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A new evaluation of the EU-funded European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) concludes that the body is making progress in nudging forward research in climate change, energy and digital fields. The third review of the body in under two years offers a largely positive assessment on the state of the institute established to help transfer research and innovation from academia into commercial applications. The EIT has attracted much criticism recently, starting with a review by the European Court of Auditors, which criticised the body that has spent close to €3bn since 2008, for showing very little for its investment. A follow-up report by a special panel of experts convened by the European Commission confirmed many of the body’s serial shortcomings. The latest report by ICF and Technopolis looks at the EIT over the period 2011-2015 and recounts many of the problems faced by the institute and efforts to address them. It reiterates questions raised elsewhere about the long-term viability of the EIT’s many distributed innovation incubators. The report comes as the EU enters a debate over the future of its budget; while some argue for a rise in overall spending for research and innovation activities, others are expecting a cut. EIT operates through what it calls Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs), these are groups of universities, research institutes and businesses working in specific fields. The future solvency of these KICs is the main problem identified by the review. The dependency on EIT funding is supposed to fall from close to 90% in 2016 to 27% in 2022, and then to 10% by 2025 – 15 years after the first-wave KICs were established. The evaluators said potential future sources of cash include equity positions in EIT-backed start-ups and royalties from EIT-supported projects, but also raised the fundamental question of whether financial sustainability for KICs will ever become feasible. The report also questioned whether such a goal is even desirable, given that the core purpose of the EIT is to invest in areas that would not have otherwise been pursued by the private sector. The post Report praises EIT reform appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
The European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) has called on the European Commission to advance the EU’s position as global leader in health research beyond the remit of Horizon 2020. This includes continued investment in research and developing a forward-looking agenda to help improve the lives of over 120 million citizens suffering from chronic diseases. A new research programme will also help the introduction of healthcare programmes, which in turn can lead to earlier diagnosis and access to care. EULAR sees continued investment in collaborative and EU-funded health research as the basis of member state societal health and economic strength. Members of the EULAR network and representatives of the European Parliament discussed the next framework programme to consider possible approaches. EULAR President Professor Johannes WJ Bijlsma said: “EULAR encourages the EU to build on the successful path of Horizon 2020 and increase investment in research and innovation.” He added: “We therefore call on the EU to set itself the challenge of strengthening its role as global leader in health research and providing access to treatment.” Representatives of the patients’ and health professionals’ communities within EULAR are presenting clear evidence regarding the need to involve and engage these key groups in the development of research priorities and in the research process itself. President of the Alliance for Biomedical Research Professor Colm O’Morain said: “The EU research framework programme Horizon 2020 has proven to be a key facilitator. It is, however, clear that substantial political commitment and increased funding are required to transform Europe’s healthcare systems.” The EU has developed into a leading region for research and innovation in health, in recent decades, including RMDs. Under Horizon 2020, more than €7bn is estimated to be invested into health research. The post EULAR: Post H2020 investment ‘key to future EU health’ appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
EU Science and Research Commissioner Carlos Moedas has urged UK grantees worried by uncertainties over Brexit to “keep collaborating”. As uncertainty over the terms of Britain’s exit from the European Union grew, official statements from Brussels and Westminster tried to reassure participants in the EU’s Horizon 2020 research programme that current projects won’t be interrupted. Moedas told UK researchers: “While you remain part of the European Union, the Horizon 2020 programme is fully open to you. Please keep taking part. Keep collaborating with your European partners. Keep welcoming researchers from other EU countries into your universities and research teams.” He added that UK opinions are also welcome on what the new EU research programme should look like, even though its proposed start would be two years after the planned Brexit date. The British Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy also issued a statement reiterating that the UK has pledged to pay British grantees directly after March 2019, so that their projects don’t get interrupted by Brexit. Previously, news from the official Brexit talks was discouraging, with the latest round of negotations seeing the two sides reach a “deadlock”, according to the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier. Statements in the past week have unsettled some Horizon 2020 grantees, including several UK universities reportedly dropped from prospective bidding groups since the referendum. The issues revolve around the fine print inside the Horizon 2020 grant agreements, which stipulated that eligibility criteria “must be complied with for the entire duration of the grant”. Researchers in the 27 other member states want to see the UK continue to participate in EU research projects. The post Commission seeks to reassure UK H2020 researchers appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
