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A repairable brain: cell reprogramming to halt neurodegenerative disease

Uploaded On: 07/04/2020

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Although the precise causes of many neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s are not known, all have serious, chronic and debilitating effects.

In the case of Parkinson's, the brain cells responsible for producing the chemical messenger dopamine gradually die. Because dopamine regulates movement, Parkinson’s patients suffer progressively worsening motor control, trembling and stiffness. An estimated seven to 10 million people worldwide suffer from the condition.

The EU’s IN-BRAIN project, funded by the European Research Council, published the first proof-of-concept study showing that glial cells, resident non-neuronal cells in the central nervous system, can be converted into neurons directly in the brain using novel methods to reprogramme gene expression. Ongoing research suggests that other cells, such as skin cells, can also be reprogrammed in this way, potentially enabling the replacement of brain cells affected by different neurodegenerative diseases as well as by traumatic brain injury or stroke.

‘This is really transformative in the field of brain repair. If we learn to create new neurons in a controlled way in the brain, it opens up possibilities to replace neurons lost to disease and to repair brain circuitry,’ says principal investigator Malin Parmar, a developmental neurobiologist at Lund University in Sweden.

‘Our research has the potential to dramatically improve the healthcare of Parkinson's patients in particular. These novel cell-based therapies could ultimately be used in all early-stage patients as a first-line therapy,’ Parmar says.

Lund University pioneered cell therapies for Parkinson’s disease as far back as the 1980s, when researchers transplanted foetal dopamine cells into patients’ brains, showing that it is possible to replace lost neurons with new and healthy cells. Transplantation with foetal dopamine cells faces both practical and ethical challenges, however. Hence, the subsequent discovery of pluripotent stem cells – different types of mature cells that can be reprogrammed – has set the stage for today’s promising avenues of research.

Giving cells a new goal in life

Scientists are focusing in particular on the development of reprogramming techniques using innovative transcription factors. These protein molecules can be used to turn on or off different genes in targeted cells, generating a desired behaviour and, in effect, transforming the cell type. Parmar and her team have summarised this process accessibly and entertainingly in the ERCcOMICS strip A Cell’s Life.

‘The finding that somatic cells – like skin cells – can be reprogrammed into pluripotent stem cells expanded the availability of scalable cell sources. Moreover, it challenged the dogma that mature cells are fixed and cannot be changed into something else. This concept then opened up other reprogramming methods, like the one we use to convert skin cells or glia to neurons,’ Parmar explains.

The IN-BRAIN project’s results show that reprogramming cells directly in the brain is feasible with current technology. The approach could be particularly suitable as a therapy for diseases that cause a defined loss of specific types of neurons such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s, and potentially some forms of cell damage caused by stroke.

Parmar and her team are currently conducting ongoing research focused on generating more clinically relevant models to determine more precisely how glial cells turn into neurons inside the brain. This is a key step before the results can start to be translated into clinical applications and novel therapies for patients.

Although more research and trials are needed, the approach could initially provide effective early therapy for people diagnosed with Parkinson’s by rebuilding damaged brain circuitry. This in turn would eliminate the need for current therapies using medications that often cause severe side effects and reduce patients’ quality of life.

‘In the future, it is probable that such cell therapies will significantly lessen the need for patients to use drug therapies and, subsequently, invasive therapies to treat the side effects. This would also reduce patient morbidity and mortality and provide opportunities for an extended active life, thereby reducing the burden on healthcare systems and lowering the economic impact of disease,’ Parmar says.

 

Project details

  • Project acronym: IN-BRAIN
  • Participants: Sweden (Coordinator)
  • Project N°: 309712
  • Total costs: € 1 500 000
  • EU contribution: € 1 500 000
  • Duration: March 2013 to February 2018

 

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HyperSurfaces control electromagnetic energy with an app

Uploaded On: 06/04/2020

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State-of-the-art, flat structures called metasurfaces can filter and steer light and sound, render an object completely invisible to electromagnetic waves, and much more. They can deliver automation, remote operation and advanced performance to a wide variety of existing systems, with applications in communications, medical imaging, sensing and security.

However, individual metasurfaces are currently restricted to a specialized function, cannot be reused, and can only be designed by specialised engineers – all of which limits their impact and accessibility.

The EU-funded VISORSURF project has brought together physicists, material scientists, electrical engineers and computer scientists with the aim of producing a programmable ‘plug-and-play’ metasurface.

The project’s resulting hardware platform – known as the HyperSurface – provides the many electromagnetic functions of metasurfaces in a single structure, which can be controlled and reconfigured by software.

This revolutionary approach paves the way for new opportunities in wireless communications and programmable wireless environments. The VISORSURF team envisages that the use of HyperSurfaces to link networks with objects and physical environments will create smarter systems that are far more responsive to user demands. Walls that absorb radiation or block digital eavesdropping, and wireless, long-distance charging of devices are among the many possibilities.

‘VISORSURF’s work can enable smart environments of any scale – from indoors wireless communications to medical imaging equipment,’ says project coordinator Costas Soukoulis of the Foundation for Research and Technology – Hellas, in Greece. ‘HyperSurfaces have succeeded in bringing metasurface capabilities to the Internet of Things world.’

Metasurfaces in the mainstream

VISORSURF researchers started out by modelling the different ways in which metasurfaces control electromagnetic waves. They then studied the interplay between these functionalities to find ways of combining them into a single metasurface. The team designed a measurement and evaluation test bed to carry out this experimental research.

Embedded in the HyperSurface is a network of miniaturised antennas and controllers on a fabric array, which receive commands from a software program via Wi-Fi, a mobile phone or a computer. The controllers operate an array of switches to make alterations to the HyperSurface, delivering the required changes in electromagnetic behaviour.

The team is also exploring the use of a graphene-based control medium – a nanomaterial just a single carbon atom thick – to provide even finer control.

A central aim of the VISORSURF project has been to open up the vast potential of metasurfaces to mainstream use by making the technology accessible to non-specialists.

To achieve this, the team is translating the advanced physics concepts underlying metasurfaces into software. This means any developer could use the HyperSurface to integrate the capabilities of metasurfaces into novel applications, without prior knowledge of the physics involved.

Booming market

‘We believe that integrating HyperSurfaces into communications, medical imaging, sensing, security and other fields will provide advanced solutions enabling automation, remote operation, advanced performance and more,’ says Soukoulis. ‘And we’re seeing a rapid evolution in areas where this could be applied.’

For example, in the medical imaging, multimedia and acoustics market – with an expected global revenue of USD 20.9 billion in 2019 – HyperSurfaces can act as environment-adapting absorbers of electromagnetic energy. This empowers them to operate as noise-cancelling or electromagnetic-shielding devices.

