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 European Commission has unveiled its proposal for ten new joint research programmes under Horizon Europe, set to begin in 2025. These partnerships will bring together public and private funding and will focus on diverse areas such as brain health, cultural heritage, solar power, and textiles. If approved by policymakers, these programmes will become integral to the strategic plan for Horizon Europe between 2025 and 2027, the concluding phase of the current €95.5 billion research and innovation initiative.

– ResearchComp, a new tool developed by the European Commission, aims to support researchers in assessing and enhancing their transversal skills. This initiative also assists higher education institutions and training providers adapt their offerings to better cater to researchers’ needs while helping employers gain insights into the diverse range of competences researchers possess.

– A recent Communication on EU Missions under Horizon Europe provides a comprehensive assessment of their progress, as mandated by co-legislators after two years of operation. It highlights their remarkable achievements while acknowledging their challenges, proposing specific actions to overcome them. Based on this balanced evaluation, the Communication suggests allocating 11% of the Horizon Europe Pillar 2 budget to EU Missions in the program’s final phase (up from the current 10%).

– Tokyo and Brussels have recently entered into a cooperation agreement aimed at fostering extensive collaboration in research and development of semiconductors. This partnership comes as tensions surrounding semiconductor technology escalate between China and Western countries. The two powers have agreed to work together in various domains to secure semiconductor supply lines.

 

Horizon Europe

Commission proposes 10 new industrial Horizon Europe partnerships

The European Commission has unveiled its proposal for ten new joint research programmes under Horizon Europe, set to begin in 2025. These partnerships will bring together public and private funding and will focus on diverse areas such as brain health, cultural heritage, solar power, and textiles. If approved by policymakers, these programmes will become integral to the strategic plan for Horizon Europe between 2025 and 2027, the concluding phase of the current €95.5 billion research and innovation initiative.

These new partnerships will supplement the existing portfolio of 49 joint research programmes, contributing to advancing research and innovation across various critical fields. Read the full story here.

 

The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions’ Staff Exchanges equip researchers and organisations worldwide with future-proof skills and cutting-edge innovation capacity

A recent study conducted by the European Research Executive Agency (REA) has shed light on the significant impact of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions’ Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE) on fostering collaboration between academia and industry. The study specifically focused on knowledge valorisation, research performance, and career development. Initially part of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) under Horizon 2020, RISE has been renamed MSCA Staff Exchanges (SE) under Horizon Europe.

Based on the results of Horizon 2020 RISE projects, the study’s findings confirm the increasing value of MSCA Staff Exchanges in Europe’s research and innovation landscape. This initiative funds international and intersectoral exchanges of research and innovation staff among participating organizations. It is vital in nurturing lasting and mutually beneficial research collaborations between academic and non-academic sectors, including SMEs worldwide. By facilitating the expansion of the European Research Area and transforming ideas into innovative products and services with significant economic and societal value, the action strengthens research and innovation ties on a global scale.

 

Commission press release – Horizon Europe: EU Missions on track to meet their 2030 ambition towards a greener and healthier continent

The EU Missions in Horizon Europe have made significant strides in supporting key initiatives such as the European Green Deal, Digital Age transformation, and Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan during their initial two years. These Missions have proven to be powerful drivers of change, accelerating progress with the aid of Horizon Europe funding. By connecting EU policies and programs to local action and citizen engagement, they have made tangible impacts in crucial areas like climate change adaptation, advancements in cancer patient care, restoration of marine and freshwater ecosystems, fostering climate-neutral cities, and promoting healthy soils, all with ambitious goals set for 2030.

A recent Communication on EU Missions under Horizon Europe provides a comprehensive assessment of their progress, as mandated by co-legislators after two years of operation. It highlights their remarkable achievements while acknowledging their challenges, and proposing specific actions to overcome them. Based on this balanced evaluation, the Communication suggests allocating 11% of the Horizon Europe Pillar 2 budget to EU Missions in the program’s final phase (up from the current 10%). This amounts to over €3 billion for the period 2024-2027. Additionally, preparations have been initiated for a new EU Mission focused on the New European Bauhaus, further underscoring the continued commitment to drive transformative change through targeted missions. Read the full press release here.

