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 two countries have signed a new cooperation agreement to launch a joint call for research-intensive small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Through the call announced by the National Research, Development and Innovation Fund, Hungarian companies can receive a total of €7 million for the implementation of their cross-border projects.

“The proposal encourages cooperation in key forward-looking areas, from artificial intelligence to quantum and biotechnology to autonomous manufacturing systems,” said László Palkovics, Hungarian minister for innovation and technology.

The joint call is part of a project within EUREKA, the European R&D network for SMEs.  Since Hungary joined EUREKA in 1992, Hungarian institutions participated in 125 calls and received nearly €78 million in grant funding. A third of these projects had German partners.

 

The EIT Climate, EU-supported innovation community, today kicked off a four-year project set to help European cities drastically cut down their green house gasses emissions as part of the new Horizon Europe mission which aims to lead 100 European cities to carbon neutrality by the end of the decade. 

NetZeroCities will bring together 33 organisations from 13 countries to develop an online platform to support 30 pilot cities in moving towards carbon neutrality, co-create net-zero innovations, and build up capacities for citizen engagement, financing and social innovation. 

The cities mission is one of five ambitious Horizon Europe projects launched earlier this week. It aims to mobilise Europe-wide action in making at least 100 cities both climate neutral and smart by 2030, starting with an initial budget of €359.3 million from the EU research programme. 

 

The EU’s global navigation satellite system, Galileo, from today will be managed and further developed by a new dedicated office. 

The new body will be run by the European Commsision, the European Space Agency and the EU’s agency for the space programme, EUSPA. Each will have three representatives, with the Commission taking charge.  

The new centralised management will help coordinate risk management and ensure any issues can be dealt with without delays or cost overruns, helping improve the performance of the EU’s leading satellite system which provides information for autonomous and connected cars, railways, aviation and other sectors.  

 

A new financing deal for the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) foresees a €3.2 billion investment between 2022 and 2036, which will enable the institute to expand. 

IST Austria, which funds basic research and postgraduate education in physical, mathematical, computer, and life sciences, today host over 60 research teams. By 2036, the number is expected to reach 150.  

 

The UK government has confirmed that it will make it easier to research genetically engineered crops, moving the country away from the EU’s relatively restrictive system.

By the end of the year, the UK will loosen research rules for crops created by new genetic engineering techniques that do not introduce foreign DNA into altered plants and animals.

The UK will also reclassify genetically engineered crops which “could have been developed by traditional breeding” so that they not longer count as genetically modified organisms, and so are no longer subject to the same stringency of regulation.

“These technologies have great potential and will enable our farmers to grow plants that are more nutritious, more resilient to climate change, and less reliant on pesticides or fertilisers,” said environment secretary George Eustice in a statement.

The government also said it will “continue to monitor” whether divergence from the EU on genetic engineering impacts the UK’s ability to trade with the bloc.

In loosening the rules, the UK appears to be siding with academic over public opinion. Almost two thirds of academic institutions said that replied to the government’s consultation said that genetically engineered produce was no more dangerous than natural counterparts. But nearly nine in ten individuals believe they are more risky.

 

The European Commission’s new publication explains how universities can take advantage of both of the EU’s academic mobility programmes, Erasmus+ and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA). 

For example, European university alliances funded under Erasmus+ can take advantage of the MSCA Doctoral Networks and COFUND call to develop doctoral and postdoctoral programmes. Individual Erasmus+ participants can also join MSCA research teams through traineeships, short-term  and staff exchanges. 

The Commission’s goal is to improve awareness and maximise the use of the funds available through the programmes. Erasmus+ has a budget of €26.2 billion for the next seven years, while MSCA will receive €6.6 billion from the EU’s research programme, Horizon Europe, by 2028.  

 

Former EU research commissioner Carlos Moedas will be the new mayor of Lisbon after beating the polls that forecasted the victory for his rival Fernando Medina, a socialist candidate running for re-election. 

The conservative’s win in Lisbon, which had been ruled by the socialist party since 2007, was the biggest surprise in Portuguese local elections on Sunday. 

Moedas served as commissioner for research, science and innovation in the Juncker Commission from 2014 to 2019. During his time in office, he pioneered the establishment of the EU’s new start-up funder, the European Innovation Council, and the creation of the five Horizon Europe missions, a new type of massive goal-oriented projects which are set to launch under the new EU research programme later this week. 

During his mandate, Moedas was Europe’s leading proponent of science diplomacy. As the 2021-2027 Horizon Europe programme was taking shape, Moedas frequently called for EU research and innovation to be, “open to the world.” The European Commission’s pivot to “open strategic autonomy” is a significant departure from this philosophy.  

 

The European Commission on Saturday pledged €140 million to support CGIAR, a network of 15 research centres looking into transforming food systems in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean.  

The EU support will help CGIAR, which has been running for 50 years, to renew its research and innovation plans and address production methods, practices and policies in a bid to improve productivity of food production based on ecological processes.    

The announcement is part of a wider push to transform global food systems ensuring nutrition security in the face of the climate crisis leading to depletion of natural resources.  

 

The basic research agency Austrian Science Fund is set to receive €806 million to fund pioneering science projects until 2023, a 27% increase compared to the last three years.

A total of €338 million will be invested directly in projects, €185 million support international cooperation, while another €152 million will be invested in furthering the careers of outstanding researchers.

“The financing agreement is about nothing less than the future viability of our country,” said the agency’s president Christof Gattringer. “From archeology to artificial intelligence, mathematics to medicine, ecology to economics - excellent basic research in all its breadth prepares us for the challenges of tomorrow.”

 

France’s research, innovation and education ministry will have an extra €706 million to spend next year compared with 2021 as part of the country’s recovery plan which foresees a €7.8 billion investment in youth, training and research.  

A €472 million top-up will be invested in boosting the country’s research capacity next year, with funding going to raising researcher salaries and better equipping laboratories and companies that carry out innovation activities. 

In line with the European Commission’s renewed call for member states to raise public and private R&D expenditure to 3% of GDP, France has been steadily increasing funding for research, innovation and education, with the budget going up by €2.4 billion since the start of the country's five-year plan in 2017.

 

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