The team also sees great potential for HyperSurfaces in the wireless communications and radar market.

 

Project details

  • Project acronym: VISORSURF
  • Participants: Greece (Coordinator), Cyprus, Germany, Spain, Finland
  • Project N°: 736876
  • Total costs: € 5 748 000
  • EU contribution: € 5 748 000
  • Duration: January 2017 to June 2020

Image source: © Fraunhofer IZM, 2019

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EIT Climate-KIC-supported TWAICE raises EUR 11 million for battery venture

Uploaded On: 03/04/2020

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Munich-based battery venture continues to grow

EIT Climate-KIC supported TWAICE, a Munich-based battery specialist, has raised EUR 11 million from early-stage VC investor Creandum and existing investors Cherry VenturesUVC Partners and Speedinvest. The funding will be used to scale TWAICE software and power internationalisation efforts to contribute to the availability of sustainable mobility and energy solutions.

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Horizon 2020 Policy Support Facility – Open Access: An opportunity for Malta

Uploaded On: 03/04/2020

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Recommendations for the Development of a National Policy for Open Access to publications, research data and related issues can be viewed on the below link:

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Cultivating innovative techniques for sustainable water use

Uploaded On: 03/04/2020

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Fertigation describes the injection of fertilisers and other water-soluble products into crop-irrigation systems. Advantages for farmers and other horticulturists include saving water, money and labour, more accurate fertiliser application, and reduced nutrient losses.

However, in European countries, the cultivation of fertigated crops is still constrained by water scarcity, while intensive cultivation poses risks to water quality. Although innovative technologies are available to improve fertigation, there is a lack of awareness concerning these practical solutions and they are still not widely implemented at farm level.

The EU-funded FERTINNOWA project set out to remedy the situations by creating a knowledge base on innovative technologies and practices for fertigation. ‘Through the project, we wanted to map the problems faced and the answers available, and then to exchange information and solutions,’ says project coordinator Els Berckmoes of the Research Centre for Vegetable Production (PSKW) in Belgium.

Key project results included a benchmark survey of farmers and publication of the ‘Fertigation Bible’, while the FERTINNOWA thematic network has enabled the transfer of numerous innovative technologies and best practices.

Groundwork

The project team interviewed over 370 farmers, in 9 EU Member States and South Africa, representative of various horticultural sectors in different climate zones. Besides giving an overview of the problems faced and the solutions being implemented, it also gauged farmers’ knowledge about innovative or alternative solutions and the barriers preventing their implementation.

One main focus was on creating a database of innovative technologies and practices for fertigation in horticultural crops. From this, the FERTINNOWA team developed factsheets for improving fertigation within, for example, fruit, vegetable and ornamental production systems. All the information gathered by the project was compiled into an ambitious report referred to as the Fertigation Bible.

‘The Fertigation Bible has become a compendium of 130 technologies that are described from a technical, practical, legal and socio-economic point of view,’ explains Berckmoes. ‘Since the release of this compendium in April 2018, it has been downloaded 1 900 times. During our work, we exchanged 28 technologies from one partner or region to another, 11 of which were identified as very innovative,’ she continues.

The technologies promoted by the project include remote sensing of crop variability for effective soil and water management, a model for the prediction of irrigation combined with the use of moisture-content detection probes, and a decision-support system for automatic irrigation management.

All 28 technologies were demonstrated under typical field conditions to show farmers their potential. ‘We saw that even ‘non-innovative’ or less-innovative solutions could have a considerable benefit in some regions and we succeeded in raising the interest of local farmers in these technologies,’ Berckmoes says.

Flow of information

FERTINNOWA has also had beneficial social and economic impacts on farms and across regions, according to Berckmoes. The agricultural sector is one of the largest consumers of water and one of the biggest polluters in terms of nitrate emissions. The project addressed these challenges by promoting technologies that support a more efficient and economical use of water and reduce environmental impacts, thereby helping to achieve the main objectives of both the EU Water Framework Directive and the Nitrates Directive.

A key factor in the project’s success was the close collaboration between different partners. Using an integrated multi-actor approach, the FERTINNOWA knowledge-exchange platform involved researchers, growers, policymakers, industry, and environmental and consumer groups.

Furthermore, the team developed an effective model for transferring technologies to farmers, which can be replicated worldwide. For example, the Fertigation Bible is being translated into Mandarin to serve the Chinese agricultural sector. ‘For many partners involved in the project, the FERTINNOWA initiative was a bridge to new opportunities and sometimes the first steps in further European projects,’ concludes Berckmoes. The project outcomes are now widely used to help farmers and local and national authorities to solve their fertigation problems, whilst authorities dealing with fertilisation policy, water scarcity, droughts and climate adaptation are also benefitting from the outcomes.

 

Project details

  • Project acronym: FERTINNOWA
  • Participants: Belgium (Coordinator), France, Italy, Netherlands, UK, Spain, Poland, Slovenia, South Africa,
  • Project N°: 689687
  • Total costs: € 2 999 273
  • EU contribution: € 2 999 273
  • Duration: January 2016 to December 2018

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New tools and trials combat the resurgence of whooping cough

Uploaded On: 03/04/2020

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Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a highly contagious infection of the respiratory tract caused by the Bordetella pertussis bacteria. In low-income countries, it is a major cause of infant mortality, particularly in babies too young to be vaccinated.

Despite widespread vaccine coverage, the number of cases of pertussis reported in high-income countries has increased, with fresh outbreaks occurring around the world. This appears to be linked to many factors, including improved disease awareness and better diagnostic tools. Resurgence may also be partly related to a rapid decline in vaccine-induced protective immunity and to the fact that some of the vaccines currently used do not induce life-long protection.

The EU- and industry-funded PERISCOPE project aims to expedite the development of a new generation of vaccines by better understanding the immune responses that mediate long-lasting protective immunity against B. pertussis.

A new tool developed by PERISCOPE researchers based at the University of Southampton in the UK – the ‘human challenge model’ – has already revealed that the bacterium can lie dormant for some days in the nose and throat of healthy adults, even if they have already been immunised.

‘PERISCOPE’s partners, in particular Sanofi Pasteur and GlaxoSmithKline – the two world leaders in whooping cough vaccine manufacturing – are already making use of the information and technologies generated by the project. Their aim is to inform and accelerate the development of their own pertussis vaccine candidates,’ explains project coordinator Ronald de Groot of Radboud University in the Netherlands.

‘Public sharing of this information is also ongoing, so the wider pertussis research community can also benefit.’

