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In this Morning Brief, we open with the news that hydrogen research and innovation is getting  boost in the European Commission’s plan to wean the EU off Russian energy, Ireland has announced its 2030 R&I strategy, the EU has pledged more research cooperation with Gulf states, INESC-ID researchers were honoured with a scientific award whilst an INESC TEC robot won an international design award, a leaked draft gives a first glimpse of the Commission’s plan to turn the EU into an innovation ‘powerhouse’, 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:

Hydrogen R&I gets boost in new Commission plan to wean EU off Russian energy

Clean Hydrogen, a €2 billion industrial research partnerships under Horizon Europe, will get a top-up as part of the EU’s new plan to reduce its dependence on Russian gas.  

The top-up will help the partnership, which brings together industry, researchers and the European Commission to jointly advance hydrogen R&I, double the number of Hydrogen Valleys it supports by 2025 and launch a large project to develop skills for the hydrogen economy.  

The goal is to advance green hydrogen technology to boost production from 5.6 million tonnes to 20 million tonnes by 2030.  

Research and innovation will also play a role in Europe’s plan to achieve energy independence by accelerating technology development for solar energy, energy savings, decarbonizing industry and speeding up renewable permitting.


Ireland announces 2030 R&I strategy

The goal of the strategy is to ensure Ireland’s research and innovation expenditure makes a difference in addressing societal challenges such as climate change and health emergences.

The strategy includes the creation of a new funding agency, merging the functions and activities of the Irish Research Council and Science Foundation Ireland, and a bigger focus on researchers and entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups, among other measures.

“We will create an inclusive research and innovation system delivering the solutions for Irish society and our economy, solving our common challenges through teamwork, and enhancing our reputation,” said Simon Harris, Ireland’s minister education, research, innovation and science.


EU pledges more research cooperation with Gulf states

The EU has said it will step up research and innovation collaboration with Gulf countries as part of a wider strategy to better engage with the region. 

In a communication released earlier this week, the Commission said it wanted to better support the inclusion of Gulf researchers in the EU’s Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions, which offer doctoral training and postdoctoral fellowships. 

The Commission said it would promote research and innovation “openness” with the Gulf, “balanced with greater levels of reciprocity, and will seek a level-playing field based on respect for fundamental principles such as academic freedom, gender equality, ethics, integrity and inclusiveness of research, open science and evidence-based policy-making.”

The wider context is that the EU is seeking to diversify away from Russian gas in the aftermath of the invasion of Ukraine, and has turned in part towards Gulf states to fill the gap. 


INESC-ID researchers honoured with University of Lisbon/Caixa Geral de Depósitos Scientific Awards

Three INESC-ID researchers have been honoured at this year’s Universidade de Lisboa / Caixa Geral de Depósitos Scientific Awards (Prémios Científicos Universidade de Lisboa / Caixa Geral de Depósitos).

The awardees lists recognised Professor Leonel Augusto Pires Seabra de Sousa (Full Professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at IST), who received this year’s award  in the Electrical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering (Avionics) category, Professor Rui Manuel Gameiro de Castro (Associate Professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at IST), who received this year’s award in the Energy and Environmental Engineering category, as well as Professor Pedro Tiago Gonçalves Monteiro (Associate Professor at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering), who received an honourable mention in the Computer Science and Computer Engineering area.

The UL/CGD Scientific Awards and Honourable Mentions are bestowed across twenty-six areas, recognising scientific research activity while encouraging the practice of publication in international journals of recognized quality.

On having been recognised with the Electrical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering (Avionics) award, Professor Sousa accepted it as “a recognition of the quality of the research work carried out, which is always good. But, fundamentally, I hope that it will be an incentive for the Electrical and Computer Engineering researchers of the younger generations to do even better, namely those who are at INESC-ID.” Professor Castro added that “receiving this award [in Energy and Environmental Engineering] means recognition of the work of my research team in Renewable Energies and Energy Transition, always with the aim of promoting the name of INESC-ID within the international scientific community.”

The award ceremony will take place on 28 June 2022, 6:30pm, at Salão Nobre of Reitoria da Universidade de Lisboa.


