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.

In today's Morning Brief:

Commission adopts proposal for a Pact for R&I in Europe

Today, the European Commission adopted its proposal for a Council Recommendation on “A Pact for Research and Innovation in Europe” to support the implementation of national European Research Area (ERA) policies. The Pact proposal defines shared priority areas for joint action in support of the ERA, sets out the ambition for investments and reforms, and constitutes the basis for a simplified policy coordination and monitoring process at EU and Member States’ level through an ERA platform where Member States can share their reform and investment approaches to enhance exchanges of best practices.

The Pact is aimed to be the long-standing foundation for the EU’s commitment to the new European Research Area (ERA). It will build on common principles for research and innovation in Europe, including values like freedom of scientific research, equal opportunities for all, free circulation of researchers and knowledge, inclusiveness and societal responsibility.

The Commission prepared a Question and Answers to address all doubts concerning the Pact.


European Research Council to award €2.4B in 2022

If you check the ERC work programme for 2022, you will see five calls, with the first launching this week – and a total of €2.4 billion due to be awarded. After being dropped in 2020, synergy and proof of concept grants will be making a comeback, with calls launching on 15 July. But although ERC will have its biggest budget to date, it will fund fewer projects overall than in 2020. The call for synergy grants, funding projects carried out by groups of up to four principal investigators, will remain open until 10 November. This call has €297 million, through which ERC expects to back 33 projects. There will be two calls for proof of concept grants with which scientists will aim to demonstrate the commercial feasibility of their earlier ERC funded research. Submissions for the first tranche of €25 million close on 14 October. A second €25 million call is to open in November. The biggest slice of ERC funding in 2022 – €776 million – will be awarded as consolidator grants. These will finance projects led by researchers who have clocked up seven to 12 year’ experience since the completion of their PhDs. This call opens on 19 October and closes on 17 March 2022, and is expected to fund 338 researchers. Early-career researchers with two to seven years of postdoc experience will able to bid for a share of €749 million in starting grants. This call will be open from 23 September until 13 January 2022 and 500 awards will be made. The last call, for advanced grants, will fund researchers who can demonstrate a good track record over the last ten years. The €555 million call, open between 20 January and 28 April 2022, will make awards to 223 researchers. All five categories of grants are available to researchers of any nationality and scientific field as long as the research is carried out in Europe. The funding is expected to create around 8,000 jobs for post-doctoral fellows, PhD students and other research staff. For now, the size of the funding pot is a rough estimate. The final amount to be distributed in grants will be revealed once policy makers settle on the size of the total EU budget for 2022. The ERC’s estimated budget for next year is facing a €70 million cut. Read more here.


Parliament tries to fight back on proposed cut to 2022 HE budget while Commission pushes for more investment

Member states want a proposed 2022 budget for Horizon Europe to be cut by €316 million, the EU Council has agreed on Wednesday. The European Commission’s initial proposal had allocated nearly €12.2 billion for the research and innovation programme. But member states were of the opinion that there was not enough demand for all the money to be spent next year and decided to backload the money to the end of Horizon Europe, which will run until 2027. Member states also propose the budgets for Digital Europe and InvestEU shrink by €50 million and €45.5 million respectively. The total cuts proposed for 2022 amount to €1.4 billion less than what the Commission had proposed in June. The cuts were proposed as the European Parliament and Commission are on a campaign to convince member states to invest more money in R&D. MEPs say member states should raise public expenditure on research and development from 0.81% to 1.25% of GDP by 2030, to help the EU achieve targets set by the European Commission’s plan to establish a single market for research in the European Research Area (ERA). Read more here.

At the same time, the European Commission renewed its efforts to get member states to raise their national public and private R&D investments, after two decades of hesitation in most EU capitals. The launch of the “Pact for Research and Innovation in Europe” on July 16 is a first concrete step in a broader push by research and innovation Commissioner Maryia Gabriel to revamp the European Research Area (ERA), the EU’s single market for research.


Parliament to settle on recommendations for 10 industrial partnerships

According to SB, the European Parliament wants the new generation of industrial Horizon Europe partnerships to be more open and transparent, its industry and research committee ITRE will state today. “The calls for proposal and call for tenders must be open, transparent and inclusive throughout the whole implementation of the work plan of the partnerships,” Parliament rapporteur for the file, Maria da Graça Carvalho, told Science|Business. In the past, the partnerships funded by the EU budget and matched industry contributions, have been accused of being closed door clubs for industry giants, subsidising private research at the taxpayers’ expense. They draft roadmaps for innovation in their sectors and fund projects that have an impact on the future direction of certain technologies. MEPs hope the next generation of partnerships will be more inclusive to newcomers, smaller companies and have more balanced geographical participation, with members from all around Europe.


