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Happy Monday! In this Morning Brief, we open with a new episode of the “The Insider”, featuring Marta Agostinho from EU-Life, news that the Commission is seeking candidates for the ERC Scientific Council, the JRC and the ETC published a new report on impact investment for skills creation in Europe, Canada hit science ties with Russia and is supporting its Ukrainian students, and news about Russian gas and Europe’s ability to stop imports, 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:

“The Insider” – new episode with Marta Agostinho from EU-Life!

Don’t miss the new episode of “The Insider”, a podcast about the key issues on Research & Innovation made by the INESC Brussels HUB team.

In this episode, we’re focusing on the research assessment reform process that is underway in Europe, driven by the European Commission. This is an issue with a major impact on the lives of #researchers and research performing organizations alike. The Commission wants to reach an agreement before the summer but there are a lot of open issues still to work on.

So, to help us identify the main issues at stake and go deeper in the discussion, we welcome Marta Agostinho, Executive Director of EU-LIFE (the alliance of independent research institutes in the life sciences) and its representative in the European Commission stakeholder group for the agreement on research assessment reform.

Make sure to listen and subscribe here!


Commission seeks candidates for the ERC Scientific Council

The independent Standing Identification Committee, which was set up by the European Commission in 2020, has begun the search for candidates for membership of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council (ERC). Nominations are accepted until 6 May 2022, 12:00 noon CET.

The Commission appoints members of this Scientific Council, the ERC’s governing body, further to a recommendation from the Identification Committee. The Committee is now contacting the representative organisations of the European research community with the request to nominate excellent candidates. The Committee also welcomes nominations from other research institutions representing European research.

Read more here.


InvestEU: €19.65 billion to support investment projects across Europe

The European Commission, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Investment Fund (EIF) signed the Guarantee Agreement on a European Union budget guarantee of €19.65 billion to support investment projects across Europe. Investments under the InvestEU programme will focus on four policy areas: sustainable infrastructure; research, innovation and digitisation; small and medium-sized businesses; and social investment and skills. The European Commission and the EIB also signed the InvestEU Advisory Hub agreement which will provide up to €270 million for market development, developing skills and project level advisory services in the same policy areas. The agreements pave the way for new investments and related advisory assistance in support of Europe’s post-pandemic recovery and green and digital transitions.

Read the full press release here and visit the EIB 8 and InvestEU website here.


The Joint Research Centre and the European Training Foundation publish a new report on impact investment for skills creation

The Competence Centre on Technology Transfer at the Joint Research Centre, and the European Training Foundation are pleased to announce the publication of a new joint report: Exploration of impact investment for skills creation – Existing actions, emerging trends, implementation modalities, best practice.

This study was set up to provide an overview of impact investment and skills creation in the area of innovation, covering the main features of impact investment, the historical development of the phenomenon, and how it can be linked to the skills creation process. It begins with an examination of the emergence of impact investing and explains its principles and defining features. It maps some existing initiatives at European and local level, presents examples of good and innovative practices in investments with social impact and explores what practices and instruments for impact investment in innovation skills have been and/or could be applied to South-East Europe (SEE), including the Western Balkans (WB).

The study identified relevant provisions steering investments with impact on skills contained in both the InvestEU and the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans and the opportunities these programs offer. 

While the discussion and awareness about impact investment in the region appears to be highly limited, there is a need for developing new instruments (both financial and capacity building ones) to promote and spur impact investment so as to ensure the sustainability in the skills creation and retention process, ultimately resulting in reducing the brain drain and supporting the creation of high value-added jobs.

Make sure to read it here.


Transport Research Arena 2022

TRA, the Transport Research Arena, is the largest European research and technology conference on transport and mobility. TRA is the foremost European transport event that covers all transport modes and all aspects of mobility. In 2022, TRA takes place in Lisbon, Portugal. Themed “Moving together – reimagining mobility worldwide”, TRA2022 brings together experts from around the world to discuss the newest innovations and future of mobility and transport, building also on the Portuguese historical legacy and links to overseas transport professionals. Through the development of innovative solutions, TRA Lisbon 2022 aims for a more efficient, safer, carbon-free, inclusive, and sustainable transport in all its modes.

The conference will take place from 14-17 November 2022, at the Lisbon Congress Centre (CLL). Check all the info on the conference website.


Ukraine demands journal publishers and university ranking agencies stop working with Russia

According to Science|Business, “Ukraine is demanding a new wave of scientific sanctions against Russia, this time focusing on academic publishers and companies that produce university league tables. European governments including Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden have already stopped joint research projects with Russia in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine. The world’s biggest publishers, who control the global flow and accreditation of scientific information, and compile the citation data that underpins university rankings, have not yet taken any action, but are now discussing their next steps. At the end of last week, Ukraine’s Ministry of Education and Science, backed by its universities, issued a detailed list of research sanctions they think will ultimately help undermine Moscow’s war machine. These include blocking access to published research online for Russian citizens and institutions, and banning Russian citizens from editing or reviewing in international journals.”.


