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Kathryn Washburn

Editor

Horizon 2020 Projects

T

he beginning of 2016 marks the start of a decisive third year for

Horizon 2020, hailed at the time of its announcement by then

European commissioner for research, innovation, and science

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn as “a new vision for European research and

innovation in a dramatically changed economic environment” and a

“radical departure” from framework programmes of the past.

Promising easier participation, a significant reduction of red tape, and a

shift of focus onto turning scientific breakthroughs into innovative

products and services, Horizon 2020 boasted an initial budget of €80bn

over the period 2014-2020 in pursuit of three key objectives: supporting

the EU’s position as a world leader in science; securing industrial

leadership in innovation; and addressing the major societal challenges

of the 21st Century.

Now a full two years in, how far is Horizon 2020 living up to its

promises? Oversubscription by a factor of seven, a still costly and

burdensome application process, and a reduced budget of €77bn have

all proven contentious issues, with growing fears that the very best of

European research and innovation might be lost amid the volume of

applications, leading ambitious entrepreneurs and innovators to seek

support elsewhere.

It is perhaps no wonder, then, that current Science Commissioner Carlos

Moedas has already laid out steps to simplify and streamline Horizon

2020, coverage of which can be found in an opening section on science

and innovation in this ninth edition of

Horizon 2020 Projects: Portal.

Also found in this section is a special feature on sex and gender, including

comments from Gender Summit co-convenor Elizabeth Pollitzer at this

year’s edition of the event in Berlin, Germany, who reflects on the

achievements of the summits thus far and outlines progress towards

gender-mainstreaming science and research in Europe, as well as

president of the European University Association Professor Dr Rolf

Tarrach, who offers his thoughts on tackling gender bias in universities

and STEM. A discussion of the EU-funded TRANSRIGHTS project, which

is exploring issues of gender, inequality and citizenship through the voices

of trans-people, rounds out this feature.

Turning to industrial leadership, Portal reports from the 3rd CIR

Cambridge Graphene Business Conference, UK, which took as its

theme the commercialisation of ‘wonder material’ graphene. In addition

to comments from the Commission’s Andrew Houghton, the Rt Hon

Lord Alec Broers, former vice-rector of Cambridge University, and head

of the new Cambridge Graphene Centre Professor Andrea Ferrari, this

section covers key addresses from Airbus Defence & Space’s Martin

Agnew and BP’s Sheetal Handa on the materials challenges and

opportunities in the (aero)space and defence, and oil and gas

industries, respectively.

A special feature on KIC InnoEnergy’s annual The Business Booster

follows, within which RWE’s Dr Inken Braunschmidt, EDF’s Valéry Prunier,

and the KIC’s Diego Pavía and Elena Bou, among others, highlight the

importance of collaboration between small start-ups and big businesses

in order to address the energy trilemma of security, equity and

sustainability. Coverage of the Economic Ideas Forum in Brussels,

Belgium, completes this section.

Elsewhere, a special feature on neurological disorders sheds light on

efforts across Europe to tackle a range of diseases which today affect

one in every 140 people worldwide and includes interviews with

Alzheimer’s Research UK, the Joint Programme – Neurodegenerative

Disease Research, and the European Parkinson’s Disease Association.

Following the health section, a focus on the environment and

sustainability closes the publication, within which Dr Ben Allen, of the

Institute for European Environmental Policy, reflects on the recently

announced revised Circular Economy Package and Scottish Carbon

Capture and Storage’s Dr Vivian Scott gives his thoughts on the UK

Government’s decision to cancel its pioneering £1bn (~€1.4bn)

competition for CCS technology just six months before it was due to

be awarded. Closing this section is a special feature on the

disappearing European coast, including an interview with the National

Trust’s Phil Dyke, who outlines the importance of Nature-based

solutions in the fight against rising sea levels and a growing number

of extreme weather events.

I hope you find this edition of Portal as interesting and informative a read

as I have found in its creation, and, as ever, I welcome any comments

you may have.

I S S U E N I N E

H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L

www.horizon2020projects.com

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