 

EIT Digital Grow Digital 23 Conference

EIT Digital Grow Digital 23 Conference took place in Brussels on 6 and 7 July 2023, bringing together industry experts to discuss the future of digital transformation in business and manufacturing. The conference’s theme was Industry 5.0, focusing on the practical implications and necessary technologies for this next stage of digital evolution.

During the event, renowned speakers shared their insights on Europe’s position in the global race of innovation ecosystems. Among the notable speakers were Sean O’Reagain, Deputy Head of Unit, “Industry 5.0” at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD); Yongkuk Jeong, Assistant Professor in Production Logistics at KTH Royal Institute of Technology; Jani Kangas, Strategic Innovation Management at Nokia Bell Labs; and Harald Schöning, Vice President of Research at Software AG.

For those who missed the conference, the sessions and presentations are now available to be watched here.

 

Europe looks to virtual factories in new industrial revolution – EU R&I Magazine Article

The EU Research and Innovation Magazine presents an article on the “new industrial revolution” after the reality of new virtual factories. The EU´s commitment to advancing manufacturing research and innovation is evident through establishing a €1.15 billion public-private partnership named Factories of the Future. This initiative highlights the significant importance placed on addressing the challenges posed by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, also known as “Industry 4.0,” characterized by automation and connectivity.

Virtual-factories are gaining traction in Europe, with prominent manufacturers like Airbus and Schneider Electric exploring digital-twin concepts and setting up virtual manufacturing facilities. For instance, a consumer-electronics plant in the Dutch town of Drachten, operated by Philips, is engaged in a research project funded by the EU to encourage the adoption of “digital twins.” These virtual factories leverage cutting-edge technologies to streamline actual production processes, aiming to bolster European industries’ competitiveness in global markets.

The EU’s investment in such initiatives underscores its commitment to supporting the transformative potential of Industry 4.0 for European companies. This article in the EU research and innovation magazine serves as a compelling testament to the significance and relevance of these advancements in the manufacturing sector. Read the full article here.

 

Introducing ResearchComp: Empowering Researchers with Transversal Skills

ResearchComp, a new tool developed by the European Commission, aims to support researchers in assessing and enhancing their transversal skills. This initiative also assists higher education institutions and training providers adapt their offerings to better cater to researchers’ needs while helping employers gain insights into researchers’ diverse range of competences. By fostering the development of transversal skills, ResearchComp paves the way for inter-sectoral careers, promoting seamless transitions between academia, industry, public administration, and the non-profit sector.

The tool’s creation involved close collaboration with relevant stakeholders, aligning with the objectives of the European Research Area and the Skills Agenda while contributing to the European Year of Skills. Notably, ResearchComp is the first competence framework to be in line with the European Skills, Competences, and Occupations classification (ESCO). Developed based on the taxonomy of transversal skills for researchers integrated into the 2022 version of ESCO, ResearchComp aims to equip researchers with transferrable skills essential for impactful and successful careers, shaping a skilled workforce for research, innovation, and societal progress. More info here.

 

Call for evidence period ongoing for the Governance Regulation Report on Energy Union and Climate Action

The feedback period is open until August 3 for the review of the Governance Regulation concerning the Energy Union and climate action. The Governance Regulation, which set up a systematic approach for the strategic planning of energy and climate policies, aimed to achieve the objectives of the Energy Union and the 2030 energy and climate targets.

However, with the introduction of the Fit for 55 package and the REPowerEU plan, which proposes more ambitious goals and stricter policy requirements, a review and potential revision of the Regulation have become crucial.

The call for evidence from the European Commission seeks input from stakeholders and the general public to gather diverse perspectives and insights on the Governance Regulation. Check the call and provide your feedback here.

