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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

20/05/2022: Hydrogen R&I, INESC-ID researchers honoured, INESC TEC wins international award, new EIC call, Climate Change, and more.

In today’s Morning Brief:
– Hydrogen R&I gets boost in new Commission plan to wean EU off Russian energy;
– Ireland announces 2030 R&I strategy;
– EU pledges more research cooperation with Gulf states;
– INESC-ID researchers honoured with University of Lisbon/Caixa Geral de Depósitos Scientific Awards;
– INESC TEC robot wins international design award;
– Info session on Horizon Results Booster – Steering research towards a strong societal impact;
– European Innovation Council launches the Scale Up 100 Call;
– Energy industry’s cybersecurity awareness rises, defence lags;
– Climate change: Better using European forests as carbon sinks;
– European Maritime Day 2022: Sustainable blue economy for green recovery;
– Commission welcomes political agreement on new rules for securing winter gas storage;
– Leaked draft gives first glimpse of the Commission plan to turn the EU into an ‘innovation powerhouse’.

Read More »

19/05/2022: REPower EU, Green Transition, Natura 2000 awards, EU Blue Economy Report, Women in the Blue Economy, and more.

In today’s Morning Brief:
– REPower EU: A plan to rapidly reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels and fast forward the green transition;
– Research and Innovation to REPower the EU;
– ASEM Global Lifelong Learning Week;
– Scientists from the University of Coimbra test new intelligent monitoring systems for vineyards;
– Natura 2000 Awards: EU recognises excellence in nature protection across Europe;
– EU urges building insulation push in bid to end reliance on Russian gas;
– Finland, Japan open call for research cooperation;
– EU Blue Economy report: Ocean economy fuels European green transition;
– The “Women in the Blue Economy” call for proposals is now open;
– EPFL: A new law unchains fusion energy.

Read More »

18/05/2022: Climate Change, Artificial Intelligence, Russian gas supply, Partnerships for Regional Innovation, and more.

In today’s Morning Brief:
– Renewable energy industry says EU fund for clean tech is failing its mission;
– The Guild: Diversity, sustainability and quality must be the hallmarks of academic publishing in Europe;
– Climate change: MEPs push for accelerated EU action and energy independence;
– EU and US edge closer together on AI at latest Trade and Technology Council meeting;
– Open Call: New EU TalentOn invites young, academic talent to find solutions for our most pressing challenges;
– Commission launches EPREL database to help consumers on energy efficient products;
– LEAK: EU countries urged to prepare for Russian gas ‘supply shock’;
– Forging sustainable timber construction in Europe;
– President Zelensky urges US universities to help rebuild Ukraine’s higher education system;
– Partnerships for Regional Innovation: 63 regions, seven cities and four Member States selected for Pilot Action.

Read More »