Seeking out the signature

The team has developed innovative tools and approaches which will be used to test novel vaccine candidates. These include a set of 14 new laboratory tests to study how the immune system responds to vaccination to help prevent infection with B. pertussis. Some of these tests are based on cutting-edge technologies that can study the genetics and image the activity of individual cells of the immune system, while others are applicable to routine large-scale testing in clinical trials.

The tests are already in use in four clinical studies in Europe and The Gambia, Africa. These studies are increasing researchers’ understanding of the immune response to B. pertussis vaccination in infants, children, adults and pregnant women. Sophisticated computational analyses of the results are helping PERISCOPE researchers to identify the ‘golden immune signature’ which novel vaccines need to generate in order to provide longer-lasting protection against whooping cough.

Boosting vaccine development

‘In the mid- to long-term’, says de Groot, ‘the tools and laboratory capabilities we’ve developed to study pertussis vaccination will provide insights into how to develop new vaccines and will support and accelerate the development of new vaccine candidates in Europe.’

At the moment, 47 researchers are being trained by PERISCOPE, alongside 10 of the project partners either by using further funding for pertussis research or by pursuing other collaborative work, based on the results generated during the project. PERISCOPE is funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI); through IMI, it receives support from the EU, the European pharmaceutical industry, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

 

Project details

  • Project acronym: PERISCOPE
  • Participants: Netherlands (Coordinator), UK, Ireland, France, Czechia, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, Germany
  • Project N°: 115910
  • Total costs: € 29 926 682
  • EU contribution: € 21 000 000
  • Duration: March 2016 to February 2021

Image source: © Kateryna_Kon #218788839 source: stock.adobe.com 2020

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IBV involved in development of mechanical vans

Uploaded On: 02/04/2020

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The Instituto de Biomecánica de Valencia (IBV) is doing what it can to help during the corona outbreak. The Valencian organization is part of a team in Spain that has developed 3D printed mechanical ventilators for hospitals.

In these difficult times IBV has taken part in the team at the UPV (Polytechnical University of Valencia) that has developed the mechanical ventilators. IBV has been in charge of the mechanical design and 3D printing. The ventilator has been developed in just 10 days.

Respiratory insufficiency is one of the symptoms linked to COVID-19. It is believed that between 3% and 7% of people infected with the virus will require mechanical ventilation systems. “The device is easy to produce and there are some companies waiting for the approval from the medical authorities to produce it”, says Enrique Alcantara of IBV.

Help people exercise at home

IBV is also part of an initiative from the professional associations of sports licensees and of sports managers. Together they help people of all ages exercise at home properly. The initiative is supported by regional departments of sports and public health.

In the coming days IBV will also create a platform with resources to help people exercise, buy online and control their body shape. 

Photo: Wikimedia Instituto de Biomecánica de Valencia

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2020 LIFE calls for proposals

Uploaded On: 02/04/2020

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The call for proposal pages include timetables and application packages, listed by project type and sub-programme (environment or climate action). For general information on who can apply, how to apply, grant agreement templates and FAQs, please see the respective sections.

The recording and the presentation of the LIFE20 EU Information Day and Networking event (30 April 2020) will be uploaded as soon as available.

 

 

 

 

 

Environment sub-programme

  • Environment and resource efficiency traditional projects
    • Launch of the call for proposals: 2 April 2020
    • Deadline for submitting concept notes: 14 July 2020 (extended)
  • Nature and biodiversity traditional projects
    • Launch of the call for proposals: 2 April 2020
    • Deadline for submitting concept notes: 16 July 2020 (extended)
  • Environmental governance and information traditional projects
    • Launch of the call for proposals: 2 April 2020
    • Deadline for submitting concept notes: 16 July 2020 (extended)
  • Integrated projects under the sub-programme for environment
    • Launch of the call for proposals: 2 April 2020
    • Deadline for submitting concept notes: 6 October 2020 (extended)
  • Technical assistance projects under the sub-programme for environment
    • Launch of the call for proposals: 2 April 2020
    • Deadline for submitting full proposals: 16 July 2020 (extended)

Climate action sub-programme

  • Climate change mitigation traditional projects​​​​​
    • Launch of the call for proposals: 2 April 2020
    • Deadline for submitting full proposals: 6 October 2020 (extended)
  • Climate change adaptation traditional projects
    • Launch of the call for proposals: 2 April 2020
    • Deadline for submitting full proposals: 6 October 2020 (extended)
  • Climate governance and information traditional projects
    • Launch of the call for proposals: 2 April 2020
    • Deadline for submitting full proposals: 6 October 2020 (extended)
  • Integrated projects under the sub-programme for climate action
    • Launch of the call for proposals: 2 April 2020
    • Deadline for submitting concept notes: 6 October 2020 (extended)
  • Technical assistance projects under the sub-programme for climate action
    • Launch of the call for proposals: 2 April 2020
    • Deadline for submitting full proposals: 16 July 2020 (extended)

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PRIMA EXTENSION

Uploaded On: 01/04/2020

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Due to the COVID19 crisis, the deadlines of PRIMA Section 1 and Section 2 calls are extended to give more time for applicants to prepare their proposals.

 

The new Deadlines are:

  •  6th May 2020 for Section 1 
  • 13th May 2020 for Section 2

Learn more on http://prima-med.org/communication-of-extension-of-deadlines/

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Open Call in PRIMA Section 2 in Multi-Topic - Deadline Pre-Proposal 15 April 2020

Uploaded On: 30/03/2020

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PRIMA launched a call in Section 2 Multi-Topic with deadline for pre-proposals on 15 April 2020.

Deadline

Stage 1 Pre-proposal: 15 April 2020 (17:00 Barcelona time) Stage 2 Full-Proposal: 16 September 2020 (17:00 Barcelona Time)

Publication Date: 11 February 2020

 

Weblink

(URL): http://prima-med.org/call-for-proposal/call-section-2-multitopic-2020/ http://prima-med.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/PRIMA-2020-Guidelines-for-Applicants-Section-2.pdf

 

  

Short Call Abstract

Research Fields

  • Environment
  • Food, agriculture and fisheries
  • Information and communication technologies
  • Socio-economics sciences and humanities .

Thematic Area 1-Water management

Topic 2.1.1 (RIA) Low cost, lean solutions for enhancing irrigation efficiency of small-scale farms

Research projects must develop feasible, low cost and lean technologies (or adapt already existing ones) that can enhance water efficiency at the level of smallholder farms. More specifically, technology and solutions should help Mediterranean farmers increase yields and crop quality, allow water savings and higher efficiency in the use of water, while taking into account the specificities of the agro-ecological and socio-economic contexts as well as the operation of the upstream wastewater treatment system.

Technical, agricultural, social (social norms, as well as gender issues), climatic and environmental aspects should be analysed holistically to ensure that the proposed irrigation technologies are well tailored for the specificities of the context, as well as to guarantee their long-term viability.

