Welcome to today’s Morning Brief. The Morning Brief  newsletter is available to INESC staff and affiliated researchers upon subscription, after creating an account in the Private Area of the HUB website, or those who wish to subscribe. To do so, click the log-in icon on the top-right corner of this website or go to the Morning Brief page and click the subscribe button.

 

Contact us:
Mariana Santos, INESC Brussels HUB Communications Officer
mariana.f.santos@inesctec.pt

In today's Morning Brief:

Key Takeaways

– The recently released European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS) and Regional Innovation Scoreboard (RIS) show that EU Member States and their regions have made progress in their innovation performance despite recent crises. The EIS categorizes countries into four performance groups, with Portugal being classified as a Moderate innovator. The RIS assesses the performance of innovation systems across various regions, with Norte, Centro, Lisboa e Alentejo in Portugal considered Moderate innovators, while Algarve, RAAçores, and RAMadeira are seen as Emerging Innovators

– Spain’s six-month presidency of the EU emphasizes the expansion of research and innovation, strategic autonomy, digitization, and green policies. They aim to develop a fair and human research and innovation system that addresses economic, environmental, and social challenges. Spain aims to promote science and innovation to benefit European citizens and democracies, fostering closer cooperation with Latin America and the southern Mediterranean region.

– Global investment in clean technology and manufacturing is on the rise, propelled by initiatives such as the US Inflation Reduction Act and the EU Green Deal Industrial Plan. These initiatives have the potential to attract substantial investments, with the US expecting around $1.7 trillion and the EU allocating €578 billion in public funding. The surge in demand for cleantech solutions presents opportunities for EU member states, including Portugal, which possesses low-cost hydrogen and lithium deposits.

– The European Commission has recently announced the funding of 18 projects with a total budget of over €106 million as part of the EU Mission “Restore our Ocean and Waters.” These projects involve more than 370 beneficiaries from 36 countries, including SMEs, research institutions, local authorities, schools, and businesses. The projects have a significant role to play in achieving climate neutrality and restoring nature.

 

Horizon Europe

Horizon Europe Policy Support Facility is out

The European Commission published the newest edition of the newsletter Horizon Europe Support Facility.

Since 2015, the Horizon Policy Support Facility gives Member States and countries associated to Horizon Europe practical support to design, implement and evaluate reforms that enhance the quality of their research and innovation investments, policies and systems.

The Horizon Europe Policy Support Facility provides good practice, independent high-level expertise and guidance at the request of Member States and Associated Countries through a number of services. Read this month´s edition here.

 

New Zealand joins Horizon Europe Research and Innovation Programme

This week in Brussels, the Commission and New Zealand signed the association agreement on the participation of New Zealand in Horizon Europe, the EU’s research and innovation programme.

This marks the first association with a close partner that is not geographically close to Europe. It marks a completely new approach whereby the EU is strengthening its ties even more with trusted partners with a solid scientific base and a robust research track record.

Association to Horizon Europe means that researchers and organisations in New Zealand will be able to participate in Pillar II of the programme, the most relevant and biggest collaborative part that is primarily focused on shared global challenges in climate, energy, mobility, digital, industry and space, health, and more. They will collaborate in the programme on equal terms with entities from the EU Member States and will have access to Horizon Europe funding and networks of researchers in Europe and beyond aimed at tackling global challenges. Read the Commission statement here.

 

Semiconductors: MEPs adopt legislation to boost EU chips industry

The European Parliament has adopted plans to secure the EU’s supply of chips by boosting production, and innovation, and establishing emergency measures against shortages. The legislation seeks to create a favourable environment for chip investments in Europe by streamlining permitting procedures and recognizing their critical importance. Small and medium-sized businesses will receive increased support to foster innovation, particularly in chip design. The law will support projects that attract investment and enhance production capacity, with €3.3 billion allocated for chip research and innovation. A crisis response mechanism will also be established to assess risks, trigger shortage alerts, and implement emergency measures if necessary.

