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Happy Monday! In this Morning Brief, we open with the newest episode of “The Insider”, where we discuss what kind of innovation we want for the future, INESC TEC and INEGI renew their Advanced Program in Industry 4.0, the ESA is the latest in a series of organisations to pile on extra sanctions against Russia, the European Commission is seeking views from experts on strengthening actions to reverse the decline of pollinating insects, the 10th year anniversary of INESC P&D Brazil, two exciting events coming up this year, 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 is out!

This week’s podcast will leave the traditional R&I policies and ask a question that has been growing in importance before us all but not much real attention has been dedicated to it so far: what kind of innovation do we want for the future. No, it is not a simple question and we could address it from many different perspectives. Inspired by the 8th Cohesion Forum, which took place earlier this week and counted with the participation of the Nobel Prize laureate Joseph Stiglitz and Professor Carlota Perez from SPRU, University of Sussex we delved into the increasingly urgent connection between innovation and societal challenges and how science and policy intersect to address these challenges, in particular at an EU level.

This is also going to be the theme for a working dinner organised by the INESC Brussels HUB later this year, so any reactions or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

You can click here to listen to the episode.

 

INESC TEC and INEGI renew Advanced Program in Industry 4.0

The Advanced Program in Industry 4.0, a training initiative on emerging technologies within the scope of Industry 4.0, returns in May to meet the needs of the fourth industrial revolution. The Program will focus on topics like digital transformation, emerging technologies, methodologies, tools, and the potential impact of these approaches on industry.

Like previous editions, the third one is promoted by INESC TEC and the Institute of Science and Innovation in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (INEGI), which will share their knowledge in areas such as artificial intelligence, automation and robotisation, virtual reality and cybersecurity. With a team of more than 21 experts in these areas, the Program totals 64 hours of advanced training over an 8-week period.

Aimed at business executives and middle and senior managers of industrial and tech companies, as well as administrators, engineers, entrepreneurs, and consultants who aim to lead the implementation of industry 4.0, the initiative will allow participants to explore various themes and technologies, culminating in the possibility of visiting organisations.

Américo Azevedo, coordinator of INESC TEC’s TEC4Industry, states that “INESC TEC and INEGI, as Technological Interface Centres, are again coordinating efforts to provide a unique learning experience to access emerging technologies in the context of Industry 4.0, while perceiving their impact and determining maturities and roadmaps”.

Applications for the Advanced Program in Industry 4.0 are now open, and more information is available here.

 

130 million euros to enhance research in Widening countries

Horizon Europe’s first calls for proposals on “ERA Chairs” and “Excellence Hubs” closed on 15 March. Both calls aroused a huge interest.

For the call ERA Chairs (HORIZON-WIDERA-2022-TALENTS-01-01) the European Research Executive Agency (REA) received 90 proposals for a total requested contribution of over €216 million. The budget for this call is €80 million and, according to the Work Programme, 32 projects are expected to be funded with an estimated EU contribution of €1.5-2.5 million per project.

ERA Chairs, are well-established actions, present also in Horizon 2020, that focus on institutional changes and increases in research capacity. They support universities or research organizations from eligible countries, to attract and maintain high quality human resources and help scientists and their teams to become game changers in their field.

For the Excellence Hubs, REA received 102 proposals for a total requested contribution of over € 465 million. The available budget for this call is € 50 million and 10-15 projects are expected to be funded with an estimated EU contribution of € 3-5 million per project.

Excellence Hubs are a novelty introduced by Horizon Europe. This action aims to foster innovation ecosystems in Widening countries and beyond, creating better linkages between academia, business, government and society. This will foster a real placed based innovation culture, in line with regional or national smart specialization strategies.

The evaluation of the proposals starts next week with the support of external independent evaluators drawn from the European Commission database of experts.

REA will communicate results to both ERA Chairs and Excellence Hubs applicants in July, and will sign the grant agreement for successful proposals in November.

Other calls from “Widening participation and strengthening the European Research Area” can be found here.

