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In this Morning Brief, we open with a brand new The Insider episode featuring Charlotte Andersdotter, Head of Office at Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, a new EU foresight report pointing towards the need for more collaboration on research and innovation policy, INESC TEC was present at the 19th edition of the Mostra of the Porto University helping younger people “prepare for the future” as the motto of this edition proposed, a new event coming up on the 10th of this month introducing the Global Health EDCTP3 Joint Undertaking, a new report supporting the EU’s efforts to provide opportunities for young people, a compilation of EU support to Ukrainian refugees in Europe in the areas of research and innovation, and more!  

Any comments or suggestions, hit me up with an email on teresa.carvalho@inesc.pt.

In today's Morning Brief:

In today’s Morning Brief:

‘The Insider’ – new episode featuring Charlotte Andersdotter

In this brand new episode we bring you a conversation with Charlotte Andersdotter, the Head of Office of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprises in Brussels. We dive into her twenty years of experience in the Brussels R&I arena.

We also explore how well Swedish interests are represented in Brussels, the role of a Brussels-based representation and its challenges vis-à-vis its home institutions, the difference between the research and the innovation parts and what role play the Nordic research and innovation councils such as Nordforsk and Norden.

Click here to listen to the full episode!


EU foresight report points to need for more collaboration on R&I policy

EU’s leadership in the green transformation and technology depends on member states boosting cooperation on R&I policy to deliver systematic changes, new European Commission-led foresight report suggests.

The future gazing report charts five speculative scenarios as it looks to scope out the change the COVID-19 pandemic may bring to the EU, and suggests R&I cooperation will be key to delivering positive change to the bloc in the next 20 years.

The report also stresses the scenarios show a growing need for R&I to target socioeconomic and environmental challenges.

“All scenarios suggest the need for stepping up collective capability and willingness to actively engage in open and collaborative R&I relationships, both within Europe and with the world beyond Europe,” the report says.  


INESC TEC helps younger people “prepare for the future”

“Prepare for the future. Know the present.” This was the motto of the 19th edition of the Mostra da Universidade do Porto (U.Porto), which took place between April 21 and 24, at Gondomar’s Pavilhão Multiusos. INESC TEC participated in this event promoted by U.Porto.

The Mostra da UP is an annual initiative that aims to inform young people about their choices regarding their academic future. After a two-year break caused by the pandemic, this year’s event returned to a face-to-face edition – and, for the first time, it was organized outside the city of Porto.

During the event, 14 colleges, 11 services and 14 research centers of the U.Porto community provided demonstrations, conferences, lectures, workshops, Q&A sessions and other interactive activities targeting younger audiences. The Mostra also featured other recreational activities, like the live performance of bands, exhibitions, and sports activities.

The INESC TEC stand featured the ResponDrone project, presented by the Centre for Telecommunications and Multimedia (CTM); the project comprehends a drone and its communications box, which are used to provide dynamic network coverage to users on land, e.g., rescue teams in emergency scenarios. INESC TEC also challenged the participants to learn how to set up their own Wi-Fi network.

The Centre for Robotics and Autonomous Systems (CRAS) presented the submarine DART – an autonomous submarine for research and data collection on the seabed, along with navigation buoys and an underwater docking station for battery charging. The participants also had the opportunity to watch a demonstration of a Lidar, a laser sensor that recognizes movement and measures distances.


Introducing the Global Health EDCTP3 Joint Undertaking

On 10 May 2022, the Global Health EDCTP3 Joint Undertaking (GH EDCTP3 JU) will host its launch event.

This event will:

– Highlight the importance of the GH EDCTP3 JU to ensuring R&I collaboration, cooperation and funding in the area of infectious diseases and the commitment of the partners to such endeavour;

– Present the achievements of the previous programme, including how the new partnership will build on these, and describe the new features of the GH EDCTP3 JU;

– Include a panel discussion to discuss the objectives and ambitions for the new partnership.