Rapporteur Dan Nica emphasized the European Chips Act’s goal of strengthening the EU’s position in the global semiconductor landscape and addressing vulnerabilities exposed by the pandemic. The legislation aims to enhance technological capacity, combat potential shortages, and prioritize strategic autonomy, security, and a favourable business environment. With a strong majority of votes in favour, the legislation will now require endorsement by the Council of Ministers to become law. Know more here.

 

Horizon Europe deal needs to work for UK taxpayers, says Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak emphasizes the need for a Brexit-based agreement for the UK’s re-entry into the EU’s Horizon Europe science scheme to benefit British taxpayers financially.

Researchers remain hopeful for a successful agreement as Britain looks to rejoin both the Horizon program and the Copernicus Earth observation satellite program after formally leaving in January 2020.

However, a bilateral meeting between the U.K. prime minister and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, which had been expected to take place Tuesday on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Vilnius, has still not been firmed up.

 

Excellence Hubs: strengthening regional innovation in Widening countries

Excellence Hubs focus on innovation in Widening countries and beyond. They allow innovation ecosystems to team up and create better connections between academia, business, government and society. To be eligible for Excellence hubs, the coordinator must be from a Widening country however the participants in the project can be from any country associated with the Horizon Europe programme.

The first call for proposals for this action was launched in November 2021, with 13 selected projects and more than EUR 50 million in Horizon Europe funding available. The second call for proposals will open on 28 September 2023, with an overall indicative budget of EUR 60 million. 

Find out more about the Excellence Hubs funding opportunity for Widening countries and how to build a successful application for your project here.

 

Initial Open Innovation Test Beds Encounter Financial Challenges in the First Year

The first generation of networks of labs set up to provide facilities and equipment where companies can test new materials faces a “challenging” financial year and still needs public funding, despite already receiving hundreds of millions of euros, according to a progress report.

Since 2019, Open Innovation Test Beds (OITBs) have received €319 million through Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe to give European industry, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, a place to develop everything from new batteries to inhaled drugs before bringing them to market.

As explained by, OITBs bring together existing technology facilities in at least three countries and are supposed to give companies a single legal entity to deal with, making the testing of new products less bureaucratic.

 

Research & Innovation

New initiatives to empower research careers and strengthen the European Research Area

This week, the Commission unveiled a comprehensive set of measures targeted at strengthening the European Research Area (ERA) and making it more resilient, appealing, and competitive. These will contribute to a priority action of the ERA Policy Agenda 2022-2024, namely to promote attractive and sustainable research careers.

These initiatives will substantially benefit 2 million researchers across Europe by supporting stable and well-paid work opportunities. Early-career researchers and other European research talents, in particular, will be encouraged to stay in Europe while addressing issues of precariousness in their careers. Simultaneously, efforts will be made to position Europe as an enticing destination for international talents, further bolstering its attractiveness on the global stage.

The set of measures includes:

  • A proposal for a Council Recommendation that establishes a new European framework for research careers;
  • A new Charter for Researchers, replacing the 2005 Charter and Code for Researchers with new and revised principles;
  • The European Competence Framework for Researchers (ResearchComp) to support inter-sectoral mobility of researchers.

Know more here.

 

Sweden’s researchers outraged at Decision to axe development-research Funding

The international-development research community in Sweden is facing upheaval as the government recently announced the discontinuation of all public research funding for the field. The Swedish Research Council (VR), the country’s largest research funder, will no longer provide grants for development research, resulting in an immediate loss of 180 million Swedish kronor (US$16.4 million) in funding.

This decision has sparked a backlash among researchers, with over 600 of them signing an open letter condemning the move and urging its reversal. The letter expresses concern that the government’s decision undermines the research support system and wastes the time and effort to prepare grant applications. Sweden has long been recognized as a prominent contributor to development research and research assistance, with a legacy spanning over 50 years. The decision to halt funding jeopardizes the country’s standing in this field.