Thematic Area 2-Farming systems

Topic 2.2.1 (RIA) Re-design the agro-livelihood systems to ensure resilience

Projects should produce outcomes concerning sustainable, widely adaptable solutions or dealing with the design of new agro-ecological farming systems supported by social or economic analyses, useful for policy decisions in terms of local governance, adaptive learning, product valorization, or incentives. The pathway to transition to more sustainable and resilient farming systems should be investigated and should provide guidance to the farmers. Resilience by the proposed farming systems should be assessed with appropriate socio-economic and ecological performance indicators.

Research and innovation proposals will be based on multi-actor approach and involve local stakeholders in the identification of barriers and opportunities from technical and socioeconomic point of view. Proposals should identify solutions to contribute to a balanced territorial development ensuring farmer incomes.

In this respect, innovations may be of a technical/technological, organizational/social and institutional nature and addressed to favour the adoption of the proposed systems.

 

SSH aspects

(keywords/disciplines): Sociology, economics, political sciences

 

 

Specific participation requirement

Legal entities established in the following countries and territories will be eligible to receive funding through PRIMA grants:

The PRIMA Participating States (PS):

  • The following Member States (MS) of the European Union (EU): Croatia, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Slovenia. It includes the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT) linked to these Member States3.
  • The following Third Countries associated to Horizon 2020 (AC): Israel, Tunisia, and Turkey
  • The following Third Countries not associated to Horizon 2020 (TC), upon condition that they have concluded international agreements for scientific and technological cooperation setting out the terms and conditions of their participation in PRIMA: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco.

 

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Call for collaboration for access to screening facilities for rationally selected compounds against SARS-CoV-2

Uploaded On: 30/03/2020

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Background: Exscalate4CoV (acronym E4C) is an EU-funded project that was selected after the emergency Call of expression of interest that the European Commission (DG RTD) issued on 31 January. The project will receive a 3 million EUR of EU funding in the next 18 months. It is consisting of a coalition of three of the most powerful supercomputing centres in the EU (CINECA in Italy, Barcelona supercomputing centre in Spain and Jülich supercomputing centre in Germany) together with a pharmaceutical company and several large Institutes dealing with biology and bio-molecular dynamics. The E4C team use supercomputers in the search of a therapies (small molecule drugs) against SARS-CoV-2 by complementing the classical trial and error clinical approach and possible experimentation in patients, by comparing the signature of the protein of the virus against active molecules that are used in existing databases of compounds. The project is currently processing digital models of the protein of the virus and is matching them against a publicly available database of thousands of known active antimolecules that are part of existing drugs with the aim to find out which combinations of active molecules could react to the virus.  

The E4C project is also establishing a pipeline of phenotypic and target based screens to evaluate the efficacy of repurposed, commercial and de-novo designed compounds.

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EIT Community shines on Forbes 30 under 30 list

Uploaded On: 30/03/2020

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EIT Community innovators are featured on the prestigious list of young entrepreneurs who shape the future of Europe.

In all five editions of Forbes' list, the EIT Community was represented by talented entrepreneus. This year 12 entrepreneurs are on the list, across three categories. 

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EIT Health response to COVID-19

Uploaded On: 30/03/2020

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EIT Health is well placed to support the response to the pandemic, with the approximately 150 partners it brings together across Europe covering research, industry, academia and healthcare delivery (including some of the largest hospitals in Europe).

While its strategic focus lies in prevention and diagnostics, EIT Health is using the strength of its partnership to join the fight against COVID-19 and, without delay, has re-adjusted its operations launching a number of activities to play its part in the response.

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Covid-19: How unprecedented data sharing has led to faster-than-ever outbreak research

Uploaded On: 28/03/2020

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Advances in gene sequencing have allowed scientists to trace and monitor the COVID-19 pandemic faster than any previous outbreak. However, gaps in our knowledge of how coronaviruses work has made it difficult to understand what makes the new coronavirus special 

When the new coronavirus (formally known as SARS-CoV-2) was identified in China in January, scientists around the world were ready to respond. The virus’s entire genetic makeup, or genome, was published online within days. By comparison, during the SARS coronavirus outbreak in 2003, this took almost three months, after the disease was originally blamed on chlamydia.

 

Advances in the technology have brought down the cost of gene sequencing significantly and the machines are now small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. This has made it easier for a large number of samples to be sequenced around the world.

‘You can see from the sequences how the virus spreads, the speed at which it's spreading and estimate the number of people that are infected. As we get more and more sequences, the more and more accurate the numbers are,’ said Professor Anne-Mieke Vandamme from KU Leuven, Belgium.

Next-generation sequencing, or NGS, can generate enormous amounts of data, and the challenge becomes finding ways to analyse it properly.

In 2015, Prof. Vandamme led a project called VIROGENESIS to develop new tools to help analyse and interpret the data that comes from sequencing, particularly for laboratories that were not used to dealing with sophisticated genetic analysis.

‘When we were doing the project, there were only mainly research labs that had NGS. Now everyone has NGS,’ she said.

One of the tools developed, called Genome Detective, can take the raw data from the sequencing machine, filter out results from non-viruses, piece together the genome and use that to identify the virus. It does not rely on any prior guesses or hypotheses, so it can even identify viruses that have not been seen before. This was used to confirm the first case of COVID-19 in Belgium, identifying it as a SARS-related coronavirus.

Online sharing

The power of gene sequencing comes from comparing the results across different cases. Prof. Vandamme says that it has been ‘fantastic’ to see the level of collaboration internationally: ‘There is a lot more online sharing of data and sequences ... compared to the past because we have a lot more online sharing tools available.’

One of these tools is NextStrain, an online resource that uses genome data to monitor the evolution of disease-causing organisms such as viruses in real time. It has tracked several outbreaks including Zika, Ebola and Dengue and has even been used to inform World Health Organization policy on seasonal flu.

Research papers typically take months to be published – an aeon in the current race to tackle the pandemic. The need to share information quickly has encouraged greater sharing of ‘preprints’, drafts of papers that have not yet been through peer review.

‘The push towards open science, open data and preprinting has really changed the way we experience the scientific discourse in this outbreak compared to previous ones,’ said Professor Richard Neher, from the University of Basel, Switzerland, who leads the NextStrain project.

NextStrain already has over 700 genomes of the new coronavirus, which it can use to trace the outbreak by detecting new mutations in the virus. The mutations do not necessarily affect how the virus behaves, but they can act as a genetic signature to link cases that are related. Like tracing your ancestry through a DNA test, a virus sequenced in Madrid, for instance, could have mutations that suggest it originated from an outbreak in Italy.

