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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:

ERC president Maria Leptin elected fellow of Royal Society

Maria Leptin, the president of the prestigious EU fund for fundamental science, European Research Council (ERC), has joined the ranks of some of the world’s most eminent scientists at the Royal Society.  

“Her leadership in European science builds on her research contributions across fields from immunity to genetics,” tweeted the Royal Society, announcing Leptin’s fellowship.  

The German biologist previously served as director at the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO). 


INESC-ID present at SciComPT 2022

cross three days, 11-13 May, INESC-ID was present at SciComPT 2022, the Portuguese science communication congress, held this year in São Miguel island, in the Azores.

The yearly SciComPT meetings are a great chance for science communication professionals to share best practices and projects across the public understanding of science board. At this year’s meeting, Pedro Ferreira, INESC-ID’s Communications and Outreach Coordinator, gave a short talk on some of the public engagement with technology ideas being brewed at INESC-ID, including — and not limited to — artificial intelligence, machine learning and computational biology, highlighting the dynamic nature of technological development as it responds to societal needs.

Engaging diverse publics with the research developed at INESC-ID across its eleven research areas is tantamount and an integral part of the institute’s mission: “to produce added value to people and society, supporting the response of public policies to scientific, health, environmental, cultural, social, economic and political challenges, in the fields of Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering”.

Keep an eye on the INESC-ID website for future science communication, outreach and public engagement activities.


INESC TEC team contributed to a new version of Alloy modelling language

Alcino Cunha and Nuno Macedo, INESC TEC researchers, contributed to the development of Alloy 6, the latest version of one of the most used specification and analysis platforms for the formal analysis of designs in the early stages of software development.

This new version of the language presents new primitives that allow specifying, validating, and verifying behavioural models in a native way. The Alloy’s analysis techniques have also been extended to support this type of analysis, as well as the viewer that presents instances during validation.

Alloy, initially developed by MIT, can be used to model and analyse all types of systems, but is mainly useful in systems with complex structural properties, such as distributed protocols or systems with highly configurable architectures. Being based on a simple, expressive logic, focused on the notion of relationships, and being supported by automatic formal analyses, Alloy is quite useful for quickly exploring different design options, as well as verifying that the expected behaviour is guaranteed.

The advantage of Alloy 6 is that it allows combining structural and behavioural analyses – which, until now, needed to be coded manually. This extension also preserves Alloy’s simplicity and flexibility, making it the ideal platform for analysing the design of systems with significant structural and behavioural properties.

High-Assurance Software Laboratory (HASLab) researchers, together with a team of researchers from ONERA (French Aerospace Laboratory), developed this extension to Alloy as an independent tool, Electrum, within the scope of the TRUST research project. Moreover, and after the acknowledgement of the scientific community, this extension was integrated into the official distribution of Alloy.


Innovation and Technology Transfer in Central and Southeast Europe

The Competence Centre on Technology Transfer of the European Commission’s Science and Knowledge service, Joint Research Centre (JRC), is organising jointly with the EC Representation in Slovakia a one-day hybrid workshop on Innovation and Technology Transfer in Central and Southeast Europe, taking place in Bratislava on 19th May. 

The event will bring together key stakeholders of the innovation ecosystem in the area and explore the progress, strengths and challenges related to:

  • The development and strengthening of Innovation Technology Transfer in Central and Southeast Europe
  • Competition Policy and the application of EU state aid rules

Participants will range from relevant policy makers, to national competition authorities, local universities and research centres, technology transfer offices, science parks, incubators and industry.

This workshop will be part of an exploratory policy dialogue to set up the groundwork for further action in supporting the innovation and technology transfer ecosystem in the region.

Click here to register.


MACUSTAR study on common cause of blindness gets regulatory nod

People with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) gradually lose their central vision in both eyes. It is a leading cause of blindness and as the population ages, incidence is expected to rise. Today, treatment options are extremely limited. Dry AMD, including the intermediate AMD (iAMD) stage, therefore represents a huge unmet need.

One barrier to the development of new treatments is the lack of clinical endpoints capable of determining the effectiveness of treatments under development. Put simply, current tests do not detect all of the sight problems experienced by people with earlier stages of the disease (e.g. iAMD). Furthermore, there is currently no way to identify which patients with iAMD are at greatest risk of progressing towards advanced AMD.