Research partnerships between the EU, member states and the private sector are on track to deliver the objectives of improving lives and increasing competitiveness. This was confirmed by the results of interim evaluations of public-private and public-public partnerships supported by Horizon 2020. Working in a broad range of sectors, these partnerships develop treatments for poverty-related diseases, design green transport technologies and support high-tech small and middle-sized enterprises, amongst other things. Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas said: “The evaluations show that our partnerships with industry and member states already strengthen our economy and improve our quality of life. They enable us to tackle issues that no single company or country can deal with alone. We will use the evaluation results to further improve these initiatives and to increase their impact.” The evaluation of the seven public-private partnerships, called Joint Undertakings (JUs), under Horizon 2020 and their six predecessors under the previous framework programmes confirms that the partnerships contribute directly to EU competitiveness and policy goals. The commission estimates that leveraged private sector funding already equals or exceeds targets in four JUs and is closing in on the target for the remaining three. The evaluation, based on independent experts and the results of a stakeholder consultation, also identifies some areas for further improvement. The evaluation also identifies some challenges for research and innovation partnerships both within and outside of the EU, which the commission will use to develop proposals on partnerships in the next framework programme. The post Research partnerships achieve commission goals appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
KM Rustfri has introduced a complete line of water hydraulic process valves onto the sanitary industry market to inspire a new development in sanitary plant designs, reduce manufacturing costs, and improve food safety and lower investments in the sanitary industry. The HYDRACT valves are powered and controlled by the patented HYDRACT actuator technology developed in co-operation with Carlsberg and with financial support from the European Union and the Danish Market Maturation Foundation since 2008. In addition to the new line of process valves, KM Rustfri also proposes the actuator technology as a retrofit solution offering all the advantages of water hydraulics to existing process valves including turning them into high precision regulating valves. The HYDRACT solution Where conventional process valves operate with compressed air and springs, the patented HYDRACT technology take advantage of the incompressibility of water. Air and springs are by nature compressible, and almost every valve in the sanitary process industry has been powered this way for decades. The problems with high energy losses because of leaking air systems, the unintentional opening of valves due to pressure transients and problems using pneumatic valves for regulation are well known to everyone in the food and beverage industry, as well as in the pharmaceutical and similar industries. The well-known consequences are higher production costs and concerns about product safety. Process valves powered with the HYDRACT technology perform the same operations as traditionally powered valves with the difference that they can both open and close as well as regulate which is not possible for pneumatic valves. HYDRACT valves or valves retrofitted with HYDRACT actuators have the precision of a CNC-machine and the power of a hydraulic machine while still being a clean technology due to the use of a closed sterilised water system. Challenge for the sanitary industry: There is no competition on valve technology The competition in the sanitary process industry has been negatively affected for decades because it has not been possible for the producers in the process industry to differentiate themselves in the way their plants are fundamentally designed and operated. The reason is that all valve manufacturers have designed their valves on the same technology and the limitations the traditional technology is imposing. Today process plants are designed based on the assumption that valves cannot always remain closed, which is leading to more pipework. Besides that, traditional pneumatic valves are only one-directional and regulating valves cannot keep closed so they must be supported by a separate on/off valve. By changing these assumptions so that all valves become bi-directional regulating valves with a safe closed position, a