Find out more information here.


A new report supports the EU’s efforts to provide opportunities for young people

A new report from the JRC supports the EU’s efforts to provide opportunities for young people around the world by presenting an overview of international data on youth, which can contribute to policymaking, monitoring and evaluation. The report shows that there is a growing body of international data on youth across a range of thematic areas.

Overall, it identifies over 150 indicators from official data sources which are relevant to international youth policies and programmes. In particular, there is a rich body of international data on youth education and employment. This is important given the centrality of education and employment to young people’s transition to adulthood.

Read more here.


Canada launches innovation agency and edges towards Horizon association

According to Science|Business, “Canada has announced a string of R&D initiatives this month, creating a new innovation agency to tackle its lacklustre translation record, drawing closer to joining the EU’s Horizon Europe research programme, and pouring substantial sums into defending its discoveries from scientific espionage. The country has long bemoaned its lack of corporate innovation and spin-out success, with business R&D spending rates the lowest in the G7. “Invention is not enough,” warns Canada’s 2022 budget, released earlier this month. “Canadians and Canadian companies need to take their new ideas and new technologies and turn them into new products, services, and growing businesses.” Not only does Canada have a low rate of business R&D spending, but this rate has dropped by a third in the past two decades while the G7 overall has increased. It also lags far behind the likes of Japan, Germany and the US on patents per capita. Part of the remedy, according to the country’s minority Liberal government, is a new Canadian Innovation and Investment Agency to help businesses grow and create jobs. Exactly how the new agency will work will be finalised “following consultation with leading Canadian and international experts” said a spokeswoman for the Department of Finance Canada. But it is to be modelled on innovation agencies in Israel and Finland credited with helping to turn them into high-tech economies.”.


Creating a sustainable Finnish textile industry with bio-based and recycled fibres

Circular economy would bring new businesses and jobs in the textile sector. The Telavalue project will support the transformation of the textile industry. One of the goals is to combine recycled and new bio based fibres as the foundation of sustainable Finnish textile production.

“New bio-based and recycled material sources and the respective products will help us reduce the load of our lifestyles on the environment. We want to accelerate the development of these new products in Metsä Group and Fortum’s ExpandFibre spear-head ecosystem. The Telavalue project is also a part of it. Telavalue will help us ensure that the new sustainably produced bio-based textile fibres are perfectly integrated in the future circular economy of textiles,” says Katariina Kemppainen, Vice-chair of Metsä Group’s innovation company Metsä Spring, Group R&D, and Programme Manager of ExpandFibre.

The global textile industry is looking for more sustainable replacements for different materials, including the fossil-based polyester and cotton that require plenty of water to produce. The solution is utilising wood-based fibres in textile production.

“Chemistry is integral to developing the desired attributes of cellulose-based fibres. These attributes include strength and absorption power. Chemistry also plays a key role in enhancing the recycling of textiles. The chemistry company Kemira sees excellent opportunities to utilise their skills and expertise in fibre chemistry obtained from the pulp and paper industry in creating new innovations,” explains Satu Ikävalko, Manager R&D of Microbiology and Biotechnology.

The production of Finnish technical textiles has been strong in the last decades, even though the production of clothing and home textiles has declined since the heyday.

“In the Telavalue project, VTT’s role is to develop recycling solutions for these textiles made of high standard, mostly plastic-based, synthetic fibres. VTT has already created processes for recycling plastics in its previous projects. They have been successfully tested in the side-lines of technical textile production. We will continue developing our processes to utilise used, dirty, technical products in composite production as well,” states Senior Scientist, Pirjo Heikkilä, the project’s coordinator at VTT.

Read more here.  


Council of the EU adopts conclusions on carbon farming

Farming ministers have approved conclusions on carbon farming, based on the parts of the Commission’s ‘sustainable carbon cycles’ communication that deal with agriculture and forestry, and aiming to encourage agricultural practices that help to capture carbon from the atmosphere and store it in soil or biomass in a sustainable way. These practices may include, on the farming side, planting hedges or trees, growing legumes, using catch crops and cover crops, practicing conservation agriculture and maintaining peatlands, and on the forestry side, afforestation and reforestation.