 

European Space Agency and top organisations pile on extra sanctions against Russia

According to Science|Business, “Scientific sanctions against Russia continued to multiply, as the European Space Agency and some of the continent’s biggest research organisations announced new steps. The European Space Agency (ESA) said it has decided to suspend its ExoMars mission and to seek other partners, after relations with the Russian space agency Roscosmos went sour. A launch planned for this year is likely to be postponed, as the ESA director general has been authorised “to carry out a fast-track industrial study to better define the available options for a way forward to implement the ExoMars rover mission,” the agency said in a statement. In response to economic sanctions on Russia, Roscosmos withdrew its personnel from Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana, making impossible any launches with Soyuz rockets. Now the ESA is reviewing the fitness of its new Ariane 6 rocket to fly five upcoming missions. The agency will soon convene a meeting of its council to review proposals for continuing space missions without Roscosmos. Despite the friction between Roscosmos and western space agencies, the International Space Station continues to operate. “The main goal is to continue safe operations of the ISS, including maintaining the safety of the crew,” the ESA statement said. Separately, on 17 March, the G6 group of six of Europe’s largest research organisations announced they will sever ties with Russian institutions. “The Russian act of war is a profound attack on the fundamental values of freedom, democracy and self-determination that underlie the principles of academic freedom, freedom of research and freedom for scientific cooperation,” the group said. The group includes CNR, CNRS, CSIC, Helmholtz Association, Leibniz Association and Max Planck Society. According to their joint statement, all their institutional and scientific collaboration with Russia has been frozen. The six organisations also vowed to refrain from initiating new joint projects with Russia and have cancelled joint scientific events.”.

 

Biodiversity: Commission seeks views on strengthening actions to reverse the decline of pollinating insects

The Commission is launching an open public consultation on the revision of the EU Pollinators Initiative, the EU framework to tackle the decline of wild pollinators. The revision will contribute to the efforts of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 to put Europe’s biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030. The consultation is open for feedback until 9 June 2022.

Find out more here.

 

France awards almost €46 million to 73 innovation projects

The seventh edition of the i-Nov competition run by the French government sees 73 start-up and SME-led projects winning €45.8 million in eight categories.

There were four ‘green’ topics, including renewable energy, sustainable mobility, tackling green transition issues in industry and agriculture, and water and biodiversity. Another four topics covered deep tech, digital transformation of the cultural and creative industries, health, and proteins and ferments of the future. The winning companies will get up to 45% of expenses covered by grants and recoverable advances. 

The first six editions of the prize awarded 462 projects, including those carried out by leading French companies such as Treefrog Therapeutics, a leader in cellular therapies, Vitibot, maker of autonomous wine robots, Exotrail, which manufactures motors for small satellites, and Mascara, which develops industrial seawater desalination solutions.

 

7th Mediterranean Forest Week

The Mediterranean Forest Week (MFW) is a biennial event that aims at facilitating cooperation amongst forest administrators and policymakers, the scientific and academic community, the private sector, donors, civil society, environmental agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and other relevant stakeholders by providing a common regional platform for dialogue on the main issues dealing with Mediterranean forests.

The Committee on Mediterranean Forestry Questions–Silva Mediterranea is a statutory body of FAO that has worked closely with partners in the Mediterranean area for the successful implementation of international commitments and initiatives on forestry. The seventh MFW and twenty-fourth session of Silva Mediterranea will jointly occur on 21-25 March 2022 in Antalya, Turkey, entitled “Forest and ecosystem restoration for the next Mediterranean generations”.

Click here for more information on the event and how to register.

 

Why natural gas is neither just nor transitional

In this column for EURACTIV, Marilyn Waite, the Managing Director of the Climate Finance Fund writes, “While European Union leaders condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and enacted widespread sanctions, the EU bloc was still placing oil and gas orders with Russian suppliers. The exclusion of certain Russian banks from interbank messaging service SWIFT does not extend to energy payments, meaning the most important revenue and foreign currency sources are still open to the Russian government. Europe should have kicked the Russian gas habit decades ago. Yet Russia is not responsible for Europe’s gas dependency, nor is it Europe’s only supplier. Europe needs to end its fossil fuel dependency, no matter where it comes from. Even though the European Commission’s plan to cut EU dependence on Russian gas is a step in the right direction, leaders are still scrambling to find alternative gas providers instead of gas alternatives. Germany, for example, has announced its intention to construct two new LNG terminals, increase its natural gas storage by two billion cubic meters, and start buying additional natural gas on world markets. Portugal is positioning itself as the continent’s LNG hub given the proximity of its Sines port to the United States, the world’s largest LNG exporter and notorious shale fracker. Yet attempting to solve one crisis by simply sourcing gas imports from elsewhere – or ramping up domestic coal production – will only intensify another, far more pervasive crisis: climate change and its injustices. Lest we forget, Europeans live in climate-vulnerable areas, from near the Ahr and Erft rivers in Germany to islands in the Caribbean and South Pacific. Gas is not just.”.

 

EU mapping of Technology Centres focused on Advanced Technologies for Industry (ATI)

The European Commission is promoting the discussion and awareness about what it calls Technology Centres focused on Advanced Technologies for Industry (ATI). ATI Technology Centres help SMEs cross the ‘Valley of Death’ and go from lab to market to develop and produce new ATI-based products. They help companies reduce the time-to-market for new innovation ideas.

