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In this Morning Brief, we open with the news that INESC TEC, through the Centre for Telecommunications and Multimedia (CTM), organised a workshop on Machine Learning, the European Commission has published a new document as part of the EU Cancer Plan on access to financial products for people with a history of the disease, Eurostat has announced their regional yearbook is now a modern interactive tool, 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:

INESC TEC coordinated a workshop on Machine Learning

INESC TEC, through the Centre for Telecommunications and Multimedia (CTM), organised the workshop “Machine Learning Applied to Telecommunications and Multimedia”, which took place on April 21 at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP) – part of the EESTech Challenge event.

Guilherme Carvalho, Eduardo Almeida, Rúben Queirós, Luís Vilaça and Tomé Albuquerque were the researchers in charge of presenting a session about the main concepts of Machine Learning, namely Reinforcement Leaning, as well as its application in INESC TEC’s Telecommunications and Multimedia research projects. “The implementation of Machine Learning into Telecommunications and Multimedia allowed to address and solve increasingly complex issues; presenting the main techniques through concrete application cases is crucial to complement the participants’ experience in these areas”, stated the researchers.

The EESTech Challenge is an international competition between teams that has been held for six years; it aims to provide opportunities for students to learn, while allowing them to develop a network of professional contacts, all dedicated to the fields of Electrical Engineering and Computing. The annual initiative includes a series of local rounds in different European cities, until the international final – which, this year, took place in Milan.

Under the theme “Machine Learning Applications”, the round that took place in Porto was organised by FEUP’s Electrical and Computers Engineering Students Association (NEEEC).


Access to financial products for persons with a history of cancer in EU Member States

The European Commission’s “Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan” sets out a new approach for the European Union (EU) to beat cancer considering the entire disease pathway, from cancer prevention to survivorship, focusing on actions where the EU can add the most value. In support of this plan, the Commission seeks to examine practices in the area of financial services (including banking and insurance) from the point of view of fairness towards persons with a history of cancer in long-term remission. This examination includes looking into the principles behind personal history questionnaires that are required for accessing financial products. EU level legislation, including the Mortgage Credit Directive (MCD) and the new proposal for a Directive on consumer credits take the position that assessments of creditworthiness should be based on the appropriate legal basis and comply with the relevant data protection rules and principles, thereby meaning that health data, including cancer data, is not required when a creditor is processing personal data for the purposes of providing a loan.

Make sure to access the document here.  


Eurostat regional yearbook: From traditional printed publication to modern interactive tool

Eurostat has been publishing its annual flagship publication, the Eurostat regional yearbookfor over 20 years. However, in times of digitalisation, with changing publication modes and user needs, it became necessary to rethink the format of the publication, including the opportunities and challenges this presented.

In the data.europa academy webinar ‘Eurostat regional yearbook goes digital!’, the Eurostat team will present the journey from a printed/pdf publication with a long-standing tradition to a digital publication and modern interactive tool. We will walk through the different phases with its up’s and down’s, do’s and don’ts, and lessons learned.

The webinar will take place on Thursday, 9 June 2022 from 11:30-12:30 CEST.

Click here to find out more and register.


‘World-first’ project for capturing defunct satellites ramps up

A “world-first” European project for removing defunct satellites from orbit is set to begin construction of a new prototype spacecraft, building on lessons from a previous demonstrator mission.

The Japan-headquartered firm Astroscale will begin manufacturing its ELSA-M spacecraft, scheduled for launch in 2024, together with satellite operator OneWeb, the European Space Agency announced on 27 May.

As more governmental and private actors pursue satellite programmes, a growing quantity of debris orbiting the Earth is an increasing problem for both existing infrastructure and future launches.

Astroscale’s ELSA-d craft, launched in 2021, had previously demonstrated technologies including a magnetic capturing system and autonomous thruster rendezvous manoeuvring.

However, the firm said on 4 May that it had not been able to actually recapture debris following thruster failures and would “analyse the next phase of the mission, including the potential for a safe and viable magnetic recapture”.

ELSA-M is set to be the first craft to capture more than one defunct satellite in a single run. It would be Astroscale’s prototype for future commercial services if successful.

Astroscale managing director John Auburn said: “The ELSA-M in-orbit demonstration, planned for late 2024, will build on lessons learned from the ELSA-d mission and demonstrate our innovative rendezvous, capture and de-orbit capabilities with a full-size constellation client.”

Click here for more information. 


Hydrogen: BAM sets up digitally networked research filling station to increase safety of technology

The Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung (BAM) is building a digitally networked research filling station for hydrogen at its test site in Horstwalde near Berlin. The aim is to increase the safety and economic efficiency of such facilities and thus of the entire hydrogen infrastructure in Germany and to create trust in modern hydrogen technologies. The pilot project is being funded with about 8 million Euros by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action as part of the Quality Infrastructure Digital (QI-Digital) initiative.