INESC TEC robot wins international design award

The Weta robot, developed within the scope of the SCORPION project – promoted by INESC TEC’s Centre for Robotics in Industry and Intelligent Systems (CRIIS) -, received the IF Design Award 2022.

This new technology, designed by Everythink – a company incubated in UPTEC – Parque de Ciência e Tecnologia of U. Porto, aims to address the question of movement in mountain vineyards, thanks to its ability to perform monitoring, precision spraying, weeding and selective harvesting tasks in the context of permanent and tree crops. As a process automation technology with high precision levels, this solution aims to reduce the use of plant protection products significantly, while increasing the quality of agricultural tasks.

This project is particularly relevant to SMEs and start-ups, which are generally subject to limitations regarding the development of robotic platforms, since it’s a tool designed to be easily acquired and produced by small companies that seek to enter the market with a robotic solution for precision agriculture.

Filipe Neves dos Santos, head of the project, highlighted the importance of receiving such an important award. “This award shows the quality of our prototypes and is badge of quality that we can present to potential companies that adopt these technologies,” he said.

The award was presented on May 16, at a Gala Night in Berlin. This is the second iF Design Award from Everythink, the UPTEC company responsible for the design of the robot, which won the award in 2018 with the creation of a carbon fiber violin.

The iF Design Award is an international design award, established in 1953. Launched in Germany, this initiative grants technologies the iF badge of quality, i.e., “good design for consumers and the design community alike”.

Portugal has won a total of 11 awards – and there are more than 3500 winners worldwide.


Info session on Horizon Results Booster – Steering research towards a strong societal impact

This upcoming May 25th, the European Commission is putting together an information session on Horizon Europe results booster. From 10h00 (CET) to 12h30 you will be able to watch the live streamed session with a plethora of guests and a Q&A at the end to learn how to steer your research towards a stronger societal impact.

Click here for more information and for the livestream.


European Innovation Council launches the Scale Up 100 Call

To bolster EU competitiveness in the world where tech and disruptive innovations are growing in relevance, the European Innovation Council (EIC) has launched the EIC Scale-Up 100 call (coordination and support action), which is now open for applications. The goal of this new initiative is to identify, promote, and support the growth of 100 promising deep tech companies that show the potential to become ‘unicorns’ (with a value of over €1 billion). The winning entity or consortia will receive European Commission’s funding to help companies develop their corporate and leadership strategies, reach strategic investors and partners, expand internationally and obtain access to other scale-up support programmes. 

Join the EIC in positioning Europe as a leader in global innovation! They are inviting you to partake in the open call to become their partner within Scale-up 100. The application is open until October 5, 2022 (17:00 Brussels time). You can find out more information and submit your application on the Funding and tenders opportunities portal.

In order for you to learn more about the Scale-Up 100 call, we encourage you to join the info day held at the Sustainability and Technology: Investing in the future conference in Paris on June 14, 2022. The event will also offer an opportunity to gain valuable insight on European scale ups and get a unique possibility of networking with tech companies.

Learn more here


Energy industry’s cybersecurity awareness rises, defence lags

According to EURACTIV, “Representatives of the frequently targeted energy industry are more concerned about the risk of cyberattacks than before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a new global risk report has found. Apprehension also increased regarding insufficient investments and activities of their organisations. Due to the massive impact of the war, the global energy sector has recently become the centre of attention and concern, including in the realm of cybersecurity. The energy infrastructure is particularly popular as a target for cyberattacks, as consequences can be far-reaching and it can be used as a lever for blackmail or as a starting point for a military operation. The awareness of such cybersecurity risks among energy professionals is growing. Yet, defensive actions are still lagging behind, said the report by DNV, a risk consultancy, published on Thursday (19 April). “Energy companies have been tackling IT security for several decades. However, securing operational technology (OT) – the computing and communications systems that manage, monitor and control industrial operations – is a more recent and increasingly urgent challenge for the sector,” said Trond Solberg, managing director for cyber security at DNV. The global DNV research surveyed 948 energy professionals and interviewed a series of industry leaders and security experts on their perceptions of cyber risks and preparedness. DNV is an international assurance and risk management provider based in Norway. “Our research finds the energy industry is waking up to the OT security threat, but swifter action must be taken to combat it,” Solberg said in a press statement.”