The conclusions specify what the Council expects from the certification framework for carbon removals, for which a legislative proposal will follow at the end of this year, to ensure that economic value is attached to practices that increase carbon removal and storage, based on scientifically proven measurement requirements.

In its conclusions, the Council welcomed the communication and acknowledged the key role that farming and forestry can play in the fight against climate change by absorbing carbon from the atmosphere. Ministers also recognized the importance of providing financial support that offers sufficient incentive to farmers and foresters alongside the common agricultural policy, from both public and private resources, in order to encourage them to adopt these climate-friendly practices. Moreover, they supported the Commission’s plan to set up an expert group of farming and forestry representatives, considered that this group would be well placed to evaluate and take account of existing carbon certification schemes and share examples of best practice from across the EU, and invited the Commission to work with the group to look into extending certification to include reductions in greenhouse gases, particularly methane and nitrous oxide.

Member states also stressed that the primary purpose of EU agriculture, as stipulated in the treaties, is to ensure food security, and that this aim must not be compromised. Finally, the conclusions highlighted the importance of taking into account regional specificities and avoiding any unnecessary administrative burden when setting up the certification framework, which should be as simple and transparent as possible.

Read more here.


Time for Europe to get serious on Artificial Intelligence

In this column for EURACTIV, Robert Veldhuizen, an intelligence analyst at Sibylline states, “A full eighteen months of work have remarkably produced a truism that comes as no surprise to anyone. After all, the European Union (EU) has consistently underestimated and neglected the issue of AI. The cavalier and dismissive attitude towards the subject is perhaps best exemplified by the decision to form a special rather than permanent committee as if issues surrounding AI are likely to fade off the radar any time soon. We are, therefore, a long way off the EU’s stated ambition of being a world leader or “standard-setter in AI”. Where the special committee’s work does land a punch, instead, is in showing just how high the stakes are. Falling behind in the global AI race may – to borrow the words of the report – run “the risk of European values being globally replaced, our companies becoming marginalised, and our living standards being drastically reduced.” Therefore, if Europe is serious about wanting to catch up on AI, it must come up with an urgent plan to make up for lost ground. (…) For Europe to catch up on AI, it must accelerate its adoption through a three-pronged strategy. The first priority must be to continue nurturing the European AI start-up ecosystem through continued investments in innovation. According to a joint JRC-OECD report published last year, such investments must be targeted toward facilitating the transformation of “AI concepts into successful products and services.” In other words, investments need to be made to ensure innovations actually make it to market. However, a nascent European startup scene cannot be expected to provide viable solutions to the entire continent’s AI demands. If the EU is serious about catching up on AI adoption, a crucial second pillar of its strategy must be to encourage importing ready-made solutions from reliable trading partners such as the US and UK. Adopting tried and tested innovations from abroad makes sense, especially if they can bridge existing gaps in AI adoption or capabilities. For instance, the EU has fallen particularly behind in its adoption of computer vision technology, especially in the transport sector. Over in the US, however, a NASDAQ listed company called Remark Holdings has already developed an AI computer vision system, which has been rolled out successfully to several rail companies in Florida and Nevada. The system, which monitors the tracks in real-time to detect anomalies and improve overall rail safety, is a prime example of the type of AI solutions that could be quickly adopted in Europe without much effort. Similarly, the EU need only look beyond the Channel to make up for its slow adoption of AI as a forecasting tool. Recently, the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK unveiled an AI-driven tool that has been shown to accurately predict hospital capacity and daily admissions up to three weeks in advance. Having repeatedly dealt with overcrowded hospitals during the COVID pandemic, the case for seeking to import such a tool need hardly be made. Lastly, the third objective of the EU’s strategy should be a unified approach. While several countries within the EU27 are yet to publish their national AI strategies, the EU should already be at work to achieve a coherent synthesis of these policy papers. Only by operating as a block can the EU occupy a leadership role in AI that could strengthen their calls for ethical guidelines and regulations around this technology. “.


