Welcome to today’s Morning Brief. The Morning Brief newsletter is available to INESC staff and affiliated researchers upon subscription (weekly or daily), after creating an account in the Private Area of the HUB website, or those who wish to subscribe. To do so, click the log-in icon on the top-right corner of this website or go to the Morning Brief page and click the subscribe button.

In this Morning Brief,  we begin by announcing the information session on the European Chips Act taking place next week, Portuguese and Brazilian scientists have begun using ‘green’ solvent and natural pigment to produce bioplastic, the Clean Aviation industrial partnership has published its first set of calls, a fascinating interview with John Bell from DG Research and Innovation on the Bioeconomy, the EU launches innovation procurement awards, G7 leaders agree on no new sanctions on Russia but instead want to close loopholes, 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 out with INESC INOV’s Catarina Valente!

“United in diversity”, the motto of the European Union, first came into use in 2000 but never made so much sense in the research and innovation domain as it does now that the EU not only made explicit its objectives for gender equality in research but is actively pursuing institutional change in research performing organisations, higher education institutions and research funding organisations.

Today we will be exploring not the numbers and the principles, as we assume you are agree there is work ahead of us towards equality and that this is an important aspect to address. We will be exploring gender issues from the perspective of someone supporting the management of a research institution and that recently had to develop the so-called Gender Equality Plan, which is now compulsory for all research performing organisation and higher education institutions to participate in Horizon Europe projects.

In order to do that, I have here with me Catarina Valente who is part of the interface and co-creation unit, at INESC INOV, she is a researcher with a background in gender issues in research and technology development and is now researching climate resilience and community building.

More to the point, for the purpose of our conversation, Catarina coordinated the development of the Gender Equality Plan of INESC INOV.

Make sure to click here to listen to the episode!


Information session on the European Chips Act

On 8 February 2022, the Commission proposed the European Chips Act, a comprehensive set of measures aimed at ensuring the EU’s security of supply, resilience and technological leadership in semiconductor technologies and applications.

In the fast-growing market of semiconductors, the EU has the ambitious goal to double its market share to 20% by 2030.

DG CNECT is organising an information session on Tuesday 29 March between 14.30-16.30 to present the main elements of the European Chips Act, as well as the preliminary timeline for its adoption. The session is open to all interested stakeholders from across the semiconductor value chain. Participants will have the opportunity to make comments and ask questions.

Find out more about the European Chips Act here.  


Scientists use ‘green’ solvent and natural pigment to produce bioplastic

Scientists based in Brazil and Portugal have developed an environmentally sustainable process to produce biodegradable plastic using pigment extracted from yeast by “green” solvents. In an article published in the journal Green Chemistry, they show that this biodegradable plastic could in future be used in smart packaging with antioxidant and anti-microbial properties.

With similar applications to those of conventional plastics derived from oil, gas and coal, which take hundreds of years to decompose, sustainable bioplastics produced from sugarcane, corn and potatoes are starting to become commercially available.

After more than eight years of research, the scientists demonstrated that eutectic solvents can efficiently extract two carotenoids, astaxanthin and beta-carotene, from biomass of the yeast Phaffia rhodozyma.

Carotenoids are a class of more than 750 naturally occurring pigments synthesized by plants, algae and photosynthetic bacteria. They account for the yellow, orange and red colours of many plants. They have commercial applications in the food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries, among others.

According to the researchers, eutectic solvents can be used both to extract the pigments and to produce biodegradable plastic film based on bioactive starch without any need for additional purification.

Read more here.  


Clean Aviation industrial partnership lifts off

According to Science|Business, “The Clean Aviation public-private partnership has launched the first set of calls, kickstarting its plan to catalyse a green transition in the sector. Over the next decade, the €4.1 billion partnership between the European Commission and industry aims to demonstrate the feasibility of hybrid electric regional aircraft, develop technologies enabling hydrogen-powered aircraft and spur innovation for ultra-efficient short and short-medium range aircraft. This year, there are 13 calls for research and one for coordination action, worth a total of €737.7 million. Researchers will be asked to work across the focus areas of hydrogen-powered aircraft, hybrid-electric powered regional aircraft and technologies to make planes more efficient. Making aviation greener is one of the EU’s main goals as it looks to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Aviation accounted for 3.8% of total carbon dioxide emissions in the EU in 2017 and is the second biggest polluter in the transport sector after roads. In the past few decades, airplanes have been getting more efficient, with fuel burned per passenger dropping by 24% between 2005 and 2017. But more and more people are flying, outweighing these gains. And traffic is set to continue growing. To achieve net zero and make that growth sustainable, aviation needs a major overhaul.”.


