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In today's Morning Brief:

Political agreement on the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Regulation

In a freshly issued public communication, the Commission welcomes the political agreement on the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Regulation reached by the European Parliament and the Council early this morning. The Regulation will improve the availability of innovative health technologies such as innovative medicines and certain medical devices for EU patients, ensure efficient use of resources and strengthen the quality of HTA across the EU. Examples of health technologies include medicinal products, medical equipment and diagnostics. It will also facilitate business predictability, reduce duplication of efforts for HTA bodies and industry and ensure the long-term sustainability of EU HTA cooperation. You can visit the official website for Health Technology Assessment for more detailed information.


Impact of technology on industry: new issue of Science&Society

The new issue of INESC TEC magazine Science&Society addresses what is the value added of research and innovation to the future of European industry. It does so through a variety of inspiring articles about the present, the past and the future of how technological transformation of industry. The issue, titled High Value Added, Resilient and Sustainable Industry,  can be accessed and downloaded for free here.


Horizon Europe: the Science Business guide

Science Business published a Guide for Horizon Europe through paid subscription but made available a complimentary copy to the INESC Brussels HUB. What is this programme really about? And how can you benefit from it? Those are the two main questions answered in Horizon Europe: The essential guide. In it SB news staff explain the programme in detail. The report describes:

  • How the programme is structured and budgeted
  • What’s new since the last programme, Horizon 2020
  • Who can participate, and how
  • How the programme came together politically, with what objectives
  • What it means to the rest of the world – and how researchers from Canada to Japan could benefit
  • How it tries to fix the east-west innovation gap
  • Tips for applying
  • Its missions, partnerships and sectoral clusters – in health, space, digital, agriculture, energy, climate, culture and more
  • Its three big funding agencies: ERC, EIC and EIT

Meanwhile, with the publication of the HE work programmes last week, SB also published a mini-summary of “what’s new in Horizon Europe”. Read it here.


Developments in international cooperation in R&I

SB reports in this article that preliminary discussions are underway to develop what an academic source calls “workarounds” to a series of detailed legal issues that have discouraged many US universities from participating in the European research projects. The outcome isn’t certain, and officials declined to comment in detail. But at a Science|Business conference on June 15 senior EU and US officials sent out optimistic signals. A latest example of the reaaproach since the Biden administration took office is the agreement to set up a Trade and Technology Council, build an alliance on climate-friendly technologies and to look at forming a joint initiative on biotechnology and genomics. At the same time, the EU is reaching out to research partners across the globe. Also this week, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen publicly invited Canada to join Horizon Europe. Patrick Child, deputy director general for research and innovation at the European Commission said the EU had received “a clear expression of interest” from Ottawa. Separately, the EU has had informal soundings on partnerships with Japan, Australia and other global science powers.


Raw materials strategic partnership with Canada

Yesterday, the framework setting the ground for the EU-Canada strategic partnership on raw materials was formally adopted, following political endorsement at the EU-Canada Summit on 15 June. The partnership will allow both sides to advance trade and investments into a secure, sustainable and resilient raw materials value chain, which is key to achieving the transition to climate-neutral and digitalised economies. The strategic partnership will focus on the integration of EU-Canada raw material value chains while specifically enhancing collaboration on science, technology and innovation collaboration; as well as environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria and standards.


Forest fires: European Commission is stepping up its preparations for the forest fire season 2021

To be prepared for any large-scale wild fires this season, the European Commission has set up a strengthened European fleet of 11 firefighting planes and 6 helicopters hosted across Member States under the rescEU system. The Commission also issued guidelines to Member States to strengthen their fire prevention measures.

  • New guidelines on forest fire prevention facilitate a better understanding of land-based wildfire prevention and effective responses
  • National and European monitoring services and tools such as the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) provide an overview of European data from national forest fire programmes.
  • Regular meetings with EU Member States and Participating States to the EU Civil Protection Mechanism during the season to exchange information on their state of preparedness and fire risks.
  • Two meetings per year with EU Member States and third countries on wildfire prevention to make experiences available to all. One of the outcomes of these meetings are the new guidelines on land-based wildfire prevention.
  • The upcoming new EU Forest Strategy addresses key priorities and boosts the EU’s ability to predict, prevent and manage natural and climate related disasters such as wildfires as an immediate priority.
  • The new EU Biodiversity Strategy recognises the importance of preventing wildfires and other natural disasters, and proposes ambitious restoration targets to increase the resilience of our ecosystems.
  • The EU’s Forest Information System for Europe (FISE) brings together all information on Europe’s forests.


