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Research & Technology in the EU

Latest news about research and innovation policy in the European Union.

Tackling diabetes in Europe: Issue 47 of the research*eu results magazine
On 14 November the world will be celebrating the World Diabetes Day for the 15th time since its launch in 1991. A lot of things have changed since then: treatments and prevention have improved, but that didn’t prevent diabetes from becoming a more pressing issue and, according to WHO estimations, diabetes prevalence in 2030 will be twice that observed in 2005. This is largely blamed on unhealthy diet, aging, stress and lack of physical activity. In Europe, the Commission does not have legal competence in the matter and can only rely on active support from national governments. But the EU is nonetheless contributing actively to research in this field. Since 1991 some 892 projects directly or indirectly impacting diabetic patients have been funded, with research work including novel treatments, beta-cell imaging technologies, artificial pancreas, immunotherapies or solutions to counter diabetes side-effects. This edition of the research*eu results magazine focuses on some of the latest results brought thanks to these EU-funded initiatives.

Syngenta granted patent on pepper for use as food
The European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich has granted the Swiss seed giant, Syngenta, a patent on pepper and its use "as fresh produce, as fresh cut produce, or for processing such as, for example, canning" (EP 2 166 833 B1). The patent also covers the plants, their cultivation, harvesting and seeds. The plants have been developed to produce pepper without seeds and are derived from conventional breeding using existing biodiversity. There was no genetic engineering involved in the process.

Horizon 2020: EUR 16 bn in funding for research and innovation over next two years
The European Commission will boost competitiveness by investing almost EUR 16 billion in research and innovation in the next two years under Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation funding scheme.

Seal of Excellence for EU research funding
The European Commission launched on 12 October a new initiative to ensure that taxpayer money is spent efficiently by improving the synergies between EU funding for regional policy and for research.

European Patent Office boosts its business with Patents on Life
A monopoly on specific tomatoes with a higher content of healthy compounds known as flavonols was granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) to the Swiss company Syngenta. The patent covers the plants, the seeds and the fruits. Patent EP1515600 describes the crossing of wild tomatoes with domesticated varieties. The plants are not genetically engineered but derived from classical breeding.

Joint Research Centre
As the European Commission's in-house science service, the Joint Research Centre's mission is to provide EU policies with independent, evidence-based scientific and technical support throughout the whole policy cycle. Its work has a direct impact on the lives of citizens by contributing with its research outcomes to a healthy and safe environment, secure energy supplies, sustainable mobility and consumer health and safety.

Innovation Union Scoreboard 2015
Improving Europe's capacity to innovate and be globally competitive requires further efforts to encourage disruptive ideas and foster their commercial up-take. These are some of the conclusions to be drawn from the latest ranking of innovation performance across Europe.

EU trade mark reform package
The European Commission, European Parliament and Council reached provisional political agreement on 21 April on the EU's trade mark reform package. The agreed measures are set to make trade mark registration systems all over the EU more accessible and efficient for businesses in terms of lower costs, increased speed, more predictability and greater legal certainty. The Commission says the reform will improve conditions for businesses to innovate and to benefit from more effective trade mark protection against counterfeits, including non-authentic goods in transit through the EU's territory.

Galileo, the EU's satellite navigation programme
Galileo, the EU's satellite navigation programme, has placed two more satellites into orbit. The lift-off took place on 27 March at 22.46 CET from the European spaceport near Kourou in French Guiana.Signals confirm that they were positioned as expected.

Connecting Europe Facility under way with EUR 100m to connect European energy networks
The European Commission opened calls for proposals on 4 March under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) to help finance key trans-European energy infrastructure projects.

UK companies file more European patents in 2014
Patent filings at the European Patent Office (EPO) grew by 3.1% in 2014, hitting a new record high of over 274 000. Companies from the UK filed 6 823 patents at the EPO last year (2013: 6 510): with +4.8% the highest growth rate for the UK since 2011, and well above the 1.2% average increase of the 38 EPO member states.

research.eu results magazine no 38
research*eu results features highlights from the most exciting EU-funded research and development projects. Special feature: Can Hydrogen revolutionise our lifestyles? It is published 10 times per year in English, and covers: Biology and medicine - Social sciences and humanities - Energy and transport - Environment and society - IT and telecommunications - Industrial technologies - Space

2014 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard
The 2014 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard (the Scoreboard) contains economic and financial data for the world's top 2500 companies ranked by their investments in research and development (R&D). The sample consists of 633 companies based in the EU and 1867 companies based elsewhere. The Scoreboard data are drawn from the latest available companies' accounts, i.e. usually the fiscal year 2013/14. The 2014 Scoreboard shows that Investment in research and development by companies based in the EU grew by 2.6% in 2013, despite the unfavourable economic environment. However, this growth has slowed in comparison to the previous year's 6.8%. It is also below the 2013 world average (4.9%), and lags behind companies based in the US (5%) and Japan (5.5%).

