Welcome to today’s Morning Brief. The Morning Brief newsletter is only available to INESC staff and affiliated researchers upon subscription (weekly or daily), after creating an account in the Private Area of the HUB website. To do so, click the log-in icon on the top-right corner of this website.

As COP26 related news start to dwindle, it is important to get the full view of what are the takes for research and innovation. An SB article does just that. However, the main trend now is the EU’s continuing implementation of its R&I programmes with green and digital as the main pillars. Digital Europe, for example, which is one of the most important programmes for INESC, has just seen its work programmes adopted and published. At the same time, the EC is preparing an innovation strategy to be published in 2022 and universities have expressed their voice towards the reinforcement of ecosystems once again. The key takeaway, also valuable for RTOs such as INESC is that the social innovation (i.e. the capacity to change the way relations between critical stakeholders are organised, promoted and created anew) is as important as tech innovation if not more, at this point. Without more innovation in social innovation, tech innovation alone will not make us more resilient, green, competitive.     

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:

Five EU countries form an anti-nuclear alliance at COP26

In face of a French-led push to revive nuclear power in Europe, a group of five EU countries led by Germany have banded together to urge the European Commission to keep nuclear out of the EU’s green finance taxonomy.

“Nuclear power is incompatible with the EU Taxonomy Regulation’s ‘do no significant harm’ principle’, says the joint declaration for a nuclear-free EU taxonomy signed by Austria, Denmark, Luxembourg and Portugal and which you can read here.

The European Commission is expected to table a proposal in the coming weeks that will clarify the status of nuclear and gas under the EU’s green finance taxonomy, a rulebook that provides guidance to investors by spelling out conditions under which technologies can be considered sustainable.

Read more here.

Digital Europe programmes adopted by the Commission

The European Commission has adopted the work programmes for the Digital Europe funding programme setting out almost €2 billion in investments for the next two years. The seven-year programme aims to strengthen Europe’s digital sovereignty in areas such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, quantum computing and cybersecurity. The biggest chunk of the money, €1.38 billion will be invested in key technologies as well as boosting digital skills and broadening the use of digital tools in the European economy. Another €269 million will be spent on cybersecurity in the next year. A further €329 million over the next two years will be invested in digital innovation hubs. We recall below the priorities of the programme, but you can find the detail list here:

What will the Digital Europe Programme fund?

  • €2.2 BILLION for supercomputing
  • €2.1 BILLION for artificial intelligence
  • €1.6 BILLION for cybersecurity
  • €580 MILLION for advanced digital skills
  • €1.1 BILLION for ensuring the wide use of digital technologies across the economy and society

Innovation ecosystems and the open access checklist

Two new reports by the European University Association, recognized as a formal stakeholder platform to be formally heard by the EU on important R&I-related policy matters, are relevant contributions to the European Commission’s new innovation strategy expected to be rolled out in January 2022. “Innovation ecosystems for a sustainable Europe: How to enhance the contribution of universities” is the first of the reports and it highlights that social innovation (i.e. capacity to organise society differently, such as the relations between universities and industry at local level, etc) is a focus as important as the technological innovation capacity. The other recent input by EUA is the so-called “The new university Open Access checklist”. This checklist is a guide for universities that wish to further develop their Open Access activities.

MEPs push to include academic freedom in EU treaties

MEPs and university representatives are facing a steep road ahead, as they demand academic freedom is made a key principle in EU treaties, meaning member states that are found to be limiting university autonomy and freedom to do research can be held accountable.

“European governments have been shifting norms to limit academic freedom for the first time in the history of the European Union”, stated Christian Ehler MEP, as academic freedom is enshrined in Article 13 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Parliament is planning to ask the Commission to include an evaluation of academic freedom in all member states in its midterm evaluation of Horizon Europe. The goal would be to exert financial pressure on countries which limit academic freedom, while shielding individual researchers and institutions from such measures.

The principles of academic freedom have been tested in Hungary, Poland, Germany, and the UK. The European University Association (EUA) published a university autonomy report in 2017, and is planning to publish a new version next year as a lot has changed over the past five years, with many new initiatives that measure and seek to enhance academic freedom in Europe.

Read more about it here.  

Intellectual Property support to Market uptake

The European Commission is teaming up with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) to support the translation of research results to the market. The two organisations aim to help SMEs boost their innovation potential and improve the understanding of the benefits of intellectual property. As part of the collaboration, they will also share IP related data and co-develop IP management policy. “This will contribute to the implementation of EU policy on research, science and innovation in relation to intellectual property matters and supports European Research Area objective to translate results into the economy,” said EU research and innovation commissioner Mariya Gabriel.

Horizon 2020 proposals suggest the need for training researchers in ethics

A recent study analyzed ethics issues in proposals submitted under calls of Horizon 2020. The aim was to explore differences between applicants’ awareness of ethics issues and the opinions of ethics experts conducting the ethics review. Their discoveries highlight a discrepancy between the applicants’ understanding of ethics issues and that of expert reviewers. Their conclusions therefore point to the need for further education and training to be provided to applicants.

The study calls for more concrete action to be taken in providing training and the restructuring of research ethics and integrity frameworks at all levels of research into the process of evaluation of grant proposals and research project execution. This would help to identify critical areas in need of change or improvement. It would also facilitate the preparation for emerging ethical challenges in research in the future and provide support to researchers for dealing with these issues.

Read more here.

Metrology partnership approved by the Parliament

MEPs voted overwhelmingly in favour to support a new research partnership between the European Commission and national metrology institutes aimed at harmonising metrology innovation around the bloc (EUROMET). The Horizon Europe partnership will build on previous European efforts in the science of measurement, laying the foundations for new technologies.

“Metrology is a discipline at the service of all areas of knowledge”, said the European Parliament rapporteur Maria da Graça Carvalho during the Wednesday night parliamentary debate. “We wouldn’t be where we are technologically without metrology. Neither would we get where we want to go.”

EU policymakers started negotiations on the partnership in September. They hope the partnership will play an integral role in developing new technologies, such as quantum computers and AI-based healthcare.

COP26: The most important research and innovation announcements

Science Business picks through the past two weeks of speeches, reports and declarations to summarise the most important reveals of the conference – and tries to make sense of what they actually amount to. Worth the read to get a general idea of trends to come.

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