EU’s plan for optimising European energy infrastructures

The EU has set a bold and far-reaching goal to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, moving from a fossil fuel-based energy system to a decarbonised economy. We all know that for this to happen, we need to install more renewable electricity generation, such as solar panels, wind turbines (and increasingly offshore), as well as using energy more efficiently wherever possible.  Projects of common interest (PCIs) are key cross-border infrastructure projects, which are often important in size, demanding in resources and take many years to complete, but they benefit many people in the regions concerned. Between 2014 and 2020, the EU funding instrument “Connecting Europe Facility” contributed to the financing of the development of 107 PCIs, with a total budget of EUR 4.7 billion. Nearly two-thirds of this amount was spent on electricity transmission and storage projects, as well as smart electricity grids.

The 107 PCIs that could benefit from CEF funding 2014-2020 are described in a recent brochure published by the EU climate, infrastructure and environment executive agency (CINEA). Examples of completed and ongoing projects in your region can also be consulted in the interactive PCI map.


[Opinion] “Not all renewables are created equal” – How the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive risks destroying Europe’s forests

In this opinion article, two senior advisors at the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP), an NGO dedicated to accelerating the transition to a clean, reliable, and efficient energy future and its principal and European programme manager, make recommendations to fix the “bugs” in the revised Renewable Energy Directive. They draw on their previously published paper In our new paper – Making renewable heating Fit for 55 and build upon a letter to the world’s leaders from 500 scientists and economists, pointing out that harvesting and burning wood causes a double climate problem: It adds carbon to the atmosphere immediately, and it hinders the deployment of genuinely clean energy sources. The rationale behind this is that the majority of the biomass used today (mostly for heating purposes) comes from the EU’s forests – and a majority of that from whole trees, tops and branches, according to the EU Joint Research Centre. Biomass from these feedstocks is bad for both climate and biodiversity and the EU has already seen an increase in its wood harvest.


Hackathon to identify and develop tools to serve the transplant patient community

Whether it is an idea, a scenario, a prototype, an app, an interface, a proof of concept or a turnkey solution, they are looking for innovative approaches to improve the well-being and quality of life for transplant patients. It’s a competition, open to any individual or team that wishes to work together to design, develop and build digital solutions help transplant patients in Europe and beyond. ESOT wants to bring together a diverse group of people to collaborate and helping our patient community. You can read the program here.

The first information event will take place later today (22 June) 2021 from 5PM or you can just register to the first round- kickoff event that will take place on the 2 July 2021 here.


[Video] The Twin Transition: How can Green Growth and Digital Transformation go hand in hand to drive Europe’s recovery?

The European Commission states that “Europe must leverage the potential of digital transformation, which is a key enabler for reaching the Green Deal objectives.” This idea is reinforced in the New Industrial Strategy for Europe, where it is underlined that the twin ecological and digital transitions will affect every part of our economy, society, and industry.

New green technologies are already here to help tackle the biggest challenge of our time: climate change. The European Commission has long promoted digital transformation to enhance economic competitiveness, while also recognising that digitisation can contribute to sustainability goals and enable the changes needed for a just green transition. The Commission’s twin green and digital goals are seen to complement each other well.

The Fit for 55 packages will drive the transition to achieve the 2030 goal of reducing carbon emissions by 55%, and all sectors will play an important role in helping achieve this objective. Digital technology such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, IoT can enable speed and scale in delivering the EU’s decarbonisation goals. However, while ICT technologies can help most sectors of the economy to become greener, the ICT sector itself must accept its responsibility to meet high ecological standards.

The Portuguese Presidency listed the implementation of the EU Green Deal and accelerating the digital transformation as one of its key priorities, with a historic agreement on the European Climate Law. The commitments made by EU Member States and the private sector during the 2021 edition of the Digital Days have set the right direction towards a more competitive, inclusive, and green Europe. Yet much remains to be done to make sure we are able to link our green, economic and digital goals.

Listen to the full event here and watch the video here.

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