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Happy Friday! In this Morning Brief, we open with a very special ‘The Insider’ episode featuring INESC Coimbra’s President Carlos Hengeller in a frank and open discussion commemorating the institution’s 20 years of existence, the EIC has awarded 145 million euros in a challenge drive call for research projects, save the date for two upcoming events, one regarding the societal transformations in the digital age and another one regarding the fishery and aquaculture market in a post COVID-19 world, the UK has unveiled wind and nuclear focused energy plans following gas price hikes, 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 Carlos Hengeller, INESC Coimbra’s President

Welcome back to The Insider! This is a special episode, commemorative of the 20 years of our INESC institute in Coimbra. It is a very relaxed and informal conversation where our Head of Office, Ricardo Miguéis,  explores with Carlos Hengeller what defines INESC Coimbra, its inherent interdisciplinarity and what distinguishes it, its relation with University of Coimbra and other higher education institutions in the Central region of Portugal (namely the Polytechnic Institutes of Leiria and Coimbra), its light structure and “living organism” management as a strategic decision and a reflection on what makes a researcher go the extra mile, dedicate the extra hours.

We wrap it up with a vision for the future, including the importance of contract research and international cooperation in EU projects. This was a frank, open and fluid conversation and we sincerely hope you enjoy it.

Make sure to click here to listen to the episode!

 

EIC awards €145 million in challenge-drive call for research projects

The European Innovation Council (EIC) is awarding €145 million to 39 cutting edge research projects on five strategic technologies. The projects will be grouped under portfolios on self-aware AI, tools to measure and stimulating activity in brain tissue, cell and gene therapy, hydrogen production, and engineered living materials.

The portfolios will be managed by the new EIC programme managers to increase impact. They were also for the first time involved in selecting the projects. “With the new mechanisms under the EIC, we have the means to support the whole value chain and to transform these innovative technologies into successful companies in Europe,” said EU research commissioner Mariya Gabriel.

Each project will receive up to €4 million to develop their early-stage technologies up to proof of concept level. Programme managers may increase this funding for testing the potential of their innovations.

The next call EIC Pathfinder top-down call is set to open on 16 June, with challenges in cardiogenomics, DNA-based digital data storage, CO2 and nitrogen management and valorisation, quantum, energy storage, and healthcare.

Read more here.  

 

EU space agency calls on space innovators to aid humanitarian efforts in Ukraine

The EU Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA) has launched a database listing applications use EU satellite data and can support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. The listed applications use data from the EU’s global navigation and earth observation programmes Galileo and Copernicus to aid non-governmental organisations, for example, by supporting drone deliveries of medical goods and helping integrate people fleeing the war in EU countries.

The page also offers NGOs and other organisations matchmaking opportunities with innovators and start-ups. To be added to the list, innovators can send EUSPA an application describing their project. More information will be shared in a webinar on 12 April.

Find out more here.

 

Societal Transformations in the Digital Age: Opportunities for Interdisciplinary Research in Horizon Europe

Don’t miss this upcoming webinar and working event which will be held online on 12 May from 09h30 to 13h00 (CEST).

The event is jointly organised by four Brussels-based liaison offices: Lithuanian RDI Liaison Office (LINO), Netherlands house for Education and Research (Neth-ER), Polish Science Contact Agency (PolSCA) and the Slovak Liaison Office for Research and Development (SLORD).

This event aims to bring together the expert scientific community working on issues related to the impact of digital technologies on society.

Throughout the half-day, we will:

  • Discuss the current challenges related to the digital transformation of our democracies and socio-economic life,
  • Present interesting examples of interdisciplinary projects, connecting different research and innovation communities,
  • Learn about the main funding opportunities available to researchers active in this area.

The event might be of interest to researchers, research and project managers, public authorities or anyone else willing to join. New collaborations and partnerships will be created through a networking platform.

New information regarding registration and the agenda will be shared soon.

 

FAO launches new phase of agriculture policy initiative with $11 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has launched a new phase of its key agricultural policy monitoring and analysis initiative, focused on supporting reforms in eight Sub-Saharan African countries, as they face an array of global challenges.

Covering Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda, Phase 3 of the Monitoring and Analysing Food and Agricultural Policies (MAFAP) programme will continue working to support the countries in making more informed, evidence-based policy and investment decisions.

Among its key goals are identifying priority areas for scaling up investment, achieving more transparent markets and trade, inclusive rural transformation and more nutritious agrifood systems.

The programme has become even more crucial as governments grapple with tighter budgets in the wake of COVID-19 and the impact of the war in Ukraine and seek data-driven ways to guide their reforms towards inclusive agricultural transformation and  economic recovery.

Read more here.

 

New EUMOFA Talk: From Revolution to Evolution – The Fishery and Aquaculture Market in a Post COVID-19 World

The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products (EUMOFA) will host its latest talk “From Revolution to Evolution: The Fishery and Aquaculture Market in a Post COVID-19 World” at the Seafood Expo Global 2022 in Barcelona, Spain. The event will take place on 26 April 2022.

