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In this Morning Brief, we open with an important save the date. After releasing their work programme, the European Innovation Council is holding an online info-day later this month for all interested. The EUA is also holding a webinar at the beginning of March on the role of women in academia. The Western Balkans are finally fully integrated in the Horizon Europe programme and the EU is going to address hazardous chemicals in EU products 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:

Save the date: European Innovation Council online info-day – 22 February

The European Innovation Council (EIC) Info Day will take place online on 22 February 2022. The European Innovation Council, with a budget of €10.1 billion (2021-2027) is already playing an important role in the European innovation ecosystem. It supports researchers and entrepreneurs throughout their journey from the idea to the market and nurturing deep tech innovations.

The EIC provides financial support through three main funding schemes:

  • ‘EIC Pathfinder’ for advanced research on breakthrough or game-changing technologies;
  • ‘EIC Transition’ for transforming research results into innovation opportunities;
  • ‘EIC Accelerator’ for individual companies to develop and scale up breakthrough innovations with high risk and high impact.

All EIC-funded projects have access to a range of EIC Business Acceleration Services providing access to leading expertise, corporates, investors and ecosystem actors. The EIC also provides additional activities such as prizes.

Read more here.


HERA: €1.3 billion plan for first year of new pandemic preparedness programme is out

The European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) will invest €1.3 billion in preventing, preparing for and responding to cross-border health emergencies in its first year as a full-fledged programme.

In its first year of running, HERA, modelled after the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) in the US, will contribute to the EU’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and reinforce preparedness for potential future health threats.

EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said HERA will be “the EU’s health security watchtower for future health threats, as well as a key player for health crisis preparedness at global level.”.


Women in academia: Breaking the glass ceiling or rebuilding the house? – Webinar

In advance of International Women’s Day (#IWD2022), the European University Association (EUA) is organising a webinar on March 1st dedicated to the dynamic role that women are increasingly playing in the leadership of higher education institutions.

This webinar will offer a discussion on the state of play in Europe, as well as inspiring best practices in the field. It will address questions such as: Is gender parity now a reality in academia? Are more women from all backgrounds taking on leadership positions in academia? How can academia benefit from this cultural change?

Confirmed speakers:

  • Annick Castiaux – Rector of Université de Namur, Belgium;
  • Mina Stareva, Head of Sector – Gender, DG Research and Innovation, European Commission;

More speakers to be announced soon. The webinar is free of charge and open to anyone interested in the topic, just click here to register.


Validation survey on the “Low-Carbon Industrial Technologies Roadmap for Energy-Intensive Industries”

DG Research & Innovation has published a full draft of the Low-Carbon Industrial Technologies Roadmap for Energy-Intensive Industries, in cooperation with Member States and stakeholders, and invites you to respond to a survey which aims to validate the main findings of the Roadmap.

You can find the survey here, as well as the Roadmap. It will be open until 21 February. The findings of the Roadmap will notably inform the relevant parts of the transition pathway for EU’s energy-intensive industries ecosystem.


Latest ERC winners in limbo as expiry of UK Horizon Europe safety net looms

In this Science|Business article, a total of 22 UK-based winners of European Research Council proof of concept grants are worried they could be left empty handed, because the awards are not currently covered by the safety net that was put in place in case Horizon Europe association is not agreed in time.

There are growing concerns that the UK’s guarantee is now insufficient, as the row over Horizon association drags on and UK researchers begin to win grants beyond the “first wave” of calls covered by the backstop.

Under current rules, the only way the UK-based winners will receive the money is if the UK associates before the May deadline when grant agreements have to be signed.

At the moment, the UK’s own safety net only guarantees grants with a signing deadline of up to the end of April, which includes ERC starting grants, announced in January, but not the more recently announced proof of concept awards. Click the link to read more.


Albania completes the Western Balkans association to Horizon Europe

Evis Kushi, Minister of Education and Sports of Albania signed, alongside Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, their Association Agreements to the Horizon Europe programme. This marks an important milestone for closer research and innovation cooperation with the Western Balkans.