WEIF 2022: World Entrepreneurs Investment Forum

The World Entrepreneurs Investment Forum 2022 will focus on addressing what is needed to be done on the level of Government’s, multinational organizations and the private sector to achieve Entrepreneurial and Economic Resilience post COVID 19 in the Arab Region, Africa and the World.

Accordingly, WEIF will be organized by UNIDO ITPO / AICEI Bahrain under the banner of the League of Arab States at the Dubai Expo Pavilion in cooperation with the Union of Arab Chambers; the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, and a number of regional and international partners.

Drawing on the Dubai Expo theme “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”, which recognizes that generating sustainable solutions to global problems demands collaboration across cultures and regions whilst the subthemes of Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability define the principal drivers of progress.

The WEIF will play a vital role in exposing the power of Entrepreneurs and Innovators in creating partnerships to secure a prosperous future and sustainable solutions for the globe challenges.

Find out more about the forum and how to register here.


An exclusive interview with John Bell, EU Commission: “The bioeconomy can support the European Green Deal on all its objectives”

John Bell is the Healthy Planet Director in DG Research and Innovation (R&I). He leads R&I transitions on climate change, bioeconomy, food systems, environment, biodiversity, oceans, Arctic, circular economy, water and bio-based innovations. This includes harnessing investments for Horizon Europe, the Circular Bioeconomy and the EU Bioeconomy Strategy. In this exclusive interview with Il Bioeconomista, he talks about the bioeconomy strategy 10 years after its first launch and the ecological transition at EU level.

Don’t miss it here.


EU launches innovation procurement awards

The European Commission has launched its 2022 competition for innovation procurement. Innovators can submit applications until 22 June.

The award is backed by the European Innovation Council (EIC), the Commission’s own scale-up fund and has been designed to recognise public and private buyers, natural persons and legal entities in their efforts to promote and stimulate innovation procurement.

The contest will award six prizes in total for the three categories: innovation procurement strategy, facing societal challenges, and procurement leadership.

In each category the winner will be rewarded with €75 000 and one runner-up with €25 000.

Click here for more information on the award criteria for winners and runners up.


Universities as key drivers of sustainable innovation ecosystems

Don’t miss this report with the results of the EUA survey on universities and innovation. This report provides in-depth analysis of the results of the first-ever Europe-wide survey on universities and innovation.

Designed to gather evidence about the state of innovation at European universities, the EUA survey took stock of how these institutions pursue their third mission and help deliver the sustainable and digital transitions. As such, it continues EUA’s long-standing work showcasing universities’ key contributions to innovation ecosystems, in a context of multiplying societal challenges and the increasing relevance of knowledge to devising new solutions.

The report also provides examples of innovation good practice at universities that can serve as a source of inspiration for policy makers, funding agencies and universities themselves. It concludes with a number of recommendations stemming from the key findings. These are meant to help ensure that the university sector’s innovation ambitions can be achieved.

You can download it here.


G7 leaders agree on no new sanctions, want to close loopholes

According to EURACTIV, “Leaders of the world’s most developed nations agreed on Thursday (24 March) to work together on implementing the sanctions currently in force against Russia so that they cannot be circumvented through evasive actions by Russian entities, but did not agree on any new sanctions against Moscow. Instead, the G7 leaders, meeting in Brussels between a NATO summit in the morning and a later EU summit, reiterated their condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and urged oil-producing countries to step up production and supply to international markets, perturbed by the war, Russia sanctions and rising energy prices. Instead of a new set of sanctions, they said they want to focus on closer cooperation in implementing those already in place. “We have decided on a seamless implementation of the sanctions,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who presides over the G7 this year, told a press conference after the summit.”.


iStartLab MeetUp: How to use the iStartLab IoT System to create solutions for real life problems

On Tuesday, March 29th, another edition of the iStartLab MeetUps at Técnico Lisbon will happen, this time dedicated to the iStartLab Internet-of-Things (IoT) System and on how it can be used to create solutions for real-life problems.

