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In this Morning Brief, we bring you a video by INESC TEC explaining what intellectual property actually is, a Lisbon-based experience by INESC ID researchers on earthquakes, a save the date for the upcoming EU Missions Info Days, news that the French Presidency is pushing for alignment with the new legislative framework in the AI Act, a new exhibit at the Technical Institute of Lisbon combining Art and Technology by an INESC ID researchers, Germany’s Helmholtz Institute has opened a new site, 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:

World Intellectual Property Day 2022 – INESC TEC

Yesterday was World Intellectual Property Day, and as such the INESC TEC team responsible for the topic put together this short video in order to explain some concepts that are often not so clear to most.

Make sure to have a look!


EU charges too much for too little IP protection, auditors say

According to Science|Business, “The European Court of Auditors criticized the EU for “shortcomings” in its system to protect industrial designs, trademarks, and unique agricultural products  – and, the auditors added, appears to charge too much for the service. In a special report 26 April, a team of auditors said the EU’s system “for protecting intellectual property is not as effective as it could be.” As a result, far from the EU-wide, uniform protection system that’s intended, country-by-country differences in IP protection and enforcement make life easier for counterfeiters, while excessive fees and outdated procedures make it harder for companies to seek protection. In response, both the Commission and the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) pushed back against the auditors – with the EUIPO in particular defending its fees. The report focuses on three main areas of IP: industrial designs, trademarks and geographical denominations like those for unique regional wines or cheeses. All three types of IP have been under near-constant revision by the European Commission over the past decade, as various interest groups have raised complaints – and in 2020 the Commission, itself acknowledging shortcomings, published a plan for improvement. The auditors noted that IP-intensive industries generate €6.6 trillion a year and employ 29% of the EU-wide workforce, while counterfeit products cost €83 billion in lost sales.”.


“Treme-treme”: a Lisbon-based experience by INESC ID

Treme-treme — an educational game that engages children aged 7 to 9 years-old with seismic risk — is now live at Quake, the newly inaugurated Lisbon-based experience on the 1755 great Lisbon earthquake. An immersive mix of technology and art, Quake was brought together, amongst others, by seismologists, historians and theater specialists.

Developed by the Department of Civil Engineering and the Department of Computer Science and Engineering of Instituto Superior Técnico (including by INESC-ID researchers Rui Prada and Pedro Santos), Dreamstudios and Flaidisaine© (under the European project UPStrat-MAFA – “Urban disaster Prevention Strategies using MAcroseismic Fields and FAult Sources), Treme-treme teaches children how to behave during an earthquake, including building an emergency kit and learning to recognize the spots at home, school and work that are particularly dangerous during such an event.

Quake and Treme-treme also have been featured in Time Out. As the magazine invites, “Imagine yourself sitting on a pew in a city church, on November 1, 1755, All Saints’ Day, minutes before the earth began to shake. Suddenly, everything collapses, the flames flare up,” adding that “In fact, you can stop imagining.” Now you can experience the event and tragedy that remade Lisbon and inspired poets of the sublime such as Voltaire. And Treme-treme is an integral part of that.


Save the date: EU Missions Info Days to take place this May

EU Missions are a new addition to the Horizon Europe research and innovation programme for 2021-2027 and will bring concrete solutions to some of our greatest challenges. They have ambitious goals and will deliver concrete results in health, climate and the environment by 2030.

Following the EU Missions Info Days held in January, in this new edition we will present a wide range of new topics for all five missions (Adaptation to Climate Change, Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030, A Soil Deal for Europe, Cancer and 100 Climate-Neutral and Smart cities by 2030) following the amendment to the Missions’ Work Programme 2021- 2022 under Horizon Europe.  This additional funding will bring the implementation of EU Missions one step forward, paving the way to delivering their full potential.

A call to create a European Social Innovation Catalyst Fund to advance EU Mission Objectives will also be presented.

The event will provide potential applicants with specific information on the new Missions’ Work Programme calls, funding opportunities and timelines. The Commission invites researchers and innovators as well as citizens and all interested stakeholders to take part in the five missions.

Find out more here.