The sudden withdrawal of public research funding for development research in Sweden has sent shockwaves through the academic community. Researchers are calling for reconsidering this decision, emphasizing Sweden’s significant contribution to global development research and expressing concerns about the broader impact on confidence in the research support system. Read more here.

 

Towards the next technological transition: Commission presents EU strategy to lead on Web 4.0 and virtual worlds

The Commission has recently introduced a new strategy focused on Web 4.0 and virtual worlds, aiming to guide the upcoming technological shift and establish an open, secure, trustworthy, fair, and inclusive digital environment for EU citizens, businesses, and public administrations.

With the internet evolving rapidly, we have already witnessed the emergence of Web 3.0, characterized by openness, decentralization, and user empowerment. However, the next generation, Web 4.0, will integrate digital and physical objects and environments to a new level, enabling advanced interactions between humans and machines.

The outlook of the EU economy beyond 2030, published in March, highlights digitalisation as one of its key drivers and Web 4.0 as a major technological transition bringing a seamlessly interconnected, intelligent and immersive world. The global virtual worlds market size is estimated to grow from €27 billion in 2022 to over €800 billion by 2030. Read more here.

 

Transition Pathway for the Chemical Industry: Commission launches call for transition initiatives

This week, the Commission launched a call for transition initiatives to achieve the green and digital transition of the EU chemical industry. This call is key to working together with stakeholders to co-implement the actions highlighted in the Transition Pathway for the Chemical Industry. These actions aim to strengthen the EU chemical industry’s competitiveness, reduce its vulnerability to a changing geopolitical landscape while supporting investments in safe and sustainable chemicals.

All organisations from SMEs to larger companies, public administration, civil society groups and other interested parties are invited to participate. The call will allow businesses and organisations to showcase what they are doing and intend to do for a climate-friendlier, greener, and more digital chemical industry, such as projects on green tech solutions and reducing CO2 emissions.

Once collected, transition initiatives will be published online to promote knowledge and synergies among different stakeholders and their activities. Moreover, the collection of transition initiatives will help identify the main gaps and inspire further actions to accelerate the transformation of the EU Chemical Industry towards a climate-neutral future. More info here.

 

Parliament adopts new rules to boost energy savings

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have approved plans, already agreed with the Council, that establish new energy-saving targets for 2030 as part of the European Green Deal. The law sets targets for the EU’s primary and final energy consumption. Member states collectively need to ensure a reduction in energy consumption of at least 11.7% at the EU level by 2030, with an average annual energy savings target of 1.5%. The targets should be met through local, regional, and national measures across various sectors, including the public sector, buildings, businesses, and data centres. MEPs emphasized the importance of covering the public sector and renovating public buildings into nearly-zero energy or zero-emission buildings.

Rapporteur Niels Fuglsang expressed satisfaction with adopting more ambitious energy efficiency targets, highlighting the need for structural changes to address the energy crisis and reduce dependency on Russian energy. A significant majority in Parliament adopted the legislation and will now require endorsement by the Council of Ministers before entering into force. The directive aligns with the European Commission’s ‘Fit for 55′ package, which aims to adapt climate and energy legislation to achieve a minimum 55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. By advancing this directive, MEPs are responding to citizens’ proposals from the Conference on the Future of Europe, addressing the reduction of oil and gas imports, investment in renewable energy technologies, exploration of eco-friendly energy sources, and promotion of greener production processes by companies. Know more here.

 

EU policymakers prepare to close first aspects of AI regulation

The initial sections of the EU’s significant AI law have already been approved at the technical level. The provisions aimed at fostering innovation and the requirement for a fundamental rights impact assessment may also receive similar clearance in the future, as reported by Euractiv.

The AI Act is a legislative proposal to regulate Artificial Intelligence based on its potential to cause harm. The draft law is currently at the last stage of the legislative process, the so-called trilogues between the EU Council, Parliament, and Commission.

