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In this Morning Brief, we open up with news that ERC grant success rates for experienced researchers are up and available for consulting in the ERC website, INESC-ID has welcomed ETH Zurich researchers as part of the OLISSIPO project, FAO has published a comprehensive study on food loss and waste reduction, the European Commission has made €162 million available to strengthen research infrastructures in Europe, 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:

ERC grant success rates for experienced researchers are up

This year, the European Research Council (ERC) received 1,647 proposals from experienced researchers for its estimated 223 Advanced grants, marking a 13.5% success rate, up from recent years.

This is the second year in a row success rates for ERC Advanced grants are above the average 12%. Since the 2021 launch of the new €95.5 billion EU research programme Horizon Europe, which has a bigger budget for fundamental research than its predecessor, the ERC has been able to award more scientists. The 2021 awardees were announced last week, with 14.6% of applicants receiving grants.

In the last two years of the previous Horizon 2020 research programme, which ended in 2020, success rates were especially low, hovering around 8 to 10%, which caused fears many excellent scientists may not be able to get EU funding.

This year’s call closed last week, clocking a 5% decrease in proposals compared to the 2021 call, when 1,735 applications were submitted. However, with a smaller provisional budget for the grants this year, €555 million, fewer researchers will be awarded. The winners of the estimated 223 grants for fundamental research in any field are set to be announced in April next year.

You can find the facts and figures here.


INESC-ID welcomes ETH Zurich researchers

This past week, April 26-29, the INESC-ID Olissipo team received some of the members of the ETH Zürich team, including Professor Niko Beerenwinkel (in addition to members from the Inria team Professors Marie-France Sagot and Ariel Silber). This Staff Exchange included scientific presentations by both teams – covering computational biology topics from cancer and evolutionary genomics to machine learning and transcriptomics– as well as teamwork sessions and space to reflect on the future directions of this project.

Coordinated by Susana Vinga – INESC-ID researcher and member of its Board of Directors, as well as Associate Professor at Instituto Superior Técnico – OLISSIPO is a Twinning project, funded by the European Commission within Horizon 2020, that aims to enhance the competences in Computational Biology at INESC-ID and to create an international pole of excellence in multi-disciplinary science in Portugal.

The Olissipo consortium is composed of four research institutions: INESC-ID, ETH Zurich, EMBL and Inria.  


Moving forward on food loss and waste reduction

If we want to reduce food loss and waste, then we need to know where it occurs and where interventions will be the most impactful.

To gain further insight into the location and extent of food loss and waste across stages in the food supply chain, as well as between regions and commodity groups, FAO conducted a meta-analysis of existing food loss and waste studies all over the world, as well as a comprehensive guide of where it occurs and how to reduce it.

Full results of the meta-analysis.

FAO report on food and agriculture.


Increased training, advice and innovation projects for EU farmers due to the Common Agricultural Policy

The number of farmers receiving advice and having access to training in the EU increased in the period 2014-2020 compared to 2007-2013, according to the evaluation of the CAP’s impact on knowledge exchange and advisory activities published today. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) introduced a number of instruments and measures to support knowledge exchange, advice and training on innovation and technology, cross-compliance and environmental sustainability. This includes, for example, the Farm Advisory System, the Agricultural Knowledge and Information System (AKIS) and the agricultural European Innovation Partnership (EIP-AGRI). In spite of the notable increase, however, the targets were not yet fully achieved, both in uptake and in spending. The new CAP plans to better focus efforts at EU and national level on knowledge exchange and innovation for smart and sustainable agriculture with a dedicated key objective for “Fostering knowledge and innovation”.

Based on an external support study and corresponding public consultation covering the EU 28 countries and the period 2014-2020, the evaluation provides guidance to maximise opportunities for making farming practices more sustainable in the future, as required by the Farm to Fork strategy.

The report concludes that the CAP policy on knowledge exchange and advisory activities remains relevant as it provides clear EU added value and has a significant role in helping farmers make the transition towards a green and sustainable agricultural sector. Knowledge and innovation will be a priority in the CAP Strategic Plans to better support the transition to more sustainable farming systems.

Read more here.

Commission evaluation of the CAP’s impact on knowledge exchange and advisory activities.

Public consultation.

Common monitoring and evaluation framework.


The European Commission makes €162 million available to strengthen research infrastructures in Europe

As part of Horizon Europe, the European Commission funds world-class research infrastructures in order to build an integrated European landscape. In turn, this will foster the development of emerging technologies and ground-breaking research.