French Presidency pushes for alignment with the new legislative framework in AI Act

According to EURACTIV, “France is proposing several changes to the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Act to ensure better alignment with the new legislative framework, the EU’s legislation that regulates market surveillance and conformity assessment procedures. The changes also relate to the designation of competent authorities and the high-risk AI database. The French Presidency, which leads the work in the EU Council, shared a new compromise text on Monday (25 April) that will be discussed with the representatives of the other member states at the telecom working party on Thursday. Notified bodies will play a crucial role in the enforcement of the AI Act, as they will be designated by EU countries to assess the conformity of the AI systems to EU rules before they are launched on the market. The new text refers explicitly to the EU regulation setting up the requirements for accreditation and market surveillance, and a reference that such bodies will have to respect confidentiality obligations has been added. A new article has been introduced to mandate the way notified bodies should operate, in particular for the conformity assessment of high-risk systems. The new article includes provisions indicating how the notified bodies must collaborate with the notifying authority, the national authority in charge of overseeing the entire conformity assessment process. If the national authority has “sufficient reasons to consider” that a notified body is failing to fulfil its obligations, it should take appropriate measures proportionate to the level of failing, notably by restricting, suspending or withdrawing notifications to that body.”.  


Andreas Wichert’s new Art & Technology exhibit at IST

Yesterday, a new Art&Technology exhibition was inaugurated. Consisting in a collection of digital paintings authored by Andreas Wichert, INESC-ID researcher within the Artificial Intelligence for People and Society Research Area and Professor Auxiliar at Instituto Superior Técnico, “Artes e Tecnologia” (“Arts and Technology”) is open at IST’s Civil Engineering building, in the Alameda campus, until 06 May 2022.

We asked Andreas what had motivated him to create this collection of digital paintings. “Before moving to Portugal I painted in oil, however due to restrictions I could not continue to do it,” Andreas commented. “With the arrival of iPad and Apple Pencil and the corresponding software Procreate I could continue to paint,” adding that “Technology allows you to create art that without it, it was not possible.” More of Andreas’ artwork can be viewed online and found on Instagram @andrzejwichert.

This exhibition will also stage a dynamic experiment in which visitors will have the chance to interact with Vizzy, a social robot, so as to improve Vizzy’s skills (work carried out by João Avelino, researcher at the Institute for Systems and Robotics, ISR).

Andreas Wichert is also the author of three books on machine learning and artificial intelligence: Machine Learning — A Journey to Deep Learning (2021), Principles of Quantum Artificial Intelligence (2020) and Intelligent Big Multimedia Databases (2015).


Germany’s Helmholtz Institute opens new site for one health research

A new institute for interdisciplinary research at the interface of human health, animal health and the environment opened today in Greifswald, northeastern Germany. The Helmholtz Institute for One Health, masterminded before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic as a center for molecular infection science, is set up in a purpose-built site at the University of Greifswald.

The new building cost the national and local governments €23 million to build, with another €35 million dedicated to the initial set up of the institute. The site is a branch of the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research (HZI), one of the 18 centres of Germany’s biggest research organisation, Helmholtz Institute.

Read more here.


Have your say on the development of the New European Innovation Agenda

On 12 April, the European Commission launched a ‘Call for Evidence’ to collect feedback on the plans for a New European Innovation Agenda, which is expected to be adopted before the summer.

Facing many challenges, the EU lacks an overarching innovation strategy. Throughout long consultations and co-creation processes with stakeholders, five broad action areas have emerged that are essential to boosting Europe’s innovation performance an can be addressed through a new European Innovation Agenda. These are: Access to finance, Regulatory sandboxes, Innovation ecosystems, Better Innovation Policy making, and Talent.

The Commission invites all interested parties to provide feedback and empirical evidence on the benefits, unintended effects, consistency and coherence of the Call for Evidence of the New European Innovation Agenda. The Call for Evidence aims to gather feedback from all interested parties including national authorities, EU countries, citizens, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), start-ups, entrepreneurs, as well as the non-governmental sector.

You can respond to the Call for Evidence until 10 May.

Have your say on the development of the New European Innovation Agenda here.


