01 Feb 2021

HORIZON BLOG: Research and innovation in the next EU budget (Archived)

This blog has been archived. A new one has been set up at this link.

The European Commission is working on a new proposal for its 2021-2027 multiannual budget, which is to be paired with a recovery plan aimed at helping the EU come out of the looming recession set in motion by the coronavirus pandemic.

Here, we gather the latest news and reactions to how the EU is planning to fund its research and innovation programmes during the difficult period ahead.

Tips are welcome at [email protected].

 

Spain’s private sector research funding agency, the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology, today announced it will fund 50 new research projects worth €51 million.

The projects, which are set to receive a total of 38 million from the government, will be carried out by 53 companies, including 37 are SMEs, in sectors such as food, biotechnology, communications, chemicals and transport.

This is the third tranche of investment in business R&D from the funding agency this year, with 187 million committed to 175 research projects in January.

 

Researchers submitted a total of 1550 proposals for the European Commission’s €1 billion Green Deal research call that closed last week.

The last and biggest call under the EU’s research programme, Horizon 2020, invited researchers to submit proposals in ten areas: strengthening knowledge, empowering citizens, and eight topics corresponding with the EU’s Green Deal priorities.

Researchers submitted the biggest number of proposals, 373, in the citizen empowerment category, which funds research into engaging EU citizens with Europe’s green goals. The second most popular category was farm-to-fork, which called for testing and demonstrating sustainable food innovations, with 260 submissions. At third place, researchers submitted 256 applications for clean energy research funding.

 

Croatia is investing €61 million from EU cohesion funds to modernise and expand the country’s largest natural sciences and technology research institute, the Ruđer Bošković Institute in Zagreb.

The EU-supported project aims to improve the institute’s research capacity and working conditions in an attempt to prevent brain drain and encourage Croatian scientists to carry out research in their home country.

 

The Irish Research Council, the country’s basic research funder, today received a €3.2 million budget top-up to increase its funding for early-career researchers.

The extra funding will support close to 1,300 early-career researchers and increase the postgraduate stipend from €16,000 to €18,500 a year.

"The Irish Research Council’s goal is to attract the very best talent into research across all disciplines, and alignment of funding for their stipends and salaries with national norms is essential in achieving that objective,” said Simon Harris, the country’s minister for higher education, research, innovation and science.

 

EU policymakers are meeting today for another round of negotiations on the legislation of the EU‘s innovation agency, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). The negotiators have signalled today's meeting may bring an agreement, closing yet another chapter in the long Horizon Europe negotiations.

The agreement is expected to bring forward two new Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) to the EIT, give more weight to the regional innovation scheme, and ensure greater geographical balance in the EIT-run innovation communities.

 

The European Research Council (ERC), the EU’s basic research financing body, yesterday announced it will publish the draft documents for 2021 funding calls by the beginning of February.

The first calls of the year were meant to launch this month but were held back due to the delay in agreeing the budget of the EU’s next research programme, Horizon Europe, which will formally launch next week.  

 

The European Commission today approved a €12 billion Important Project of Common European interest (IPCEI) which will attempt to revolutionise the EU battery market.  

“Europe is cementing its position as a global hot-spot for battery investments,” said EU vice-president, Maroš Šefčovič, and highlighted that batteries are “vital to our transition to climate neutrality.”

The project brings together 12 member states that will provide up to €2.9 billion in financing for the IPCEI, which will span 46 R&I projects designed by 42 companies, which will provide a further €9 billion in private investment.

 

The European Investment Fund is investing its first €45 million in two venture capital funds to support innovative blue economy projects as part of the €75 million EU blue economy financing programme, BlueInvest.

The two funds, Astanor Ventures and Blue Horizon Ventures I, will support start-ups developing innovative products, materials and services for a sustainable blue economy with the funding backed by the EU’s research programme, Horizon 2020.

Three more investments are expected to launch as part of BlueInvest in 2021.

 

There is an “exceptional need” for policy makers to be able to draw on advice from scientists across multiple disciplines, according to Paul Nurse, deputy chair of the European Commission’s Group of Chief Scientific Advisers, in a discussion on science and ethics in a new episode of the science academies podcast, Science for Policy.

Nurse was joined in the discussion by Christiane Woopen, chair of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies, and Peter Piot, special advisor to the Commission president on COVID-19. For the past six months, the three have been involved along with others, in providing scientific advice on COVID-19 and pandemics.

In the podcast they debate why institutional barriers and different use of language can make providing multidisciplinary science advice so difficult, whether there are ways to make it easier, and if policymakers should seek ethics advice as well as science advice. They also discussed how to navigate conflict sensitively when it lies between the values embedded in different cultural contexts, and the challenges of giving advice in a crisis.

 

Spain today announced 24 projects that will receive a total of €118 million in funding to contribute to the country’s five research missions, ambitious programmes aimed at addressing pressing challenges.

Sixteen projects managed by large business consortia and eight managed by SMEs will address five challenges facing the country: the clean energy transition, sustainable and smart mobility, sustainable agri-food sector, industrial revolution of the 21st century, and diseases and ageing.

 

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