 

Call for Evidence: Empowering the EU through Hydrogen Valleys

The European Commission has initiated a Call for Evidence for the ambitious REPowerEU project to propel the clean hydrogen economy and achieve carbon neutrality objectives outlined in the European Green Deal. Hydrogen Valleys play a pivotal role in this endeavour, and the roadmap unveiled outlines strategic priorities and actions required to double the number of Hydrogen Valleys in the EU by 2025.

The roadmap also demonstrates how Hydrogen Valleys will significantly contribute to REPowerEU’s ambitious targets of domestically producing 10 Mt per year of renewable hydrogen and importing 10 Mt per year by 2030. This critical initiative seeks to reshape the energy landscape and foster a sustainable future for Europe. Check the call and provide your feedback here.

 

Open innovation test beds for advanced materials report is out

A newly published report is now available, describing the contributions of the Open Innovation Test Beds (OITBs) funded under Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe to the priorities of the Green Deal and the New European Innovation Agenda. The report emphasizes the opportunities and challenges in further developing and ensuring the sustainability of this instrument based on the lessons learned.

The OITBs play a crucial role in supporting future-proof industrial development in Europe, specifically in the areas of advanced materials and nanotechnologies. They align with the ERA Policy Agenda Action 123 and the upcoming Coordinated Plan on Advanced Materials, which aims to support the Green Deal Industrial Plan. Bringing together academia, research and technology organizations, and companies in consortiums with single-entry points, the OITBs provide open access to testing and experimentation spaces, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The OITBs encompass digital and physical facilities necessary for developing, testing, and upscaling advanced materials, enabling the transition from laboratory validation (TRL 4) to industrial environment prototypes (TRL 7). The initial generation of OITBs has already shown promising results during project implementation.

 

Assessing European Partnerships against European policy priorities – Independent Expert Report

In response to the Commission’s initial assignment, the Expert Group for supporting the Strategic Coordination process for Partnerships has devised a methodology. This methodology enables the generation of evidence-based and impartial advice for the Commission regarding establishing a portfolio of European Partnerships. These Partnerships address emerging research and innovation (R&I) priorities, shared challenges, and EU political priorities necessitating coordinated, substantial investments. Alongside the methodology, the report showcases its application in analyzing and evaluating the landscape of European Partnerships, focusing on the Institutionalized Partnerships, as outlined in the Expert Group’s mandate.

 

Commission to propose new research Mission on New European Bauhaus

According to a leaked draft of the first review of the Mission projects, the European Commission plans to propose a new Mission focused on the New European Bauhaus. The Missions were introduced as a new approach to research funding under Horizon Europe, aiming to channel resources into demonstrator projects and dialogues to foster innovation in five areas: cancer, climate adaptation, oceans and rivers, soil, and climate-neutral cities.

Although the Missions have their supporters, they also face criticism. Some argue that adopting an objective-driven approach may strain the EU’s research budget, especially if research is not the primary focus of certain projects. Additionally, participants have expressed concerns about slow regional uptake, low application rates in some calls, and the need for more substantial resources to achieve ambitious goals.

Despite the challenges, the Commission affirms that the Missions have shown promise in their first two years and are on track to meet their ambitious 2030 targets. As part of the review, the Commission proposes to launch a sixth Mission dedicated to the New European Bauhaus. The Bauhaus initiative, combining innovation, art, and research, aims to reimagine public, private, and workspaces in line with the EU’s green transition while preserving Europe’s architectural heritage. The Commission’s response to the European Parliament’s call for a dedicated Bauhaus Mission indicates a step forward in solidifying the initiative’s impact and focus within the EU’s research and innovation landscape. Read more here.

 

Research & Innovation

ESFRI publishes Report on Energy and Supply Challenges of RIs

ESFRI (European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures) has recently adopted a report addressing the energy and supply challenges faced by Research Infrastructures (RIs) in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian aggression on Ukraine. The report was presented during the 84th Forum meeting held in Lund from 20th to 22nd June 2023.

