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

On 2 February, the European Commission announced the official launch of Horizon Europe, the EU’s next R&D programme.

But, before any of the €95.5 billion budget can start flowing, there remain many administrative and legal steps still to complete by April, when the Commission aims to launch the first formal call for grant applications.

This blog will keep you apprised of all the details as they unfold.

Tips are welcome at [email protected].

You can read the full archive of this blog here.

 

The future governing board of the European Cybersecurity Competence Centre, a new cybersecurity research centre, today is meeting for the first time to discuss the preparations and next steps for the centre.

The centre, which is foreseen to launch in June, will aim to strengthen European cybersecurity capacities, boost research excellence and the competitiveness of the EU industry in this field. It will be established in Bucharest, Romania.

The informal meeting will be attended by representatives from the European Commission, EU member states and the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity.

 

Estonia is spending €10 million to support research and development of products for fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, such as vaccines, medicines, medical devices, and disinfectants. Today, the European Commission gave a green light to the programme which falls under the EU competition rules and requires the Commission’s approval.

The funding will be available to Estonian companies of all sizes in grants between €20,000 and €500,000 until the end of the year.

 

The European Commission and Japan are jointly investing €10,7 million in three joint research projects in advanced biofuels and alternative renewable fuels as part of the their science and technology cooperation agreement.

The EU is contributing €9,5 million from the EU research framework, Horizon 2020, while Japan is investing a total of €1,2 million in projects focused on focuses on renewable methanol that could be used to decarbonise heavy duty road transport, low or net-zero emission fuels for air transport and synthesizing renewable ammonia from nitrogen and H2O to fuel ships.

The projects are part of the EU and Japan's long-lasting cooperation in the field of science and technology, which has seen Japanese researchers sign over 130 grants project agreements under Horizon 2020.

 

The Spanish government today approved a new call for proposals that will give out €64.5 million euros in grants and €43 million in loans to ‘strategic’ collaborative projects between companies and research organisations.

There are 24 strategic lines of action the funded projects should address, including emerging animal diseases, marine ecosystem observation, batteries, smart building technologies and sustainable fuels. Each consortia must have at least two entities and can request between €400,000 and €2 million for three-year projects.

 

Germany this week launched a €700 million 6G research initiative and published the first €200 million call for setting up three research hubs and a stakeholder platform for coordinating efforts in the field.

The country hopes to invest €700 million by 2025 to create the ecosystem for setting up the future sixth generation mobile networks that can transmit data more than 100 times faster than 5G, which Europe is currently deploying.

Developing 6G networks is key to enabling technologies that depend on rapid data sharing such as artificial intelligence and remote medical surgeries. “To do this, we now have to invest massively in 6G research,” said the country’s research minister Anja Karliczek. “Only in this way can we strengthen the technological sovereignty of Germany and Europe in the long term.”

The first call for projects, open until 7 May, aims to set up three research teams working to prepare the ground for 6G and a networking platform for setting the direction of 6G research. A second call for projects seeking to ensure the rapid transfer of 6G technology into innovative products is expected to launch later this year. 

 

The European Commission wants to identify ongoing green hydrogen projects in the EU, and to do so, it is inviting all members of the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance, an industry and public stakeholder forum for creating a green hydrogen value chain in the EU, to submit their initiatives.

A call for projects is open until 7 May. In June, the alliance will meet to review the submissions and provide matchmaking opportunities for the different projects. “[This call] will help build the project pipeline and assess and address gaps and bottlenecks in the clean hydrogen value chain,” said Thierry Breton, EU internal market commissioner.

Green hydrogen is looked to as key to decarbonising Europe’s energy mix. The Commission hopes to scale up its green hydrogen production in the next three years to 1 million tonnes per year, but huge investments, an estimated €470 billion in investments for the next thirty years, are still needed to reach the goal. The alliance, whose role is to identify and build up a pipeline of viable investment projects along the hydrogen value chain, is one of the key instruments for streamlining and fostering innovation.

 

The German Research Foundation (DFG) is setting up nine new research units in fields ranging from laser beam welding to the immune system of chickens, and a new clinical unit for kidney research, with a budget of €41 million.

DFG-funded research units are teams of researchers working on big collaborative projects that last around eight years and explore novel research directions. There are currently 189 active research units as well as 15 dedicated to clinical research and 17 in the field of humanities and social sciences.

The newly established research units seek to explore the regenerative capacity of former pasture and cocoa plantations in an Ecuadorian forest reserve, study X-rays from the final stages of stellar evolution, improve the quality of lasers used in welding, analyse the evolution of the sexual reproduction of plants, learn how humans develop somatic symptoms, observe the rare decay of a muon elementary particle (Mu) into three electrons, take a deep dive into theoretical linguistics, study self-regulation in teens and young adults, improve translational kidney research and explore the immune system of chickens.

 

Start-ups can now apply for funding from the EU start-up fund, the European Innovation Council (EIC), which launched last month after a three-year pilot phase. This year, there is €1 billion in the funding pot, with €495 million earmarked for green, and digital and health technologies.

SMEs can submit short pitches for grants of up to €2.5 million and equity investments of up to €15 million at any point. The successful applicants will be invited to follow-up with a longer application.

To manage the grants, the Commission has remodelled the Executive Agency for SMEs (EASME) to include the EIC. The new agency, called EISMEA, was launched last week together with a new organisation chart that gives a glimpse into how the Commission will organise the work of the EIC.

The chart shows Viorel Peca, who managed the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) programme for breakthrough innovations under Horizon 2020, will continue his work in the new agency as head of unit for transition and business acceleration services.

 

The Commission is one step closer to creating the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), a huge repository of research results, after a €30 million project completed its mission to lay the foundations for its infrastructure.

The project delivered nine key results for establishing the marketplace and working environment for the cloud, including developing the EOSC Portal for accessing the resources, defining the architecture of EOSC’s functions and integrating more than 80 service providers into the portfolio.

“The EOSC-hub has laid the foundations and backbone of Europe’s Open Science Cloud, making enormous strides for tackling Europe’s fragmented research ecosystem,” said project coordinator Tiziana Ferrari.

The open science cloud has been in the making since 2015. By 2030, the Commission hopes the EOSC will allow 2 million European researchers to store, share and reuse data in the EU.

 

The Spanish government has published its first €35 million call for proposals as part of a €160 million three-year programme for aeronautical research.

Funded projects will be expected to increase aircraft efficiency with the aim to completely eliminate pollution from air traffic, strengthen national research capacity in the sector and promote multipurpose aircraft and systems.

The call is open to consortia of private companies with the possibility to subcontract research organisations. Applications are accepted until 7 June.

 

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