This EU Science Quarterly for University of Southern Denmark 1th Quarter 2016 contains the essential updates and information on EU research, innovation and education funding. If you have any questions about this, or other matters regarding EU funding, you are of course welcome to contact us directly at the South Denmark European Office.
Our offices are located approximately 300m from Maelbeek metro station and most of us had already arrived in the office discussing the event the airport when the second bomb exploded. We were checking that all colleagues and family were ok at when the bombs went off on the metro. We saw it on the news feed and didn’t hear anything as the bomb went off underground. We had colleagues that were not yet accounted for at the time of the blast that despite an overloaded phone system managed to get through and tell us they were ok.
It’s now been a while since the horrific terrorist attacks in Brussels and life is back to its new normal. In the days after the bombings an air of surrealism had planted itself over the city but most of the people went back to work immediately after, albeit in a somber mood. There are a lot less people in the shops and on the streets. You can’t deny that everyone is thinking twice about going down town and when you do, you do your errand and leave but I’m sure that the cafes will be full very soon again. As the picture shows, people were having coffee in the sunshine next to the police cordon 3 hours after the bombings. So the people of Brussels doesn’t bow their heads and stay home. You can tell, however, that there’s difference between defiance and stupidity.
I think it’s difficult to explain but it must sometimes be a lot worse sitting a 1000 km away watching it all on the news for days on end than actually being here as you don’t have a sense of perspective on time and space in relation to the events. When you sit in Denmark Brussels look like a war zone on TV but here you hardly notice it, apart from the sirens that appear to have become more frequent lately. The thing is though, normal people still have accidents to the same extent as before. So it’s, I believe, a result of selective hearing.
As a consequence of the atrocities transportation to and from Brussels is an issue and the authorities tell us it can be months before the airport is operating at full capacity again. You are, however, as always welcome to our offices when you’re in town, either just to say hi or to hold your meetings. The house still stands!
All of us at the South Denmark European Office would like to extend our thanks to all of you who thought of us during the difficult time and sent us encouraging messages with well wishes.
SDU EU representative
The H2020 SME Innovation Associate: matching SMEs up with talented researchers
The H2020 SME Innovation Associate is a new pilot under the EU Research and Innovation Framework Programme 'Horizon 2020' supporting European SMEs and Start-ups to recruit post-doctoral research associates from other countries to explore an innovation business idea. The European Union will provide financial support, international visibility and training for successful applicants under this call.
Deadline for applications: 30 June 2016.
Organisations and institutions seeking funding in the framework of this call must comply with the conditions for participation and funding expressed in the programme guide.
EU supports Zika research with €10 million
The EC has released €10 million for research on the Zika virus, currently affecting large parts of Latin America. The funding, which comes from the EU's Horizon 2020 research and innovation funding programme, will first be directed towards proving the link between the virus and severe brain malformations reported in newborn children. If proven, researchers could then move on to combatting the Zika virus, including developing diagnostics and testing potential treatments or vaccines.
Read more about the call here.
EU POLICY AND ADVOCACY
Scrutiny on Horizon 2020 focusing on the European Parliament’s priorities
The Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee of the European Parliament (EP) has requested an analysis of whether Horizon 2020 has delivered on the priorities set by the EP. The report highlights that the European Research Council (ERC) and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MCSA) have contributed to ERA goals by providing long-term funding, thus attracting the best researchers in the world to the European Union (EU), and by providing career opportunities through researcher mobility. The report criticizes the low success rate for the ERC, Teaming (widening participation), FTI and the SME instrument.
Read the report on Horizon 2020 here.
EU invests nearly €31 million for quicker market access of 15 innovative projects
The European Commission is awarding around €30.5 million to 15 innovative projects involving 68 partners in 16 countries to help speed up their access to the market. Under the third round of the Fast Track to Innovation (FTI) scheme, run under the EU's research and innovation programme Horizon 2020.
The FTI scheme was launched in January 2015. The third round of the scheme attracted a total of 403 project proposals involving 1700 participants by its cut-off date of 1 December 2015. This brings the total of proposals received since the launch of the programme to 903, of which 46 received more than €98.7 million in funding in total. Almost half the project participants (46%) are SMEs.
Read more about the evaluation brief here.
Evaluation of Joint Programming to Address Grand Societal Challenges
The second evaluation of the joint programming process is now available under the form of a report on ‘Evaluation of Joint Programming to Address Grand Societal Challenges’
The evaluation was led by a group of experts established by the European Commission (EC) in June 2015 and is based on survey responses and interviews with policy-level stakeholders in 33 countries, consultation with all ten Joint Programming Initiatives (JPIs), discussions with the Groupe de Programmation Conjointe (GPC) and the results the Lund and the ERA-Learn conferences.
The factual analysis shows broad participation of Member States in the JPIs and also associated countries like Norway, Turkey and Israel. Canada and Switzerland are the most prominent of the participating 3rd countries but another 10 have participated in at least one of the Joint Calls of FACCE or Water JPI. Those EU Member States that are not members of any JPI are involved in at least some as observers or joint call participants. At the end of 2015, almost €265m had been committed to transnational projects as a result of 32 Joint Calls involving 37 countries. However, nearly two-thirds of this investment is from just seven countries (Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, France, UK, Italy and Norway). The JPIs are now taking full advantage of the Horizon 2020 ERANET Cofund instrument and so the scale of aggregated investment could increase rapidly over the coming years. The financial support from the Commission (through CSAs and the ERA-NET instrument) has clearly been vital to the initial development of the JPIs and it appears that this will continue to be the case.
Read the evaluation rapport here.
Women in Science still underrepresented
The European Commission (EC) published the fifth edition of She Figures, a report on gender equality in science and innovation in Europe for 2015.
The She Figures Report 2015 shows that there is still an under-representation of women working in research, education and innovation as well as marked differences by sex amongst different educational pathways. The share of women amongst researchers remains at 33% on average and has not increased since 2009. In only 8 Member States countries did women account for more than 40 % of the workforce in research.
Read the full report here.
Mapping the brain’s cortical columns to develop innovative brain-computer interfaces
The EU-funded COLUMNARCODECRACKING project has successfully used ultra-high fMRI scanners to map cortical columns, a process that opens the door to exciting new applications, such as brain-computer interfaces.
Cortical columnar-level fMRI has already contributed and will further contribute to a deeper understanding of how the brain and mind work by zooming into the fine-grained functional organisation within specialised brain areas.
By focussing on this, the project has stimulated a new research line of ‘mesoscopic’ brain imaging that is gaining increasing momentum in the field of human cognitive and computational neuroscience. This new field complements conventional macroscopic brain imaging that measures activity in brain areas and large-scale networks.
Read the full article here.
EU needs to step up its research and innovation performance
Science, research and innovation boost economic growth and create high-quality jobs. They are key to creating a Digital Single Market and Energy Union in the EU, and to strengthening the EU's role as a global actor.
The EU therefore needs to invest in the future and step up its performance in research and innovation. This is the message of the report 'Science, Research and Innovation Performance of the EU', published today by the Commission's Directorate-General for Research and Innovation.
Read the full report here.