EIC seeks six project portfolio managers

The European Innovation Council is looking for six programme managers to manage topic-specific portfolios of funded projects. The new recruits will join a team of four programme managers already handling portfolios in biotechnology and health, med-tech and medical devices, materials for energy and environment, and energy systems. Anyone is free to apply but the agency is seeking “recognised experts in emerging science-and-technology areas, with a visionary drive to turn new technological breakthroughs into relevant and responsible innovations for Europe and for the world.” Women are especially encouraged to apply. While merit will be the deciding factor in the competition, in case of a tie, priority will be given to women candidates.


First LIFE 2021 call on clean energy transition

The LIFE programme 2021-2027 includes a new sub-programme for clean energy transition (LIFE-CET) in the field of climate action. Its first call for proposals opened after the adoption on 9 July 2021 of the Multiannual Work Programme 2021-2024 (Commission Decision C(2021) 4997). The call is published on the Commission’s funding and tender portal and the deadline for applications is set to January 2022.

LIFE-CET will continue EU funding activities in the field of clean energy transition that were previously funded under Horizon 2020 Energy Challenge (Societal Challenge 3). With a total budget of 1 billion euro for 7 years, LIFE-CET will continue engaging small and medium-size stakeholders, multiple actors including local and regional public authorities, non-profit organisations and consumers on the path of clean energy transition.

The call and the sub-programme are available on the Commission website.


New laws and regulations bind R&I programmes to Green Deal targets

EU research and innovation programmes are set to contribute significantly to the European Commission’s lofty plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030, according to new legislation tabled to make the ‘Green Deal’ a reality. The Commission wants Europe to become the first climate neutral continent by 2050. For that to happen, it needs to cut down emissions in less than a decade by investing in new technologies for carbon capture and renewable fuels, and making food production less damaging to the environment. Commission president Ursula von der Leyen was joined on Wednesday by a band of no less than six commissioners to present a bundle of new laws that would impose stricter national limits on gas emissions and ban the sale of internal combustion engines by 2035. EU companies will also be taxed for the greenhouse gases they release into the atmosphere. Imports will be subject to greenhouse gas tariffs as well. To make the plan work, the EU needs to invest heavily in research and development of new technologies. Read more here.


Renewable Energy Directive

Within the package Delivering on the European Green Deal (Fit for 55), the European Commission published also a proposal to revise the Renewable Energy Directive.

Building on the Directive 2018/2001/EU, the revision proposal increases the current EU-level target of ‘at least 32%’ of renewable energy sources in the overall energy mix to at least 40% by 2030, which represents doubling the current renewables share of 19.7% in just a decade. It also sets a comprehensive framework for the deployment of renewables across all sectors of the economy, in line with the Commission’s vision for the integrated energy system of the future. This revision focuses on sectors where progress in integrating renewables has been slower to date (such as transport, buildings and industry). Following detailed impact assessment and public consultation, the proposal outlines the following new targets at national level aimed at stimulating change for:

  • buildings, a new benchmark of 49% renewables use by 2030
  • industry, a new benchmark of a 1.1 percentage point annual increase in renewables use
  • heating and cooling, the existing indicative 1.1 percentage point annual increase becomes binding on Member States, with specific indicative national top-ups
  • district heating and cooling, an indicative 2.1 percentage point annual increase in the use of renewables and waste heat and cold (an increase from the current 1.0 percentage point increase)

A Q&A on the revision is available on the Commission website.


Data governance: new rules to boost data sharing across the EU

The Industry, Research and Energy Committee of the European Parliament adopted its position on the EU Data Governance Act (DGA), aimed at increasing trust in data sharing, create new EU rules on neutrality of data marketplaces and facilitate the reuse of certain data held by the public sector e.g. certain health, agricultural or environmental data, which were previously not available under the Open Data Directive. Facilitating data sharing is also a precondition for unlocking the potential of Artificial Intelligence and help start-ups and businesses develop an ecosystem based on EU standards and values.

Read more on the EP press release.


New Industrial Forum collaborative platform

The Directorate-General for Industry launched a collaborative wiki platform to support the work of the newly established Industrial Forum.  Launched as part of the Industrial Strategy, the Industrial Forum consists of a wide array of stakeholders, including industrial representations, EU countries’ authorities, NGOs, research institutions and social partners representing different industrial ecosystems. The Industrial Forum will now start its work to deliver on the objectives of the Industrial Strategy. 
For this purpose, the Forum has been organised into 5 task forces.

  1. Task Force 1 performs economic analysis of the ecosystems
  2. Task Force 2 supports the development of transition pathways
  3. Task Force 3 supports the analysis of strategic dependencies
  4. Task Force 4 identifies cross-border and cross-ecosystem investment needs and cooperation opportunities
  5. Task Force 5 supports the uptake of advanced manufacturing processes by EU industry

The collaborative wiki platform of the Forum is interactive and accessible to the public. It will allow all stakeholders to follow up on and support the work of these task forces and the Forum as a whole. The Commission invites stakeholders to contribute to the different workstreams and share inputs through this wiki platform. To access it, log in with your EULogin account or create a new account.

More Articles