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Happy Friday! In this Morning Brief, we present the upcoming ICoWEFS 2022 and how you can submit to participate, the latest on the European Business and Nature Summit 2021, how research is becoming a tool for the EU against China’s Belt and Road initiative 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:

International Conference on Water, Energy, Food and Sustainability (ICoWEFS 2022)

The ICoWEFS 2022 will be held in Portalegre, Portugal from 10 to 12 May 2022. It will provide a unique opportunity for professionals worldwide to learn, share and present the latest findings and insights regarding sustainable economic development, the management of natural and energy resources, and the sustainability of the agri-food system.

The Conference will provide a platform for networking with world’s leading experts in the water-energy-food nexus for sustainability and related areas. It will be a major forum for assessing the key challenges to promote sustainable living in modern societies bringing together an international community of leading academics, researchers, engineers and industrial professionals to exchange and share their ideas and experiences.

If you’re interested in participating, submit your proposal of a scientific paper, which has not yet been published, in accordance with the file template in the Call for Papers conference website here. Submissions must be received by December 15, 2021.

All submissions will be peer-reviewed and accepted articles will be published in the conference proceedings book with ISBN and indexed by the Springer publisher on Scopus. If you have any questions send email to icowefs@ipportalegre.pt..

European Business and Nature Summit 2021

Today and tomorrow, high-level policy makers and business leaders are gathering at the European Business & Nature Summit to scale up business action for nature ahead of the crucial UN Biodiversity Conference (CBD COP 15) in the spring of 2022. Organised by the EU Business@Biodiversity Platform of the European Commission and other partners, the Summit aims to strengthen the growing movement of companies across Europe and beyond that are putting nature and people at the centre of their recovery strategies.

The Summit features front-running businesses and financial institutions sharing experiences, best practice examples and initiatives that aim to integrate natural capital and biodiversity into corporate decision-making.

Find out more here.

Research to be part of EU rival to China’s Belt and Road initiative

The EU’s €300 billion Global Gateway initiative, designed to rival Chinese infrastructure investment, will include a role for research and innovation – although it is unclear whether the announcement amounts to any new research funding.

Brussels wants to fund projects in partner countries that will improve their digital connectivity, renewable energy, transport systems, healthcare, and research and education. The move is an explicit attempt to counter Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative.

Responding to the trillions of dollars Beijing has poured into global infrastructure over the past decade, “the EU will work with partner countries to strengthen cooperation on research and innovation”, a communication from EU institutions said on December 1. 

The communication references existing programmes and their global research. The Erasmus+ mobility programme “has a strong international dimension,” it says. Horizon Europe, the EU’s new research framework, “offers researchers and innovators outside Europe the opportunity to participate in EU-funded collaborative research and innovation actions,” it adds.

European Commission welcomes political agreement on the 8th Environment Action Programme

The Commission welcomes the provisional agreement reached yesterday between the European Parliament and the Council on the 8th Environment Action Programme. The 8th EAP anchors the Member States’ and Parliament’s commitment to environmental and climate action until 2030, guided by a long-term vision to 2050 of wellbeing for all, while staying within the planetary boundaries. The agreed 8th EAP builds on the European Green Deal.

The agreed 8th EAP has six priority objectives related to climate neutrality, climate adaptation, circular economy, zero pollution, protecting and restoring biodiversity, and reducing environmental and climate pressures related to production and consumption. In addition, the programme sets out an enabling framework and a monitoring framework to measure progress towards the required systemic change.

Read all about it here.

What Germany’s new government means for R&I

Germany’s new government unveiled its research and higher education plans, including a new national technology transfer agency, better living support for students, and more job security for early career academics.

Research leaders have welcomed the raft of promises, but are uncertain if economist Bettina Stark-Watzinger, the surprise pick for education and research minister, and a former research manager herself, will have the time or money to implement what is promised.

“Many of our expectations and demands have been picked up,” said Peter-André Alt, president of the German Rectors’ Conference. The plans show the country is going, “in the right direction in science and innovation.”

After years of deliberation, Germany will get a federal technology transfer agency, to be named the German Agency for Transfer and Innovation (DATI). Its job will be to take new ideas from the academic research base and create successful spin-offs.

DATI will both unite and expand different funding schemes from different government departments. Researchers could then collaborate with regional start-ups and SMEs to get funding to bring new ideas to the market. This regional funding is based on the UK model of attempting to create regional innovation clusters, by focusing R&D investments on areas of strength.

Read about it here.

Data Governance: Deal on new rules to boost data sharing across the EU

Rules to make data more available to start-ups and businesses to stimulate innovation were informally agreed by MEPs and the Council Presidency on Tuesday.

The Data Governance Act (DGA) aims to increase trust in data sharing, creates new EU rules on the neutrality of data marketplaces and facilitates the reuse of certain data held by the public sector, e.g. certain health, agricultural or environmental data. It sets up common European data spaces in strategic domains, such as health, environment, energy, agriculture, mobility, finance, manufacturing, public administration and skills.

The potential of artificial intelligence cannot be unlocked without data sharing, which helps start-ups and businesses develop an ecosystem based on EU standards.

During negotiations, MEPs ensured there were no loopholes that would allow operators from non-EU countries to abuse the scheme, by strengthening provisions on trust and fair access. MEPs also secured precise requirements on which services will fall under the new DGA.

The informal agreement will now have to be formally endorsed by Parliament and Council to come into force. The Industry, Research and Energy Committee will vote on the text in a forthcoming meeting.

Read the press release here.

UK-EU row may leave Copernicus €750M short

The row about UK access to EU research leaves the Copernicus earth observation programme facing an existential crisis, with a €750 million hole in the budget, Josef Aschbacher, director general of the European Space Agency (ESA) warned this week.

“I think it is well understood and well agreed that Copernicus is a top priority for Europe,” Aschbacher told the European Parliament’s industry, research and space committee. “Everyone agrees that the next phase needs to continue undamaged. In other words, a solution must be found for this €750 million.”

The funding for Copernicus, together with the UK’s participation in the Horizon Europe research programme, is blocked by the dispute over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The UK this week announced a safety net for Horizon Europe, guaranteeing UK-based researchers who will be unable to sign grant agreements with the EU that the UK will fund their projects.

Aschbacher believes the money for Copernicus could be found elsewhere in the EU budget. He recalled how in 2007 the EU diverted €2.4 billion from agricultural funds to the Galileo global navigation satellite system. “And this was at the time an existential question for Galileo, and it helped, and today Galileo is a world leading programme,” he told MEPs.

Read more here.

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