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Happy Friday! In this Morning Brief, we open with the news that Spain is putting €200 million into four strategic research programmes, the exploratory talks on the association of New Zealand and Canada to Horizon Europe have concluded and formal negotiations are going to begin, the European Commission has published its second report assessing the implementation of the Nuclear Safety Directive, don’t miss the first wave of EU4Health calls and the Innovative Health Initiative (IHI) kick-off and brokerage event, 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:

Spain to put €200 million in four strategic research programmes

Spain’s regions are set to invest €200 million, of which €116.5 million will be provided by the national government, in agri-food, astrophysics and high-energy physics, advanced materials and biodiversity research.

The funding is part of a new type of initiative supported by EU recovery funds that sees money flowing to strategic research areas. Last year, the first such projects saw investments in renewable energy and hydrogen, marine sciences, quantum communication and biotechnology. The total budget for the eight research areas is €444.8 million until 2025.

More than 200 research centres and universities will take part in the programme, with 1,000 new research and support staff expected to be hired to deliver the projects.

Read more here.


Conclusion of exploratory talks on the association of New Zealand and Canada to Horizon Europe: towards formal negotiations

The informal exploratory talks launched on 10 February 2022 between the European Commission, DG Research and Innovation, and New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and on 15 July 2021 between DG Research and Innovation and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), have reached a conclusion.

These exploratory talks have paved the way to move towards the next stage of the process, the formal negotiation of the association agreement. They provided all parties with the opportunity to discuss the technical aspects of the envisaged association, including the prospective terms and conditions for participation in Horizon Europe actions and in the Programme’s governance.

The Commission will now prepare recommendations to the Council to launch the two negotiation processes and seek negotiating directives. Once the Council adopts such directives, the formal negotiations could commence upon readiness of New Zealand and of Canada. All parties expressed the hope that New Zealand and Canada could be associated to Horizon Europe as from 2023.

With Horizon Europe, association, which offers the closest systemic form of international cooperation within the EU’s Research and Innovation Framework Programme, is a possibility open for the first time to countries with a good capacity in science, technology and innovation, and located beyond the EU’s geographic vicinity. Exploratory talks are also progressing with the Republic of Korea.


Time to re-think the divide between academic and support staff

In recent years, we have seen ‘support’ jobs become more important at research organizations, including roles such as data stewards, research software engineers, scientific community managers and programme managers. We have seen how a diversity of roles and contributions drives progress and success in research and innovation.

We have come to see the sharp distinction between ‘academics’ and ‘support staff’ as a barrier to effective research because it discourages a culture of collaboration and appreciation of a diversity of roles and contributions.

As professionals, we make a significant contribution alongside conventional academics. Like many of our colleagues in ‘support’ roles, we are well connected with the academic community. We work in partnership with researchers, contributing unique expertise and skills. We have academic credentials. We write papers, books, grant proposals, reports and manuals. We train students and academic staff; manage projects; organize and present at conferences and workshops; and lead developments in our areas of expertise. We are knowledge brokers, able to translate generic infrastructure, tools and policies into practical solutions that make research more efficient.

Well-functioning teams rely on the sharing of responsibilities and credit. For research to advance and progress, diverse personnel must be able to contribute their talent and skills without being too restricted by conventional hierarchies.

In our experience, the structure of many academic institutions limits the way in which professional support staff can contribute to the research process. Here are some of the steps the sector can make to change that culture.


Commission publishes its second report assessing implementation of Nuclear Safety Directive

The Commission adopted today its second progress report showing the progress achieved by EU countries in implementing the Nuclear Safety Directive, as amended in 2014. In broad terms, the Commission concludes that there is a good overall level of implementation of the Directive’s obligations, and highlights the significant progress made by Member States in the 10 years since the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011. However, it notes that there is still room for improvement, and recommends further reporting by EU countries on the actions taken in the highlighted areas.

Accompanied by a detailed staff working document, the report provides a comprehensive overview of the governance of the safety of nuclear installations in the EU. It is based primarily on the national reports submitted by EU countries in 2020, but also takes into account findings from the assessment of the Directive’s transposition, results of the EU Stress Tests and of the first Topical Peer Review, conclusions of international reviews and issues raised by EU citizens and other EU institutions.

The Commission will support and facilitate the process of further improvements in nuclear safety, working closely with EU countries and their regulatory authorities, with the licensees and with other stakeholders, including civil society.


Who will be the Commission’s new research chief?

