Welcome to today’s Morning Brief. The Morning Brief newsletter is only available to INESC staff and affiliated researchers upon subscription (weekly or daily), after creating an account in the Private Area of the HUB website. To do so, click the log-in icon on the top-right corner of this website.

Today’s Morning Brief brings you updated information on the official launch of the EU Missions, the JRC-EARTO technology Infrastructures meeting and the HUB presentation delivered on the session “TIs’ Operational Phase: Ensuring (transnational) Access”, and a few other news bytes. One of the issues I have been tracking closely is the effect of the German election on research and innovation at EU level. Science Business published their take on it and I have analysed and summarised that article, check it out below. 

Any comments or suggestions, hit me up with an email on ricardo.migueis@inesctec.pt.

In today's Morning Brief:

In today’s Morning Brief:

EU Missions official launch

Yesterday, the EC officially launched the well known and debated EU Missions. A novelty of Horizon Europe and also an original concept in EU policy, bringing together several Commission services under the authority of nine College members, missions will support research to deliver on the Commission’s main priorities and find responses to some of the greatest challenges we are facing today: fighting cancer, adapting to climate change, protecting the ocean, seas and waters, living in greener cities and ensuring healthy soil and food. They are a new tool that includes a set of actions, such as research and innovation projects, policy measures and legislative initiatives, to achieve concrete goals with large societal impact and within a specified timeline. Five missions will aim to deliver solutions to key global challenges by 2030:

  • Adaptation to Climate Change: support at least 150 European regions and communities to become climate resilient by 2030;
  • Cancer: working with Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan to improve the lives of more than 3 million people by 2030 through prevention, cure and solutions to live longer and better;
  • Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030;
  • 100 Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities by 2030;
  • A Soil Deal for Europe: 100 living labs and lighthouses to lead the transition towards healthy soils by 2030.

With its Communication on EU missions adopted yesterday, the Commission is giving them the go-ahead, after the approval of the missions’ individual plans this summer. The missions support Commission priorities, such as the European Green Deal, Europe fit for the Digital Age, Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, An economy that works for people and the New European Bauhaus. For instance, Mission Climate is already a concrete element of the new Climate Adaptation Strategy, Mission Cancer of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan and the Mission Soil is a flagship initiative of the Long-term Vision for the EU’s Rural Areas. A more detailed Q&A on EU Missions is available here.


JRC-EARTO Workshop on Technology Infrastructures

As previously reported, today a JRC-EARTO workshop will take place with the participation of the HUB, specifically on the session “TIs’ Operational Phase: Ensuring (transnational) Access”, where we were challenged to answer the following questions:

  1. What types of technology and non-technology related services are offered to TI users? What types of skills are required to deliver those services?
  2. How is the exploitation of the TI-related results currently facilitated to ensure an efficient technology transfer to the market?
  3. From your perspective, are TIs currently used to their full potential?

This will be followed by an open discussion with workshop participants. The full agenda of the workshop is available in the HUB Private Area, as well as the presentation that will be delivered by the HUB. All other presentations and reports, will be uploaded in the same folder in the HUB Private Area.


Publishers unite to tackle doctored images in research papers

Eight major publishers have issued joint guidelines for how journal editors can spot and deal with suspicious images or data. Some of the world’s largest publishers have come together to tackle the growing problem of image manipulation in scientific papers. They have developed a three-tier classification system that editors can use to flag suspicious content, and detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to deal with doctored images. Read the full article in Nature, here.


Portugal: Lithium preliminary environmental report identifies ‘some risks’

The preliminary environmental impact assessment report for the Lithium Prospecting and Exploration Programme identified “some risks” in the eight potential areas in the north and centre of the country, but still recognised the opportunity this could have for the economy’s decarbonisation.

According to the evaluation, the Lithium Research and Exploration Programme (PPPLítio) “is an opportunity…to decarbonise the economy and pursue the energy transition strategy.”

“The Lithium working group said that there has been an increase in demand for Lithium driven largely by the importance of this metal, not only in technology, but especially for its use in electric vehicle batteries, and justified by the circumstance that Portugal has geological conditions strongly favourable to the occurrence of Lithium minerals,” it explained.

However, the report also indicated that geological and mining knowledge in the various areas with lithiferous potential is “inconsistent and incomplete”, making prospection and research “more relevant and necessary”. Read the full article in EurActiv, here.


A summary of Science Business’s take on what the German elections mean for R&I

Before the elections I made an analysis that focused on the weight of the German election for EU R&I policies. Since then, elections took place (last Sunday, same day as our local elections in Portugal, that saw previous Research Commissioner Carlos Moedas, elected as Mayor of Lisbon). Science Business (SB) published a short analysis of what the result of the German elections might mean for R&I in Germany and in the EU. Now, it is important to note that there is a result of the elections but not an outcome. A coalition will need to be formed and so far, all kinds of colour combinations are being tried (Germans clearly identify parties with colours, so they talk about a Jamaican flag coalition, a traffic light coalition, among others…).

