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

20 Sep 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.

 

Starting this week, two new online platforms will provide resources to policymakers and other stakeholders interested in EU cooperation in research and innovation with Africa and the Mediterranean countries.

The two one-stop-shops are part of the Commission’s new global research strategy and the comprehensive strategy with Africa, together with two other projects aimed at deepening the partnership with African countries: the ENRICH project for boosting innovation and ARISE grants for early-career researchers. 

“EU-African Union cooperation in the field of research and innovation has clearly gained momentum,” said Sarah Anyang Agbor, African Union commissioner.

 

The EU research programme will provide €4.1 billion to 11 research infrastructures in fields like neuroscience, offshore renewable energy, religious studies, big data and demographics.

The selection of the 11 science facilities is the culmination of a two-year evaluation process by the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI.

This is the EU's highest investments in research infrastructures since 2006, with an average €380 million per project. The last ESFRI roadmap with projects selected in 2018 had a budget of €674 million for financing leading EU science infrastructures.

This year’s group of projects also boasts the highest value project ever on the ESFRI roadmap, the Einstein Telescope, the first and most advanced third-generation gravitational-wave observatory, which will be funded with €1.9 billion.

 

The EU must urgently spring into action to develop a flexible and efficient climate-neutral energy system in time to have a net-zero economy by 2050, according to the European Commission’s Group of Chief Scientific Advisors.

“Achieving the full decarbonization of the EU energy system by mid-century is possible, but it requires urgent and decisive action to integrate emissions-free energy sources and uses in a flexible way,” said Nebojsa Nakicenovic, lead adviser for the group’s opinion on the energy transition.

The group recommends using a mix of renewable sources, electrification, and hydrogen to reach the goal, as well as investing in the integration of infrastructures, and supporting research and innovation.

The transition should take place in an inclusive and participatory environment, involving citizens in the process, and avoiding putting sole focus on technology, the scientists stressed.

 

Personal data can now flow freely from the EU to the UK, where it benefits from an equivalent level of protection to that guaranteed by EU general data protection law, the GDPR.

The UK's data protection system continues to be based on the same rules that were applicable when the UK was a member states, the European Commission has decided.

The decision allows for personal data to circulate freely to the UK. This is crucial for cooperation in many fields, including research and higher education.

University representatives welcome the decision. Universities will be able to share data as beforethe UK’s decision to leave the EU. “This is one of the final pieces of the puzzle of post Brexit research and higher education cooperation,” said Thomas Jørgensen, senior policy coordinator at the European University Association (EUA).

 

The European Innovation Council (EIC) has announced a €12 million investment in a potential COVID-19 treatment developed by French biotechnology company Xenothera.

The anti-COVID19 treatment, XAV-19, is based on a patented antibody production technology.

“Xenothera is a great example of how the European Union is helping top innovators unfold solutions to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mariya Gabriel, EU commissioner for research and innovation.

“The EIC Fund's ambitious commitment, alongside other investors, is an important step to boost Xenothera in their development of an antibody treatment for COVID-19 infection,” said Gabriel.

This investment is part of €500 million packaged of equity investments announced by the EIC this month.

Since its launch in 2020, the EIC Fund has now approved 111 investments in highly innovative start-ups and small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs).

 

The legal framework of the new EU Cybersecurity Competence Centre and its corresponding network of national centres was approved today, allowing the new centre aimed at boosting EU cybersecurity research and capacity to come to live.

The new centre is currently being established in Bucharest with the help of the European Commission. Once fully up and running, it will coordinate the work of national cybersecurity agencies, pool resources from EU, member state and industry funds, and define a roadmap for the development and deployment of cybersecurity innovations.

 

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.

 

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