According to Science|Business, “The departure of Jean-Eric Paquet, the head of the European Commission’s directorate general for research and innovation (DG-RTD), has not been officially confirmed as yet, but the Brussels rumour mill is already churning out potential replacements. Paquet has been working for the Commission since 1993 and after four years at the helm of the research directorate, he hopes to take up a new job as EU ambassador to Japan later this year. The Commission has yet to start the official process of recruiting a replacement, but Brussels insiders are speculating that Paquet’s successor could be a woman from eastern Europe. Such a move would improve the gender balance among the Commission’s top jobs, but perhaps more importantly, it would give a strong political signal to advocates of a more equitable geographical distribution of EU research funds. Under Horizon 2020 less than 6% of the budget went to member states that joined the bloc after 2004, with the bulk of the grant money going to Germany, France, UK and other rich countries. Since the beginning of her mandate in 2019, research and innovation commissioner Mariya Gabriel, a Bulgarian national, has been pushing for a revamp of the European Research Area (ERA), a long-standing goal of creating a single market for research in the EU, to reform national R&D systems and to boost public and private investment in R&D in all member states, thereby improving participation across the EU in the Horizon Europe programme. The ERA plan has been set in motion and the EU recently set up the ERA Forum, a new body to oversee the implementation of 20 policy goals by 2024. The forum is being coordinated by the Commission and member states. It’s unclear whether appointing an eastern European at the top of the research directorate could have an immediate impact on ERA policies.”.


First wave of EU4Health calls 2022

EU4Health, with a budget of €5.3 billion, is the fourth and largest of the EU health programmes. The EU4Health programme goes beyond an ambitious response to the COVID-19 crisis to address the resilience of European healthcare systems. The programme provides funding to national authorities, health organisations and other bodies through grants and public procurement, contributing to a healthier Europe.

HaDEA implements the EU4Health programme by managing calls for proposals and tenders from 2021 to 2027.

HaDEA published eight calls for proposals under the EU4Health 2022 Annual Work Programme. The topics focus among others on innovative approaches to cancer screening, non-communicable diseases (NCDs), mental health, health technology and workforce.

The total budget amounts to €107.3 million and the deadline for applications is 24 May 2022, 17:00 (CET).

Click here for more information.


The Guild’s universities lead the change towards sustainable behaviour

Besides providing excellent research and teaching to tackle climate change, universities are responding to the increasing thread of global warming by reducing their own carbon footprint. By making practical changes to reduce energy consumption and encouraging sustainable mobility, the universities can lead by example and act as catalysts for lasting change among their students and staff.

What links these actions is the commitment by universities to lead by example, to address climate change not just through teaching, research and innovation – but also through the commitment of its own communities. For students and staff, addressing climate change is critical not because of the priorities of policy-makers. The science and our shared sense of ethics and responsibility unite us across Europe’s universities that addressing climate change through our own practice is the right thing to do.

Enabling sustainability in communities at home and abroad.

Addressing sustainability through new technologies.


Europe outlines 9-step plan to save energy, Ukraine and the planet

According to EURACTIV, “Together with the European Commission, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has presented a 9-step plan to reduce the EU’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels, save households’ money, and protect the climate. As Russia’s war in Ukraine enters its third month, energy prices are higher than ever and households are buckling under the strain. To alleviate the impact on the poorest, policymakers are turning towards a tested concept: energy conservation. “Energy saving actions by EU citizens could save enough oil to fill 120 supertankers and enough gas to heat 20 million homes – and save a typical EU household an average of nearly €500 a year,” the IEA’s Fatih Birol said on Thursday (21 April). Together with the EU executive, his agency has come up with nine actions that citizens can take in order to “save money, reduce reliance on Russian energy, support Ukraine and help the planet.” EU citizens are shocked by the “human tragedy and humanitarian disaster” in Ukraine, said Ditte Juul Jørgensen, EU-Commission Director-General for Energy. “The one thing that each of us can do individually, at home and at work, is to save energy,” she told a webinar presenting nine steps that citizens can take to save energy.”.


European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) Policy Event

On 3 May, EOSC Future is organising, in collaboration with the EOSC Association, the EOSC Steering Board, the European Commission and University of Strasbourg, an EOSC Policy event in Strasbourg, France.

The one-day event will centre on the European policy context surrounding and supporting the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) initiative. The agenda’s panel discussions and presentations will tackle a host of trending topics, using concrete implementation examples, including the status and progress of open science, EOSC more generally, FAIR data and policies.

Find out more and how to register here.