To address the increasing inflation, soaring energy costs, and critical resource shortages in the European Union, ESFRI established a dedicated drafting group. The group collaborated with ARIE, ERF AISBL, and ERIC Forum, and circulated a questionnaire among RIs. The results revealed that almost two-thirds of the responding RIs are significantly impacted by the ongoing energy crisis, with synchrotrons, computing centers, particle sources, neutron facilities, and lasers being the most affected.

The report emphasizes the extensive consequences of the energy crisis on RIs, including rising energy costs, resource shortages, and delivery delays. It also provides valuable recommendations for National Policymakers, ESFRI, the European Commission, and RIs themselves to enhance resilience in the face of these challenges. The full report is now available, offering insights and guidance to address the energy and supply challenges encountered by Research Infrastructures.

 

Germany moves to create new restrictions on research cooperation with China

According to Science Business, Germany’s newly unveiled China strategy includes measures to limit federal support for research projects that could result in a “knowledge drain” to China. Additionally, the strategy aims to raise awareness among German academics about the security risks associated with cooperation with China. The document, released on 14th July, is a result of prolonged disagreements among coalition partners in the government. It represents a compromise, seeking to “de-risk” connections with China without completely severing ties, aligning with the approach laid out by the European Commission earlier this year.

The plan introduces potentially significant policies concerning research and innovation, highlighting concerns about the unbalanced nature of scientific relations with Beijing, a sentiment previously expressed by the European Commission. The strategy reflects Germany’s intention to mitigate risks while maintaining a level of engagement with China, in a delicate balance between fostering collaboration and safeguarding national interests. Read more on Science Business.

 

Japan and EU reach deal on semiconductor R&D

As stated by Science Business, Tokyo and Brussels have recently entered into a cooperation agreement aimed at fostering extensive collaboration in research and development of semiconductors. This partnership comes as tensions surrounding semiconductor technology escalate between China and Western countries. The two powers have agreed to work together in various domains to secure the supply lines for semiconductors.

Additionally, as part of the agreement, they have decided to grant each other access to their respective supercomputers. Moreover, they have committed to ongoing discussions regarding the potential association of Japan to the Horizon Europe research program. This collaboration signals a significant step towards strengthening semiconductor research and security cooperation between Japan and the European Union, as they navigate the complexities of the global semiconductor landscape. Know more here.

 

Spanish researcher Martínez Peña to take over as ESFRI chair in January

According to Science Business, José Luis Martínez Peña has been appointed as the new chair of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI), effective from 1st January 2024. In this role, he will succeed Jana Kolar, a Slovenian science manager.

Martínez Peña brings extensive experience to the position, having served as a research professor at the Materials Science Institute of Madrid (CSIC). He has a rich research infrastructure background, having counselled the Spanish government on significant projects such as the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility. Moreover, he has held key positions at prestigious institutions like the Institut Max von Laue-Paul Langevin (ILL) in Grenoble and served as executive director at ESS-Bilbao in Spain. Additionally, Martínez Peña has been a member of the rector committee at the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre.

ESFRI chairs hold the position for a fixed term of two years. Jana Kolar, the outgoing chair, congratulated José Luis Martínez Peña through a post on Twitter. With his wealth of experience and expertise, the new chair is expected to advance research infrastructures in Europe during his tenure. Know more here.

 

New Nature Restoration Law boosts biodiversity and climate action across Europe

The European Union’s recently passed Nature Restoration Law represents a significant step towards enhancing biodiversity and taking action against climate change. As emphasized by Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius during the European Parliament’s Plenary session in Strasbourg, this law is not solely about restoring nature for its own sake. Instead, it aims to ensure a livable environment that secures the well-being of current and future generations, while also preserving the capacity of lands and seas to provide essential goods and services vital for our lives and economies.

