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In today's Morning Brief:

3.4bn to fund EU Industrial Strategy priorities through Cluster 4 of Horizon Europe

An excellent SB article details how €3.4 billion will be spent over the next two years to fund the EU’s Industrial Strategy priorities through HE Cluster 4.

  • €724 million will be spent over the next two years to digitise the manufacturing and construction sectors and reducing their carbon footprint. The calls will prioritise R&D projects that are very close to the market and which contribute to new hubs for circular economy applications, such recycling waste and helping industry switch to renewable energy.
  • €759 million on R&D projects to help the EU achieve strategic autonomy by developing its own digital technologies. The Commission will also launch calls for projects to help the EU decrease its dependence on imports of raw and advanced materials.
  • €733.5 million in projects to develop new generation wireless communications, artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum computing.
  • €346 million is foreseen for R&D projects to help EU companies standardise and share industrial data
  • €290 million call will fund projects to devise new ways of using data from the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency and from the EU’s earth observation programme Copernicus, to help the transport sector develop new mobility services and reduce congestion and car emissions.

The remaining is to be spent in AI applications to different sectors, in particular healthcare, as well as ultra-low power processors and innovation leadership in electronics and photonics.

Healthy aging

The 2nd Forum Portugal – UK on Healthy Aging will take place virtually on April 7th, from 9.45 to 12.35 GMT. The event, organised jointly by the UK Embassy of Lisbon and the University of Coimbra, aims to bring together policy-makers, researchers and businesses to discuss the impacts of an ageing society and promote the exchange of best practices in public health policy, innovation and business in both countries. The programme, available here, includes a workshop on “UK/PT synergies in ageing and biomedical research”. Registrations for attendants are open.

KCMD mobility functional areas dataset

The European Commission’s Knowledge Centre on Migration and Demography has released a dataset of Mobility Functional Areas (MFA), i.e. a dense cluster of highly interconnected regions. The mapping contains information about how subnational geographical areas cluster in terms of human mobility, measured through Mobile Network Operator (MNO) data, irrespective of the administrative border. The data is part of the study on Global Human Mobility and wishes to inform COVID-19 policies.

New European Bauhaus conference

The New European Bauhaus project takes shape as the Commission organises the first conference dedicated to the event, on April 22-23. The provisional programme features a stellar list of speakers for the first day, and a series of workshops facilitated by members of the project and its partners on topics as “Regenerating Construction Ecosystems” and “New Relationship with Nature”. The goal of the project is to co-design beautiful, sustainable, and inclusive ways of living, by mobilising designers, architects, engineers, scientists, students, and creative minds across disciplines. The registration to the conference is already available here.

Budget considerations (continued)

I know I focus a lot on budget issues but the parallels are too striking. Israel boosted its R&D spending to 4.9% of GDP. Scientists in the U.K. are worried that the government might take up to £2 billion a year from the science budget in order to pay for Britain’s participation in the EU’s research and development program Horizon Europe — the equivalent of a nearly 20 percent cut (this was previously included in the UK’s Treasury contribution to the EU and did not come out of the research budget per se, so it is understandable, but just look at the numbers!). Yes, this is all relative to a country’s GDP, but the UK has pledged to increase its science budget to 2.4% in 2027. Ireland is increasing its budget at a rate of 15% a year for the next 3 years and published a concrete roadmap on how it’s going to happen. France is developing a report along the same lines and is very advanced in the planning of how to spend its Recovery and Resilience Fund, through wide public consultations to all major research, innovation and education stakeholders.

Participation of third countries in quantum and space research

The discussions over strategic autonomy and technology sovereignty are heating up. Now with the potential exclusion of third-countries from involvement in quantum and space research projects, in a move that could see the UK’s involvement significantly downgraded due to concerns over intellectual property. Meanwhile, Germany spearheaded a campaign against Commission draft plans to distance third countries from involvement in certain projects as part of Horizon Europe, the EU’s research and innovation programme for 2021-2027. Strategic autonomy should be about reciprocity. Thinking that because a usual close partner is now excluded from participating in joint research and innovation projects will make the EU stronger, is just ridiculous.

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