‘In the current pandemic, it gives us a lower bound on how often the virus has been introduced to a specific location,’ Prof. Neher said.

NextStrain publishes a weekly situation report that analyses these trends. The team was able to estimate that the outbreak in Iran may have been introduced by a single person, whereas at least four different introductions were responsible for the outbreak in the UK, as of 13 March.

‘(Sequencing cases) will become even more important because as we start cracking down on (the pandemic), which we hopefully will achieve, it will tell us how many transmission chains are still circulating and whether the virus is being transported from one region to another,’ said Prof. Neher.

He believes that, as the virus continues to spread, it will accumulate more genetic diversity and it will give us more information on how the virus is being transmitted.

Genetic blueprint

Despite the genetic blueprint of the new coronavirus being readily available, it still does not tell us very much about how it differs from other coronaviruses. Much of what we know has come from seeing how it has spread through the population. It is now clear how different it is to previous coronavirus outbreaks, such as SARS and MERS.

‘They were certainly much less easy to transmit, and also had a very different presentation in that only a few people were asymptomatic. One of the many challenges that we are facing here is that people that have only very mild symptoms have been substantial in transmitting this virus,' said Prof. Neher.

‘That is much harder to control because you have to convince somebody who is basically healthy to distance themselves from others.’ 

Yet, it is not clear why that is the case. The traits of the virus, such as its infectiousness and severity, are driven by its proteins that are responsible for invading our cells and replicating the viral genome.

‘Sequencing a genome these days is pretty fast, but for proteins it’s different,’ said Dr Charlotte Uetrecht, from the Heinrich Pette Institute, Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology, Germany. She studies coronavirus proteins through a project called SPOCkS MS.

‘My lab is producing the proteins (of the new coronavirus) right now. So we want to see whether they behave the same (as other coronaviruses). We usually need to produce the proteins and purify them to a certain extent so we can look at them. So it's a lot more laborious than sequencing.’

Even small changes to the viral proteins can significantly influence how they interact with each other. Dr Uetrecht studies these fleeting associations, which are crucial for the virus to replicate.

‘We know a bit about how that looks, but we don't really understand which of the proteins need to associate for a new genome to be produced,’ she said.

Although understanding these processes could provide new targets for antiviral drugs, Dr Uetrecht says that historically there has been little interest in studying coronaviruses as they have had little relative impact until now. 

The case numbers were low for SARS and MERS and interest fell after the outbreaks, she says. 'The common-cold-causing coronaviruses were not (considered) dangerous.'

‘There was not much research into coronaviruses at all, until SARS. I know a few people who have been working on coronaviruses since the '90s, and they were not very well regarded – they had a hard time getting funding. It was considered a boring, irrelevant virus.

‘Now, it is very interesting again.’

 

Source © European Commision. Article by Ian Le Guillou

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45 new Actions launching in 2020

Uploaded On: 27/03/2020

Details:

On 24 March 2020, COST’s governing board, the Committee of Senior Officials (CSO), confirmed the funding of 45 new COST Actions, which will start in the late Summer and Autumn of 2020.

 

A summary of the Actions is available by clicking here

As an indicator of multidisciplinarity of the new Actions, more than half of them cover at least two OECD (The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) fields of science and technology, while 11% cover at least three fields.

 

Natural sciences lead the way as the most represented field of science (represented in 42% of the Actions), followed by engineering and technology (36%), medical and health sciences (33%), social sciences (31%), humanities (13%) and agricultural sciences (9%).

 

The 45 successful proposals in figures:

 

  • 18% of proposal leaders are early-career investigator
  • 36% of proposal leaders are women
  • 78% of the proposals feature participants from SMEs and industry
  • 54% of all proposers come from an Inclusiveness Target Country
  • 67% of the future networks have attracted participants from all over the world (COST International Partner Countries/Near Neighbour Countries)

 

 The full Action details (Memorandum of Understanding) will be made available on 21 April 2020 on the new Action’s webpages.

 

 

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FET Proactive calls now open!

Uploaded On: 27/03/2020

Details:

 

The European Commission has today open for submission the FET Proactive topics 'Environmental Intelligence' and the 'Emerging paradigms and communities' with 4 sub topics - artificial Intelligence for extended social interaction; Breakthrough zero-emissions energy storage and conversion technologies for carbon-neutrality; Digital twins for the life-sciences;  Measuring the unmeasurable –– Sub-nanoscale science for Nanometrology.

 

The deadline for submission is 2nd July 2020.

 

The FET Open call will close on 13th May and will not have any further open calls this year.

 

Kindly note that FET Proactive and FET Open are now part of the European Innovation Council- EIC pathfinder. The updated work programme can be found here.

 

The recordings of the Info day webinar will be soon uploaded on the dedicated page.

For more information and assistance, kindly send email to lili.vasileva@gov.mt

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Develop your skills with an EIT Community online course

Uploaded On: 26/03/2020

Details:

Discover the wide range of courses available and build your knowledge

Challenging times bring out the best in people; as well as working to help each other, the increased time we spend at home is an opportunity to learn something new and develop our skills.

And what better way than looking at the many online courses offered by the EIT Community? Courses are offered in a wide range of topics and help participants to grow their competences in subjects linked to global challenges, from climate change to health to food and the future of our cities.

For more details, kindly access the link provided.

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EIT InnoEnergy: Teaching online in times of crisis

Uploaded On: 26/03/2020

Details:

Find an online learning strategy that works for you.

EIT InnoEnergy has made available useful resources to provide help to teachers and educators working from home. The resources help teachers quickly transfer their face-to-face course to online.

Follow the link to EIT InnoEnergy's website to learn about Synchronous and Asynchronous communication, and find what's right for you:

https://beyondmoocs.ise.innoenergy.com/external_content/teaching-online-times-crisis

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Dosage mapping tracks cancer radiotherapy more closely

Uploaded On: 26/03/2020

Details:

Radiotherapy using x-rays is a widely used and effective treatment for killing tumours, and half of all cancer patients receive this treatment. Directing an x-ray beam at the tumour causes DNA damage and induces cell death. However, healthy tissue nearby can also be damaged – especially when patients are poorly positioned, or there are inaccuracies in treatment delivery.

Radiotherapy’s full potential is being limited by the lack of a system capable of providing visual feedback on the radiation dosage delivered.

The EU-funded AMPHORA project is developing non-invasive ultrasound technology that measures the amount of radiation delivered to the tumour and the healthy surrounding tissues. This approach, known as in-situ dosimetry, could help improve patient safety during treatment.

At the project’s outset, the AMPHORA team identified prostate cancer – the second most common cancer in men – as the most suitable target application. They have been working with clinical experts to fully understand the challenges associated with ultrasound imaging of the prostate and using that insight to underpin the prototype system’s design.

