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In this Morning Brief, we open with the flyer announcing and publicising the first event of our INESC Brussels Hub Summer Meeting 2022 which is in partnership with EU-Life and focused on research careers and research assessment, EARTO has published nine case studies for a European strategy on technology infrastructures, results are out on the second call for technical assistance, new Horizon Europe calls, Western democracies are crafting an alliance on quantum technology, 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:

INESC Brussels HUB Summer Meeting 2022

If you haven’t signed up for our INESC Brussels HUB Summer Meeting 2022, make sure to do so fast.

On the first day we are hosting a workshop in partnership with EU-Life on research careers and research assessment and flyers are already making their way through social media.

Click here to view the entire programme and sign up for the various events here.

 

EU boosts R&D funding in Finland with €523M in cohesion money

Finland is set to access €523 million in EU cohesion money to improve its R&D and innovation systems, the European Commission has announced today.

The funding is part of a broader €2 billion EU investment package for Finland and includes investments in digitalization and support for small and medium-sized companies. The Finnish government is committed to invest 40% of this round of cohesion policy money from the EU in the green transition.

The R&D and innovation part of the money pot will be spent in line with Finland’s smart specialization strategy, an investment plan introduced by the EU to help regions boost their innovation capacity by building on local industrial, educational and research assets.

The announcement adds more weight to plans by the Finnish government to raise its R&D expenditure over the next few years. Political parties in Finland have recently reached an agreement that could pave the way to raise public and private R&D spending to 4% of GDP by 2030.

 

Nine case studies for a European strategy on technology infrastructures

The European Association of Research and Technology Organisations (EARTO) has published an in-depth look at a variety of technology infrastructures as it eyes a role in shaping the EU’s future strategy in the area.

EARTO believes technology infrastructures will play a vital role in enabling research, development and innovation to deliver the major building blocks for Europe’s green and digital transitions. A future strategy, eyed by the European Commission as part of the European Research Area policy agenda, is therefore necessary to facilitate their role. 

The report can be found here.

 

Results of the second Call for Technical Assistance

The Clean energy for EU islands secretariat has evaluated applications received in response to the second call for technical assistance to EU islands’ energy transition projects. A total of 28 applications from all over the EU were received.

Islands were asked to fill out a form and choose the type of support required (Explore, Shape, Act) and pick one of the ten support packages offered. The Clean energy for EU islands secretariat organised a webinar on 03 March 2022 providing details of the application process and on lessons learned from the first call for technical assistance.

To decide on the selected projects, the secretariat evaluated criteria such as project description, impact and replicability, organisational structure, stakeholder engagement, and the alignment with the secretariat’s objectives.

Click here for the twenty projects that will receive technical assistance.

 

Commissions says European Innovation Council grant logjam to end in June

According to Science|Business, “The European Commission says grant contracts with start-ups selected for European Innovation Council’s (EIC) funding last year are to be concluded by the beginning of next month, in reply to a Science|Business inquiry following complaints over multiple delays to the financing. The signing of the grant agreements with the companies selected for funding under the EIC’s Accelerator scheme has been delayed three times due to “internal discussions in the European Commission on the appropriate procedural authorisation of the contracts.” Earlier this week Christian Ehler MEP told Science|Business that the delays are “devastating” to the start-ups involved and the Commission is “gambling away its credibility” in the European start-up scene. Ehler said he would push in the annual budgetary procedure to defund the EIC Accelerator to prevent start-ups spending time on counterproductive applications, if the problem is not sorted out “right now”. The Commission spokesman confirmed that of 65 companies selected for EU start-up funding in October following the June 2021 cut-off round, 22 have received their grant money since April. Eight more will receive their grants by the end of May. Another 30 that requested blended finance – a mix of grant and equity funding – are still affected by the delays, and will have to wait until the end of May or early June “to ensure that all legal requirements concerning granting this kind of financial support are met.” The financing was meant to be given out within two to four months of the announcement of the winners in October, but as a new fund for start-ups EIC has had a rocky start, with the Commission’s directorates raising concerns about the risks attached to making equity investments in high-risk start-ups and dithering over who should manage the equity fund. Innovators want to get the funds flowing to cash-strapped start-ups, some of which have already started projects and are relying on funding from the EIC to keep up momentum. “It is very good to see that the EIC has understood the severity of the situation for the EIC winners and is trying to unlock the grant agreement process,” said Xavier Aubry, board member at the European Association of Innovation Consultants (EAIC).”.