Aligned with the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030, the new law recognizes that effective climate action involves not only reducing greenhouse gas emissions but also safeguarding nature. Moreover, it holds substantial economic benefits, with estimates indicating a return of 8 to 38 euros for every euro invested. Building upon the EU LIFE programme, which has supported approximately 6,000 environmental protection and climate action projects since 1992, the Nature Restoration Law is urgently needed as Europe’s nature faces alarming decline, with over 80 percent of habitats in poor condition. To counteract this decline, the restoration of wetlands, rivers, forests, grasslands, marine ecosystems, and their diverse species is crucial. More info.

 

Deep-tech not aligned with multiple vote share structures

The EU is currently working on a directive that aims to introduce multiple-vote share structures as an option for start-up founders across all member states. This move intends to allow entrepreneurs to maintain control of their companies when raising funds on public markets, thus reducing reluctance to list and increasing access to capital.

According to Swedish justice minister Gunnar Strömmer, the directive aims to make markets more attractive and provide European SMEs with the option of multiple-vote share structures. However, some experts argue that Europe’s deep tech ecosystems do not necessarily require this change. They point out that voting rights can already be tailored through standard shareholder agreements, and in European countries where multiple-vote share structures are currently allowed, they are seldom utilized by deep tech start-ups. In essence, while the directive is aimed at providing more opportunities for entrepreneurs, its necessity and impact on the deep tech sector are subject to debate. More info.

 

ZERO POLLUTION: Commission proposes to ban all remaining intentional uses of mercury in the EU

This week, the European Commission has taken a significant step to safeguard EU citizens and the environment by proposing a revision to the Mercury Regulation. This move aims to counter the toxic effects of mercury. Under the proposed changes, the use of dental amalgam, which currently consumes 40 tonnes of mercury annually in the EU, will be entirely banned. Additionally, certain products containing mercury, like lamps, will no longer be manufactured or exported.

The proposed revision of the Mercury Regulation aligns with decisions made by the fourth Conference of Parties (COP4) of the Minamata Convention. By targeting the last intentional uses of mercury in various products, this revised regulation is in line with the EU’s Zero Pollution Ambition, charting a path towards establishing the EU as the first mercury-free economy. This move underscores the EU’s commitment to combatting mercury’s harmful effects and advancing environmental protection. Read the proposal here.

 

EU and Chile strengthen cooperation on critical raw materials

EU commissioner Thierry Breton and Chilean foreign affairs minister Alberto van Klaveren Stork have signed a memorandum of understanding to deepen cooperation in the field of sustainable raw materials value chains.

The deal will enable bilateral cooperation on research and innovation projects in the field, including minerals knowledge and minimizing environmental and climate footprints. Know more here.

 

News from INESC institutes

INESC TEC develops high-power fiber optic laser for powering nanosatellites

The WipTherm project, a European initiative focused on developing groundbreaking solutions for wireless energy transfer in the field of powering microsatellites for space exploration, has concluded. INESC TEC, one of the five partnering entities, successfully created a high-power laser entirely based on optical fiber.

The project concluded in June with a demonstration held at the São Jacinto Air Base in Aveiro. Orlando Frazão, a researcher from the Center for Applied Photonics (CAP) at INESC TEC, expressed a highly positive assessment of the project’s achievements. He emphasized the significant increase in knowledge regarding high-power lasers and the successful fabrication of new optical fiber lasers, which have the potential to be utilized in various applications. Read more here.

 

INESC-ID Leads New Horizon Europe Project, SHIFT2DC

The SHIFT to Direct Current (SHIFT2DC) project, coordinated by INESC-ID, has been launched to revolutionize the utilization of direct current (DC) solutions in power systems. With nearly 9M€ funding from Horizon Europe, this application-agnostic initiative aims to design, test, and apply DC solutions at both medium and low voltage levels. Over 42 months, a consortium of 28 participating partners and five associated partners will work towards creating more efficient and eco-friendly energy infrastructures. Know more here.

 

Job Opportunities

– INESC TEC has 54 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 ID has no open positions for now. 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 Facilities Manager for the tech infrastructure in Lisbon. 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 »