Green Deal: EU announces €1 billion worth of commitments to protect the ocean

At the Our Ocean Conference (OOC) in Palau, the EU has renewed its pledges towards international Ocean governance. Presenting a list of 44 commitments for the 2020-2022 period for an amount of almost €1 billion, the EU has brought forward its most important commitments ever offered during an Our Ocean Conference, in terms of value.

The Our Ocean Conference is a key moment for countries across the world, civil society, and industry to commit to concrete and significant actions to protect the ocean. The theme of 2022 edition is ‘Our Ocean, Our People, Our Prosperity’, and it draws global partners to identify solutions to sustainably manage marine resources, increase the ocean’s resilience to climate change and safeguard its health for generations to come.

Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, said: “The sum the EU is committing today is significant, but not as significant as the role that the ocean plays for our very existence. It provides us clean air, regulates the climate, hosts a large part of biodiversity on Earth and is key for our economy. The ocean is bringing all these benefits to us and we need to protect it. Our future depends upon it.”

Read more here.


Supporting Ukrainian refugees in Europe

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought war back to Europe and with it, the worst refugee crisis since 1945. As the Russian aggression continues, the Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič estimates that the number of refugees fleeing Ukraine will swell to 5 million by June this year, which is almost 10% of the Ukrainian population. Together with people displaced within Ukraine, roughly a quarter of its population has been forced to leave their homes because of the war.

Fleeing a war to then settle in a new country poses immense challenges, such as finding a job or ensuring that your qualifications are recognized. This is why the European Commission has created the European Research Area for Ukraine (ERA4Ukraine) portal, a one-stop-shop for information and support services to Ukraine-based researchers fleeing the conflict. The portal brings together initiatives from the national and EU-level as well as from non-governmental organizations. It aims to help those affected find housing and job opportunities and facilitate the recognition of their diplomas, amongst other services. The ERA4Ukraine portal is launched on the existing EURAXESS network, which supports researchers by connecting more than 600 centers and 43 national portals across the EU Member States and countries associated to Horizon Europe.

Read more here.


US plans campaign to attract Russian scientists, engineers to America

According to Science|Business, “The Biden Administration is planning a campaign to attract Russian scientists and engineers to the US, in an effort to further weaken Russia’s science and technology base. It also plans to help Russian physicists at the CERN nuclear lab continue working there, rather than return home when their normal visas expire, if they wish. The plan, first reported 29 April by Bloomberg News and confirmed to Science|Business, is part of a $33 billion supplemental spending bill for the Ukraine war that President Biden sent to Congress 28 April, officials said. The legislation includes language that would permit technically qualified Russians with masters or doctoral degrees in a range of fields to immigrate to the US without the usual visa requirement that they have a job lined up in advance. They would have to pass a US security background check. And for Russians working at CERN, the world’s premier high-energy physics lab near Geneva, the US in consultation with other G7 countries plans to help them keep working there if they want – including the possibility of having US scientific organisations hire them directly. It wasn’t immediately clear whether similar provisions would apply to Russians working at other major Western laboratories. The initiative is the first major step by the White House to extend the war to include scientific and technical talent. One official likened it to Operation Paperclip, a then-secret US programme from 1945 to 1959 that transported more than 1,600 Nazi-era German scientists and engineers to the US for employment at American labs. They included famed rocket engineer Wernher von Braun and Kurt Debus, later the first director of the Kennedy Space Center. The effort helped fuel the Cold War, as Russia had a similar German talent programme. It isn’t clear yet how many Russian researchers and engineers could be involved in the Biden Administration effort – though several thousand are thought already to have left Russia.”.

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