Click here to register.


Research infrastructures face disruption due to association deadlock

“When JET, the Joint European Torus, announced a breakthrough in the production of fusion energy in February, the celebrations could be heard across Europe. Although based in the UK, the project belongs to a much wider fusion research community. “JET is operated technically by the UK Atomic Energy Authority, but it is staffed and the scientific work conducted by a consortium of 28 countries across Europe, and beyond,” said Ambrogio Fasoli, chair of the general assembly of EUROfusion, the body that coordinates fusion research supported under the Euratom Treaty. “All of the difficulties that we encountered in reaching this ultimate performance were addressed and overcome by task forces working across Europe.” The irony is that Fasoli is also director of the Swiss Plasma Centre, and Switzerland is currently unable to participate in new research projects funded by Euratom and the EU’s Horizon Europe programme. The same goes for the UK. This is because the agreements associating both countries with the EU research programmes are currently blocked by political disagreements in areas that have nothing to do with science.”. Don’t miss this Science|Business piece, sponsored by the Stick to Science initiative.


Mexico approves funding for researchers involved in successful Horizon Europe projects

The National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt) has announced Puerta Horizonte Europa, a new scheme which will provide funding to Mexican researchers and institutes in successful Horizon Europe projects.

The government wants to encourage Mexican institutions to apply in Horizon Europe calls and to strengthen bilateral relations between the EU and Mexico in science, technology and innovation.

The mechanism is expected to be published by Mexico on 25 April. Public and private Mexican institutions can apply in Horizon Europe calls.

Click here for more details.


Deal on Digital Markets Act: EU rules to ensure fair competition and more choice for users

The Digital Markets Act (DMA) will blacklist certain practices used by large platforms acting as “gatekeepers” and enable the Commission to carry out market investigations and sanction non-compliant behaviour.

The text provisionally agreed by Parliament and Council negotiators targets large companies providing so-called “core platform services” most prone to unfair business practices, such as social networks or search engines, with a market capitalisation of at least 75 billion euro or an annual turnover of 7.5 billion. To be designated as “gatekeepers”, these companies must also provide certain services such as browsers, messengers or social media, which have at least 45 million monthly end users in the EU, and 10 000 annual business users.

During a close to 8-hour long trilogue (three-way talks between Parliament, Council and Commission), EU lawmakers agreed that the largest messaging services (such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or iMessage) will have to open up and interoperate with smaller messaging platforms, if they so request. Users of small or big platforms would then be able to exchange messages, send files or make video calls across messaging apps, thus giving them more choice. As regards interoperability obligation for social networks, co-legislators agreed that such interoperability provisions will be assessed in the future.

Parliament also ensured that combining personal data for targeted advertising will only be allowed with explicit consent to the gatekeeper. They also managed to include a requirement to allow users to freely choose their browser, virtual assistants or search engines.

If a gatekeeper does not comply with the rules, the Commission can impose fines of up to 10% of its total worldwide turnover in the preceding financial year, and 20% in case of repeated infringements. In case of systematic infringements, the Commission may ban them from acquiring other companies for a certain time.

Click here to read the press statement.


Every building can be green – here’s how

Reducing the energy consumption of our buildings is critical if we want to act for the climate. When it comes to making construction more sustainable, ambitious policies along with public and private investment can be a game-changer. But in the meantime, we can all contribute by making our homes more energy efficient.

More than 220 million buildings in Europe date from before 2001. Older buildings are much less efficient at retaining warmth and as a result, 75% of the EU’s building stock leaks energy. To address this, as part of the European Green Deal, the EU aims to give around 35 million buildings across Europe an energy facelift. To help us with this ‘renovation wave,’ the EU will be providing incentives and investments, in addition to encouraging national governments, private investors, architects, designers and local communities to get involved. This will not only reduce emissions and improve the life for people using the buildings, but also create new jobs in the construction sector. And energy bills will likely get cheaper too.

So how can you join the trend? Here are some ideas on how to make your older building more energy efficient, and which green elements to look out for in a newly-built property.

More Articles