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In today’s Morning Brief we let you know about Portugal’s new ERA spending target, what 2022 will look like for Horizon Europe research missions, suggestions for collaborations on technology and R&D, 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:

Portugal aims to reach 3% ERA spending target by 2030

The Portuguese government has set out to boost research spending to 3% of GDP by the end of the decade, in line with the EU’s ambition to improve research funding across the bloc. 

To reach the goal, over the next eight years, public and private research spending share will have to almost double, from 1.62% of GDP in 2020 to 3% in 2030.

EU member states renewed the ambition to increase EU research spending to 3% of GDP by the end of the decade last year as part of the plans to form a single market for research, the European Research Area.

2022 will put Horizon Europe research missions to the test

The year ahead will put the EU’s newest research endeavour, the Horizon Europe missions, to the test. After launching in 2021, they will reach full steam this year, setting the course for the coming decade as they aim to beat cancer, save the world’s oceans and soils, and lead cities to climate neutrality and adaptation.

The €1.9 billion two-year plan for the missions saw the light of day last autumn, with the European Commission launching the first calls in the last weeks of 2021.

In 2022, the pace will pick up, as the Commission and researchers get together to figure out how to deliver the five ambitions.

“I think that 2022 has to be used in order to finalise the preparation and the launch of the first phases of the missions. Hopefully, we’ll not spend the entire year just preparing. I hope 2022 will also mark the first steps forward towards achieving these ambitious goals,” said Mathilde Reumaux, senior policy officer at Science Europe, which represents public funding agencies.

Reumaux said there are signs the French presidency is eager to work on finding and finalising a common approach to the missions as it embarks on its six-month stint heading the council of member states.

The missions represent a new approach to running research projects, setting the desired outcomes, and putting in grant funding with the aim of mobilising public and private action to work on the many strands of research and translation needed to meet the broad brush objectives. The five missions have initial budgets of at least €320 million, but this will not be enough to make major headway.

Read more on this subject here.

Research group aims to fix the way the world collaborates on technology

With the COVID-19 crisis still underway and a climate crisis looming, an international group of senior researchers is pushing the world’s biggest economies to reform the way they manage collaboration on emerging technologies.

In coming years, argues a group participant, David Delpy, professor of medical photonics at University College London, the world risks conflict over who controls and benefits from a range of emerging technologies from climate control to 6G wireless networks.

“Now, it’s very difficult for countries to make sure that they get at least a fair share of the return on investment” on emerging technologies, he says. “If everybody’s playing by the same rules, it’s fine. But everybody isn’t playing by the same rules.” The issue is, “value capture: how do liberal economies capture value in a world where not everybody is liberal?”

What’s needed is a new global framework for pre-competitive technology development. If you want to read more about what this framework would entail and its bottlenecks make sure to click here.

Reform the way the world works together – or doesn’t – on R&D

Today, we have seen a technical feat of great magnitude accomplished not in a remote desert lab but in a global network of vaccine experts. Our messenger RNA vaccines arrived even faster than Oppenheimer’s bomb, and we have the prospect of a technology revolutionising medicine and saving millions from countless diseases from HIV to cancer (or being weaponised.) But to the scientists involved, once again, it appears that the politicians are messing things up.

The vaccine rollout has been bungled in most of the world – with rich countries hoarding the vaccines and populists scaring people away from them. Worse for the future, however: we are seeing the start of endless legal, commercial and trade wars over who controls and who profits from the technology. The last year saw some companies trying to lock up their vaccine technology, the EU and UK squabbling over vaccine deliveries, and the rest of the world left to go hang itself while the rich countries pumped out shot after shot to their own citizens (or at least, to those willing to accept.)

Don’t miss this piece by Richard L. Hudson, editor-in-chief and vice chair of Science|Business on how to simplify and expand international R&D collaboration here.

Scientific ‘war for talent’ heats up as pandemic restrictions ease

Countries and universities are once again engaged in a war for talent over researchers, entrepreneurs and students as the world emerges in fits and starts from a pandemic-induced slowdown in international migration.

Spurred by the need to be on the cutting edge of new technologies like artificial intelligence in an age of geopolitical rivalry between the US and China, a host of countries have in the past six months unveiled new academic recruitment drives, visa schemes and open-door policies to poach the brightest minds.

“There is increasing competition for talented individuals, and there’s no doubt it’s going to be with us for the foreseeable future,” said Ian Walmsley, provost of Imperial College London, which in December launched a new programme to recruit up to four short-term “visiting professors” a year from black and underrepresented backgrounds.

“If you want to be in the game, smart people are the primary driver, generating new ideas and new opportunities,” he said. Countries are increasingly aware how new technologies like machine learning will shape the future and this is pushing them to recruit.

Make sure to read more about this here.

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