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 this Morning Brief, we begin with a new article by INOV researchers on the automatic early detection of wildfire smoke, something extremely relevant for a country currently going through a drought and facing the possibility of wildfires when the weather warms up. We also let you know of the European Association of Research Managers and Administrators Conference 2022 taking place in Oslo in May, ESFRI’s 20th anniversary conference, JRC-RTD’s Online workshop on building bridges between science and policymaking, the Deep Sea Mining Summit 2022, news about energy efficiency, science sanctions in Russia, a new method to synthesise certain molecules to cure maculopathies, news on the European Green Deal, 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:

Deep Tech: Driving the Digital Transition – Microsystems and Nanotech with Susana Cardoso Freitas (INESC MN)

The 9th and last episode in the Deep Tech series features Susana Cardoso Freitas, Director at INESC MN. The series is divided in 3 parts (3 podcasts in each part):

  • In Part 1 we explored how can Deep tech reshape the future of R&I.
  • Part 2 was dedicated to the Green Transition
  • Part 3 is dedicated to Digital Transformation.

The three parts of this deep tech podcasts series are widely disseminated in all the major podcast platforms (Google podcasts, Apple podcasts, Spotify and others) as well through the INESC and Science Business websites, newsletters and social networks. Listen, download and/or subscribe to get immediate access to this episode and all others in the Deep Tech series. Future episodes of “The Insider” will address the most important issue in EU R&I today and bring you first hand information and the opportunity to hear fellow decision-makers, researchers and research managers! Access it here!


Automatic early detection of wildfire smoke with visible light cameras using deep learning and visual explanation – INOV

INOV researchers Armando Fernandes, Andrei Utkin and Paulo Chaves published the article “Automatic Early Detection of Wildfire Smoke With Visible Light Cameras Using Deep Learning and Visual Explanation” (IEEE Access, 2022).

The researchers developed a system for early automatic detection of smoke plumes in visible-light images. The system employs state-of-the-art deep learning neural networks and was created using a realistic dataset gathered in 274 different days from a total of nine surveillance cameras. Most smoke plumes were viewed from large distances of several kilometres and 85% of them occupied less than 5% of the image area. The best neural network created is capable of correctly identifying 85.3% of the images with smoke plumes issuing only 3.1% of false alarms for images without smoke.

Click here to read the article.


ESFRI 20th anniversary conference: European Research Infrastructures at the heart of scientific discoveries

As part of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union and under the auspices of the French Académie des sciences, France will host the ESFRI 20th anniversary conference: European Research Infrastructures at the heart of scientific discoveries.

The conference, taking place in Paris on March 25, will celebrate the achievements of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI), highlighting the role it plays in enhancing European excellence in research and innovation. The conference will bring together key stakeholders, including policy experts, facility managers and leading researchers, to explore the drivers behind the development of the rich European research infrastructures landscape and to discuss emerging trends and the challenges for the future. The conference provides an important opportunity to explore the range of cutting-edge work being undertaken across the research domains that are reliant on the services provided by European research infrastructures. Several outstanding scientists will share with the audience their major discoveries and illustrate how they have benefited from the unique European research infrastructures.

Register here.


JRC-RTD Online workshop “Share your views – How to support and connect policymaking in the EU and Member States with scientific research?”

The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD) are organizing a participatory workshop on “Share your views – How to support and connect policymaking in the EU and Member States with scientific research?” for experts, stakeholders, and staff of the EU institutions working on science for policy issues and/or at the science-policy interface in Member States and for EU policymaking.

If interested, please complete this pre-registration form by 25th February 2022.


Deep Sea Mining Summit 2022

As we move into an era of mining the deep-ocean floor, the world’s most remote environment, mining companies are working on overcoming the perceived challenges and developing island nations are watching with interest. As the demand for base metals and minerals surges ever beyond what our land is able to provide, new technological and technical developments are helping to drive forward this new industry.

The Deep Sea Mining Summit 2022 (April 25 and 26) will bring together a large array of solution providers, upcoming deep sea miners, members from the scientific community, and those within allied industries wanting to learn more about the opportunities within this emerging marketplace.

Key topics on the agenda include:

  • The economic landscape and growth for Deep Sea Mining
  • Achieving sustainable seabed mining projects in harmony with nature
  • The status of prospecting and exploration, the latest methods and results
  • Regional opportunities to harvest Seafloor Massive Sulphides and Manganese Nodules
  • Working with nations through a regulatory framework, the opportunities and risks
  • Technological developments associated with commercialising Deep Sea Mining

In addition the program will have a unique emphasis on networking and building new relationships, including generating dialogue in applying useful technologies and solutions for adaptation in deep sea mining. There will also be an opportunity to meet new investors from outside the market and to form collaborative partnerships in allied industries for mutual benefit.

If you would like to be a speaker at this event, please contact sean.collins@iQ-Hub.com, subject heading “Call for Presentation”. To secure your place at The Deep Sea Mining Summit 2022, or if you require more information, please contact delegates@iQ-Hub.com.

Full info and programme details here.


European Association of Research Managers and Administrators (EARMA) Conference 2022

Over three days, May 4 – 6, EARMA will bring the community together again to share the most relevant and interesting information in research management, administration and support. This time, for the long-awaited EARMA Conference in Oslo, Norway.

Early bird registration is currently open until February 28. Click here for more information about the conference and how to register.


European Investment Bank and Solas Capital join forces to invest in energy efficiency in buildings across the European Union

The Solas Sustainable Energy Fund ICAV, a new EU-focused fund targeting energy efficiency investments, has reached its first close with €140 million. The European Investment Bank (EIB) committed a €30 million cornerstone investment to SSEF, backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the main pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe. As one of the largest providers of climate finance, the EIB supports projects that promote the priorities and objectives of the European Union.

