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Mariana Santos, INESC Brussels HUB Communications Officer

In today's Morning Brief:

Key Takeaways

– The Council has approved the “Chips Act”, which seeks to strengthen Europe’s position in the semiconductor industry. The program will mobilize €43 billion, with €3.3 billion coming from the EU Budget.

– An interim evaluation of Horizon Europe (HE) is scheduled for mid-2025. For now, the European Parliament has released a background document outlining the progress made by HE projects thus far and includes feedback from stakeholders. The implementation of European Innovation Council grants, the overall budget allocation, and the synergies between different EU research and innovation programs are some of the subjects of the document.

– The European Commission has published a document outlining tools and examples used across Europe to support innovators in testing their ideas within different regulatory contexts. Focusing on the energy sector, this is part of the Commission’s efforts to fulfil the objectives of the New European Innovation Agenda—a plan introduced last year by the EU to enhance its deep tech innovation landscape.

– The report “COVID-19 and Science for Policy and Society”, developed by the OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation, is now available. This report focuses on key activities at the interface between science, policy, and society – agenda setting, scientific advice and public communication and engagement.

– In an interview with Science|Business, Christian Ehler MEP advocated European Innovation Council (EIC) should be given more independence from the European Commission and the freedom to make more significant investments in start-ups. The SB article provides a view of the ongoing problems and tensions between the Commission and EIC. Ehler states that although EIC’s vision is vital for Europe, it must still prove its worth. Apart from that, EIC has selected 19 projects (from 18 EU Member States) which will receive altogether €46.76 million of EU financial contribution.


Horizon Europe

Upcoming European Parliament evaluation of Horizon Europe

The European Parliament Think Tank has released a background document regarding the forthcoming interim evaluation of Horizon Europe, which is scheduled to be published by mid-2025.

This document follows the departure of former research Commissioner Mariya Gabriel in May, who returned to domestic politics in Bulgaria. Iliana Ivanova has been nominated as her successor. The document outlines the progress made by Horizon Europe projects thus far and includes feedback from stakeholders gathered through a public consultation conducted between December 2022 and February 2023.

Furthermore, the document restates the Parliament’s stance on several key aspects of Horizon Europe, such as the implementation of European Innovation Council grants, the overall budget allocation for Horizon Europe, and the synergies between different EU research and innovation programs.


Bringing research and policy together: Projects to Policy Seminar wrap-up

According to a publication from the European Commission, the 4th edition of the Projects to Policy Seminar took place on the 14th and 15th of June. The seminar was organized by DG HOME.F2 (Innovation and Security Research) and the REA.C2 (Secure Society) to foster collaboration between research and policy in the field of security and borders.

During this year’s seminar, 36 security research projects from the Horizon Europe Cluster 3 “Civil Security for Society” call in 2021 were brought together, along with representatives from the Commission services. The event witnessed the active participation of more than 130 individuals from across Europe, engaging in vibrant discussions. This seminar holds significant importance as it is a crucial component of Horizon Europe’s 2023 Feedback to Policy Plan. Know more here.


Chips Act: Council gives its final approval

An official publication from the European Council states that this week, the Council has approved the regulation known as the ‘Chips Act,’ which is the final step in the decision-making process.

The main goal of the Chips Act is to bolster Europe’s semiconductor ecosystem by creating favourable conditions for developing a robust industrial base in the semiconductor sector. It aims to attract investments, foster research and innovation, and prepare Europe for future chip supply crises. To achieve this, the program is designed to mobilize a total of €43 billion in public and private investment, with €3.3 billion coming from the EU budget.

One of the primary objectives is to double the EU’s current global market share in semiconductors, increasing it from 10% to at least 20% by the year 2030. This initiative seeks to strengthen Europe’s position in the semiconductor industry and enhance its competitiveness in this critical technology sector.


European Innovation Council Announces 19 Selected Projects for €46.76 Million in Funding

The European Innovation Council (EIC) has recently chosen 19 projects in the April 2023 EIC Transition cut-off.

These selected projects originate from 18 EU member states and associated countries participating in Horizon Europe. The EIC reviewed a total of 180 eligible submissions to make these selections. The successful projects will collectively receive €46.76 million in EU funding, with each project being granted up to €2.5 million.

For more information, click here.


Commission maps out experimentation tools for boosting innovation  

As reported by Science|Business in the HORIZON BLOG, the European Commission has presented a new staff working document that outlines various tools and examples used across Europe to support innovators in testing their ideas within different regulatory contexts.