‘This technology will provide immediate feedback to radiotherapists about the quantity and location of radiation given to the patient, which means there is less room for treatment error and a lower risk of damaging healthy tissue,’ says project coordinator Jan D’hooge of KU Leuven in Belgium. ‘The system aims to increase the accuracy of radiation therapy, which will directly impact on the quality of treatment experienced by the patient.’

Unique nano-droplet technology

AMPHORA’s primary work focused on developing ultrasound contrast agents (UCAs) to accurately sense radiation dosages.

By mid-2019, AMPHORA researchers at Tor Vergata University had developed UCAs that could be injected into the bloodstream in order to reach the tumour and surrounding tissues.

They recently demonstrated that these minute liquid droplets – just half of a thousandth of a millimetre across – evaporate upon exposure to radiation to form microscopic bubbles that light up in an ultrasound image. Thus, the number of bubbles seen in the ultrasound scan relates to the quantity of radiation delivered to the tissue. In this way, an accurate ‘dose map’ is formed.

The ultrasound readout system is being designed to minimise the invasiveness of the procedure and to prevent interference with the radiation beam during treatment. Two bespoke ultrasound probes are being manufactured by project partners at the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering. These new probes will be capable of 3D imaging and therefore dose mapping using state-of-the-art instrumentation to cope with the high data throughput.

From x-rays to proton beams

The system is still at a low-technology readiness level, so it has yet to be commercialised. However, several partners in the consortium are investigating opportunities to adapt it to other applications.

‘Alternative cancer treatments to radiotherapy, such as proton-beam therapy, can deliver a higher concentration of radiation, thereby increasing the potential risk to patients due to imprecision in positional accuracy,’ says D’hooge. ‘We’re now also investigating the application of AMPHORA’s droplet technology to proton-beam therapy, which has been the focus of our second key research output, showing very positive results.’

 

Project details

  • Project acronym: AMPHORA
  • Participants: Belgium (Coordinator), Italy, Netherlands, Germany
  • Project N°: 766456
  • Total costs: € 3 932 775
  • EU contribution: € 3 932 775
  • Duration: November 2017 to October 2021


Image source: © Tyler Olson #33854941 source: stock.adobe.com 2020

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Covid Wage Supplement

Uploaded On: 25/03/2020

Details:

  • Full time employees of enterprises operating in sectors that suffered drastically due to the COVID-19 pandemic or had to temporarily suspend operations on the order of the Superintendent of Public Health will be entitled to up to five days’ salary based on a monthly wage of €800. This includes all self-employed. Part-time employees will be eligible up to €500 per month. Annex A contains the list of sectors by NACE.

 

  • Full time employees of enterprises in other adversely affected sectors (Annex B), including wholesale, manufacturing and warehousing will be entitled to one days’ salary per week equivalent to €160 per month. Part-time employees will be eligible to one day’s salary per week, equivalent to €100 per month. In the case of Gozo based enterprises this will increase to two days’ salary per week equivalent to €320 per month for full time employees, and €200 per month for part time employees. Annex B contains the list of sectors by NACE.

 

 

  • In case of self-employed in other adversely affected sectors (Annex B) who have employees will be entitled to two-days’ salary per week equivalent to €320 per month.

 

  • Self-employed based in Gozo operating in other adversely affected sectors (Annex B) will be entitled to 2 days’ salary per week equivalent to €320 per month. This will increase to 3 days salary, equivalent to €480, for those self-employed who employ staff, and the employees will be entitled to two days’ salary per week

 

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Can we build a fully recycled and reusable house? Yes, we can!

Uploaded On: 25/03/2020

Details:

The construction industry is an important driver of European prosperity. However, it is also a major consumer of raw materials and produces large amounts of construction and demolition waste (CDW). These are key challenges identified by the Europe 2020 strategy, which requires EU Member States to reuse, recycle and recover a minimum of 70 % by weight of non-hazardous CDW.

This target could be achieved by constructing and refurbishing buildings using CDW. The EU-funded RE4 project demonstrated how this can be done.

‘RE4 contributed to reaching the target for CDW recycling/recovery by 2020 by providing innovative technologies and reliable strategies for the design and manufacture of structural and non-structural pre-fabricated elements, with a high degree – up to 85 % – of recycled materials, and by reusing structures from the partial or total demolition of buildings,’ says project coordinator Alessandro Largo of CETMA, Italy.

Four pillars

The project’s solutions were integrated, validated and showcased in the construction of two-storey demonstration buildings at project partners’ premises, ACCIONA in Spain and CREAGH in the UK. In Spain, the project also demonstrated the strategy for disassembly and reuse of structures from end-of-life buildings.

The team showed how CDW-derived structures and materials, such as concrete, timber, roof tiles and bricks, can be used to produce prefabricated, fully reusable buildings. RE4’s success was built on four pillars: maximising the amount of valuable materials recovered; designing reusable building components; improving CDW management through digitisation; and increasing the acceptance of CDW-based products.

An advanced robotic sorting system was developed during the RE4 project to improve the quality of sorted materials, the main focus being on those with high economic value such as sand. The project team also defined new quality classes for CDW-derived aggregates and identified optimal recycling strategies for each of them.

This led to the production of five new concrete materials with different properties, four new components (blocks, tiles, timber and insulating panels), and four new prefabricated elements (concrete and timber façade panels, load-bearing concrete elements and internal partition walls). In all these products, 50-85 % of new material was replaced with recycled elements. RE4’s innovative building concept, using prefabricated, easily dismountable components, enables a new house to be built with up to 100 % reusable structures.

The project’s approach can also be used to refurbish existing houses. RE4 solutions for refurbishment were applied to existing buildings in Italy and Taiwan, taking into account climatic and structural factors in different geographical zones. The seismic performance of RE4‘s innovative solutions was verified through shaking-table testing.

Building on the benefits

The new materials and components derived from CDW have lower environmental impacts than conventional ones, with more than 50 % saving in terms of CO2 emissions, and savings in the consumption of energy and raw materials. They are also more than 20 % cheaper to produce.

Industry partners can therefore take a competitive advantage in leading the transition towards a circular economy in the construction and demolition sector. They can make demolition more economically viable, for example, and ensure the quality of resulting secondary raw materials. Benefits are also derived from standardised production increasing efficiency, and through the fulfilment of requirements for green buildings. Moreover, RE4 solutions can generate new green job opportunities and businesses.

‘The RE4 project has demonstrated how CDW-derived materials and structures can be effectively reintroduced in the production cycles of concrete and timber components with a replacement rate of 50-85 %. Moreover, from a technical point of view, a fully prefabricated, 100 % reusable building is now a reality,’ says Largo.

