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In today's Morning Brief:

Horizon Europe 5 missions are ready to launch

Five grand challenge projects  – in cancer, soil health, ocean pollution, climate neutral cities and adapting to climate change – are ready to roll, confirms EU research chief Jean-Eric Paquet. The Horizon Europe research missions will get off the ground in the next few weeks, but even at this eleventh hour, EU research chief Jean-Eric Paquet is not in a position to announce exactly when. None of the five missions is guaranteed an automatic go-ahead, and in a speech today Paquet prevaricated saying, “We might start with not all five, but seeing it today, it looks quite promising for all five missions.” With the plans at hand, the Commission is now ready to give the go ahead for the projects, each of which involves an integrated portfolio of research projects, policy measures and possibly even legislation, with the aim of reaching goals that could not be achieved through individual actions. Read more on Science Business.


European Commission to spend €13.1 billion on R&I in 2022

Most of the funding for next year Commission’s spending on research and innovation, €12.2 billion, is set to come from the EU research programme, Horizon Europe. How most of this money will be spent will be outlined in the Horizon Europe work programmes, due to be published in the coming few weeks. On top of the proposed budget, R&I projects could  see €1.8 billion top-up coming from the €750 billion EU recovery fund. Overall, the proposed research spending makes up almost 8% of the funding of the EU’s €167.8 billion budget for 2022 revealed yesterday.


ERC plans to attract more female applicants

The European Research Council has presented a new plan for boosting gender equality in its bottom-up calls for projects in the EU research programme, Horizon Europe. In the next seven years, the ERC hopes to attract more female applicants than before. In Horizon 2020, 28% of all applicants were female. In the previous seven-year programme, women made up a third of all applicants. Now, the ERC wants to further boost the figures. The new plan largely mirrors its Horizon 2020 predecessor, but this time the agency’s toolbox for fighting gender inequality will be strengthened by “ERC ambassadors”, members of the Scientific Council and volunteer grantees who will help promote gender equality at events and forums.


Commission hosts Pact for Skills roundtable with energy-intensive industry stakeholders

On Monday, Commissioners Schmit (Jobs and Social Rights) and Breton (Internal Market) hosted a high-level roundtable of the Pact for Skills with energy-intensive industry stakeholders committed to transforming their processes to be less carbon-intensive and paving their way to climate neutrality. This is part of a series of sectoral roundtables to encourage stakeholder involvement under the Pact for Skills. The objective of the pact is to mobilise all relevant actors – industrial, social, regional and education partners – to assist people in developing the right skill-set for a sustainable, social and resilient recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Partnerships established under the pact will benefit from support services such as platforms for networking, expertise, guidance and resources.

Participants at the roundtable agreed on the need to re- and upskill the workforce of this ecosystem and to attract new talent, especially women. Skills in the area of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) as well as problem-solving skills were mentioned to be critical. Participants also viewed vocational education and training as a very attractive pathway to acquiring these skills. Stakeholders also underlined the challenge to attract young talents. Read more here.


Europe’s first digitalised chip plant opens in Dresden

German engineering and technology company Bosch opened a new semiconductor factory, fully networked with 5G mobile technology, in Dresden on Monday (7 June). The production facility was funded with €140 million as part of a joint European project. EURACTIV Germany reports. Bosch had invested a total of around €1 billion in the high-tech location – the largest single investment in the company’s 130-year history. Read more on Euractiv.

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