The Spanish presidency of the EU Council of Ministers shared on 10 July a document in preparation for the trilogue, asking the other member states to confirm parts of the text that have already been agreed upon and flexibility on more political issues.

The parts ready for confirmation at the political level are the obligations of providers and users of high-risk systems, conformity assessment bodies, and technical standards, whilst flexibility is asked on the innovation provisions and the fundamental rights impact assessment.

 

Sweeping reforms aim to make French research system stronger

France is on the verge of appointing its inaugural government chief scientific adviser as part of broader reforms to the research system. This move is in response to a report submitted to Sylvie Retailleau, the minister of Education and Research, by scientific experts who have called for these reforms.

As reported by Science Business, five researchers, each from a different discipline, put forward 14 proposals to reorganise, simplify and transform France’s research and innovation environment after Retailleau commissioned them to conduct a review last December.

 

France’s downward trend and three more takeaways from EU’s latest Innovation Scoreboard

France and Luxembourg are the two EU countries whose overall performance in the European Innovation Scoreboard has slipped since 2016. This is one notable takeaway from the European Commission’s annual report published last week and assessed now on Science Business.

Both France and Luxembourg continue to maintain their status as “strong innovators,” which is the second-highest classification in terms of innovation. However, France has experienced significant declines in certain areas over the past seven years. This includes non-R&D expenditure, which encompasses funding for equipment, training, marketing, and other expenses.

France’s performance in generating intellectual property, as measured by the number of patent and trademark applications, has also been negatively affected.

At the same time, R&D expenditure in the public sector has fallen by 4.8 percentage points since 2016, while private sector R&D investment has remained unchanged. The graphic below illustrates the overall performance change I the past seven years.

 

News from INESC institutes

Researcher from INESC TEC appointed as editor-in-chief of an international publication on data analysis and science

Over the next three years, João Gama, a researcher at INESC TEC, will serve as the editor-in-chief of the JSDA – International Journal of Data Science and Analytics. This publication promotes the presentation and discussion of new trends and opportunities, the exchange of ideas and practices, and fostering collaboration across domains, to advance the field of data analysis and science. Read more.

 

Human-drone interaction: INESC TEC demonstrates technology in an exercise promoted by the Portuguese army

The first ARmy Technological EXperimentation (ARTEX 23) exercise, aimed at testing technological solutions with potential military applications, took place in Portugal with the participation of INESC TEC. The Army Technological Experimentation and Modernization Center (CEMTEx) organised the event and showcased technologies from various companies and research institutes. Its purpose was to test solutions in real scenarios, assess adaptability, and foster technological innovation in the defence sector.

During the event, INESC TEC presented an innovative solution for person-drone interaction. This concept involved autonomous human-machine interaction, where a wearable device monitored the vital signs and activities of a soldier, as well as environmental conditions (e.g., temperature, humidity). The system autonomously interacted with a drone, capable of 3D reconstruction and autonomous flight, including rescue manoeuvres for soldiers. More info.

 

Job Opportunities

– INESC TEC has 46 vacancies in different work areas, such as Electrical Engineering, Power Systems-Smart Grids, Robotics, and more. Find more at INESCTEC website and via LinkedIn

– INESC Coimbra is hiring a First Stage Researcher (R1) in Electrical Engineering — application deadline: 24 July 2023. More info

– INESC ID has no open positions for now, but keep updated on their website. More info

– INESC MN is hiring a Junior Characterization Engineer, a Clean Room Process Engineer, and a Junior Researcher – Electrical Engineering. More info

– INOV is hiring a Systems and Network Engineer and a Software Engineer (Full stack) More info

 

Events & Training workshops

SEPTEMBER

– 2nd Science|Business Sector Day: Green Deal & Climate – The road to net-zero industry. 18-19 September 2023, 14:00 – 12:30 CET, Brussels. Members only. More info

-Horizon Europe – Cluster 6: “Food, bioeconomy, natural resources, agriculture and environment”. 27-28 info days. More info

– 2023 European Researchers Night, 29 September. Find more here.