2014 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard
Investment in research and development by companies based in the EU grew by 2.6% in 2013, despite the unfavourable economic environment. However, this growth has slowed in comparison to the previous year's 6.8%. It is also below the 2013 world average (4.9%), and lags behind companies based in the US (5%) and Japan (5.5%). These results were published on 4 December in the European Commission's 2014 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard, which analyses the top 2500 companies worldwide, representing about 90% of the total business R&D expenditure. Data show that EU-based companies (633) invested EUR 162.4 billion in 2013, whereas US-based companies (804) invested EUR 193.7 billion and the 387 Japanese ones EUR 85.6 billion.

Horizon 2020: first impressions
Horizon 2020, the EU’s biggest ever research and innovation programme, kicked off at the beginning of 2014. Worth EUR 80 billion and running over seven years, Horizon 2020 promised a simple structure that reduced red tape and time so participants could focus on what is really important. Has this been the experience of participants so far?

Public-Private Partnership for Big Data
The European Commission and Europe's data industry have committed to invest EUR 2.5 billion in a public-private partnership (PPP) that aims to strengthen the data sector and put Europe at the forefront of the global data race. Mastering big data could mean: up to 30% of the global data market for European suppliers; 100,000 new data-related jobs in Europe by 2020; 10% lower energy consumption, better health-care outcomes and more productive industrial machinery.

EUROfusion - the European Fusion Joint Programme
The European Commission and the European fusion research laboratories launched on 9 October a European joint programme on fusion in Horizon2020 - 'EUROfusion' - that will ensure significant progress along the path towards the realisation of fusion energy. This joint programme has an overall budget of at least EUR 850 million over the period 2014-18, of which about half will come from the Euratom Horizon 2020 fusion energy research programme.

Horizon Report: schools urged to tackle digital skills challenge
Low digital skills and competences among school pupils and the need to integrate effective use of information and communication technologies into teacher training are among the most pressing challenges faced by European school education today, according to a report published by the European Commission and the New Media Consortium, a US-based not-for-profit body bringing together experts in education technology.

Horizon Report Europe - 2014 Schools Edition
The NMC Horizon Project from the New Media Consortium is a long-term investigation launched in 2002 that identifies and describes emerging technologies likely to have a large impact over the coming five years in education around the globe. The NMC Horizon Report Europe: 2014 Schools Edition, the first of its kind for Europe, examines six key trends, six significant challenges and six important developments in educational technology that are very likely to impact educational change processes in European schools over the next five years (2014-2018). The topics within each section were carefully selected by the Horizon Project Europe Expert Panel, a body of 53 experts in European education, technology, and other fields. They come from 22 European countries, as well as international organisations and European networks. Throughout the report, references and links are made to more than 150 European publications (reports, articles, policy documents, blog posts etc.), projects (both EU-funded and national initiatives) and various policy initiatives from all over Europe. The Creative Classrooms multidimensional framework, developed by European Commission?s JRC-IPTS on behalf of DG EAC, was used for analysing the trends, challenges and technologies impacting European schools over the next five years. The analysis reveals that a systemic approach is needed for integrating new technologies in European schools and impacting educational change over the next five years.

EU funds Open and Disruptive Innovation
The European Commission is committing EUR 90 million to Open and Disruptive Innovation over the next 12 months.

FIWARE makes EUR 80m available for Europe's SMEs
The European Commission has launched the FIWARE Accelerator Programme, enabling EUR 80 million to be awarded to SMEs, Startups and web-entrepreneurs using FIWARE Technologies. The FIWARE Accelerator is a network of European organisations which has already launched first calls for proposals earlier this month. The remaining calls were presented in Munich on 17th & 18th September on the occasion of the European Conference on Future Internet.

FET Flagships: A novel partnering approach to address grand scientific challenges to boost innovation in Europe
The European Commission has published a report on its ambitious science and technology Flagships. The report draws the lessons from setting up the first two such Flagships, Graphene and the Human Brain Project, each representing an investment of EUR 1 billion.

GALILEO, the EU's satellite navigation programme
Galileo, the EU's satellite navigation programme, on 21 August sent two more satellites into space, reaching a total number of 6 satellites in orbit. The lift-off took place at the European spaceport near Kourou in French Guiana. The launch marked another milestone for Galileo as a step towards a fully-fledged European-owned satellite navigation system. These two satellites are the first of a new series which is fully owned by the EU. With the addition of a new wave of such satellites to the existing array, the availability and coverage of the Galileo signal is expected to gradually improve and bring us a step closer to the fully operational phase of the programme. The satellites launched, Doresa and Milena, were named by two schoolchildren who won an EU wide drawing competition to name them.

EU-industry partnerships boost for innovation
Research partnerships between the EU, the private sector and Member States presented their first calls for projects and partners under Horizon 2020, the EU's EUR 80 billion research and innovation programme. Worth a total of EUR 1.13 billion in public funding, which would be complemented by a comparable amount from the private partners, the first round of funding would go into projects that would improve people's lives as well as boost international competitiveness of Europe's industry. Topics included new treatments for diabetes and eye disease and a roll out of dozens of hydrogen-powered road vehicles and refuelling stations.

Interoperability as a means for modernising the public sector
The European Commission has adopted a proposal for a new programme that will help EU Member States to modernise their administrations and provide interoperable digital services at national and European level.