With this, researchers, innovators and research entities established in the Western Balkan region can now fully participate in the EU’s €95.5 billion programme on equal terms with entities from the EU Members States. This will allow them to develop projects, technologies and conduct research and innovation activities that will contribute to tackling global challenges.

For more information, click here.


New Booklet – Trust in the European digital space in the age of automated bots and fakes

The EU-funded, StandICT.EU 2023 project, ICT Standardisation Observatory and Support Facility in Europe, just published the second of a series of Landscape Reports on ICT standards titled “Trust in the European Digital Space in the Age of Automated Bots and Fakes”, a palpable, overarching document that provides an overview of the diverse array of global standardisation work underway in Trusted Information and the various organisations behind it.

This report provides an overview of the recent and imminent technological capabilities as well as their impact on democracy, business and legal systems. It explores sustainable countermeasures, with a main conclusion being that the detection tools for fabricated persons and content are not sufficient and need to be supplemented by standards for handling the identity and trustworthiness of sources of information without sacrificing privacy. The report concludes with concrete recommendations to European standardisers, policy makers and other stakeholders. You can read more about it here.

In parallel, StandICT.eu 2023 is providing 3 million euros to fund European ICT experts through a series of nine open calls to participate in international Standardisation Developing Organisations’ working groups across the wide-range of topics identified in the EC Rolling Plan for ICT Standardisation.


New Thematic Report: Blockchain Applications in the Healthcare Sector

The EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum proudly presents the newly published report “Blockchain Applications in the Healthcare Sector”. The report:

  • provides an overview of challenges in the healthcare industry, blockchain applications for healthcare data and transparency;
  • presents blockchain applications for pharmaceutical and healthcare supply chain and blockchain in medical credentialing;
  • includes experts’ opinion on opportunities and challenges;
  • discusses the role of blockchain in COVID-19 pandemic management;
  • explores regulatory, privacy and ethical implications, including health data accuracy as well as regulatory and ethical considerations;
  • gives a practical overview of what the future holds, through the presentation of relevant use cases;
  • explains the challenges and future prospects while it discusses relevant policy recommendations.

You can read or download the report here.


Energy prices on the rise in the euro area in 2021

Between December 2020 and December 2021, the import price for energy in the euro area more than doubled. The domestic producer prices for energy increased by almost three quarters. This development is in sharp contrast to the relative price stability for energy import prices between 2010 and 2019.

The recent development is quite unprecedented. Energy import prices, while rather volatile, did not change by more than around 30% during a year in the past; domestic producer prices did not change by more than around 10% per year.

To read more about this and view the datasets click here!


Opening of exploratory talks for the association of New Zealand to Horizon Europe

Informal exploratory talks have been initiated this Thursday 10 February by DG RTD and New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, after the country had formally expressed its interest for such association in December 2021.

These exploratory talks are a preparatory phase ahead of the formal negotiation of the association agreement. They provide an opportunity to discuss the envisaged scope of the association, and the terms and conditions for participation in Horizon Europe actions and in the Programme’s governance.

With Horizon Europe, association, the closest form of international cooperation with the EU’s Research and Innovation Framework Programme, is a possibility open for the first time to countries with a good capacity in science, technology and innovation, and located beyond the EU’s geographical vicinity.


Brussels to address hazardous chemicals in EU green products initiative

The European Commission will seek to address “the presence of hazardous substances” in a wide range of products as part of its upcoming Sustainable Products Initiative (SPI), despite warnings from industry that it could conflict with the EU’s existing chemicals safety legislation.

The EU executive is expected to present new sustainability rules on 30 March, targeting a wide range of products with the objective of making them more durable, reusable, and recyclable.

As part of this, Brussels wants to “address the presence” of harmful chemicals, the Commission said in a preliminary cost-benefit analysis of the proposal.

Make sure to read this EURACTIV piece here.

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