 

Horizon Europe call for proposals for a “Network for innovative solutions for the future of democracy” is open

The Commission has just published the Horizon Europe call for proposals for setting up a Network for innovative solutions for the future of democracy bringing together practitioners and researchers in the field of democracy and civic deliberation and participation and citizenship education: HORIZON-CL2-2022-DEMOCRACY-02-01.

Deadline for submitting proposals: 21 September 2022

Click here for more information.

 

Making the polluter pay: Commission seeks views on EU environmental liability laws

Today, the Commission has launched an open public consultation as part of the evaluation of the Environmental Liability Directive (ELD), the EU framework to prevent and remedy damage to land, water and biodiversity based on the ‘polluter pays’ principle. Under the Directive, operators have a legal responsibility to prevent and restore any environmental damage caused by their activities.

The public consultation is open for feedback until 4 August 2022.

Find out more here.

 

The Commission’s renewed strategy for the EU’s outermost regions puts people first and unlocks their potential – including the blue economy

The Commission has adopted a renewed strategy for the most remote parts of the EU, known as outermost regions, to unlock their potential through appropriate investment and reforms.

The EU outermost regions – Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Mayotte, Réunion and Saint-Martin (France), the Azores and Madeira (Portugal) and the Canary Islands (Spain) – are nine EU regions located in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, in the Caribbean basin and in South America.

The strategy proposes concrete measures, that put people at the centre, by improving the living conditions of their five million inhabitants. It supports the green and digital transitions and builds on the outermost regions’ unique assets, such as young population, extensive maritime zones, unique biodiversity and research potential. The Commission will also provide tailor-made support to strengthen the dialogue with the outermost regions.

The strategy provides for strong support to develop a sustainable blue economy in the outermost regions and commits to providing concrete tools, such as dedicated calls for proposals and EMFAF support, as well as knowledge exchange on maritime spatial planning and renewable energy.

Find the specifics of the strategy here.

 

Western democracies craft alliance on quantum technology

According to Science|Business, “European countries, the US, Canada, Australia and Japan are building a quantum technology alliance of democracies – notably excluding China from a key global forum on this critical area of research. The most recent meeting of the group, held in Washington DC last week, discussed setting up joint research calls for quantum projects, and strategised about the risks of other countries establishing supply chain monopolies over quantum computer components. Quantum technologies, based on the often strange laws that underpin quantum physics, promise everything from hyper-precise military sensors to a new type of computing that could revolutionise drug discovery, although some of the field’s potential remain years or decades away from becoming a reality. The group could still expand to include other countries, but it is explicitly limited to a club of states with democratic values, opening up a geopolitical fault line in scientific research. “We’re trying to create a trusted community with like-minded nations,” said Freeke Heijman, who represented the Netherlands at the Washington DC meeting on 5-6 May, and is co-founder of Quantum Delta NL, a body trying to build a national quantum ecosystem. “It’s about sharing certain values that make it easier to collaborate, and we see values include things like a level playing field, fair competition, but also democratic values, privacy, things like that,” she said. The group, which also includes Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK could still expand in the future, said Sabrina Maniscalco, professor of quantum information at the University of Helsinki, who represented Finland. “To have certain discussions that could be really important for the national security of several countries requires to start with the so-called like-minded countries, where we have shared principles like democracy, trustworthiness, inclusion and diversity,” she said. The countries involved want to better understand and coordinate each other’s national quantum initiatives, which have proliferated in recent years as governments have cottoned on to the potential of the field.”.