Under ‘Horizon Europe: Research Infrastructures’, three calls were launched in order to support the Commission’s aims in creating a cohesive and world-leading European research arena.

The calls that closed on the 20th of April were the second calls for funding opportunities under these topics.

According to the Horizon Europe Work Programme 2021-2022: Research Infrastructures, a total of seven topics will be researched across these three calls. The total available budget is €161.8 million. The evaluation of the proposals will start presently with the support of external independent evaluators drawn from the European Commission database of experts.

In September 2022, REA will notify the projects that were successful in their applications. The grant agreements are to be signed in December 2022.

Other calls under Research Infrastructures can be found at the Funding and Tenders Portal. To stay updated and informed, please subscribe to the newsletter.

Find out more information here


Science and Policy Matchmaking Event

Are you a researcher interested in being exposed to policy environments for a short time? Would you like to have a better understanding of how policymaking works and the role of scientific evidence in it? Would you like to grow your network of policy professionals? Do you belong to a policy institution interested in hosting researchers at your organisation for a short time? Would you like to have scientific support in improving your evidence-informed processes? Would you like to have better access to scientific knowledge and academic networks?

If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of the questions above, you will be interested in this science and policy matchmaking event organised by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (DG EAC) and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), which will be held online next 31st May from 09:30-13:00.

Make sure to click here for more information and for the programme agenda.


Two new calls for tenders to support the EU Cancer Plan

The fight against cancer is one of the European Commission’s top health priorities. HaDEA launched two calls for tenders, which will contribute to the implementation of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, the EU’s response to growing challenges and developments in cancer control.

The aim of the call is to design, develop, test and deliver the ‘EU Mobile App for Cancer Prevention’. The product will offer individuals an interactive IT tool to make use of concrete information on how to reduce their cancer risks.

Duration of the contract: 24 months.

Estimated total value: € 3 500 000.00.

All interested parties are invited to send their applications by 29 April 2022, 16:00 (CET).

Learn more and apply on the eTendering portal.  


Study to evaluate the European Research Area (ERA) policy framework and ERA monitoring mechanism

The European Research Area (ERA) aims to harmonize the framework conditions for R&I in Europe. To achieve these goals, the ERA Roadmap 2015-2020 set out a framework for implementing the ERA in a more structured way that aimed to strengthen the contribution of national measures to ERA implementation, recognizing the crucial role already played by EU measures. Within the ERA Roadmap, the National Action Plans (NAPs) played an important role in setting out the contribution of the Member States and other ERA-participant countries to the ERA. Additionally, the European Research Area and Innovation Committee (ERAC) provided technical inputs to facilitate ERA implementation across the 6 thematic ERA priorities defined in 2012 and incorporated into the ERA Roadmap. The study reviewed ERA governance arrangements in 2015-2020 and the monitoring and indicator system. The revitalized ERA Communication of September 2020, subsequent Council Conclusions and the new ERA Pact further elaborated the approach to the new ERA. An assessment of the proposed approach to governance arrangements and new monitoring and indicator system in the form of an ERA Scoreboard and broader performance monitoring framework was developed. This incorporated lessons learned to date and a multi-level governance and partnership-based model.

Download the study here.


EU may offer Hungary, Slovakia exemptions from Russian oil embargo

According to EURACTIV, “The European Commission may spare Hungary and Slovakia from an embargo on buying Russian oil, now under preparation, wary of the two countries’ dependence on Russian crude, two EU officials said on Monday (2 May). The Commission is expected to finalise on Tuesday work on the next, and sixth package of EU sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine, which would include a ban on buying Russian oil. Exports of oil are a major source of revenue for Moscow. Hungary, heavily dependent on Russian oil, has repeatedly said it would not sign up to sanctions involving energy. Slovakia is also among the EU countries most reliant on Russian fossil fuels. To keep the 27-nation bloc united, the Commission might offer Slovakia and Hungary “an exemption or a long transition period”, one of the officials said. Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, thanked Slovakia for its support of Kyiv, in what seems a sign of understanding of Slovakia’s position. “Ukraine will always remember what our Slovak friends did for us. Warm welcome for Ukrainians fleeing the war, humanitarian aid, arms supplies, support for granting Ukraine EU candidate status and allowing tariff-free exports to the EU,” Kuleba wrote on Twitter. “We are lucky to have Slovakia as a neighbour.” The oil embargo is likely to be phased in anyway, most likely taking full effect from the start of next year, officials said.”.

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