmann and Giorgio Parisi have been awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize in physics. Hasselmann and Parisi share the physics award with Japanese-American meteorologist Syukuro Manabe for their work on understanding complex physical systems.

 

Former recipients of EU research grants Klaus Hasselmann and Giorgio Parisi have been awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physics.

They won the prize jointly with Japanese-American meteorologist Syukuro Manabe for their groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of complex physical systems.

Hasselmann and Manabe received the prestigious award for laying foundation of knowledge of the Earth's climate and how humanity influences it, while Parisi is rewarded for his revolutionary contributions to the theory of disordered materials and random processes.

“I am proud that the EU has backed two of them […] through research and innovation funding aimed at advancing scientific knowledge,” said Mariya Gabriel, EU commissioner for research and innovation. “This shows us that investing in top frontier science helps to keep European research at the forefront.

Hasselmann worked in two projects funded by the EU’s seventh framework programme for research, while Parisi was awarded substantial funding from the European Research Council (ERC) for nearly a decade.

Earlier this year, Professor Parisi also won the prestigious Wolf Prize in Physics. 

 

Germany’s government has published new guidelines for financing hydrogen production, processing, storage and transport projects outside the EU. 

There’s a total of €350 million available for hydrogen plants, research projects, studies and training until 2024 as part of the country’s hydrogen strategy announced last year.  

“The published funding guidelines are a central element in the implementation of the national hydrogen strategy,” said the economy minister Peter Altmaier. “By promoting pilot and reference projects abroad, we are at the same time helping to strengthen Germany as an industrial and export location." 

Companies can request up to €15 million in grants, while projects run by research organisations can get up to €5 million in funding.

 

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