With the digitally networked research filling station, BAM is also pushing ahead with the establishment of a test centre for modern hydrogen technologies on its twelve square kilometres test site in Brandenburg. A test platform for hydrogen and hydrogen-natural gas pipelines is already under construction there. Also planned are a high-pressure test stand up to 1000 bar, a test field for liquid hydrogen and a test hall for hydrogen storage.

The rapid expansion of a hydrogen filling station network is an important component of the German government’s national hydrogen strategy. This is intended to ensure the long-term safety and availability of supply of hydrogen in the mobility sector.

Even today, the operation of a hydrogen filling station places special demands on its safety and quality. Hydrogen as an energy carrier is delivered by transport vehicles at up to 500 bar and stored in pressurised gas containers. Before re-fueling, the gas is compressed to 1000 bar and then cooled to minus 40 degrees Celsius to enable rapid filling. All these processes are associated with great stresses on the components involved and their materials.

To ensure the operational safety of a hydrogen filling station, compressed gas storage tanks, pipelines, compressors and refrigeration systems are checked at regular maintenance intervals. For this purpose, individual parts must be removed. Currently, such inspections are associated with downtimes of several days and correspondingly high costs. For customers, the filling station is not available during the maintenance period – a particular disadvantage given the currently poorly developed filling station network.

With a continuous digitalisation of the pressure technology, the inspection times could be intelligently controlled and thus the economic efficiency, the safety and at the same time the availability of hydrogen filling stations could be further increased. In order to demonstrate how the previously analogue methods can be replaced by digitally supported quality assurance, BAM is building a research filling station for hydrogen on its test site 50 kilometres south of Berlin.

Read more here


EFCA coordinates EU efforts to monitor the bluefin tuna fishing season

The European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) is coordinating the European control campaign for bluefin tuna in the framework of its Joint Deployment Plan (JDP). In this context, Member States (MS) pool their control and inspection means to jointly implement control, monitoring and surveillance activities.

The objective of the control campaign is to ensure compliance with the international and EU rules adopted for the conservation of the bluefin tuna. In this framework, EFCA has been also assisting EU MS in the training to their national inspectors in preparation of the campaign.  This activity is bringing together Member States, the European Commission and EFCA, and counts on the resources of the eight Member States involved in the fishery – Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, and Spain –. Inspection and surveillance at sea is carried both in EU waters and international waters and applies to EU and non-EU vessels.

Read more here.  


Zero Pollution Monitoring and Outlook Workshop – Report

The Zero Pollution Stakeholder Platform, a joint initiative of the European Commission (EC) and the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), held its first workshop on 24-25 May under the title “Towards a Zero Pollution Monitoring and Outlook”.

This 2-day workshop “Towards a Zero Pollution Monitoring and Outlook” was held in hybrid format on 24-25 May 2022.

Click here for a summary of the event, slides from the presentations and more. 


Commission outlines defence R&D priorities in new €924M work programme

According to Science|Business, “The European Commission announced the adoption of the second annual work programme of the European Defence Fund (EDF), one week after it warned EU member states are not coordinating enough on defence R&D. The 2022 work programme includes calls worth a total of €924 million, covering many topics, will focus notably on space, cyber and high-end defence capabilities. The agency was established in 2017 and it ran some pilot projects before launching its first fully fledged work programme in 2021. Of its total budget of nearly €8 billion, the fund will allocate €2.7 billion to collaborative defence research up to 2027. According to the work programme, €25 million will be allocated to research on diagnostics, treatment and transport of “highly contagious, injured and contaminated personnel.” A further €55 million will go to research on “underwater warfare”, €15 million to “adaptive camouflage” and €15 million for advanced radar technologies. The full list of calls is available here. Commission executive vice-president Margrethe Vestager said innovation, including in defence, plays a fundamental role in the EU’s response to the war in Ukraine and other external threats. “Innovation is at the core of our response to current evolving threats,” she said. Vestager said the new €924 million work programme will help “spur defence innovation by leveraging the experience it has developed for decades in civil innovation, by promoting cooperation from all across our union.” Some EU member states have announced they will increase their defence expenditure following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but countries had begun investing more in joint defence R&D even before the war. The European Defence Agency (EDA) recently reported that in 2021 EU member states contributed €420 million to joint capability and research and technology projects run by the agency, an increase of €50 million compared to 2020. According to an EDA report published in December, data from defence ministries in the EU show member states spent a record €2.5 billion on defence research and technology in 2020. Most of that increase was fuelled by budget increases in France and Germany. NATO is also launching a €1 billion defence innovation fund, and a research programme called DIANA, aiming to encourage industry, start-ups and researchers to work on new dual-use technologies. The research programme will begin by running a network of 10 accelerator sites and 50 test centres across NATO member countries, with pilot activities set to begin in the summer of 2023. The Commission is also planning to expand the use of research funds for ‘dual-use’ defence technologies, but that is to be debated further, as legislation for the EU’s main civilian research programme Horizon Europe explicitly prohibits the use of research money for military applications.”

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