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In this Morning Brief, we open with the very-recently announced Science Europe Open Science Conference 2022 taking place in April of this year, a new report by the European University Association on allocating core public funding to universities in Europe, a new save the date for #EULife22 Info Days, the news that Tunisia is joining Horizon Europe, 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:

Science Europe Open Science Conference 2022

Science Europe is organising its first conference on Open Science, on 18 and 19 October 2022. The goal is to bring together institutional leaders, researchers at all stages of their careers, and experts from the field to discuss two main questions: is Open Science ready to become the norm in research? And how do we ensure this becomes an equitable transition?

Remote attendance to the event will be possible. Science Europe will share more information and practical details soon, including about registration.

Click here to find out more.


Allocating core public funding to universities in Europe: state of play & principles

The turbulent economic context of the last decade has been conducive of reforms seeking to enhance efficiency and steering of universities’ use of public funds. In this publication, EUA revisits the question of public funding to universities, taking stock of the evolution since 2015.

The present analysis focuses on the main mechanisms used to determine the block grants received by universities, including the types of indicators used by public authorities currently or in the upcoming planned reforms.

The report reveals that most European countries use several instruments in allocating their block grant funding, combining the use of funding formulas with performance contracts/target-setting and maintaining a share of historical allocation. However, the financial relevance of these different instruments differs significantly.

Constant activity around funding models in the past years, discussions focused on funding mechanisms and tools rather than objectives, and recurring questions around the “ideal” funding model all make it necessary to lay out basic principles for the design of sound funding models.

Read the report here.


Save the Date: #EULife22 Info Days

These live sessions will guide potential applicants through the LIFE programme, the Calls for proposals and the priority topics for 2022.

A series of Questions and Answers sessions will follow the information meetings. There will also be virtual networking opportunities and candidates will be able to hold bilateral meetings with CINEA project advisors.

Click here for more information. 


Scientists fear excluding Russia from Arctic research will derail climate change effort

According to Science|Business, “Crucial climate change research in the Artic is in jeopardy after the operation of the Arctic Council that coordinates the work was put on hold following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “It’s a catastrophe,” said Terry Callaghan, an Arctic ecology expert who has spent a large part of his career in Siberia. “If we cut Russia off now, there’s an extremely high volume of research that the west will not get to see for the foreseeable future. The impact of that and the impacts of climate change on Siberia could be felt all around the world.” The Artic Council is responsible for setting up working groups and creating an environment where the eight so-called Arctic powers can develop strategies to enable better research collaboration. As current chair of the organisation, Russia would in normal times be leading this effort, but the other members Canada, Denmark (with Greenland), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the US have said they will not take part in council meetings while the war wages on. Callaghan founded and leads INTERACT, an EU-funded initiative that is investing more than €10 million in Arctic research. Now in its third iteration, INTERACT has established a network linking 53 research stations across the Arctic Circle and northern forest and alpine areas, providing access for researchers and enabling information exchange on climate change. Until Russia invaded Ukraine, INTERACT offered transnational access for researchers to 12 Russian research stations.”.


The Republic of Tunisia joins Horizon Europe

Yesterday, the Commission and Tunisia have signed the agreement granting the Republic of Tunisia the association status to Horizon Europe, the EU’s research and innovation programme (2021-2027).

Tunisian researchers, innovators and research entities can now participate in the €95.5 billion programme, under the same conditions as entities from the EU Member States. The Horizon Europe Association Agreement will start producing legal effect after its entry into force that is once Tunisia completes its ratification process and an exchange of diplomatic notes takes place between the Commission and the Tunisian authorities.

The signature ceremony took place in a hybrid format in Brussels and in Tunis, in the presence of Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, and Deputy Director-General Signe Ratso, Chief Negotiator for HE Association, DG Research and Innovation, European Commission. On behalf of Tunisia, Moncef Boukthir, Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research of the Republic of Tunisia, signed the Association Agreement.