The talk will look at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the seafood sector. The seafood sector has been hard hit by COVID-19, but has the pandemic also brought new opportunities? Two years into the pandemic, is it high time to focus on new business opportunities, emerging markets and changes in consumer behaviour? Has the experience gained during the pandemic made us better prepared to face other disruptive events, such as the effects of the current war in Ukraine?

Make sure to click here to find out more and register for the event.

 

Open Call – EIC Women Leadership Programme

The European Innovation Council (EIC) is pleased to announce the launch of the 2nd cohort of participants for the Women Leadership Programme (WLP). Building upon the success of the pilot’s 1st cohort, the services from this initiative are being provided from May 2022 to October 2022.

The EIC WLP aims to support, inspire, and empower EIC female researchers and entrepreneurs. With that in mind, this 2nd cohort of the programme is meant to provide a new set of training and networking events, as well as business coaching and mentoring opportunities for career development. In addition, this time around we are extending the number of participants.

We are now looking for female EIC research beneficiaries and EIT community to apply to this new initiative and participate in the WLP as part of the 2nd cohort from May to October 2022.

Make sure to find more information here.

 

Should scientists study how to dim the sun?

According to Science|Business, “There is now a fierce debate among academics over research into this most controversial of technologies. Some researchers want modelling and field experiments banned, arguing that solar geoengineering could never be deployed fairly, and distracts from efforts to cut carbon emissions. Supporters still think cutting emissions should be priority number one, and admit the idea of spraying things into the sky to cool the earth sounds a little out there. But the evidence is that solar geoengineering should work and it could be a method of last resort to avoid disaster as the century progresses, and so it at least needs to be investigated. Yet it is hard to win grants because the technology is so controversial. One recent high profile outdoor experiment was cancelled due to local objections. “The argument is that we want to be researching it so that if we ever get to the point where we need to use it, we know how to do it as well as we can,” said Rob Bellamy, a climate and society researcher at Manchester University. There are several types of solar geoengineering, all of which aim to reflect sunlight. They include spraying sea salt to brighten marine clouds, or bioengineering crops to make them more reflective. But the best understood and most feasible technology is stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI), where the aim is to mimic the aftermath of a volcanic eruption.”.    

 

INESC-ID welcomes EMBL Olissipo Researchers

The INESC-ID Olissipo team received some of the members of the EMBL team this week. This Staff Exchange included scientific presentations by both teams, 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, and member of the INESC Brussels Hub Working Group in Health Technologies – 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, EMBL, ETH Zurich and Inria.

 

Converting wastewater into clean water: The AFTERLIFE project presents its results

In the AFTERLIFE project, a research team of 14 project partners from seven European countries successfully demonstrated a new way of wastewater treatment that simultaneously recovers compounds of interest while converting the remaining organic matter into a high-volume added value bio-based polymer. The project started in September 2017, coordinated by Dr. María López from IDENER (Spain), and ended in February 2022.

The AFTERLIFE pilot plants have been deployed at BBEU premises in Belgium. The project consortium validated the technology at technology readiness level (TRL) 5.

Click here to read more about the results of the project.

 

UK unveils wind and nuclear focused energy plan following gas price hikes

According to EURACTIV, “The UK plans to dramatically step up its use of wind and nuclear power to reduce its reliance on oil and gas imports, according to the government’s new energy strategy published on Thursday (7 April). The strategy, which aims to boost UK energy independence and tackle rising utility bills, plans for up to 95% of the UK’s electricity to come from low carbon or renewable sources by 2030. The new plans respond to the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Europe’s gas supply and energy market prices. These have already prompted a series of EU countries to overhaul their plans for their future energy supply and production. As part of this, ministers have set a target of producing up to 50 gigawatts (GW) of energy through offshore wind farms, which the government says would be more than enough to power every home in the UK. They also want to revamp planning laws to fast track the development of wind farms and cut approval times, something that is often a stumbling block for the wind industry. However, this has long been a divisive issue in the governing Conservative party, with many members deeply sceptical about wind farms. A new body called Great British Nuclear will also be launched to drive plans for eight more nuclear reactors at existing sites by 2030. The aim is for nuclear to provide 25% of the UK’s projected power demand by 2050, equivalent to 24 GW of electricity. However, opposition politicians and civil society organisations have complained that the UK government’s blueprint contains little on improving energy efficiency in homes and elsewhere. In contrast, the European Commission’s plan to break away from Russian energy included a focus on energy efficiency measures, like turning down thermostats by 1°C, which the International Energy Agency said would save 10 billion cubic metres of gas per year.”.

 

The economic benefits of climate action will outweigh the costs, IPCC report finds

The world’s economies stand to gain more from limiting global warming to 2C than climate action costs, according to the latest UN report on the state of climate change.

This week’s report from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) looks at how we can stop planetary overheating getting worse. It is the third and final piece in the sixth assessment report (AR6) that hundreds of scientists have compiled over the last year, after reports on the physical science and impacts of the climate crisis.