lot of advantages reveal themselves. Advantages for the customer With HYDRACT valves or with HYDRACT actuators retrofitted to existing valves, all the valves will become on/off valves with a safe closed position and with regulation capabilities better than any pneumatic regulating valve on the market. Due to numeric control, there will be full positioning and velocity control of the valve pistons and complete surveillance and monitoring via the bus system is available. Furthermore, all valves become bi-directional and, due to a new valve design, the HYDRACT process valve is modular and hygienic also when used as a bottom tank valve. The advantages of implementing the HYDRACT technology depend on the specific application, but savings on energy consumption and CO2 emissions can be expected to be between 65% and 90% compared with pneumatic valves. Besides that, the waste in production will be reduced significantly, because the valves are unable to open unintentionally, which prevents, e.g. beer and cleaning fluids from being mixed. Maintenance and repair costs will also reduce because pressure transients will not have any effect on the HYDRACT valves – in fact, water-hydraulic valves will prevent pressure transients from happening. The most significant potential advantages, however, arrive from the numeric control embedded in the HYDRACT technology. By using the unique regulation capabilities and because the actuator is unaffected by any pressure fluctuation in the process stream, it is possible to use the valves for controlling and mixing different fluids based on any input from sensor systems – pressure, flow, temperature, colour, density etc. The great advantage will be that in-line mixing of beer, soft drink, juice etc. is possible without using mixing tanks – mixing on demand becomes a reality! Implemented by Carlsberg The Carlsberg Group has supported the development of the HYDRACT technology since 2008 and is currently testing it in different applications. “HYDRACT is an exciting new technology that sets new standards for reduced energy consumption and CO2 emissions. The actuator’s precision and reliability are remarkable and open the way for a completely new approach to process facilities in the brewing industry, leading to lower production costs, greater food safety and reduced investment in brewing facilities.” Michael Jakob, vice-president of group manufacturing and technology at Carlsberg Supply Company.   Carlsberg in Denmark has since Q1 2016 been using the HYDRACT technology on their main CIP system, and since April 2017 the alcohol percentage in beer has been regulated using a HYDRACT actuator retrofitted onto an existing mix-proof valve. Carlsberg has in 2017 embraced the HYDRACT technology and awarded KM Rustfri with orders worth k700€ for new valves and actuators for retrofitting. The post HYDRACT – Water hydraulics and hygiene appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas has called upon the EU to issue a ‘Call for Action’ for more investment, bigger impact and more trust in science in the next EU research programme. Ratas used his country’s Presidency of the European Union to call for other states to boost spending and support for research and innovation. Speaking at a conference for delegates in the Estonian capital, Tallinn, Ratas said: “Investing in research and innovation is not a luxury, but a necessity. Europe will not become a leader if investments are cut or stagnate.” He also confirmed an 11% rise in his own country’s 2018 budget for research, reflecting Estonia’s big ambitions on digital research. His comments came after a call for action to other EU members to agree on an increased budget for the next research framework programme. Debates are already well advanced in Brussels over the next one, with growing concern among research advocates that they may face budget cuts after the UK’s departure from the bloc. The document calls for both the EU and national governments to increase expenditure in research if they want to make breakthrough advances. ‘The EU remains far from achieving its 3 per cent target on R&I investments that was set already in 2000. There is an urgent need for renewed political commitment towards this ambition,’ the document says. Estonia’s presidency – labelled the ‘Digital Presidency’ – has made digital research and innovation a priority of its tenure. The post Ratas: EU research investment ‘a necessity’ appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
The European Commission has clarified how it will handle its scientific relationship with the UK after the country leaves the bloc in 2019. The commission has also made clear the position of UK grantees after Brexit, a signal showing how the EU could proceed should the UK to leave without successful negotiations. In a notice posted on the research section of the commission website, UK researchers are informed that if the UK does not agree on a new science co-operation arrangement with Brussels, they will not receive any more EU funding. The notice says: ‘If the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU during the grant period without concluding an agreement with the EU ensuring in particular that British applicants continue to be eligible, you will cease to be eligible to receive EU funding (while continuing, where possible, to participate) or be required to leave the project.’ The note also confirms the eligibility of UK legal entities to participate and receive funding from the Horizon 2020 research programme while the UK remains a member state. Mike Galsworthy, founder of the research advocacy group Scientists for EU, said the notice “will cause immediate uncertainty from UK applicants, and from applicants who were thinking of including UK partners.” Whether the UK will continue to pay into Horizon 2020 after it leaves the EU is part of the negotiations. The post UK scientists could leave EU projects appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
