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In today's Morning Brief:


ESFRI announces the 11 new Research Infrastructures to be included in its Roadmap 2021

After two years of hard work, following a thorough evaluation and selection procedure (in which the HUB participated), ESFRI announces the 11 proposals that have been scored high for their science case and maturity for implementation and will be included as new Projects in the ESFRI 2021 Roadmap Update. The new ESFRI Projects are:

  • EBRAINS – European Brain ReseArch INfrastructureS, a distributed digital infrastructure at the interface of neuroscience, computing and technology, offering scientists and developers advanced tools and services for brain research.
  • EIRENE RI – Research Infrastructure for EnvIRonmental Exposure assessment in Europe, the first EU infrastructure on human exposome (environmental determinants of health).
  • ET – Einstein Telescope, the first and most advanced third-generation gravitational-wave observatory, with unprecedented sensitivity that will put Europe at the forefront of the Gravitation Waves research. 
  • EuPRAXIA – European Plasma Research Accelerator with Excellence in Applications, a distributed, compact and innovative accelerator facility based on plasma technology, set to construct an electron-beam-driven plasma accelerator in the metropolitan area of Rome, followed by a laser-driven plasma accelerator in European territory.
  • GGP – The Generations and Gender Programme, aiming to provide high quality and cross-nationally comparable longitudinal data to answer pressing scientific and societal challenges on population and family dynamics.
  • GUIDE – Growing Up in Digital Europe-EuroCohort, Europe’s first comparative birth cohort survey, aiming to support the development of social policies for the enhancement of the wellbeing of children, young people and their families across Europe.
  • MARINERG-i – Offshore Renewable Energy Research Infrastructure, setting out to become the leading internationally Distributed Research Infrastructure in the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) sector, with a network of test facilities spread across Europe. 
  • OPERAS – Open Access in the European Research Area through Scholarly Communication, the distributed RI to enable Open Science and upgrade scholarly communication practices in the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) in line with the European Open Science Cloud. 
  • RESILIENCE – Religious Studies Infrastructure: Tools, Innovation, Experts, Connections and Centers, a unique, interdisciplinary scientific RI for all Religious Studies, building a high-performance platform, supplying tools and access to physical and digital data to scholars from all scientific disciplines.
  • SLICES Scientific Large-scale Infrastructure for Computing/Communication Experimental Studies ambitions to become an impactful RI in Digital Sciences, including concerns regarding energy consumption and the implementation of the Green Deal. 
  • SoBigData++ RI – European Integrated Infrastructure for Social Mining and Big Data Analytics, a resource for sharing datasets, methods, research skills and computational resources for supporting the comprehension of social phenomena through the lens of Big Data.


Maria Leptin appointed next President of the European Research Council

The European Commission has yesterday appointed Professor Maria Leptin as the next President of the European Research Council (ERC). Professor Leptin, who is currently the Director of EMBO (the European Molecular Biology Organization), will take on her new role on 1 October 2021, when President ad interim Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon will end his mandate. The new President joins the European Research Council at an important moment for its development. Over the entire long-term EU budget 2021-2027, the European Research Council is set to receive over €16 billion from Horizon Europe, an increase of 22% vis-à-vis Horizon 2020. Professor Maria Leptin is a highly respected scientist working on developmental biology and immunology. She leads research groups at the Institute of Genetics, University of Cologne, and at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), in Heidelberg. In 2010, she was appointed Director of EMBO.


Slovenian Presidency of the EU starts today

After the Portuguese Presidency it is the Slovenians who are taking hold of the rotating 6 months presidency. Slovenia has presented the programme of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union focusing on four priority areas. Under the slogan “Together. Resilient. Europe.”, the Slovenian Presidency aims to facilitate the EU’s recovery and reinforce its resilience, reflect on the future of Europe, strengthen the rule of law and European values, and increase security and stability in the European neighbourhood.