The association to Horizon Europe supports the ’Global Approach to Research and Innovation’ and reconfirms Europe’s commitment to a level of global openness needed to drive excellence, pool resources for faster scientific progress and develop vibrant innovation ecosystems in a set of common priorities, such as the twin green and digital transition.


Gas energy communities: Little added value, big risks

In this EURACTIV column, Josh Roberts, senior policy advisor at REScoop.eu states, “When the Commission unveiled its legislative package to ‘decarbonise’ the gas market in December 2021, it left clean energy advocates feeling that industry wolves had just been gifted the keys to the henhouse. One of the less talked about, and perhaps less understood, elements is the Commission’s proposal to ‘mirror’ the concept of citizen energy communities (CECs), originally from the Electricity Market Directive, in the Gas Directive. Essentially, the Commission has proposed to duplicate the CEC concept for the gas sector. The Commission’s objective is to promote the integration of biomethane into the wholesale gas market so that it can be supplied from rural to urban areas. The Commission sees energy communities as a vehicle to achieve this objective. From the beginning, there has been no support for this mirroring exercise from the green NGO community. The Community Power Coalition – a European-wide network of civil society, associations of cooperatives, municipalities, local authorities, and allies from the renewable energy sector, wrote a letter to Kadri Simson, the Energy Commissioner, asking her not to go forward with the proposal. The European Commission cannot be faulted for its support of community energy. Ever since its first Energy Union Strategy proclamation to put citizens at the core of the Energy Union, “where citizens take ownership of the energy transition”, the Commission has put its rhetoric into action. This resulted in the Clean Energy for All Europeans legislative package, which for the first time acknowledged and defined ‘renewable energy communities’ (RECs) and ‘citizen energy communities’. In addition, energy communities were given a set of rights and member states were required to put in place a level playing field and enabling frameworks to ensure that they could develop at the national level.”.


Swiss Horizon Europe backstop fund awards €54 million to 24 start-ups

The 24 start-ups selected for funding by the EU innovation fund, the European Innovation Council (EIC), last year will receive alternative funding from the Swiss government. 

Despite winning the competition, the companies are no longer entitled to EU funding after Switzerland’s participation in the Horizon Europe research programme was taken hostage by wider political disagreements. The start-ups will receive grant funding from the government to replace the grant and equity funding they were set to receive from EU funds. 

No more companies are allowed to participate in EIC competitions but earlier this month Switzerland announced it is setting up its own fund to replace the EU programme. The first calls of the Swiss Accelerator are expected to open on 1 April.


Defence agency reports increased funding for research and technology

According to Science|Business, “EU member states and the European Defence Agency (EDA) spent €420 million on joint capability and research and technology in 2021, an increase of €50 million compared to 2020, according to a report published on Friday. Last year, EU member states brought into the EDA 46 new research and technology projects on topics including artificial intelligence, land systems, robotics and automation, innovative materials and electronic components, the report says. These projects were on top of an existing portfolio of 40 ongoing research and technology projects worth a total of €233 million. EDA chief executive Jiří Šedivý said, “2021 has brought to the forefront the crucial topic of defence innovation and emerging disruptive technologies, and their decisive role in bolstering Europe’s security and defence clout.” The EDA report was published a few days after the Council of the EU approved the ‘Strategic Compass’, an EU plan to improve its defence and security by 2030. Both documents signal an increasing willingness to invest in defence research and innovation. By signing up to the objectives of the Compass, member states have committed to further boost investments in defence technologies and reduce the EU’s technological and industrial dependence on imports.”.


How and why to say ‘no’ to colleagues and collaborators

The world’s most productive scientists often have CVs that are filled with dozens of pages of publications, suggesting that they accept and take full advantage of every opportunity they are offered. But committing time and energy to any one project can limit other opportunities.

Many young scientists and principal investigators have a difficult time saying ‘no’ to offers to collaborate or join seemingly important committees — often thinking “something is better than nothing”. It is important to prioritize — and to make best use of a limited supply of time and energy to follow high-output pursuits, allowing time to recuperate outside of work.

Managing your calendar and learning how to allocate time to the right projects are crucial first steps.

Check out some suggestions here.

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