OCTOBER

– The Widening: Founding Group Meeting. 10 October 2023 (TBC), 10:00 – 13:00 CET, Brussels. Members only. More info

– Making waves: Is international R&I bringing a true blue economy within reach? 12 October 2023, 14:00 – 16:45 CET, Brussels. Members only. More info

NOVEMBER

– 3rd Science|Business Sector Day: Health & Life Sciences – Future-proofing medicines. 13-14 November 2023. 14:00 – 12:30 CET, Brussels. By invitation only. More info

– Horizon Europe: FP10 and Preparing for the 2024 Annual Conference. 28 November 2023. 15:00 – 17:00 CET. Online. Members only. More info

– Behave 2023, the 7th European Conference on Behaviour and Energy Efficiency by the European Energy Network (EnR). 28-29 November. The event will take place in Maastricht, the Netherlands. The theme of this year’s conference will be ‘Scaling-up Behaviour Change in the light of the energy and climate crisis’. More info.

DECEMBER

– The Widening: 2023 Annual Conference. 06 December 2023 (TBC). 13:30 – 17:30 CET. Place TBA. Public event. More info

2024

– Annual Network Conference. 06 February 2024. 09:00-17:30 CET. Brussels. Public event. More info

– 8th World Conference on Research Integrity, 2-5 June 2024, at Megaron Athens International Conference Centre (MAICC), Athens. Travel Grant applications open on 26 June 2023. More info

More Articles

22/03/2024 – Revamping the Brief, Green & Digital Transitions, Biotech, AI & Ethics, HE Strategic Plan, and Global Impact & much more

In today’s Morning Brief:
Policies
Commission´s priority with the FP 10 preparation
Figuring out the role of AI in Science
Research Security: more important than ever
Horizon international expansion: the access to more excellent science
The Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU
Highlights in the European Research and Innovation landscape for 2024
Funding
Funding areas and grants for the beginning of the year
Artificial Intelligence and Data Science
United Nations releases interim report: shaping global AI governance for humanity
Energy
Wind farms as seafood hubs: innovative research explores offshore cultivation
Securing rare earths for Europe’s high-tech industries
Research & Innovation
Horizon Europe cuts would cause “serious damage”, science organisations warn
Innovative Implementation of the Partnership Principle in EU Cohesion Policy
Jacques Delors, architect of a united Europe, is dead at 98
INESC News
INESC TEC contributes to ERA FABRIC’s milestone: first joint policy brief published
INESC TEC leads a project that developed tools for managing the electrical grid of the future
Job Opportunities
Events & Training workshops

Read More »

15/03/2024 – Microelectronics and the Chips Act, the FP10, Knowledge Valorisation, Data Spaces & much more

In today’s Morning Brief:
Policies
Commission´s priority with the FP 10 preparation
Figuring out the role of AI in Science
Research Security: more important than ever
Horizon international expansion: the access to more excellent science
The Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU
Highlights in the European Research and Innovation landscape for 2024
Funding
Funding areas and grants for the beginning of the year
Artificial Intelligence and Data Science
United Nations releases interim report: shaping global AI governance for humanity
Energy
Wind farms as seafood hubs: innovative research explores offshore cultivation
Securing rare earths for Europe’s high-tech industries
Research & Innovation
Horizon Europe cuts would cause “serious damage”, science organisations warn
Innovative Implementation of the Partnership Principle in EU Cohesion Policy
Jacques Delors, architect of a united Europe, is dead at 98
INESC News
INESC TEC contributes to ERA FABRIC’s milestone: first joint policy brief published
INESC TEC leads a project that developed tools for managing the electrical grid of the future
Job Opportunities
Events & Training workshops

Read More »