In the specific dossier of research, the presidency will focus on:

  • European partnerships: The Slovenian Presidency will work to conclude negotiations on a legislative package of three acts covering the establishment of institutionalised partnerships, high-performance computing and metrology.
  • International cooperation: emphasise cooperation with Western Balkan countries within the European Research Area.
  • ERA – European Research Area implementation: The Slovenian Presidency wishes to establish a new, inclusive ERA governance framework, focusing on directing investments and addressing interdisciplinary and global challenges, including through the promotion of new approaches such as Horizon Europe Missions and the New European Bauhaus Through the events, special attention will be devoted to research infrastructure, the involvement of young researchers, synergies between research and education and research ethics. It is planned that the Council of the European Union will adopt the Pact for Research and Innovation, while new governance through the ERA Forum will strengthen the implementation of common goals both at EU and national level. In the European Research Area, special attention will be devoted to efforts to ensure gender equality.

See the full programme of the presidency here.

However, there are calls for caution: the Slovenian government has been following the same path of curtailing freedom of press and, in general, an attempt to implement a model of “illiberal democracy” that goes against the basic European values. In this article the call for caution and the detailed reasons are explained.


Commissions launch one-stop-shops for EU-Africa cooperation in research and innovation

The European Commission yesterday launched two new platforms, the EU-Africa (EU-AU) cooperation in research and innovation (R&I) portal and the EU-Mediterranean cooperation in R&I portal to provide one-stop-shops for all policy-makers and stakeholders interested in EU-Africa cooperation on research and innovation.  They are part of the cooperation initiatives announced in the EU Global Approach to Research and Innovation and the EU comprehensive strategy with Africa. These initiatives also include the call for applications of the EU’s African Research Initiative for Scientific Excellence (ARISE) pilot programme and the Horizon-2020 funded project ENRICH in Africa. The latter builds on the work and the numerous established tech hub linkages of the Africa Europe Innovation Partnership (AEIP) and creates a network that strengthens and connects the EU and Africa ecosystems.


The CoR and the Joint Research Centre step up their cooperation to pilot Smart Specialisation Strategies for Sustainability in EU regions

The EU’s pilot initiative “Smart Specialisation Strategies for Sustainability” (S4) was launched in Seville today by the President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), Apostolos Tzitzikostas, and the Director for Growth and Innovation of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), Mikel Landabaso. The initiative represents a voluntary update to the Smart Specialisation Strategies, with a stronger focus on sustainability. The JRC and CoR will cooperate on the piloting of S4 methodology in more than ten regions in Europe. The CoR President’s visit to the Joint Research Centre’s premises in Seville this morning underlined the excellent collaboration between the two bodies, following the signature of a Joint Action Plan in November 2020. Key topics discussed included implementing Smart Specialisation Strategies for Sustainability as a key vehicle for the recovery, supporting cities and regions in the localisation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and extending the so-called Sevilla Process – a co-creation approach developed by the JRC in the field of environmental norms for industry – to support the decarbonisation of European industry.

President Tzitzikostas also intervened in last week’s Knowledge Exchange Platform seminar focusing on the role of regions and cities in the European Research Area (ERA) and the opportunities arising from Horizon Europe.


Germany presents it High Tech Strategy 2025 goal: to lead the world in the next tech revolution

With its High Tech Strategy 2025, Germany has laid out its ambitions to position itself at the forefront of the next technological revolution, though critics say Europe’s biggest economy still has some catching up to do. Germany’s strategy foresees investing 3.5% of GDP in research and innovation by 2025 in a bid to secure the leading international position in future technologies such as hydrogen, quantum computing and artificial intelligence. Check the full article here.


Defence Industry: the Commission kick-starts the European Defence Fund with €1.2 billion and awards 26 new industrial cooperation projects for more than €158 million

The Commission adopted today a package of decisions supporting the competitiveness and innovation capacity of the EU defence industry. The adoption of the first European Defence Fund (EDF) annual work programme paves the way to the immediate launch of 23 calls for proposals for a total of €1.2 billion of EU funding in support of collaborative defence research and development projects. Furthermore, under the EDF’s precursor programme, the European Defence Industry Development Programme (EDIDP), 26 new projects with a budget of more than €158 million were selected for funding. In addition, two major capability development projects received today a directly awarded grant of €137 million under the EDIDP.

