As yesterday we were busy in meetings since early hours, we are celebrating equality the day after the International Women’s Day. So, a healthy and happy life to all women and men in equal terms! It is now available in the private area repository the HUB’s digest of “how to build a Gender Equality Plan (GEP)” in your organisation. Naturally, the information in each GEP will differ from institution to institution, will depend on the analysis of the data collected by each institution and the main goals set and tailored to the specific reality in each INESC. The HUB can now start bilateral work with each of you to develop the GEPs and then we can exchange best practices and mirror them in the Annual Indicators & Strategy report, to be published before the next Management Committee meeting, in June.

 

Cybersecurity, microprocessors, semiconductors, 5G and 6G: EU data sovereignty with digital decade targets

The European Commission will try to mitigate the risks stemming from EU data being in the hands of third countries by outlining a series of 2030 objectives that will help the bloc procure next-generation data processing technologies, according to EurActiv. EU executive’s 2030 Digital Compass targets, due to be presented today, highlight a series of benchmarks to be achieved by the end of the decade, as a means to help the bloc become ‘digitally sovereign’ by building up “technological capabilities in a way that empowers people and businesses to seize the potential of the digital transformation”. Among the key tech targets are:

– the deployment of 10 thousand distributed highly secure edge nodes of data cloud servers;

– achieving gigabit connectivity by 2030, focusing on the roll-out of 5G and 6G;

– the documents also note that ‘microprocessors’ are a key technology at the start of the strategic value chain for a series of next-generation appliances, noting that there are gaps to be filled, notably “in state-of-the-art fabrication technologies and in chip design”;

– production of cutting-edge and sustainable semiconductors in Europe.

 

Applications open for the European hackathon on smart health

The European Commission announces the opening of applications to data scientists, software developers, designers and engineers for the event “Data 4 Healthy Recovery”. The hackathon will take place from 18 to 20 June 2021 in a hybrid form (in Brussels and online), and is focused on smart health solutions. The purpose of the event will be to find innovative smart-health solutions to help Europe recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and at the same time create an occasion for small companies to find new business opportunities. More information on how to participate here.

 

Hyperloop sustainable travelling in Europe?

When I visited the hyperloop research infrastructure in Delft a few years ago, I was told it was part of the universities vision for the future of mobility (the hyperloop is sitting side by side with a project of self-sustainable housing, which makes for a small neighbourhood where students actually live!), and that this vision would not be as far ahead as people make it. Hyperloop is, in short, a set of electrical and hydrogen powered airless tubes that could take passengers from city to city at double the speed of airliners. It is a land-based infrastructure solution and this is raising more and more vocal criticism as it the tech starts to mature into demonstration phase and billionaires like Musk and Branson are putting their considerable financial support to make it a reality. The hyperloop was included in the EU’s mobility strategy published in December 2020 and there is expectation that R&I money in Horizon Europe will help developing it further.

 

Equal opportunities and equal pay a priority for the von der Leyen Commission

We all know that “gender equality” is a trend to stay and it makes perfect sense, when charged with the political meaning it is given: equal opportunities and equal pay. More than “gender equality” in the strict literary sense, the EC is rightly emphasising its core dimensions: equal opportunities and equal pay. Probably the most balanced and needed message in this world of extremes that came out ahead of the international Women’s Day.

 

Artificial Intelligence learning pains and AI generated gender bias

In a Science Business Seminar on AI and machine learning biases, the notions of liability of control of the human over the machine were seriously questioned. Concerns about the social, cultural, political and economic effects of such unsupervised systems have led to a major shift towards the development of supervised learning systems. An interesting summary of the discussions held on the event can be found here.

AI also has limitless potential to offer benefits in areas as varied as language processing and medicine. But as AI uses data created by people as a starting point, it also inherits human flaws such as bias based on age, gender or race. For example, a program will often translate the English term ‘nurse’ using a female-gendered word, and render ‘doctor’ as a male noun. This bias in AI has the potential to widen the gender gap. The Council Library has compiled a Library Guide of resources on gender bias in AI, as well as other publications related to International Women’s Day.

 

European Innovation Council official launch

On March 18th and 19th, there will be the official launching virtual event of the EIC. The second day of the event will be entirely dedicated to potential applicants: concrete information will be provided on how to apply, what are the instruments available, who is eligible. The first calls of the EIC are planned to be released on the first day of the event. While we wait, the Commission has organised an event to highlight the impactful actions of the EIC during the pandemic: it will be livestreamed on March 10th at 10 CET.

 

Gender equality actors for R&I

We have already discussed in this Morning Brief about the priority role of gender equality and representation within the Horizon Europe framework. To that purpose, it is important to know who are the international actors and networks for gender equality in R&I, as advised by the European Institute for Gender Equality. One of them will be the Gender STI, an international project that promises to analyse the participation of women in science, technology and innovation. Other important projects are GEECO (Gender Equality in Engineering thorugh Communication and Commitment) and TARGET, who have jointly organised a conference that will take place next week, on March 11th. During the conference, “relevant experiences of implementation of Gender Equality Plans in research funding organisations and research performing organisations will be presented and discussed with policy-makers, gender experts and practitioners”. It will be an excellent occasion to draw inspiration on how to draft a Gender equality plan fitting to an RTO. Registration available here.

 

How real commitment to boost research and innovation really looks like

We are all used to hear about the commitment to science and technology as a means to an end: a better society alongside a fairer and more competitive economy. Well, cutting a long story short, if you want to know how that really look like you could look at countries like South Korea or some of the Nordic European countries. But that is a far-fetched, very different reality, as they have completely different economic and social model from the Portuguese one. So, look at Ireland. Some of you will remember how we in Portugal looked back at the Irish investment in education during the 80s and 90s while we built 4 different roads to the same destination, roundabouts and swimming pools. And still, very few know how to properly drive around roundabouts and with the exception of our President, I have not heard of any great Portuguese swimmers. Well, if we are not careful, history will bring us back to the future. The Irish government just published a five-year roadmap for its national research funding agency, Science Foundation Ireland, which aims to develop top talent and support the country’s economy while taking advantage of new and emerging fields. How? To achieve the goals of the ambitious plan, Ireland committed to increase its investment in research by 15% each year until 2025 to reach the 3% of GDP research spending target set out by the EU. Know thy self, hear the community, plan, publish, commit the money. Simple, hein?

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