A "flexible" Horizon Europe amid UK and Switzerland fear for exclusion

According to the European Commission research chief Jean-Eric Paquet, Horizon Europe will offer more "flexibility" to foreign countries that wish to join the new EU’s biggest ever R&D programme, which will run for seven years from 2021. The idea, said Jan -Eric Paquet, is to offer association membership that would allow former Third countries to participate in EU research under the same conditions as member states. This is indeed a proposal that already has stirred some interest from important partners (such as Canada) and it is expected to induce more foreign partners - at least between 20/30 - to seek association. However, although this is looks like a very promising development to the "open door" policy issued by the European  Commission, internal disagreement and, a legal framework that still makes any EU programme too bureaucracy-intensive and, therefore, less appealing to major countries such as the US. On top of that, the most ambitious R&D programme ever, might risk losing two of the most influential countries.

As a matter of fact, Horizon Europe includes in its preliminary legal text a category of countries that may be barred from programmes designed to encourage innovation. The proposal still needs to be approved by member states yet, if the text is not amended, the whole programme is indeed destined to kick-off in 2021 amid serious uncertainties around the status both the UK and Switzerland will hold in the programme.

Swiss fears

With regards to the Alpine country, Swiss researchers have already experienced the effect of an exclusion from EU R&D funding when, in 2014, Switzerland was temporary relegated to third country status, with no access at all to important opportunities, such as the SME Instrument. The decision, due to an issue of migration quotas, caused the country to fall rapidly from a 3.9% to just 0.3% of all project coordination between 2014 -2016.

When it comes to the new programme, instead, Switzerland has been classified in category 4 of non-EU states.  Strictly speaking, this new classification should not affect funding of Swiss research projects however, the heads of Switzerland’s two Federal Institutes of Technology, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ) and  and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) have recently voiced their concerns that funding restrictions could apply anyway, unless a political settlement between Swiss and EU politicians is reached.

UK Research between a "no deal" and pledges to "fully associate"

If talks between Swiss and the EU politicians have been going on since 2014 to reach a political agreement that might safeguard the “cake-and-eat-it” model granted to Switzerland, Britain’s research institutions have been trying to fill the recently increased political gap by engaging in alliances and agreements with other European counterparts. the idea behind this diplomatic effort is that “If the UK is left out of any part of Horizon Europe, it makes the programme less appealing [and] it lowers the level of competition, and probably lowers the value of the grant.” (Jessica Cole, head of policy at the Russell Group). For as bold as this statement can appear, it cannot be denied that in the much feared event of a no-deal Brexit, the new Horizon Europe will lose a net contributor that currently weights for the 14.3% of the total funding awarded by H2020 to date (€5.1bn) and counts the highest number of successful projects. These are all things that are very well taken into consideration in Europe as well and, although “A lot of people are thinking that ERC grants would become easier to win without the involvement of Cambridge and Oxford, [...] we need to defend the continent against the big money being spent on research in the US, Japan and China. We need our strongest team, so we should find a way to keep UK in the game.” (Olivier Küttel, EPFL head of European public affairs).


EU financing of €122m for transport projects: Six days left!

Businesses in the transport sector have time until 16 January 2019 to submit short project proposals in the areas of waterborne transport, logistics, aviation, transport infrastructure and safety, and so have the chance to get access to €122m worth of funding under the 2018-2020 Horizon 2020 Work Programme.

The funding is divided into eight different topics (available here) and Applicants have to submit their proposals electronically, as a part of a two-stage process. Proposals submitted by 16 January 2019 will be evaluated within the next three months; successful applicants will be invited to proceed onto the second stage and submit full project proposal by 12 September 2019.

The final decision about which projects will receive EU funding will be known the latest by February 2020 at the latest.

Applicants are invited to consult the General Annexes (pdf) of the 2018-2020 Work Programme for rules on funding, standard eligibility criteria, submission rules, funding rates and other useful information.

Source: ec.europa.eu


What to expect from 2019?

2018 has been a rather successful year for us at RedKnight and we welcome the New Year with high hopes for an exciting 2019. But what do we really have to expect from January onwards? What are the upcoming competitions and which sectors are most likely to take centre stage? In this article we will take a look at the possibilities both Innovate UK and the EU have in store for us:

UK Plans in 2019
To understand what the UK's plans for this year could be, we have to look the last Budget approved by Westminster in October 2018. The UK Government has committed to providing an additional £1.6bn to fund the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), which will focus around some (if not all) of the following challenges:

-Clean Air
-Reduction in plastic pollution
-Industrial digitisation
-Innovative Mobility (Road, Rail and Air)
-Industrial Transformation
-Cyber security
-Early detection of diseases
-Sustainable packaging

In addition, following the trend set by the Faraday Battery Challenge, up to £78m funding has been confirmed for the Stephenson Challenge to support innovation in electric motor technology, making vehicles lighter and more efficient. Other important key points to consider are the extension to the Government Start-up loans scheme until 2021 and a £25m boost to Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTPs).

On top of that, when the UK leaves the EU, amongst other things, it will also leave the Common Agricultural Policy, creating a funding void that definitely needs to be filled. Therefore, agriculture could very well be another important area to watch closely for new funding opportunities; at least in the medium-long term.

Finally, the Report on the UK’s approach to cryptoassets and distributed ledger technologies in financial services published at the end of October, might suggest these new technologies will receive particular interest in the following calls, also in light of the new £50m per year fund designed to address the most pressing challenges in areas such as public health and cyber security, and due to begin in 2021-2022.