EU-initiated impact fund oversubscribed with €300 million

According to the experts of the impact fund European Circular Bioeconomy Fund (ECBF), after digitalization, the next global wave of transformation is rolling in – the Bio Revolution. This means a change from a linear, fossil-based economy to a sustainable, bio-based economy within which the European bioeconomy will play a decisive role. While visionary founders often lack the necessary growth capital to scale their solutions internationally, the ECBF closes this financing gap in cooperation with private and public investors.

Targeted initially at a total volume of €250 million, the growth fund is oversubscribed with a total of approximately €300 million. With the final closing of the subscription, the international team of the ECBF was able to gain the trust of further investors for the implementation of its mission.

Make sure to read more about the mission and its backers here.


Commission advises Member States how to improve national marine strategies

The European Commission has published recommendations for EU Member States to improve their national marine strategies. The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) requires EU Member States to submit national marine strategies with a view to achieving “Good Environmental Status” of EU marine waters. The Commission has assessed the national strategies updated in 2018 and adopted recommendations for each Member State as well as regional recommendations for three of the four marine regions covered by the Directive (the Baltic Sea, the North-East Atlantic Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea).

The recommendations aim to identify how to improve national marine strategies when they are next updated in October 2024. They focus on assessing and determining Good Environmental Status, and establishing environmental targets.


Canada hits science ties with Russia, creates fund for Ukrainian students

“Canada, with one of the largest Ukrainian communities in the West, joined the growing list of countries freezing research ties to Russia, and announced a special fund to support Ukrainian research students. In a statement 11 March, the Canadian government said it is asking its federal funding agencies and several major grant recipients “to refrain from entering into agreements with Russian research institutions.” A spokeswoman said Ottawa is also “re-evaluating existing agreements.” And separately, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council asked its grant-holders to suspend current collaborations involving Russian industry “effective immediately.” At the same time, the government said it’s setting up a special fund to support research trainees from Ukraine. Modeled on an existing refugee programme run by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the new fund will accept applications from Canadian grant-holders who have Ukrainian research students. The government spokeswoman said information isn’t immediately available on the likely size of the Ukrainian fund.” Make sure to read the piece on Science|Business.


The EU and International Responses to People Fleeing the War from Ukraine – Webinar

This ASILE Project Webinar on March 15th, aims at discussing the immediate EU policy responses to people fleeing the war in Ukraine. It will pay particular attention to the key issues characterizing the recent activation of the 2001 EU Temporary Protection Directive. The event will cover the key issues and challenges regarding the adoption and implementation of the EU Temporary Protection model to the increasing number of entries across EU external borders with Ukraine, including issues related to discrimination of non-European people. It will also explore the specificities of the current situation in comparison to recent past or still ongoing large-scale asylum displacements from past or current armed conflicts in non-European countries like Libya, Afghanistan, or Syria. In light of this, the Webinar will assess the ‘lessons learned’ from experiences by other regions or countries facing protection-seeking large-scale human movements and offering temporary protection and/or regularization programmes, such as in South America (Colombia and Brazil) and Turkey, and – based on the ASILE Project research – will put forward a set of policy recommendations to EU policy makers.

Click here to register.


The EU can stop the import of Russian gas

In this column by Kirsten Dunlop, CEO of EIT Climate-KIC for EURACTIV, she states “Roughly half of the Russian budget comes from the export of fossil fuels. In addition, Russia, together with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, accounts for more than half of the world’s uranium mining, and all nuclear reactors that have begun construction outside China after 2019 have a Russian supplier. Needless to say, Vladimir Putin’s regime is heavily dependent on energy exports to finance the government and sustain its military operations. At the same time, four-fifths of all new electricity production capacity put into operation in 2020 was based on renewable energy and this rapid expansion is a major threat to the Russian economy. The Russian fossil fuel economy will be weakened even more by the fact that batteries have also become cheaper, meaning that electric cars are replacing internal combustion engines to a rapidly increasing degree. Batteries can also store electrical energy that can be used instead of gas turbines to meet peaks in consumption. When cheap renewable electricity is also used to produce hydrogen and other fuels when there is plenty of wind or sun – and thereby balancing the electricity system – additional oil and gas can be replaced. These opportunities are given high priority within the EU and in various industrial strategies. In Sweden, we see green ventures such as Hybrit and H2 Green Steel replacing coal with hydrogen. We also see a rapid expansion of wind turbines – now without subsidies – a rapidly growing battery industry, plans to produce both aviation and shipping fuels with fossil-free electricity and CO2 from biofuel-fired CHP plants.”.


Digital Europe Programme Info Day : second wave of calls for proposals

This online information session will provide participants with information on the new calls for proposals under the Digital Europe Programme 2021-2022 on 14 March.

In view of the newly published calls for proposals under the Digital Europe 2021 and 2022 Work Programme, HaDEA is organising a virtual info session for interested stakeholders. Participants will have the opportunity to learn more about the calls and join a Q&A session.

Click here for more information.

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