UK-based researchers win big in latest ERC awards – but may have to relocate to keep their grants

According to Science|Business, “UK-based researchers have been awarded 45 grants in the European Research Council’s (ERC) latest funding round for experienced researchers, but in the absence of UK association to Horizon Europe, it is on the condition they move to institutions in the EU. UK’s association to Horizon Europe is caught in the cross hairs of the dispute over the Northern Ireland protocol, and without it ERC grants cannot flow to the country’s institutions. Researchers won’t be able to sign grants until the UK is formally admitted to the EU’s research programme and must either move to an institute in the EU or a Horizon Europe-associated country, or apply to the national UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) agency for backstop funding to replace the ERC money. With the time running out for last year’s grantees to sign their grant agreements, in mid-April, the European Commission gave 150 UK-based ERC grantees two months to decide to move to an EU institution or give up their grants. The Commission’s ultimatum affects all UK-based researchers who were selected for ERC grants that come out of the EU’s 2021 budget. An ERC spokesperson confirmed the ultimatum also applies to the advanced researcher grants announced today. “Yes, this also applies to the new Advanced Grants winners in the UK. To be precise, we didn’t ask these researchers to move, but we pointed out the principle of portability of ERC grants. In the letters we asked for information about the grant winner’s possible intention to transfer their proposal to an eligible host institution.” On Tuesday, ERC announced 253 senior scientists across the EU will be awarded a total of €624 million. At an average of €2.46 million per grant, UKRI will need to find €110 million if all 45 UK-based winners of this latest clutch of awards want to stay put.”.


New insights into the success and failure of competitive research proposals

The new study by Darko Hren, David G. Pina (REA), Christopher R. Norman and Ana Marušić, published in the Journal of Informetrics, analysed 3667 grant applications to the Initial Training Networks (ITN) of the European Commission’s Marie Curie Actions under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). The researchers sought to better understand the grant peer review process. They discovered that the content of review reports matched predefined evaluation criteria. This observation suggests that the European Commission briefs its independent expert evaluators with great coherence. They further found that detected shortcomings or weaknesses affect a proposal’s evaluation outcome more than its strengths.

Click here to learn more about the method, findings and a look into the future.


The Ecosystem: Challenging tech? There’s a sandbox for that

According to Science|Business, “The EU is promoting regulatory sandboxes as a way of helping start-ups to bring challenging technologies to the market, and is launching a platform to connect national sandboxes for financial services, to make cross-border testing a possibility. Meanwhile, EU-backed regulatory sandboxes for blockchain and artificial intelligence applications are on their way. But what actually happens in a regulatory sandbox, and who benefits? A regulatory sandbox allows companies to test new products or services with customers, under close supervision of the authority likely to regulate it when/if it comes to market. The business model might be innovative, or there might be novel technology in the product, such as blockchain. The attraction of a regulatory sandbox is that both the innovator and regulator learn from the other, in the most direct way possible. “The regulator is getting raw, uncut understanding of the technology,” said Mads Stolberg-Larsen, co-founder and chief executive of ZTLment, a blockchain start-up that went through the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA) sandbox. “We are not there to sell them a strategy consulting project on blockchain. We are there to explain how our solution works, so that we can get it regulated as quickly as possible. And they are the most authoritative source on how our technology will be regulated.” Put like this, a sandbox represents a clear win for both sides. Yet the approach has its critics, particularly in the US, where concerns have been voiced that they may act as a brake on innovation or leave consumers exposed.”.


The EU and China have signed an administrative arrangement to support cooperation

On 22 April 2022, the EU and China have signed an administrative arrangement for the period 2021-2024 to support collaborative research projects under two jointly agreed research flagship initiatives: the Food, Agriculture, and Biotechnology as well as the new Climate Change and Biodiversity flagships.

The projects under the administrative arrangement reflect the interests of both sides and will contribute to the advancement of key EU priorities such as addressing the Sustainable Development Goals, with a focus on climate change and biodiversity loss. The flagship initiative topics will be jointly drafted and will focus on research.

This is in line with the outcomes of the 23rd EU-China Summit, the EU-China Strategic Outlook Communication of 2019, the 2021 Global Approach to Research and Innovation Communication and the ongoing discussions on the EU-China Joint Roadmap for the Future of Science, Technology, and Innovation Cooperation.

Expansion of the selected areas of cooperation beyond 2024 will be dependent on the progress achieved on the roadmap discussions and on the overall state-of-play of EU-China bilateral relations. The roadmap exercise aims at rebalancing cooperation and at bringing forth the advancement of a fair innovation ecosystem, defined by reciprocity and a level-playing field while respecting fundamental values and high ethical and science integrity standards.

International cooperation with China.

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