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In today's Morning Brief:

INESC Brussels HUB spring meeting (1-2 June 2021)

The agenda of the INESC Brussels HUB Spring Meeting is available on the HUB website. It will take place virtually on June 1st and 2nd, and will include a public workshop organised by the Work Group Agro-Food and Forestry, titled “Enhancing science-based knowledge on EU forests – its influence in decision making” (1 June, 10-12 CEST), and a public high-level roundtable on deep tech, featuring profiles from INESC and high-level European stakeholders in the area (1 June, 15-17 CEST). The events will take place on Zoom and registration is now open on the event pages.

The Spring Meeting will also include two events the participation in which is restricted to the Management Committee and selected observers: a thought leadership workshop on EU research career development (2 June, 10-12 CEST) and the Management Committee meeting (2 June, 14-17 CEST).


New podcast on smart medical devices published

“Smart medical devices”, the new episode of the HUB podcast series The Insider, is now published. This is the third episode of the health technologies series of the HUB podcast, organised in collaboration with the HUB work group Health Technologies. In this new podcast, Susana Freitas (INESC MN & IST), Wouter Serdeijn (TU Delft), and Jorge Fernandes (INESC ID & IST) discuss the state of the art of smart medical devices and how advances in smart technologies can help opening up new therapeutic avenues, increase the effectiveness of surgery and the well-being of patients, and widen access to health care in low-income countries and regions.

The podcast can be accessed here, on the HUB website homepage, and on all your favourite podcast platforms, such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify.


ERC Advanced Grants call under Horizon Europe

The European Research Council, EU fundamental research funder, launched last week its first €626 million Advanced Grants call under Horizon Europe. The call can be accessed here.

Researchers with a track record of at least ten years can apply for up to €2.5 million, with the option to request a top-up of up to €1 million. The deadline to submit proposals is 31 August, after which around 250 winners will be selected. This year, the evaluation process is changing slightly. In the second step of the process, principal investigators will be invited to present their project to the evaluation panel – until now this step was reserved for early and mid-career researchers.


University of Twente develops greener batteries

Researchers of the MESA+ Institute of the University of Twente are building a machine to probe inside the interface of two different layers of materials, while the materials are active. Thanks to a three-‘colour’ X-ray system, they will be able to look at three separate depths.

The machine, for which Dutch Research Council NWO granted a large subsidy, will prove its unique qualities in, for example, the development of new types of batteries for electric mobility and new catalysts for producing green hydrogen. The technology called Hard X-ray photoelectronic spectroscopy (‘lab-based HAXPES’), will be the first of its kind worldwide. Although it is already possible to look inside materials, for example using synchrotron setups like the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, this doesn’t have the flexibility of the new system. Using HAXPES, it will be possible to measure running the battery or while producing hydrogen. More information on this research can be read here.


Turów mine: the intersection between national dispute and green transition

Last Friday, the European Court of Justice said Poland had to immediately stop mining at the Turów complex operated by state-run PGE, handing a win to the Czech government which had sought an order to stop mining operations there. Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, however, declared that the country will not comply with the ruling of the European Union’s top court. The Czech Republic filed a lawsuit in February calling for a halt to activities at the mine, located near the Czech and German borders, saying Warsaw had violated EU law by extending mining at Turów until 2026.

The Turów mine has been accused of draining water supplies in Czechia and risking subsidence in Germany, causing tensions around the border. Others have warned that the continuation of the Turów mine could actually damage the energy transition. The European Commission has warned that a continuation of activity there beyond 2030 would mean the region would lose out on EU funds allocated for the green transition. For a more in-depth background into the Turow dispute, keep reading on Euractiv.


EU leaders to debate who will pay for the green transition

European Union leaders will meet today (25 May) to debate how to split the efforts and costs of the EU shift to a low-carbon future, at a summit that will set the tone for an upcoming revamp of EU climate change policies. The EU’s executive Commission is due to publish a huge set of climate policy proposals in July, including carbon market reforms and tougher carbon dioxide standards for cars.

A draft of the summit conclusions, in line with a previous draft, shows EU leaders will ask the Commission to maintain the EU’s system of setting national emissions-cutting targets based largely on a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) per capita.

The current system sets national targets to cut emissions in sectors not covered by the EU carbon market, including road transport and heating in buildings. Based largely on GDP per capita, this means poorer states face lower targets. Richer countries’ targets are also tweaked to make sure emissions cuts happen where they are most cost-effective. However, the goals will need to be toughened, in line with the EU’s new 2030 climate goal. More information can be read here.

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