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.
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Stefan Kauffman, member of the German Bundestag, says future prosperity depends on the balance between openness and need for security in research and innovation.
Kaufmann noted the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the issue of protectionism and exposed the fragility of the global supply chains. Now, it is time to find balance. “This needs to be addressed on an international level,” he added.
Ernest J. Moniz, former US energy secretary under Barrack Obama, says the 2020s should be “a decade of supercharged innovation” for climate control.
“This is the time when we really need to juice up that innovation agenda and get through research, development, demonstration and some deployment by 2030. Or the world isn’t going to be able to do the job of massive deployment by 2050,” said Moniz.
To do so, climate R&D funding should triple and the world must be open to exploring a wide range of new technologies, including more controversial options such as nuclear power and carbon storage.
Sinan Atlığ, the regional president for vaccines and international developed markets at Pfizer, says the development process of the Pfizer/BioNTech was a chance to “challenge ourselves to find opportunities to do things differently.”
In addition to developing a novel vaccine in record time, the company innovated its system for testing potential candidates, moving from testing to one by one to testing four candidates in parallel.
Pfizer also designed novel packaging and storage for rapid scale-up. “This meant that vaccination could begin in Europe immediately,” said Atlığ.
All of this could not have been done without a fast reaction from regulators, noted Atlığ.
Slovenia’s science minister Simona Kustec says the revamped attempt to create a European Research Area (ERA) will succeed because the EU now admits it is better at saying rather than doing.
Kustec also named renewed interest in science following the COVID-19 pandemic and the Commission’s increased commitment to ERA as the driving forces behind the renewed efforts.
Simona Kustec, Slovenia’s science minister, says Europe must put global cooperation and open knowledge at the heart of its acitivities.
“Our competitive advantage does not come from public subsidies but from our capacity to create knowledge. This is where Europe is unbeatable,” said Kustec.
Executive vice president of the European Commission, Margrethe Vestager, says Important Projects of Common European interest (IPCEIs) will play a key role in Europe’s green transition by encouraging knowledge sharing.
A recently launched IPCEI on batteries raised €2.9 billion of public investment and crowded in €9 billion in private investment. “The thing that comes with this €2.9 billion of public investment is a degree of openness you never otherwise see,” said Vestager.
The businesses that are involved with the projects “oblige themselves to share in conference, in workshops, in publications the knowledge being created, but also to enable SMEs to use some of the sites for piloting their own projects.”
Kicking off the second day of the annual Science|Business conference, vice president of the European Commission Margrethe Vestager said strategic autonomy and Europe’s openness go hand in hand.
“I would never say strategic autonomy without open in front of it,” said Vestager. “I recognise a good merger when I see it.”
Regulation is key, but “If you want to be a good regulator, you need to know quite a bit about the things you are regulating,” Vestager noted, adding that right now, democracy still needs to catch up with the technology.
The European Commission today proposed to set up new research partnerships with member states and industry to help the EU iinnovate ten key industries.
The Commission hopes to provide €10 billion for the ten public-private partnerships from the EU’s research programme, Horizon Europe, with an equivalent or bigger contribution matched by industry and member states.
The proposal for the ten research partnerships will now go into the hands of the EU Council and the European Parliament which will negotiate the final terms of the partnerships.
The ten partnerships will aim to improve EU preparedness for infectious disease outbreaks, develop low-carbon aircraft, create an EU-wide health R&I ecosystem, accelerate clean hydrogen innovation, improve the sustainability of bio-based industries, digitise and automate Europe’s rail, support Europe’s technology sovereignty and stimulate metrology research.
Earlier this month, MEP Maria da Graça Carvalho was selected to represent the Parliament in the negotiations with the Council on the details of the partnerships.
Research institutes and private companies call on the EU to strengthen international research cooperation.
"It’s not ideal to sketch ways out of this crisis in terms of going back to national or regional options, but rather strengthen this international collaboration," said Mathias Rauch, director for research strategy and policy at Fraunhofer.
"The absence of barriers, that’s our key thing that we look for," said Ronenn Roubenoff, global head for translational medicine discovery at Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research. "When there are things that make it more difficult to work in one place, we’ve had to go somewhere else," Roubenoff said.
The European Commission is to launch a data gathering campaign on researchers’ mobility to learn more about research career paths and to mitigate brain drain.
“We would like to broaden the scope toward assisting researchers and their families for smooth, integration in the labour market in the country where they are,” said Gabriel.