These tools encompass regulatory sandboxes, test beds, and living labs, providing innovators with practical environments to assess the viability and functionality of their innovations in real-world scenarios.

The document, which primarily focuses on the energy sector, is a part of the Commission’s efforts to fulfil the objectives of the New European Innovation Agenda—a plan introduced by the EU to enhance its deep tech innovation landscape, adopted in the previous summer. Check the official document here.


MEPs to quiz research commissioner designate Iliana Ivanova in September

As reported by Science Business, the Commissioner-designate for research and innovation, Iliana Ivanova, will undergo a joint hearing by the European Parliament’s industry and culture committees on 5 September. The Parliament has published a set of questions that MEPs plan to ask Ivanova, focusing on various research-related issues. While her portfolio also includes education, culture, youth, and sports, the questioning will mainly focus on research and innovation.

At the top of the list, MEPs intend to inquire about Ivanova’s stance on the budget allocation for Horizon Europe. The Parliament expresses concerns that the EU research program is inadequately funded, and the Commission has been diverting funds for new initiatives, putting additional strain on the program’s already limited budget. The hearing aims to gain insights into Ivanova’s perspective on these budgetary matters and the future direction of research and innovation policies under her responsibility. Know more.


How to evaluate lump sum proposals

The European Commission has released two videos explaining how grantees and applicants should manage lump sums.

Horizon Europe uses lump sums to simplify research grants and focus more on the content of projects. Lump sum proposals are evaluated similarly to others, but there are a few points to watch out for.

As explained by Science|Business, lump sums are advertised as a bureaucracy-free alternative to traditional real cost reporting. The Commission has been pushing for a rollout since 2018 to reduce bureaucratic overheads and cut high error rates in EU spending on research. These materials come to ease the process.


How to evaluate lump sum proposals: Get started

How to evaluate lump sum proposals: Detailed budget table

Additional resources:

  1.  Briefing for Horizon Europe evaluations, including a dedicated part on lump sums
  2. Horizon dashboard for lump sum evaluations


Research & Innovation

Five member states (Portugal included) push for greater EU strategic autonomy

As stated by Science|Business, five member states published a “non-paper” stating the European Union requires a fresh technology strategy supported by research and development (R&D) investments amounting to at least 3% of GDP in all member countries. The five member states were Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Slovakia.

Additionally, the paper suggests establishing a new governance structure to effectively execute its open strategic autonomy plans, as stated by Science Business.

The ‘non-paper’ emphasizes the need for a united and coordinated approach for the EU to take a leading position in crucial technologies. This strategy aims to foster open strategic autonomy, enabling the EU to advance and excel in key technological areas while maintaining its independence and strategic resilience. Know more here.


COVID-19 and science for policy and society

Read the full report from the OECD Library explaining how science was utilized during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in Austria, Finland and Sweden. The main focus is on how science influenced policies, including research agenda-setting, scientific advice, public communication, and engagement.

The report contains suggestions and possible actions for policymakers to enhance the resilience of national science systems and their ability to collaborate with other countries during crises. This is the second in a series of three reports that explore how science was mobilised in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Taylor and Francis launches new open-access books scheme

According to Research Professional News, Taylor and Francis, a prominent academic publisher in the UK, has initiated a pilot program that offers UK institutions the opportunity to support open access to books.

Despite the progress in providing open access to academic papers, numerous academic books remain behind paywalls. One of the main challenges is identifying suitable funding models, as authors or their institutions typically bear the cost. The need to discover viable funding approaches has grown more urgent in anticipation of UK Research and Innovation’s new policy for open access to books, which is set to be implemented in January 2024. More info.


Commission boosts data sharing and innovation for a smart, sustainable and resilient EU tourism ecosystem

This week, the Commission released a Communication introducing the essential components of a unified European tourism data platform. This platform will enable tourism companies and government agencies to exchange various types of information, creating novel and advanced tourism services, enhancing the sustainability of the tourism industry, and boosting its economic competitiveness.

The key features of the common European Tourism Data Space include making data sharing easier from different origins, encouraging data access for a diverse set of users, establishing a reliable and effective framework for governing this shared European tourism data space, and ensuring seamless compatibility between various data categories and sector-specific data platforms. Know more here.


European Innovation Council needs more autonomy to become a game changer

According to Christian Ehler MEP, the European Innovation Council (EIC) should have greater independence from the European Commission and be allowed to make larger investments in start-ups. In its article, Science Business exposes the MEP´s vision that this increased autonomy would protect the EIC from being influenced by internal Commission politics, enabling it to function more effectively as the tech investment fund it was intended to be.

