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

20 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 Investment Bank has set aside €15 million in funding for a new cybersecurity platform developed by the Dutch company EclecticIQ.

The funding will be invested in the company’s research and development efforts and help the EclecticIQ expand to new countries. “With this financing, we plan to accelerate the development of our unique cybersecurity platform which helps organisations stay ahead of rapidly evolving threats and outmanoeuvre attackers,” said Joep Gommers, CEO and co-founder of EclecticIQ.

 

The Spanish government is set to fund award seven companies €16.6 million to help boost their growth and innovation activities in fields such as biotechnology, manufacturing and satellite development.

The biggest chunk of the award, €5.5 million, will go to Algaenergy, a biotech that develops algae-based biostimulants for agriculture. The second largest investment, which reaches €4.5 million, will fund Greene Waste to Energy, a waste disposal plant operator that developed a way to turn organic waste to energy.

This is the second part of funding under the Innvierte programme for industrial R&D in which the government has already invested €29 million since the start of the year.

 

The Irish Research Council is putting €7.9 million in 80 postgraduate and postdoctoral research projects enabling early-career researchers to jointly work with 70 industry, non-governmental and public organisations.

The projects will seek to train young scientists for roles in different sectors, in return offering employers talent and low-risk, flexible project opportunities.

Talent and innovation are key priorities of my department and will be increasingly important to build a sustainable 21st century economy. This investment will further boost the skills and knowledge pipeline for innovation in industry and employers,” said Simon Harris, minister for education and research.

 

The European Research Executive Agency, which manages most project proposals submitted under EU calls for research , is looking for those interested in evaluating and monitoring projects to submit their applications to its experts database.

The applicants can come from any country granted they have expertise in one of the research fields covered by the agency. They can represent industry, business associations, innovation agencies, non-governmental and international organisations, local, regional and national administrations, universities and research institutes.

Applicants from Switzerland are also welcome to apply, despite the country’s strained research ties with the EU. While Swiss researchers can now participate in only around two thirds of the EU research programme, Horizon Europe, calls, the same restrictions do not apply to potential evaluators coming from the country.

 

Kosovo has completed talks with the European Commission on Horizon Europe association, becoming the first third-country to complete negotiations dedicated to participation in the EU research programme.

Horizon Europe association will give the Balkan country equal footing with EU member states when participating in the research programme. But it will take until around November for the two sides to complete the necessary paperwork before the deal can be ratified.

The negotiations with seventeen other EU neighbours in the East and South that were associated to Horizon Europe’s predecessor, Horizon 2020, are also expected to finish in the coming weeks.

 

The EU start-up fund, the European Innovation Council (EIC), and the EU-supported health innovation community EIT Health are rolling out their first joint collaboration aimed at boosting innovation in the healthcare sector.

In the next year, with a budget of €1 million from the EU’s research programme, Horizon 2020, the two EU innovation agencies will work on empowering entrepreneurs in the health sector with combined support. This week, the EIT Health opened up its first programme, Bridgehead, which help European start-ups expand from their home to international markets through funding and support services.

“The partnership between EIT Health and the EIC will allow two powerful advocates to come together to accelerate European start-ups with the full force of our respective resources,” said Kurt Höller, director of business creation at EIT Health.

The EIC and the EIT, which runs knowledge and innovation communities in eight sectors, including EIT Health, first signed a cooperation agreement aimed at boosting the EU's innovation ecosystem in January and have been working on finding the most effective ways to join efforts since. Opening the Bridgehead doors to EIC supported start-ups is the first concrete step of their cooperation in the field of health.

 

Poland and Ukraine are embarking on a new three-year research cooperation , which will include joint expeditions, researchers exchanges and information sharing.

Under the agreement signed by the presidents of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, up 20 Ukrainian scientists under 35 will visit the Polish institution each month. The two academies also hope to jointly participate in the EU research programme, Horizon Europe, as well as other international research projects.

The two academies have been working together to boost their scientific efforts since 1997, and the new agreement will further deepen the ties.

 

Poland is increasing its research funding for this year by €6.5 million, or 30 million złoty, to ensure more eligible early-career researchers can secure grants from its National Science Centre.

In the last few years, the percentage of applicants that are awarded grants by the country’s main research funder has drastically decreased from 25% to around 15%, which means some worthy proposals may be missing out on funding due to low national research budgets. The top-up – the first of a number of foreseen steps to increasing science funding in the country – will allow the centre to finance more projects and stop success rates from falling further.

The extra money will be directed to two of the country’s leading funding programmes for early-career researchers and those aiming to secure their first grant from the National Science Centre.

 

Germany is investing €16 million in 53 projects taking inspiration from nature to develop novel materials in a bid to strengthen the country’s technology sovereignty.

“We have to develop new, innovative materials in order to be able to further develop other promising key technologies such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing or battery technologies and to help shape them internationally. It is therefore very important to me to tread innovative paths in materials research and to benefit from impulses from related scientific disciplines such as the biosciences,” said German research minister Anja Karliczek.

The projects are expected to take lessons from nature and biology to develop materials such as a novel coating for joint implants modelled after the human cartilage helping reduce the wear and tear of implants as well as self-healing plastic for rotor blades in wind turbines that would help lower maintenance costs.

 

This year’s edition of the Shanghai ranking of world universities sees American institutions triumph, taking 16 out of the top 20 places.

The oldest global ranking rating universities based on a variety of indicators, the Shanghai list is topped by Harvard University, followed by Stanford University, while the University of Cambridge takes third place -- mirroring the results of the previous four editions. 

The EU’s sole entry in the top 20 is the Paris-Saclay University, which has climbed up by one spot to number 13 since last year. The French minister for higher education and research Frédérique Vidal welcomed the result, crediting the country’s revamped university policy which has seen smaller universities merging to form bigger, more powerful insitutions, including the Paris-Saclay University. “More than ever, the new university models put in place in 2018 are proving their worth: three of the four French universities ranked in the top 100 have thus resulted from this policy of regrouping institutions,” said the minister.

 

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