For more information:

EDF Factsheet, June 2021

EDF 2021 projects, June 2021

EDIDP 2020 projects, June 2021

One-pagers per EDIDP 2020 projects, June 2021

EU Defence gets a Boost as the EDF becomes a reality, 29 April 2021

DG DEFIS website – European Defence Industry


Long-term vision for rural areas: for stronger, connected, resilient, prosperous EU rural areas

The European Commission has today put forward a long-term vision for the EU’s rural areas, identifying the challenges and concerns that they are facing, as well as highlighting some of the most promising opportunities that are available to these regions. Based on foresight and wide consultations with citizens and other actors in rural areas, today’s Vision proposes a Rural Pact and a Rural Action Plan, which aim to make our rural areas stronger, connected, resilient and prosperous.


Decisive action needed now to achieve energy transition by 2050, EU science advisers say

According to Science Business, the EU must urgently spring into action to develop a flexible and efficient climate-neutral energy system in time to have a net-zero economy by 2050, according to the European Commission’s Group of Chief Scientific Advisors. “Achieving the full decarbonization of the EU energy system by mid-century is possible, but it requires urgent and decisive action to integrate emissions-free energy sources and uses in a flexible way,” said Nebojsa Nakicenovic, lead adviser for the group’s opinion on the energy transition. The group recommends using a mix of renewable sources, electrification, and hydrogen to reach the goal, as well as investing in the integration of infrastructures, and supporting research and innovation. The transition should take place in an inclusive and participatory environment, involving citizens in the process, and avoiding putting sole focus on technology, the scientists stressed.

More Articles

31/05/2022: BioData.PT Session 3, EU AI Law, European Sustainable Energy Week, LIFE Awards 2022 Winners, EU Green Deal, and more.

In today’s Morning Brief:
– BioData.PT Talks Session 3: Recent Artificial Intelligence Tools and Architectures for Structural Biology;
– EUA Policy Input: Considerations for a “European Degree”;
– Putting Science into Standards;
– The EU AI law will not be future-proof unless it regulates general purpose AI systems;
– European Sustainable Energy Week: Going green and digital for Europe’s energy transition;
– European Commission reveals winners of LIFE Awards 2022;
– Interact with statistics for the European Green Deal;
– EU countries urged to prepare for Russian gas cut: Summit draft.

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30/05/2022: INESC TEC Workshop, EU Cancer Plan, Eurostat, Defunct Satellites, Hydrogen, and more.

In today’s Morning Brief:
– INESC TEC coordinated a workshop on Machine Learning;
– Access to financial products for persons with a history of cancer in EU Member States;
– Eurostat regional yearbook: From traditional printed publication to modern interactive tool;
– ‘World-first’ project for capturing defunct satellites ramps up;
– Hydrogen: BAM sets up digitally networked research filling station to increase safety of technology;
– EFCA coordinates EU efforts to monitor the bluefin tuna fishing season;
– Zero Pollution Monitoring and Outlook Workshop – Report;
– Commission outlines defence R&D priorities in new €924M work programme.

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26/05/2022: INESC-ID research grants, new MSCA platform, Horizon Europe UK backup, REPowerEU, Fit for 55, and more.

In today’s Morning Brief:
– INESC-ID: Nuno Lopes receives research grants from Google and Woven Alpha;
– EU ramping up efforts for strategic autonomy in raw materials;
– Laurence Moreau appointed head of the ERC executive agency;
– Event: The UK’s Position in Global Science and Innovation;
– New MSCA networking platform for future applicants;
– Application system opens for UK Horizon backup grants;
– Fraunhofer elects three new executive vice-presidents;
– FaST Navigator study identifies models necessary to provide accurate advice on the use of fertilisers to EU farmers;
– Germany’s pacifist universities pose obstacle to militarisation of EU R&D;
– Webinar: The European Standardisation Booster;
– MSCA Cluster event on Mission Ocean and Waters;
– REPowerEU: Commission establishes the EU Energy Platform Task Force to secure alternative supplies;
– Horizon Europe mission on carbon-neutral cities kicks into gear;
– Fit for 55: New EU carbon sink goal will increase 2030 reduction target;
– A new Blue Economy Observatory to monitor and promote the sustainability of our ocean related activities;
– Zero Pollution Monitoring and Outlook Workshop – Report.

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