‘The way is being paved but there is still a strong need to improve waste identification, separation and collection at source, quality assessment procedures and, mainly, policy and framework conditions to foster the transition to a circular economy in construction,’ he concludes.

 

Project details

  • Project acronym: RE4
  • Participants: Italy (Coordinator), Spain, Sweden, Germany, Czechia, UK, Belgium, Taiwan
  • Project N°: 723583
  • Total costs: € 5 117 524
  • EU contribution: € 4 808 149
  • Duration: September 2016 to February 2020

Image source: © Ambrose #863692 source: stock.adobe.com 2020

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Horizon 2020 PILLAR 1 - Excellent Science

Uploaded On: 25/03/2020

Details:

The Malta Council for Science and Technology has prepared four Horizon 2020 videos with information about the programme and interviews with sucessful Maltese participants that have benefited from it.

Check out our first video which focuses on Pillar 1 - Excellent Science

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MarTERA Call for Pre-proposals Deadline EXTENDED

Uploaded On: 23/03/2020

Details:

Important news concerning MarTERA Call 2020: Kindly note that the deadline for submission of pre-proposals has been extended from the 27th March 2020 to the 24th of April 2020.

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Brussels’ tech trash troubles

Uploaded On: 23/03/2020

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Brussels is looking at the tech sector as both the savior and destroyer of the planet.

That dichotomy comes through in the European Commission’s new Circular Economy Action Plan, a draft of which was obtained by POLITICO and which will be presented on Wednesday.

On the one hand the plan says that digital technologies can help reduce the environmental impact of other sectors. On the other, it lays out ways to address the growing waste problem of the tech sector itself.

 “Digital solutions can advance the circular economy, support the decarbonisation of all sectors and reduce the environmental and social footprint of products placed on the EU market. Yet it is also clear that the ICT sector also needs to undergo its own green transformation,” the Commission said in its digital strategy.

The action plan is aimed at completely revamping the way that the bloc uses resources — tackling everything from clamping down on waste to mandating a greater use of recycled materials in new products, better classifying hazardous waste and hammering home the circular principles of reduce, reuse and recycle.

That’s where the tech sector comes in for special scrutiny. It sells short-lived devices that are difficult to repair and are often replaced. Electronic devices are one of the fastest-growing waste streams in the EU, while only 35 percent electronic waste is recycled.

To reverse that trend, the European Commission wants to require manufacturers of electronic devices such as mobile phones, tablets and earphones to make products more easily repairable and recyclable. The draft plans are still subject to last-minute changes, but give a clear indication of the Commission’s thinking.

To reduce e-waste, the EU’s executive arm is set to consider a bloc-wide reward system for consumers to return or sell back electronic devices.

But at the same time, Brussels is very aware it needs digital technologies in its drive to accelerate the transition to a circular economy.

“Digitalization will offer systemic solutions that will put big data and artificial intelligence at work for environmental policymaking — it will also enable innovative business models such as products-as-service or the sharing economy,” Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius told ministers during Thursday’s Environment Council.

The Commission wants to share the most relevant data on making supply chains more circular — such as the built environment, packaging, textiles, electronics, information and communications technology, and plastics. One of the key elements — to be developed in 2021 — is to set up a data platform to track waste shipments.

The EU’s digital chief Margrethe Vestager and Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton last month presented the bloc’s data strategy. Those plans included a common European Green Deal data space, which would use the “major potential” of data in support of priority actions on climate change, circular economy and zero pollution.

Louise Guillot contributed reporting. 

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Innovation in Podkarpackie region

Uploaded On: 23/03/2020

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The first aircraft in Poland using hydrogen cells to power electric propulsion - the AOS-H2 motor glider has been created  at Rzeszów University of Technology. A consortium composed of: Rzeszów University of Technology (project leader), Warsaw University of Technology, AGH University of Science and Technology and Zakład Jeżów Glider implemented the National Center for Research and Development project (AOS-H2) as part of the path PBS3 / A6 / 24/2015.

The most important goal of the project was to build an innovative hybrid drive based on a hydrogen cell. This propulsion was built on the glider airframe and then so-called mobile tests were carried out at the OKL airport of Rzeszów University of Technology. In the project, it is innovative to use two ecological sources supplying an electric motor with a propeller: a fuel generator and an electrochemical battery. The effect of combustion of hydrogen is, of course, water (discharged outside the hull) and electricity supplied to the electric engine.

The aforementioned mobile tests showed that they showed correct operation of the entire aircraft. Further work will be possible when Polish legal provisions regulate the flights of aircraft with hydrogen on board.

Doesn't it sound interesting? I can't wait to hear more info about that soon. If you want to get a bit more info, read the Polish article here.

 

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EU Cohesion Policy invests over €1.4 billion in green projects in 7 Member States

Uploaded On: 23/03/2020

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The European Commission has approved an investment package worth more than €1.4 billion of EU funds in 14 large infrastructure projects in 7 Member States, namely Croatia, Czechia, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Spain. The projects cover several key areas such as environment, health, transport and energy for a smarter, low-carbon Europe. They represent a massive investment to boost the economy, protect the environment and improve citizens' quality of life and social well-being.

Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, said: “In such difficult times for our continent, it is crucial that Cohesion policy continues to play its role in supporting the economy for the benefit of our citizens. Today's major project adoptions show that EU funding, and Cohesion policy in particular, delivers concrete results, helping regions and cities becoming a safer, cleaner and more comfortable place for people and business. Many of the approved projects also help delivering on the goals of the European Green Deal. When the European Commission, Member States and regions join forces, we can achieve a lot.”

Improving Croatia's rail network

Over €119 million from the Cohesion Fund will finance the purchase of 21 new electric trains to boost service quality, reduce delays and encourage more people to use a sustainable transport type. This project will contribute to modernise the country's rolling stock and to improve connectivity and mobility with positive economic consequences. Travel times, noise, vibrations and operating costs will be reduced while safety will increase.

More reliable and efficient energy supply in Czechia

Thanks to an investment of almost €37 million from the European Regional Development Fund, a new efficient and reliable double-circuit power line will be built between Přeštice and Vítkov in the Plzeň and Karlovy Vary regions of Czechia. On top of being a key infrastructure linking the energy systems of different EU countries, this project will increase energy security and renewable energy generation. Regional blackouts and grid failure will also decrease.

Increasing flood safety & improving sustainable water management in Hungary

More than €49 million from the Cohesion Fund will increase flood safety for the people and the economy in the valley of the Tisza river, especially as a response to the extreme floods over the past decades.