Climate change: Better using European forests as carbon sinks

The EU has launched several initiatives to reduce emissions. As forests play a crucial role in capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere that would otherwise contribute to global warming, the EU is working on rules to increase its carbon sinks.

Parliament’s environment committee voted in favour of an update of the rules governing the land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector on 17 May. MEPs will vote on the updated rules in June.

Click here to find out key facts and figures about forests in EU countries and what Parliament is proposing to strengthen their capacity to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.


European Maritime Day 2022: Sustainable blue economy for green recovery

On 19 and 20 May 2022 Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries is co-hosting the European Maritime Day (EMD) conference, which is taking place in Ravenna in Italy. The focus of this year’s exchanges, attracting more than 1,550 ocean stakeholders, is the contribution of a sustainable blue economy to green recovery.

“European gatherings such as this make our European commitment to cooperate and find common solutions even stronger. My ambition is to set an up to date vision for the EU as a global leader in driving ocean sustainability in line with the European Green Deal. The ocean is probably the single most important asset of our planet. If we fail to protect our ocean, we are failing to protect our identity. I am committed to ensure a sustainable future for the generations to come” said Commissioner Sinkevičius, as he opened the EMD.

This edition of the EMD, which is the annual opportunity for the maritime community to get together to network, discuss and outline joint action and solutions on maritime affairs and sustainable blue economy, is full of important new EU initiatives.

Commissioner Sinkevičius has announced the launch of the EU Blue Economy Observatory, to bring together knowledge, data and scientific expertise on ocean-related socio-economic matters. It will significantly expand the analytical responsiveness and stakeholder outreach, serving as a collaborative knowledge dissemination platform to foster blue economy sectors in the EU.

He also mentioned the €2.5 Million call for proposals on “Women in the blue economy”, which was launched on 17 May. For the first time ever, Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE)  is launching a call for proposals to promote and increase women’s participation in the blue economy.

The Commissioner also called for an investment drive for biodiversity, maritime spatial planning and for decarbonising the blue economy.

Click here to read more.


Commission welcomes political agreement on new rules for securing winter gas storage

The Commission welcomes the political agreement reached today between the European Parliament and EU Member States on the legislative proposal for minimum gas storage obligations proposed by the Commission in March 2022. The new rules, against the backdrop of Russia’s war against Ukraine, will ensure security of energy supply across the EU each winter. Already this year, Member States will need to reach a minimum 80% gas storage level by 1 November to protect against potential interruptions to supply. From 2023, the target will be raised to 90% full gas storage by 1 November.

The political agreement reached by the European Parliament and the Council is now subject to formal approval by the two co-legislators.


Leaked draft gives first glimpse of the Commission plan to turn the EU into an ‘innovation powerhouse’

According to Science|Business, “The European Commission is set to launch five major initiatives in a bid to make the EU a global innovation leader, according to a leaked draft of the upcoming European Innovation Agenda, seen by Science|Business. The strategy is the Commission’s bid to address Europe’s shortcomings when it comes to fostering a supportive environment for start-ups. It has been drawn up in recognition of the fact that the EU forms as many start-ups as the US, but far fewer of them manage to scale up. A key element of this is Europe’s shortage of venture capital, at €10.2 billion, compared to €70 billion in the US, in 2020. The plan has been brewing for a while and is one of the EU research and innovation commissioner Mariya Gabriel’s flagship projects. The Commission spent last year laying the groundwork for the strategy, consulting leading entrepreneurs and venture capitals groups, among others. It was initially due to be published early in the year but has been postponed. The new date for adoption is 5 July, according to the draft. The aims of the draft strategy are two-fold, Gabriel told an event on Tuesday launching one of the key initiatives under the upcoming agenda, Partnerships for Regional Innovation. One is to make Europe a power house for deep tech start-ups. The second one is to create a pan-European innovation ecosystem where businesses can easily expanded operations across borders. This is not the first time the Commission has set out to help small businesses, which make up 95% of companies in the EU, grow. In the past two decades, it has proposed revamped rules for public procurement and tax breaks to make the lives of small companies easier, but with limited success, as much of it depends on member states’ willingness to make changes. The success of the new strategy will also require support from national governments. The draft seen by Science|Business is not final and will be updated in coming weeks, before its final version is approved by the College of Commissioners in early July.”

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