 

Call submission figures for Horizon Europe – Reforming the European R&I system

Call submission figures for the Horizon Europe’s 2022 call for proposals on “Reforming and Enhancing the European R&I System” are now available! By the call deadline 120 proposals were submitted for a total requested budget of € 240.5 million.

The programme, managed by the European Research Executive Agency (REA), will set aside € 60.5 million to fund projects aiming at:

  • Support for policy makers (collaboration between national R&I programmes);
  • Knowledge production, circulation and use;
  • Institutional transformations and reforms;
  • Improving career opportunities and training for researchers;
  • Boosting exploitation of results;
  • Enhancing Europe’s R&I through actions targeting open science, science education, science communication, gender equality, ethics and research integrity.

REA will communicate the call results end of July 2022. Grant agreements with all successful applicants will be signed by December 2022.

 

EU Soil Mission: €95 million call opens

The 2022 Mission Soil call for proposals opened today, 12 May. The total available budget is €95 million. The deadline to submit proposals for Horizon Europe funding is 27 September 2022.

The 2022 soil mission call for proposals seeks to advance soil literacy and societal appreciation for the vital functions of soil health across Europe. It aims to ensure that land managers, consumers and society at large are better informed and work together to take effective action on soil health. Protecting and restoring soils is vital to the achievement of several EU policies and Green Deal targets.

Topics open for proposals focus on the role of soil biodiversity, strategies for land decontamination and reuse. Topics also encompass how to better preserve and increase soil carbon and enhance soil relevant education and access to information.

In total, there are 10 different topics open for the submission of proposals. A few require the “multi-actor approach” to ensure that the Research and Innovation process and its outcomes are more demand-driven and relevant for society.

Find out more on how to apply here.

 

The EU and Japan open Horizon Europe association talks

An important milestone for the EU-Japan Partnership was reached in today’s EU-Japan Summit in Tokyo: leaders on both sides acknowledged the launch of discussions to explore the possibility of Japan joining the Horizon Europe Programme as an associated country.

Horizon Europe is the very first EU Framework Programme that offers association statuses to countries outside EU’s geographic vicinity, taking into account that they share common values with the EU and demonstrate a good capacity in science, technology and innovation. Association is the closest form of international cooperation on research and innovation with third countries.

In times of global uncertainty, both sides are committed to ensure that their scientific communities benefit from a closer relationship in research and innovation, with respect of the shared values and principles and in line with the EU Global Approach strategy on international cooperation on R&I.

The EU and Japan will now take forward the discussions on enhancing cooperation for jointly addressing global societal challenges by opening exploratory talks on Japan’s possible association to the programme. Exploratory talks provide an opportunity to discuss the envisaged scope of the association, the terms and conditions for their participation in Horizon Europe actions and the programme’s governance.

Read more here.

 

Academic sector makes moves to going green

According to Science|Business, “Europe’s universities and research organisations are going green, with some bidding to be at the forefront of Europe’s 2050 net zero ambition. Science academies kicked off the discussions this week with a report looking at how different institutions are moving towards sustainability, a discussion which lies at the centre of the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities (ALLEA) general assembly this year. In common with all other sectors, the report says academia needs a change in culture to achieve sustainability. Air travel to academic conferences is a major culprit, but supercomputer, buildings, electricity and supply chain emissions also contribute to high greenhouse gas emissions in many institutions. ALLEA now hopes to start a discussion on how academia can embark on this challenge, and perhaps inspire others to follow. “It would be great if the academic sector would veer itself into this role of becoming a role model in achieving climate sustainability,” said Astrid Eichhorn, chair of climate sustainability in the academic system at ALLEA and one of the authors of the report. “This would send a great message on the urgency on the climate crisis.” Many organisations are already on board. According to a 2021 survey by the European University Association (EUA), of the 400 surveyed universities, 61% have plans for going green, another 25% are drafting them. “There’s clearly a momentum now. There are certain support mechanisms. There is clearly a strong drive from institutions themselves. I think there is a good reason for hope that universities will lead the pace,” said Thomas Estermann, director for governance, funding and public policy development at EUA.”.