SSEF also signed an agreement with the Private Finance for Energy Efficiency (PF4EE) support scheme, a joint initiative launched by the European Commission via the LIFE programme and the EIB. One of the goals of PF4EE is to encourage private institutional investors such as insurers and pension funds to invest in European energy efficiency infrastructure, particularly in the small and medium-sized (SME) sector. Further cornerstone investors of SSEF are the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), IDEAL insurance as well as MEAG, the asset manager of the Munich Re group.

The fund will be advised by Solas Capital AG, a specialist investment advisor in the energy efficiency sector. Solas Capital partners with a wide variety of leading energy service companies, project developers, equipment manufacturers, and public sector bodies across the European Union to help facilitate their access to tailor-made financing and enable new investment in energy efficiency.

To read more about what this will mean for the European community click here.


Discussion begins in Brussels over science sanctions on Russia

According to Science|Business, “Discussions are underway in Brussels over whether Russia should be cut out of future Horizon Europe projects after president Vladimir Putin recognised two separatist-held parts of Ukraine as sovereign states and requested permission from parliament to send in troops on a mission. Two member state representatives told Science|Business that Horizon Europe participation could potentially be used as a sanctions weapon against Russia, although this remains to be fully discussed, and research does not appear to be part of a first wave of measures being debated by the EU today.”


ENEA develops new method to synthesize molecules in tomato and yeast to cure maculopathies

Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory molecules from edible products like tomatoes and yeast to manufacture drugs to treat eye conditions and be employed in the nutraceutical and cosmetic fields as well.

The innovative and low-cost process, developed and patented at the ENEA Biotechnology Laboratory, allows to synthesize an important class of bioactive molecules like crocins, which have impressive health properties. In particular, crocins and carotenoids provide proven protection against maculopathy, a degenerative disease of the retina which, according to recent studies, is expected to affect 288 million people worldwide by 2040.

For more information, click here.


Vaccine patent standoff at EU-Africa Summit

“The dispute over COVID-19 vaccine patents continues to overshadow the EU’s efforts to broker closer research links with Africa, with campaigners for health equity arguing Brussels is stymying Africa’s attempt to build its own independent manufacturing capacity. At the EU-Africa summit in Brussels last week, South African president Cyril Ramaphosa demanded that the EU stop blocking a proposed waiver on vaccine patents, so that African researchers will have the legal certainty to develop home-grown versions of COVID-19 vaccines. In response, Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said she supported African “strategic sovereignty” for vaccines, and reaffirmed €40 million of support for the World Health Organisation (WHO) backed technology transfer hub in Cape Town run by Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines. ” Make sure to read the article in Science|Business, here.


European Green Deal: Commission consults on reducing the release of microplastics into the environment

Today, the European Commission launched a public consultation on how best to reduce the amount of unintentionally released microplastics into the environment. This public consultation will support the European Commission’s initiative on Microplastics pollution, a key deliverable of the Circular Economy Action Plan and the Zero Pollution Action Plan.

The consultation focusses on sources which are known to release the largest quantity of microplastics are plastic pellets, synthetic textiles and tyres. Additional sources such as paints, geotextiles, and detergent capsules for laundry and dishwashers are also being evaluated.

The consultation follows the publication of a roadmap that outlines the objective of this initiative and is open until 17 May.


Regional innovation gap could hinder delivery of EU research missions

According to Science|Business, “The EU needs to close the east-west innovation gap and catch up with R&D investment levels in the US, if it wants the five research missions in Horizon Europe to succeed, according to a draft report by the Committee of the Regions (CoR). The report, which is expected to be approved in April, says regions need more investment in research and innovation to be able to fully take part in the early work of getting the missions off the ground. “Reaching the targets is possible only with extensive foresight activities, increased R&D investments, real-world prototyping, experimentation and scaling-up of results,” said Markku Markkula, president of the Helsinki region and CoR rapporteur on research missions.”


Energy grid operators rule out ‘all electric’ scenario for Europe

“Europe’s energy system cannot rely solely on renewable electricity and will need back-up from other energy carriers such as hydrogen, according to officials involved in mapping Europe’s future grid infrastructure. Achieving Europe’s climate goals “is only possible in a well-integrated energy system,” according to Alan Croes, an official in charge of scenario building at ENTSO-E, the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity.” As Europe continues to deal with complicated questions regarding electricity, make sure to read this EURACTIV article.


EIT opens database on its work

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has launched a website where it will upload policy, good practice and learning documents produced by its seven knowledge and innovation communities.

The reports will, for example, cover topics such as artificial intelligence in health innovation, the strategic importance of raw materials mining, and research on how to build consumer trust in the food system. The database will also store documents presenting the EIT operational model.


Commission opens €292 million call for digital technologies and cybersecurity

The EU’s new fund for digitalisation, Digital Europe, has opened its second call for proposals looking to fund data, blockchain, AI and cybersecurity projects.

There are €249 million for projects on data spaces, blockchain infrastructures, training courses for advanced digital skills, digital public services, piloting AI to fight crime and AI testing facilities. In the field of cybersecurity, there’s a €43 million in grants for the health sector and the deployment of a network of centres helping governments implement EU cybersecurity-related legislation.

The calls are open until 17 May to are open to companies, organisations and public administrations from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and organisations from countries associated with the programme.


Chips Act unveiled: The (real) cost of making semiconductors

In this EURACTIV special report, the publication takes a special look at a “fundamental component missing from the chips package: How the EU executive will square its semiconductor ambitions with its other policies, such as the green agenda and upcoming restrictions on dangerous chemicals.”

Make sure you don’t miss it here.

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