Ehler believes that establishing a certain level of independence for the EIC agency is essential because both the European Investment Bank and the Commission lack the market reputation of having a venture capital fund mentality. This move aims to grant the EIC more flexibility and freedom to pursue its mission of supporting and investing in innovative tech start-ups.


German private fusion firms multiply as government pledges fresh research money

As reported by Science Business, the past year has seen the emergence of three new private fusion energy companies in Germany and Sweden. This development indicates that the European Union (EU) is making significant progress in catching up with the United States in the rapidly growing fusion energy industry.

Currently, the EU is home to a total of six private fusion companies, with three based in Germany and one each in Sweden, France, and Italy. This marks an increase compared to the previous year when there were only three private fusion companies in the EU. However, it’s worth noting that the US remains the dominant leader in this field with a total of 25 private fusion companies. The growth of private fusion initiatives in Europe reflects the increasing interest and investment in this promising technology within the region. Know more here.


The Ecosystem: island life is no idyll for deep tech entrepreneurs

According to Science Business, researchers with entrepreneurial ambitions in the EU’s island nations face unique challenges. Building a deep tech start-up in countries like Cyprus or Malta involves dealing with obstacles that are comparatively lower or absent in mainland Europe. However, these island nations lack adequate support to develop their entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Being situated on an island presents physical barriers that can complicate routine tasks like travel, networking, and equipment procurement compared to mainland locations. But the most significant impact on start-ups in these island nations is felt in terms of funding opportunities. The limited access to funding sources can significantly hinder the growth and success of start-ups in these regions. More info.


Partnership on AI to release shared protocols for AI guardrails in October

In October, a coalition of AI stakeholders, including organizations like ACLU, Anthropic, Google DeepMind, IBM, Meta, and Omidyar Network, will release the initial set of shared protocols. According to Science Business, these protocols aim to facilitate the secure and responsible development of large-scale AI models.

The first version of these protocols will be made available for public feedback and consultation. The primary objective of these protocols is to equip AI model providers with the necessary tools to ensure the safety of their models while also enabling them to utilize AI in ways that contribute positively to society.

News from INESC institutes

Get to know I-SEAMORE

I-SEAMORE is a Horizon Europe funded project that aims to develop an integrated Ecosystem composed of an advanced platform solution to host and manage the operation of several innovative assets, services and systems.

It aims to provide European Authorities with increased situational awareness and operational capabilities for Maritime surveillance operations resorting to aerial and water surface support.

Watch their first promotional video to learn about the main goals and expected results of the project and visit its website here.

The I-SEAMORE project presents a consortium composed of 17 entities from 11 different countries and INOV is one of them.


INESC TEC integrates consortium that aims to develop the vehicles of the future

Since July 2020, a consortium led by Simoldes has been working on developing, testing, and demonstrating new industrial technologies and products for the automotive sector. The project, “PAC – Portugal Auto Cluster for the future,” received contributions from INESC TEC. The PAC project aims to introduce innovative concepts into the market through the Recovery and Resilience Plan. It focuses on generating knowledge for advanced technologies to strengthen Portugal’s position in the automotive industry, particularly in autonomous and connected mobility.

The PAC project consisted of six parts, with INESC TEC leading in coordinating “Flexible and digital production technologies.” They conducted research and development in Digital Twins, robotic and 3D perception systems, integrated data models, and plug-and-produce solutions for advanced systems.

Two prototype demonstrators emerged from INESC TEC’s involvement: one for flexible robotics applied to injected plastic components and another for automatic inspection and quality control in foundries. These prototypes showcased the practical applications of their advancements in the field. Read more here.


INESC MN cleanroom has been recently upgraded with new equipment

With the support of the PRR, the Portuguese Republic and Next Generation EU, the cleanroom is now equipped with the following:

  • Karl Suss MA/BA6 Mask Aligner (200 mm wafer compatible) – this equipment will allow photolithography on 200 mm wafers with a 150 mm exposure area.
  • Dektak-XT Advanced System Profilometer – this equipment can measure and map profiles over 200 mm wafers allowing for the characterization of surface structures and roughness.

And the upgrades don’t end up here. Have you noticed INESC MN has a brand-new logo?


Job Opportunities

– INESC TEC has 63 vacancies in different work areas, such as Mobile Robotics, Computer Science, and more. Find more at INESCTEC website and via LinkedIn

– INESC MN is hiring a Clean Room Process Engineer. More info

– INOV is hiring a Analyst/Programmer and a Facilities Manager. More info

Events & Training workshops


– 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.


– 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


– 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.


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


– 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

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