The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) project MACUSTAR was set up to develop and validate examinations that are capable of accurately detecting changes over time. They have developed a suite of markers and measures that could be used to assess how well a potential treatment works. For example, visual function tests assessed by MACUSTAR include chart-based tests that assess things like visual acuity under good and poor lighting conditions and the ability to detect contrasts. In addition the team is assessing  tests to probe how fast patients can adapt to dim light conditions.

Find out more here.


EU readies €195 billion plan to quit Russian fossil fuels

According to EURACTIV , “The European Commission plans to unveil a €195 billion plan to stop importing Russian fossil fuels by 2027, combining a faster rollout of renewable energy and energy savings with a switch to alternative gas supplies, draft documents show. The draft measures, which could change before they are due to be published next week, are a follow-up to Commission plans outlined on 8 March after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Called REPowerEU, the March plan aimed to “eliminate” Europe’s dependence on Russian gas “well before 2030” and reduce the EU’s dependence on Russian gas by two thirds before the end of this year. The follow-up measures to be presented next week include a mix of EU laws, non-binding schemes, and recommendations national governments could take up, including by revising their plans to spend the EU’s huge COVID-19 recovery fund to free up more funding for the energy transition. The Commission expects the measures to require €195 billion in investments, on top of those already needed to meet the bloc’s 2030 climate target, which would help slash Europe’s bill for fossil fuel imports. To spearhead the plans, Brussels is considering proposing higher targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency, according to the draft proposals and EU officials. Goals under discussion include a target for a 45% share of renewable energy by 2030, replacing the current 40% proposal, and a 13% cut in EU-wide energy consumption by 2030 compared with expected use, replacing the Commission’s current 9% proposal.”


First report on the performance of European Partnerships under Horizon Europe

Today, the Commission released its first report on the ‘Performance of the European Partnerships: Biennial Monitoring Report 2022 on Partnerships under Horizon Europe’ (BMR 2022). The report provides an overview of the new Partnership landscape under Horizon Europe and establishes the basis for assessing their progress in future reports.

The BMR 2022 constitutes the first comprehensive monitoring of Horizon Europe Partnerships, using a set of common indicators and analysing their contribution to EU policy objectives and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It further provides a snapshot of the 27 EU Member States, Iceland, and Norway performance in Partnerships (‘country fiches), as well as of the individual European Partnership performance (‘Partnership fiches’). The report explores the added value of Partnerships by providing examples of outcomes and impacts.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “Horizon Europe supports EU Partnerships to deliver on the EU priorities for a resilient green and digital transition. The Biennial Monitoring Report 2022 is part of a new approach to partnerships and was long awaited, providing evidence-base information on the effectiveness of EU Partnerships and to guide strategic discussions on their future.”

In addition to the data and indicators used by the report to analyse the Partnerships at the Horizon Europe level, the BMR also reports on the progress of the EU Partnerships by analysing six  Partnership-level common indicators. These indicators are: additionality and directionality, coherence and synergies, openness and transparency, and international visibility, and they help to capture the agreed principles for the effective implementation and monitoring of European Partnerships.

Click here to follow the presentation at the online launch event today at 14h30 (CET).


Mechanobiology of Cancer Summer School 2022

The MECHANO·CONTROL consortium, led by several research institutions across Europe, is launching the second edition of the “Mechanobiology of Cancer” summer school, which will take place between  September 27th –  October 1st at the Eco Resort in La Cerdanya.

The summer school aims to provide training on mechanobiology, and specifically its application to cancer.
This school will include lectures as well as practical workshops in different techniques and disciplines, ranging from modeling to biomechanics to cancer biology.

There will be scientific sessions in the morning, mixing 6 keynote speakers with short talks selected from abstract submissions by junior scientists attending the school and a poster session. In the afternoon, there will be 2-3-hour practical workshops, given by scientists from the MECHANO·CONTROL consortium. The course will also include leisure activities.

Attendance to the Summer School is open to all students, post-docs, and professionals interested, although priority will be given to junior scientists (up to the post-doctoral stage).

Make sure to click here for more information.


Energy Poverty Advisory Hub Conference – Moving Towards Energy Autonomy: How to Guarantee Social Inclusion

The 2nd Energy Poverty Advisory Hub (EPAH) international conference will take place on 28-29 June 2022 in Zagreb under the theme “Moving towards energy autonomy: How to guarantee social inclusion”.