With the case for climate action now beyond doubt, the third working group has addressed what leaders can do to limit global emissions between now and 2030. ‘Business as usual’ is not an option, but the IPCC’s projections show that mitigating climate change need not to be achieved at the expense of living standards. As researchers argued in a recent paper, estimates of the ‘cost’ of climate action can be overly pessimistic.

One crucial point the researchers, including the Grantham Institute’s Dr Alexandre Köberle make, is that most of the scenarios that the IPCC uses do not take into account the cost of climate inaction.

To assess the impact of a particular climate policy, policymakers need to know how it compares to a baseline in which no action is taken. Though the last report looked at impacts with an economic cost – damage to infrastructure, for example, or lost crops – these costs are not always factored in. Without this vital information, we’re at risk of overstating how much climate action costs (or being misled by politicians who wilfully exclude it to say Net Zero policies are too costly).

Make sure to read this analysis here.

 

Science goes to war: Western allies step up collaboration in military research

According to Science|Business, “The war in Ukraine moved directly into the lab this week, with western governments announcing a series of new measures to coordinate their military research, including on quantum technologies and hypersonic missiles. But the shift isn’t without controversy, as some European academics urged the EU to keep its civilian and defence research separate.  The military build-up took several steps, with NATO announcing a coordinated, multi-country research programme, and the US, Australia and UK setting plans for expanded quantum, hypersonic and other joint weapons research. It followed a NATO leaders’ meeting last autumn in which the strategy was set; but the scale and scope of the detailed measures announced this week were massive.”.

 

New European Bauhaus: Commission launches ‘NEB LAB’ with new projects

Today, the Commission is launching the NEB LAB: a ‘think and do’ tank to make the New European Bauhaus a reality through concrete and tangible projects. By connecting the initiative’s growing community and sharing ideas, it will bring about beautiful, sustainable, and inclusive changes on the ground.

The launch of the ‘NEB LAB’ starts with a call for Friends of the New European Bauhaus to involve companies and public actors such as regions, villages and cities, more directly in the NEB.

NEB LAB projects starting already today include the development of New European Bauhaus labelling tools, work on regulatory framework conditions, and a survey among construction companies, architects, urban planners and other actors to identify barriers for the implementation of NEB projects in the construction and housing sector.

Make sure to click here to find out more.

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31/05/2022: BioData.PT Session 3, EU AI Law, European Sustainable Energy Week, LIFE Awards 2022 Winners, EU Green Deal, and more.

In today’s Morning Brief:
– BioData.PT Talks Session 3: Recent Artificial Intelligence Tools and Architectures for Structural Biology;
– EUA Policy Input: Considerations for a “European Degree”;
– Putting Science into Standards;
– The EU AI law will not be future-proof unless it regulates general purpose AI systems;
– European Sustainable Energy Week: Going green and digital for Europe’s energy transition;
– European Commission reveals winners of LIFE Awards 2022;
– Interact with statistics for the European Green Deal;
– EU countries urged to prepare for Russian gas cut: Summit draft.

Read More »

30/05/2022: INESC TEC Workshop, EU Cancer Plan, Eurostat, Defunct Satellites, Hydrogen, and more.

In today’s Morning Brief:
– INESC TEC coordinated a workshop on Machine Learning;
– Access to financial products for persons with a history of cancer in EU Member States;
– Eurostat regional yearbook: From traditional printed publication to modern interactive tool;
– ‘World-first’ project for capturing defunct satellites ramps up;
– Hydrogen: BAM sets up digitally networked research filling station to increase safety of technology;
– EFCA coordinates EU efforts to monitor the bluefin tuna fishing season;
– Zero Pollution Monitoring and Outlook Workshop – Report;
– Commission outlines defence R&D priorities in new €924M work programme.

Read More »

26/05/2022: INESC-ID research grants, new MSCA platform, Horizon Europe UK backup, REPowerEU, Fit for 55, and more.

In today’s Morning Brief:
– INESC-ID: Nuno Lopes receives research grants from Google and Woven Alpha;
– EU ramping up efforts for strategic autonomy in raw materials;
– Laurence Moreau appointed head of the ERC executive agency;
– Event: The UK’s Position in Global Science and Innovation;
– New MSCA networking platform for future applicants;
– Application system opens for UK Horizon backup grants;
– Fraunhofer elects three new executive vice-presidents;
– FaST Navigator study identifies models necessary to provide accurate advice on the use of fertilisers to EU farmers;
– Germany’s pacifist universities pose obstacle to militarisation of EU R&D;
– Webinar: The European Standardisation Booster;
– MSCA Cluster event on Mission Ocean and Waters;
– REPowerEU: Commission establishes the EU Energy Platform Task Force to secure alternative supplies;
– Horizon Europe mission on carbon-neutral cities kicks into gear;
– Fit for 55: New EU carbon sink goal will increase 2030 reduction target;
– A new Blue Economy Observatory to monitor and promote the sustainability of our ocean related activities;
– Zero Pollution Monitoring and Outlook Workshop – Report.

Read More »