 

MLZ Conference 2022: Neutrons for Mobility

Mobility is a fundamental ingredient of today’s society. While it shapes our lives at the global and local scales, it also is responsible for about a quarter of the overall CO2 emissions and it is the fastest growing source of global emissions.

Improving the efficiency of energy use in transportation is thus an essential part of the present fight against the climate change. Technological and scientific advances in this field come from seemingly diverse areas, including for example high temperature resistant or light weight structural materials, hydrogen storage and conversion systems, batteries, CO2 capture and synthetic fuels.

This MLZ Conference aims to bring together the heterogeneous community of researchers working in the related fields and to foster cross-disciplinary discussions.

Click here for more information and how to register.

 

EIT Manufacturing LEADERS – Women Innovators call is now open

LEADERS is a competition aiming to reach out to support the best women innovators playing a leading role in developing solutions & initiatives addressing manufacturing-related challenges with strong financial, environmental, or societal impact.

In the first round of submissions, 30 applicants will be pre-selected and receive online pitch training. In the second round of submissions, six top-ranked applicants will be invited to a grand final awarding ceremony where three winners will receive publicity and prizes.

EIT Manufacturing invites women innovators (i.e. professionals, students, researchers or entrepreneurs) who are citizens from an EIT RIS eligible country to apply. Applicants must have played a leading role in developing innovative manufacturing-related solutions with strong financial, environmental, or societal impact.

Find out more here.

 

EU and China to hold the 15th Joint Steering Committee Meeting on Science and Technology Cooperation

On 17 May 2022, the EU will virtually host the 15th EU-China joint steering committee meeting on science and technology cooperation. The meeting will touch upon the ongoing discussions and next steps with regards to the EU-China joint roadmap for the future of science, technology, and innovation cooperation.

The roadmap exercise aims at rebalancing cooperation and at bringing forth the advancement of a fair innovation ecosystem, defined by reciprocity and a level-playing field while respecting fundamental values and high ethical and science integrity standards.

This is in line with the outcomes of the 23rd EU-China Summit, the EU-China A Strategic Outlook Communication of 2019, and the 2021 Global Approach to Research and Innovation Communication.

The Joint Steering Committee Meetings on Science and Technology cooperation are aimed at overseeing the implementation of the EU-China science and technology cooperation agreement originally signed in 1998.

 

UK research assessment could shift money away from London, Oxford and Cambridge

According to Science|Business, “The results from a mammoth assessment of UK research quality could nudge funding away from the country’s so-called ‘Golden Triangle’ of universities in London, Oxford and Cambridge and into more neglected regions. This morning saw the release of the results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF), in which more than 185,000 pieces of research were rated for quality in an assessment exercise that has no parallel in Europe and whose predecessor in 2014 cost close to €300 million to carry out. Oxford tops unofficial rankings that take into account the quality and quantity of the research submitted to the REF. University College London comes second, followed by Cambridge University. But analysis also suggests that universities in London, Oxford and Cambridge have done slightly worse relative to 2014. The REF is used to distribute annual base funding to UK universities, and so this could mean a slightly more equitable redistribution of money across the country. The UK has long concentrated its research money into the ‘Golden Triangle in the south-east of England, but regional inequalities have become a key political flashpoint, with the current Conservative government promising to “level up” the country. “The detailed results indicate that world-leading research is distributed widely across subjects, types of university, and in all parts of the UK,” said David Sweeney, executive chair of Research England, one of the bodies that carried out the REF. The UK has arguably gone further than any other European country in making funding contingent on a judgement of research quality, with REF and its predecessors used to inform the distribution of around £2 billion of public money annually. Each iteration of the REF has grown to become an ever more sprawling assessment which is disliked by unions and many academics.”.

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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 »