The conference is co-hosted by EPAH, the city of Zagreb and DOOR, the civil society organisation devoted to the promotion of sustainable energy development.

The conference is open to all interested stakeholders to join in Zagreb upon registration.

Register here to join the conference onsite.


EIT Health publishes report on building sustainable healthcare systems

Innovation can enhance health systems by improving disease prevention, enabling personalised medicine and increasing access to care. During the COVID-19 pandemic, innovation was key in uncovering more regulatory flexibility and new clinical trial models. Innovation also helped to drive increased production and the development of new solutions, while allowing for the rapid adaptation of devices and processes.

We need to unveil existing roadblocks, gather learnings from the pandemic and provide recommendations for policy action, in order to create resilient and sustainable healthcare systems. EIT Health is uniquely placed to do this transformational work and engage with stakeholders to build future-proof health systems through innovation.

This Think Report defines the potential for health innovation to build resilient and sustainable healthcare systems for a forward-looking Europe. It identifies gaps, opportunities and lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and goes on to provide recommendations for policy action.

Read the full report here.


Bringing the best of European produce to your table

The European Research Executive Agency (REA) manages the Promotion of Agricultural Products programme which aims to enhance the competitiveness of the EU’s agricultural sector. Through promotion campaigns, it highlights the unique characteristics of European produce in the internal market and countries outside of the EU. These campaigns seek to open new market opportunities for EU farmers and the wider food industry, and to strengthen existing businesses.

Find out more on the European Research Executive Agency website.


Viewpoint: Energy should be at the heart of EU-Japan research cooperation

According to Science|Business, “As the world grapples with new energy-security problems, cooperation to accelerate the green energy transition should take centre stage, says Kanji Fujiki, executive director of the Science and Technology in Society (STS) Forum, a global platform for science and technology policy. His comments come as Japan begins “exploratory talks” on association to Horizon Europe, which could give its researchers access to the €95.5 billion research programme on an equal footing with EU counterparts. Fujiki hopes joint energy projects will be high on researchers’ agenda. “My expectation is that we need an acceleration of the process, because now our era is a time of transformation caused by many elements. The biggest one is probably the Ukrainian war and the energy transformation,” says Fujiki. He adds: “Before the war, we thought we would have the time to transform ourselves to the new reality and now it should be much more accelerated and the energy transition should be taking place in much earlier timing.” Fujiki and his colleagues from the STS Forum were in Brussels the week of 9 May to discuss the role of science in the energy transition and global green ambitions with the European Parliament’s Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA). During the discussions, hydrogen was named as a focal point in future collaborations, with the EU and Japan due to sign a memorandum of understanding establishing joint cooperation in the area this autumn. The EU has big ambitions for a hydrogen economy, with the European Commission estimating €470 billion will be needed in investment by 2050 to establish it. Under Horizon Europe, much of the research and innovation into green hydrogen, touted as one of the key fuels of future net zero economies, is run under a €2 billion partnership, Hydrogen Europe.”.


EU-Azerbaijan – Senior officials meet to reinforce energy cooperation

Senior European Commission officials and Azerbaijan government representatives have met last week to discuss energy issues in line with the EU-Azerbaijan Energy Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The meeting aimed to continue and reinforce cooperation in the energy sector with a view to underpinning the respective energy transitions while strengthening energy security.

Following EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson’s participation in the Ministerial Meeting of the Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council and the bilateral meetings between Commissioner Simson and the Azerbaijani authorities on 4 February 2022, a follow-up Energy MoU meeting took place today, co-chaired by Cristina Lobillo Borrero, Director for Energy Policy, Strategy and Coordination at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy, and Elnur Soltanov, Deputy Minister of Energy of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

In a context of heightened global energy challenges, stable bilateral energy relations and cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan are a key factor contributing to competitive, diversified and secure gas supplies. The EU stressed the importance of secure gas supplies in line with REPowerEU priorities and presented its key energy efficiency measures and its hydrogen strategy for a climate-neutral Europe.

A dedicated meeting took place to discuss ongoing gas cooperation and prospects for increasing export volumes of Azerbaijani gas to the EU in line with production capacity and expansion scenarios for the Southern Gas Corridor. The EU stressed its strong interest and support for increased piped gas supply from the Caspian region as a key contribution to the diversification of energy sources in line with REPowerEU priorities.

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