EC Plans in 2019

March 2019 will mark the historical exit of the UK form the EU. Until then, UK organisations can still apply for EU funding (and they are warmly encouraged to do so). Thus, it is even more so important to understand what 2019 is going to look like.

The Commission's priorities for 2019 have been clearly displayed in the Work Programme for 2018-2020, which sets the strategy for the last stage of Horizon 2020. The budget allocated for the European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot competitions, will see a general increase: up to €552.26m for the SME Instrument competition and €247.50m for the Future Emerging Technologies Open competition. The budget for Fast Track to Innovation calls will be kept at €100m.

Here, we have selected a pool of challenges that are likely to be of major interest for the EU during this final Work Programme period:

-Nanotechnology
-Blockchain technology
-Marine resources and sustainability
-Clean air and clean energy
-Space
-Food and Agri-food security
-Sustainable agriculture and rural renaissance
-Digital Health and early warning for epidemics
-Low carbon solutions

What can RedKnight do for you?

We hope this brief summary has helped you better understand what 2019 might have in store. If you have realised your innovation fits very well in one of the above areas, why not getting in touch with us for a FREE consultation? We can help you prepare your innovative ideas for the upcoming competitions, so that you can start the New Year in pole position!


QuantERA's new joint call on Quantum technologies is now open.

The transnational network QuantERA, a network reaching over 26 countries and 32 organisations in the field of Quantum technologies (QT), has launched on November 21st, 2018 its second joint transnational call for proposals (Call 2019) on quantum technologies research, to fund innovation in QTs. This second round is intended to follow the success of QuantERA’s 1st call for proposals, announced in January 2017, which attracted 221 applicants and awarded over €32m of funding to 128 research teams from 23 countries. This time, the call will cover six main topics in the QT fields:

• Quantum communication

• Quantum simulation

• Quantum computation

• Quantum information sciences

• Quantum metrology sensing and imaging

Submitted proposals are expected to contribute to the development of the emerging field of quantum technologies research in Europe and should explore collaborative and multidisciplinary advanced science and/or cutting-edge innovation with the potential to initiate or foster new lines of quantum technologies and allow Europe to take the leadership early on these promising future technology areas. In addition, this innovation call will be open for funding to all the organisations and business from the 25 countries that are part of the QuantERA netwrok. however, QuantERA aims at spreading research excellence across the European Research Area by encouraging consortia to include partners from the widening countries participating in the call: Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Turkey.

Applicants can submit their proposals until 18th February 2019. An information & networking session will be organized by the QuantERA consortium on December 5th, 2018 in Vienna during the ICT 2018 Event to allow researchers to exchange ideas in order to form/strengthen consortia for project proposals. QuantERA will give a presentation of the Call 2019 during this meeting. Interested researchers and stakeholders can register for the event here: https://quantera.eu/news/76-networking-session-for-the-quantera-call-2019

To learn more about topics of this upcoming call, participating funding organisations, eligibility and evaluation criteria, please consult the official announcement of the call at www.quantera.eu. If you wish to know more about other open calls for research funding or start-up funding, please consult us at info@redknightconsultnacy.co.uk.

Source: CORDIS


Spain wins most SME Instrument grants

Spain is the EU country with the most successful start-ups in this year’s Phase 1 competition under the SME Instrument, with total of 48 Spanish companies getting funding. Next was Italy, with 21 grants and third France with 18. Cyprus, Malta, Slovakia and Romania had no successful candidates.

From 2,149 applicants, the European Commission selected 242 SMEs from 30 countries to receive a total of €12 million, to spend on getting their innovations to market faster. Each winner receives €50,000 to draft a business plan and also gets access to free coaching and business acceleration services.

Most companies are in ICT, health and engineering. They are developing various innovations, including a sensory feedback system for phantom pains, a new technology for micro motors, a control system for e-bikes that extends battery life, a distance communication system for drones and a valuation tool for start-ups based on artificial intelligence.

The SME Instrument currently is part of EU’s research and innovation programme Horizon 2020, but is due to move under the umbrella of the newly formed European Innovation Council, the Commission’s attempt at creating a one stop shop for innovators across the continent.

Companies can apply for two phases under the SME Instrument, depending on the maturity of their innovation.

Under Phase 1, each project receives a lump sum of €50,000 to carry out a feasibility study. Under Phase 2, €500,000 to €2.5 million per company is available to finance innovation activities such as demonstration, testing, piloting and scaling up.

The next application deadline for the SME Instrument Phase 1 is on 5 September 2018.

Source: Science Business


RedKnight starring at the Mediwales Showcase: a great event!

 

Yesterday, the RedKnight team took part in the last edition of the Mediwales Showcase, a prestigious event that took place at the Novotel in Cardiff.

The event was attended by new and important members who showed the public involved their business and their new projects, among which stood out IMSPEX, who also presented the BreathSpec project, displaying a functioning device at their stand.

Being a long term Mediwales member, it is always a pleasure to be an active part at these very engaging events and to meet new potential partners and clients.
Especially on this occasion, a lot of members invited approached us at our stand and it was incredible to see that there are so many innovative realities in Wales, eager and willing to take on big funding opportunities, and we are happy to having met you all and we enjoyed talking to all of you who stopped by and asked about RedKnight and how we can help you growing your business!

We wanted to thank you MediWales for organising the event and we look forward to meeting again all the fantastic people we met yesterday and we hope to meet even more in the future!