European State of the Climate (ESOTC) 2021 Report

The European State of the Climate (ESOTC) 2021 is the fifth in a series of annual ESOTC reports, typically released in April each year. It is one of the products in the C3S portfolio of climate monitoring services, alongside the monthly Climate Bulletins and the C3S Climate Indicators, which all cover the globe, Europe and the polar regions, but with varying emphasis.

The ESOTC 2021 report includes a short overview of the global context during the year, a more comprehensive overview of conditions in Europe, and a focus on the Arctic. It provides a detailed analysis, with descriptions of climate conditions and events, and explores the associated variations in key climate variables from across all parts of the Earth system. The key findings for each section can be found in the ESOTC Summary. In addition to summarising the ESOTC sections, the Summary also outlines the latest updates of the C3S Climate Indicators.

The ESOTC 2021 relies largely on datasets provided operationally and in near real-time by the Copernicus Services, to give an overview of 2021 in the long-term context. Data and reports from other monitoring activities are also included, when this has been considered informative and complementary. The operational data are freely accessible via data catalogues, mainly via the C3S Climate Data Store (CDS), but also via other repositories, such as the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) Atmosphere Data Store (ADS). These operational data services build on extensive research and development undertaken by institutions across Europe and the rest of the world.

Find out more here.


Innovative Health Initiative (IHI) kick-off and brokerage event

The Innovative Health Initiative (IHI) is launching its first calls for proposal in late June and it is time to start thinking about building partnerships at our kick-off and brokerage event. This one-day hybrid event will take place on 14 June 2022 at Hotel Le Plaza Brussels, where creating project proposals and building strong, effective consortia are at the core of the day. We aim to provide pertinent information; allow open and honest discussion as well as network building through face-to-face and virtual meetings.

Whether you are in the room or in a virtual environment, you will be able to book meetings through an online platform with representatives who have an interest in the same topics. This is a great opportunity to have face-to-face or virtual project idea discussions and to find partners to build a strong consortium.

Find out more here.

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31/05/2022: BioData.PT Session 3, EU AI Law, European Sustainable Energy Week, LIFE Awards 2022 Winners, EU Green Deal, and more.

In today’s Morning Brief:
– BioData.PT Talks Session 3: Recent Artificial Intelligence Tools and Architectures for Structural Biology;
– EUA Policy Input: Considerations for a “European Degree”;
– Putting Science into Standards;
– The EU AI law will not be future-proof unless it regulates general purpose AI systems;
– European Sustainable Energy Week: Going green and digital for Europe’s energy transition;
– European Commission reveals winners of LIFE Awards 2022;
– Interact with statistics for the European Green Deal;
– EU countries urged to prepare for Russian gas cut: Summit draft.

Read More »

30/05/2022: INESC TEC Workshop, EU Cancer Plan, Eurostat, Defunct Satellites, Hydrogen, and more.

In today’s Morning Brief:
– INESC TEC coordinated a workshop on Machine Learning;
– Access to financial products for persons with a history of cancer in EU Member States;
– Eurostat regional yearbook: From traditional printed publication to modern interactive tool;
– ‘World-first’ project for capturing defunct satellites ramps up;
– Hydrogen: BAM sets up digitally networked research filling station to increase safety of technology;
– EFCA coordinates EU efforts to monitor the bluefin tuna fishing season;
– Zero Pollution Monitoring and Outlook Workshop – Report;
– Commission outlines defence R&D priorities in new €924M work programme.

Read More »

26/05/2022: INESC-ID research grants, new MSCA platform, Horizon Europe UK backup, REPowerEU, Fit for 55, and more.

In today’s Morning Brief:
– INESC-ID: Nuno Lopes receives research grants from Google and Woven Alpha;
– EU ramping up efforts for strategic autonomy in raw materials;
– Laurence Moreau appointed head of the ERC executive agency;
– Event: The UK’s Position in Global Science and Innovation;
– New MSCA networking platform for future applicants;
– Application system opens for UK Horizon backup grants;
– Fraunhofer elects three new executive vice-presidents;
– FaST Navigator study identifies models necessary to provide accurate advice on the use of fertilisers to EU farmers;
– Germany’s pacifist universities pose obstacle to militarisation of EU R&D;
– Webinar: The European Standardisation Booster;
– MSCA Cluster event on Mission Ocean and Waters;
– REPowerEU: Commission establishes the EU Energy Platform Task Force to secure alternative supplies;
– Horizon Europe mission on carbon-neutral cities kicks into gear;
– Fit for 55: New EU carbon sink goal will increase 2030 reduction target;
– A new Blue Economy Observatory to monitor and promote the sustainability of our ocean related activities;
– Zero Pollution Monitoring and Outlook Workshop – Report.

Read More »