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

19 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.

 

Germany and Canada are set to start ten joint hydrogen research projects, furthering their collaboration in the field.

“The selected funding projects are intended in particular to strengthen the cooperation between universities and research institutions in our two countries and form the basis for larger joint projects with partners from industry and especially medium-sized companies in Germany and Canada,” said German research minister Anja Karliczek.

The projects will cover topics such as energy materials, the improvement of manufacturing processes for fuel cells, Power-2-X technologies and the system integration of green hydrogen.

The new endeavour builds on 50 years of science and technology collaboration between the two countries, focused on Industry 4.0, artificial intelligence in production technology, development of new materials, and fuel cells.

 

The European Commission today announced the first five calls of the new €5.3 billion EU health programme, EU4Health, will open on 29 July.

The call will ask for projects updating the European Cancer Information system to monitor and assess cancer screening programmes, forming an EU network of youth cancer survivors and ensuring supply and access to therapeutics as well as cover areas such as inter-speciality cancer training programmes and quality and safety of radiation technology in diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Applications will close on 17 September.  

 

EuroHPC, a public-private partnership aimed at boosting the EU’s supercomputing ecosystem to world-class level, is one step away from starting a new €7 billion chapter after the European Parliament voted through its final report on the initiative.

The partnership is one of eleven partnerships with industry and member states run under Horizon Europe that must be greenlighted by policymakers – and will be the first pass through the process. All the partnerships have a similar legal framework, and the adoption of EuroHPC sets the scene for a faster agreement on the remaining ten partnership due to launch by the end of year.

The EU member states settled on their joint position on EuroHPC in May, paving the way for its speedy adoption following the Parliament’s report. The details are settled, and final verdict will come during a meeting of finance ministers in July, enabling the imminent launch of the partnership under Horizon Europe later this summer.

 

The European Commission today launched a new digital forum in a bid to stimulate cross-border cooperation and improve the uptake of research results across Europe.

On the new Knowledge Valorisation Platform, users will be able to share best practices, knowledge, and expertise for improving EU policies, including filling out a survey to help co-create a code of practice for the smart use of intellectual property.

“As we emerge from this coronavirus pandemic and transition towards a green and digital economy, the uptake of research results really matters. The Knowledge Valorisation Platform will help us work together with Member States and key stakeholders to accelerate this process,” said EU research commissioner Mariya Gabriel.

 

The EU start-up funder, the European Innovation Council, is putting a second tranche of equity funding into promising deep tech companies, bringing its total investment in 111 start-ups to €500 million.

The EIC Fund, a new tool set to make the European Commission a hotshot tech investor, bought its first shares in 42 start-ups in January. Today’s investments in 69 new companies marks the second batch of direct funding for start-ups in areas such as health, circular economy and the Internet of Things.

In the next seven years, the Commission hopes to directly invest more than €3.5 billion in start-ups in a bid to help them scale-up as part of the €10 billion EIC programme for boosting innovation under Horizon Europe.

The investments, which give the Commission 10 to 25% of the ownership, range between €0.5 and €15 million per company are awarded together with grant funding worth up to €2.5 million. The fund will hold on to the shares for a few years until the company attracts enough private investors to scale-up without EU backing.

 

After three years of negotiations, EU policymakers today agreed on a new regulation for assessing health technologies in a deal expected to bring more innovative health technologies and medicines on the market.

“The Regulation will be a significant step forward to enable joint scientific assessments of promising treatments and medical devices at EU level,” said EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides. It will be crucial “when it comes to facilitating access to innovative medicines and addressing unmet medical needs with important benefits for patients across the EU.”

The new rules will enable member states to jointly evaluate the properties and effects of health technologies before they are allowed to hit the market. The new permanent framework, which replaces current EU-funded project-based rules for cooperation between different countries, will also cover joint scientific consultations, the identification of emerging health technologies, and voluntary cooperation.

 

The EU’s researcher training initiative, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, today opened its first calls for proposals as part of this year’s €822 million round of funding under the Horizon Europe research programme.

The MSCA Doctoral Networks call for PhD programmes in academia and industry opened today with a budget of €402.95 million alongside the €242 million MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowships call for researchers with up to eight years of post-PhD research experience wishing to develop new skills in EU-funded mobility projects.

The two calls will close in autumn, on 16 November and 12 October, respectively. Around the same time, two more calls for proposals will go live: one for staff exchanges deepening research collaboration between different institutions and disciplines, and a second one geared at co-financing new and existing PhD and post-doc programmes in Horizon Europe countries.

This is the programmes 31st year and the first one under Horizon Europe. "The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted once more the importance of Europe's reliance on highly skilled researchers able to detect and tackle upcoming challenges,” said EU research commissioner Mariya Gabriel. “In this context, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions are a crucial instrument.”

 

Spain’s research agency has selected 3,194 winning projects in the country’s ‘most important’ call for research worth €412 million.

With €135 million, the agency will finance 1,273 projects aimed at generating new knowledge, while another €277 million will be pumped into 1,921 top-down projects addressing research challenges set out by the government. The financing covers projects in life sciences, social sciences and humanities, and mathematical, physical, chemical and engineering sciences.

This year’s call received a €50 million top-up thanks to Spain’s two-year €1 billion ‘shock plan’ which aims to support R&I for the country’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

 

The Portuguese Presidency of the EU Council and MEPs are urging the EU to create a new approach to research and innovation in the creative and cultural industries.

The policymakers hope to promote closer links between stakeholders. “We want the EU to set up a Cultural and Creative Industries network so that these industries coordinate among themselves and promote a pan-European ecosystem of actors in the sector,” said MEP Christian Ehler, one of the signatories of the manifesto setting out the demands and a plan for getting there.

The cultural and creative industries contribute to 4.4% of the EU GDP and at the end of 2019 employed 7.6 million people. With their significant economic firepower, the signatories believe that the cultural and creative industries will be key to Europe’s digital and green transition but have often been overlooked. “This is why we are raising awareness about the importance of creative industries for the whole of Europe but also specifically for youth and young professionals who are employed in this sector,” said Ehler.

 

The new EU health programme, EU4Health, will channel €312 million towards pandemic prevention, fighting cancer and revamping health systems around Europe this year.

The European Commission today adopted the first work programme of the seven-year health programme, detailing the plans and budgets for 2021. It includes projects on disease surveillance, preventing shortages of medicines, early detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, and testing the resilience of health systems.

“Today, we start an unprecedented investment programme for health in the EU. The first-ever EU4Health work programme starts paving the way towards a strong European Health Union,” said EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides.

 

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