Not that we need to overstate this, but why are the German elections important for all of us? And I mean, in the field of R&I? Let me quote SB: “for nearly 40 years, Germany’s voice has been loudest in setting European Union research and innovation policy.”. This means that, among other things, Germany is a trend setter. So, it is important to understand which of the proposals being voied during the campaign trail will actually be implemented and these include things like a new German innovation agency, a tougher line on China, more money for climate research, more job security for researchers, and much more. I am sorry, do you recall politicians making promises like that in the campaigns in Portugal? I thought so, but the German analysts still think R&I is not important at all for the outcome of German elections.

Then, there is the hardest fact of all: “At stake is the largest national R&D budget in the European Union – and one that, under 16 years of physicist-turned-politician Merkel, has steadily risen year after year.”.

According to SB, the Greens (third most voted party), have been the loudest on science and technology matters and have the most vociferous figures and public persons with an interest and knowledge in science. While they spoke about the relation between science and foreign policy (as a way to affirm our independence of China – I honestly don’t understand this anti-China fixation, but that is a matter for another day), “one of the more eye-catching Green proposals is the creation of a new innovation agency, called D.Innova, to lubricate transfer between academic research and industry.” And curiously, this and other science related proposals offer a great deal of overlap between the greens and the liberals (the fourth most voted party) and the latter believes that the EU budget should contain more money for research, and explicitly calls for the UK and Switzerland to be part of the Erasmus + mobility programme.

Now, the winners (the social democrats or SPD), want public and private spending on research to increase to 3.5% of gross domestic product from 3.2% in 2019, and will continue supporting Germany’s Excellence Strategy, which garlands a few select universities with extra money and prestige. On a European level, they also support EU-funded research in projects that allow the continent to build technological sovereignty. However, unlike their former coalition partner, their manifesto emphasises researchers’ rights. They say that all doctoral candidates must be paid for hours worked and will legislate to do so, saying there will be “100 per cent salary for 100 per cent work.” And they support the creation of a new Innovation Agency (I think we can safely say this new agency will happen).

The CDU, the “losers” even though they were the second most voted party, propose more of the same (as if it is bad in itself, check it out): continuous increase of the research and innovation budget to get to 3,5%.

I want to be German when it comes to science policy.



Europeans strongly support science and technology according to new Eurobarometer survey

A new Eurobarometer survey on ‘European citizens’ knowledge and attitudes towards science and technology’ released today shows that 9 in 10 EU citizens (86%) think that the overall influence of science and technology is positive. They expect a range of technologies currently under development to have a positive effect on our way of life in the next 20 years: notably, solar energy (92%), vaccines and combatting infectious diseases (86%) and artificial intelligence (61%). Read all the details here.


INESC Health technologies R&I Roadmap: a vision for 2030

The Work Group Health Technologies (WG HT) is now developing a research and innovation (R&I) roadmap focused on Health Technologies for the whole INESC group (the 5 INESC institutes in Portugal). The objectives of the Health Technologies Research and Innovation Roadmap are to:

  • Build a vision for research and innovation for the specific thematic area, across all INESCs.
  • Set concrete research and innovation goals for the thematic area as a whole and its different technology areas.
  • Identify resources (human and material) needed to achieve the research and innovation goals set.
  • Build a multi-year funding path to achieve the goals set in the medium and long-term.
  • Provide INESC with the needed clarity for positioning, influencing and contributing to research and innovation agenda-setting.

As part of this exercise, the WG HT is organising an international workshop, with participation of renowned international researchers as discussants and “sounding board”, from whom we expect to benefit while building our vision of the future for health technologies, what can be the INESC contribution and how to make it happen.

In order to make the most out of this international workshop, our proposal is to organize an internal event that will take place before the international workshop, so that the proposed intervention areas and corresponding research lines are discussed. The active participation of INESC researchers is crucial for the success of these initiatives.

  • Date and place of the internal workshop for INESC researchers: 3 November, virtual only.
  • Date and place of the international workshop: 16 December, hybrid workshop (hosted by INESC Coimbra and virtual participation is possible).

INESC researchers are asked to prepare a short PPT of maximum 5 slides, to be presented and discussed in the internal workshop, in a maximum of 5 minutes, answering the following questions:

1) How do you think Health Technology will be able to address challenges in one or more of the intervention areas defined above? Which challenges? Are they scientific, economic, environmental, other?

2) Would you propose changes to the intervention areas list? Does your research fit one or more intervention areas? Which?

3) Specify how you relate your research to the intervention area(s). How will your present and future research work contribute to the intervention area?

4) We challenge you to ahead: what is your vision for the future of that intervention area?

5) Finally, if it were up to you alone to define the research lines of your institute, which research lines would you define and in which intervention areas would they fit in? A research line can fit more than one intervention area.

The goal is to provide input from INESC researchers into the definition of the research lines to be developed in the INESC HT R&I Roadmap (INESC in 2030).

Send your PPT, until 17th October to ricardo.migueis@inesc.pt.


The roadmap

The roadmap will be grounded on 4 health specific intervention areas + 2 cross-cutting intervention areas (they are not specific to health, but they are essential, and research lines in these areas, either health-related or not, should be pursued, because even if not directly related to health, they will have health related impacts).

Following the deep characterisation report of INESC R&I capacity in HT and drawing on the expertise previously identified, find below a mapping of INESC expertise and its relation with the specific Intervention Areas defined for the purpose of the R&I roadmap.




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