Draft plans released by the European Commission promise funds for several research areas. Artificial photosynthesis, cloud computing, blockchain and ways to turn windows into solar power plants are just some of the projects set for funding by the EU. Amongst the initiatives in the draft for 2018-2020, it says that a reward will be given to researchers who can replicate the natural phenomenon photosynthesis, involving a bionic leaf. In addition, the EU will start putting money into an EU-wide cloud computing network. A first-of-its-kind effort to create an international system for sharing research data from any laboratory or scientific discipline. Money will also go to testing new applications of blockchain, the technology at the heart of the digital currencies such as Bitcoin, which creates a digital ledger of transactions, agreements and contracts distributed across hundreds of computers across the world. All these proposals feature in the draft Horizon 2020 research plans for 2018-2020, which the commission is publishing online for comment, with final versions expected later this month. Committees of the member states and researchers have developed the work programmes over the past year with the help of the commission’s research department. The post EU reveals more big research bets appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
Europe’s Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) research remains relevant; however, the wider benefits of the project are difficult to pin down, according to a review. IMI was set up to revive drug developments in Europe’s pharma companies in antibiotics and treatments for cancer, respiratory, neurological and neurodegenerative diseases. An evaluation assessed the progress of IMI2 during the first half of the current Horizon 2020 research programme. The evaluation team reaches some stark conclusions on the contribution of IMI to drugs research in Europe to date. The report says: ‘There are limited examples that IMI helped to shorten the time of development of new applications or that IMI brought new, safer and more effective therapies or products to patients.’ However, it notes there are promising results emerging from the development of a new Ebola vaccination. The main success for the programme is that pharma companies in Europe are doing precompetitive research together, setting the research agenda. The EU has put €1.6bn of Horizon 2020 money into IMI, bolstered by €1.4bn of in-kind contributions from pharma companies. Collaboration partners include universities, smaller firms, patient organisations and drug regulators. The review team says there is not sufficient data to demonstrate that IMI will keep the European pharmaceutical industry at the fore of innovation. There is, however, an acknowledgement that since it began in 2008, the IMI may have increased the resilience of the industry during the global financial crisis. Patient organisations say they appreciate the opportunity to participate in the design of IMI projects, something that is not possible in other Horizon 2020 projects. The post Review appraises Innovative Medicines Initiative appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.
The final three years of the Horizon 2020 framework programme will see a push to open new sources of capital finance commercialised by EU funding. In addition to boosting access to debt and equity under existing schemes, the European Commission’s draft plan for 2018-2020 proposes new facilities, whilst continuing to support existing schemes. One new facility, InnovFin Science, will aim to improve access to risk finance to set up innovation infrastructures for research organisations and universities. Another, InnovFin Emerging Innovators, will support actors described as modest and moderate innovators with the aim of improving access to risk finance in member states that, to date, have received relatively limited support. The draft also describes the commission’s plan for supporting commercialisation of green energy research in the InnovFin Energy Demo Projects, which will be the first of a kind. Given the importance of these projects, the commission plans to double the budget. Loans between €7.5m and €25m will be available to set up demonstrators of untested pre-commercial energy technologies. Likewise, the commission wants to plug the gap in funding the development of treatments for serious infectious diseases. InnovFin will fund projects developing vaccines, drugs and diagnostic devices that have advanced and require clinical trial. The draft also details a proposed crowdfunding trial under which the commission will provide guarantees to crowd lending platforms that support research and innovation. The post EU promises more H2020 investment appeared first on Horizon 2020 Projects.

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