ATI Technology Centres are public or private organisations carrying out applied research and close-to-market innovation (Technology Readiness Levels TRL 3 to 8, not necessarily the whole range) in Advanced Technologies for Industry.

Technology Centres typically provide the following services to SMEs:

  • Access to technology expertise and facilities for validation;
  • Demonstration;
  • Proof of concept / lab testing
  • Prototype development and testing;
  • Pilot production and demonstration/ pilot lines / pre-series
  • Product validation / certification

See the mapping of all the technology centres developed by the European Commission and discover the INESC institutes in Portugal alongside other “interface institutions”.

 

Public sector capacity building for innovation and industrialisation in developing countries

UNIDO, in collaboration with the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STEPI) and the Government of the Republic of Korea, is organizing an online event on the contribution of science, technology, and innovation (STI) for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), with emphasis on SDG9. The rational for the event is the recognition of STI and industrial development as two powerful drivers of economic diversification and value addition, economic growth and sustainable development.

The online event will present recent experiences of a selected number of East Asian countries to illustrate strategies to address gaps in technological capability accumulation and strengthen policy capacities for innovation and industrialization. Leveraging on concrete experiences is intended to foster policy learning and enhance government capacities to design and implement appropriate STI and industrial policies.

The online event will comprise two parts. First, the launch of the report titled “The Role of science, technology, and innovation policies in the industrialization of developing countries: Lessons from East Asian Countries”, which includes case studies of East Asian countries that have leveraged on STI and industrial policies to achieve rapid industrialization. Building on this discussion, the second part of the event will serve to discuss what kind of policy capacities are required to implement STI and industrial policies in a post-pandemic world. The case of the Republic of Korea will be used to kick start the discussion.

The event will take place on the 22nd March between 9h and 11h CET (virtual event). Register here.

 

10 year anniversary of INESC P&D Brazil

We are celebrating the 10 year anniversary of INESC P&D Brazil with an opening ceremony with the President of the Board of INESC TEC, José Manuel Mendonça, the rectors of some of the universities associated to the institute: Marcus Vinicius David (Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora), José Daniel Diniz Melo (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte), Emmanuel Zagury Tourinho (Universidade Federal do Pará), Natalino Salgado Filho (Universidade Federal do Maranhão); Valter Joviniano de Santana Filho (Universidade Federal de Sergipe) e Angelita Pereira de Lima (Universidade Federal de Goiás) and all the board of INESC P&D Brazil, of course. Check it out here (in PT only).

 

EU executive split on ‘suspending’ Green Deal goals in farming due to food security fears

According to EURACTIV, “Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski wants to hold off implementing the EU’s flagship sustainable food policy, the Farm to Fork strategy, despite Commission Vice-President Fran Timmermans’ call to preserve the EU’s green ambition even in challenging times. In a hearing at the European Parliament’s agriculture committee (COMAGRI) on Thursday (17 March), the Polish Commissioner informed MEPs on the next steps the EU executive plans to cope with the knock-on impact of the Ukraine war on the EU, as well as international food supply chains. “Now we need to stop the procedure, to suspend the procedure,” the Polish commissioner said replying to a question from centre-right MEP Herbert Dorfmann who asked what the Commission intends to do with “certain pieces of legislation which could question food security, for example, the pesticides directive, nature restoration law.” According to Wojciechowski, the agrifood policy for the next months should be based on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) strategic plans without adding anything more.”.

 

Event: What will Europe’s Digital Economy look like after the DSA?

The Digital Services Act (DSA) is the most significant update of Europe’s digital rules in over two decades. The European Commission sees the DSA as being a core plank of making Europe fit for the Digital Age. But what does this mean in practice, and does the DSA fit the bill?

According to the Commission, the new rules are proportionate, foster innovation, growth and competitiveness, and facilitate the scaling up of smaller platforms, SMEs and start-ups. The responsibilities of users, platforms, and public authorities are rebalanced according to European values, placing citizens at the centre.

The Digital Services Act includes rules for online intermediary services, which millions of Europeans use every day. The obligations of different online players match their role, size and impact in the online ecosystem.

The EU institutions are now entering the final phase of negotiations following an intense legislative process in the European Parliament which saw a number of new amendments proposed. These amendments covered a wide range of issues that will have significant implications for how we use and interact with online services for years to come.

Join this debate to discuss the DSA and its impact on Europe’s digital economy. Find out more information and how to register here.

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