In addition, nearly €96 million from the Cohesion Fund will also protect over 132,000 inhabitants from flood risk in the Upper-Tisza. This project also includes improving sustainable water management, thus supporting water-based economy.

Clean energy and better transport services in Poland

A power transmission line and power substations in Northern and North-Western Poland will be built thanks to an EU investment of over €54 million from the Cohesion Fund. Covering an area of almost 380km, the project will support the generation and distribution of clean and safe energy, cutting greenhouse emissions and air pollution.

Moreover, almost €85 million from the European Regional Development Fund will improve public transport in Olsztyn by extending the existing tram and bus routes and installing an intelligent transportation system. This way, more people will be encouraged to use public transport and congestion will be reduced with positive urban environmental consequences.

Then, the Cohesion Fund will invest more than €38 million to modernise the tram network in Bydgoszcz, in the Kujawsko-Pomorskie region. Thanks to this project, around 350,000 inhabitants will profit from increased comfort and accessibility for people with reduced mobility as well as reduced traffic and greenhouse emissions.

Additionally, with an investment of over €76 million from the European Regional Development Fund, Poland will modernise four railway lines for a total length of almost 52km in the Śląskie region. This will reduce travel time and air pollution while ensuring smoother rail interoperability and safety.

Upgrading public transport in Portugal

The Cohesion Fund will invest €107 million to upgrade Porto's metro line system. This will make the city's public transport more appealing, reduce traffic and pollution and guarantee safer, faster and more comfortable journeys for passengers.

Ensuring access to clean water and better healthcare in Romania

€486.6 million from the Cohesion Fund will ensure access to improved drinking water and proper wastewater treatment for over 400,000 people in South-West Romania and prevent contamination of groundwater in the North-East's Suceava county for 220,000 inhabitants.

Then, the EU will invest €47 million from the European Regional Development Fund to improve the quality and efficiency of medical services in the North East region. Thanks to this investment, which will benefit 90,000 inhabitants, patients will receive high quality treatment and the number of deaths and long-term disabilities will be reduced.

Improving rail connection in the Atlantic corridor

The European Regional Development Fund will invest €265 million to improve over 178km of the rail connection in the 715km Madrid-Lisbon high-speed line, and especially in the Extremadura area. This will benefit long distance good and passengers' transport with positive economic and environmental benefits. This project is part of the TEN-T network's Atlantic Corridor connecting South West Europe to the rest of the EU.

Background

Major projects are cohesion policy's large-scale investments with a value of more than €50 million each. Given the EU's high financial contribution to these projects, via the European Regional Development Fund or the Cohesion Fund, they are subject to a specific assessment procedure and a final decision by the European Commission.

In 2014-2020 EU's programming period, 310 major projects have already received the support from cohesion policy.

JASPERS (Joint Assistance to Support Projects in European Regions), the pool of independent experts helping local, regional and national governments prepare large infrastructure projects financed by EU funds, played an important role in each of these projects, either through advising Member States and beneficiaries during the project development or during the appraisal of the application for grant financing.

 

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€47.5 million for 17 shortlisted research projects

Uploaded On: 21/03/2020

Details:

A better understanding of COVID-19 and its spread is essential in order to detect the disease, treat and protect patients and ultimately control the epidemic. This is why on 30 January 2020, the European Commission launched a request for expressions of interest entitled 'SC1-PHE-CORONAVIRUS-2020: Advancing knowledge for the clinical and public health response to the [COVID-19] epidemic' with a budget of €47.5 million.

17 research projects were shortlisted for funding following evaluation by independent experts.

These projects will advance our understanding of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), contribute to more efficient clinical management of patients infected with the virus, and to the public health preparedness and response to the outbreak.

The 17 projects, involving 136 research teams from across the EU and beyond, will work on

  • improving epidemiology and public health, including preparedness and response to outbreaks
  • rapid point-of-care diagnostic tests
  • new treatments
  • new vaccines

Research teams are expected to share data rapidly so that results can immediately inform the public health response.

Such rapid reaction is made possible by the standing budget line for emergency research funds that the Commission maintains as part of the Horizon 2020 annual work programmes for health research.

European Commission research projects on Coronavirus

 

Source © European Commission 

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COVID19: information on H2020 programme implementation

Uploaded On: 21/03/2020

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Dear H2020 beneficiaries,

As you may already know, as of 16 March 2020 the Commission has put in place precautionary measures against the spread of the coronavirus Covid-19, including that almost all staff is currently teleworking. These measures also apply to INEA. We are aware that similar measures have also been implemented in many other organisations across Europe, and maybe in yours as well.

Despite this extraordinary situation, we are making every effort to ensure business continuity. We would like to provide you with information on certain aspects that are relevant for your work with us.

Communication with INEA

Communication via the regular channels continues without any change. Even though not physically in the office, INEA staff continue their work remotely, therefore you should be able to contact us as before. We count on your understanding for the cases, where you receive a response with a slightly longer delay than usual.

Ongoing calls for proposals

INEA H2020 open calls have their deadline on 21 April 2020 and no extensions are currently planned. Potential applicants should organise themselves through remote communication facilities and plan to submit on time. Decisions on possible call extensions are taken centrally by DG RTD and relevant information will be published on the Funding and Tenders Portal.

Grant management - Reporting

Reporting deadlines as defined in the Grant Agreements remain valid. The timely submission of the technical and financial period reports is directly linked to the respective payment. However, INEA will show flexibility in cases where submission is delayed due to the extraordinary circumstances. Please inform your INEA project manager well in advance if you will not be able to meet a deadline. Project review meetings should continue and can be organised via “video” or web conference.

Grant management – Eligibility of costs

Regarding eligibility of costs for travel and events, Article 51 of the H2020 MGA sets out the conditions in which the force majeure clause can be applied. If such a situation occurs, you must immediately inform INEA. Beneficiaries must immediately take all the necessary steps to limit any damage due to force majeure (e.g. cancel tickets and reservations, claim possible cost reimbursements). At the moment of the periodic payment, based on the information provided in the periodic report, INEA will examine for each individual case the possible eligibility of costs based on the application of Article 51.

Amendments

Ongoing and potential future amendments should continue to be prepared as usual. We invite you to contact your project manager to discuss the desirability of integrating unavoidable updates to timings of deliverables and milestones along with other changes requiring an amendment. In well justified cases, INEA will show the necessary flexibility when reviewing your requests.

Suspensions

If the exceptional circumstances mean that implementing your project – or any part of it - becomes impossible or excessively difficult, particularly because of force majeure, then your consortium can immediately suspend under Article 49.1 of the Grant Agreement by following the procedure set out here. If this situation applies to your project, you should first discuss this with your INEA project officer, who can guide you, if necessary.

Lastly, please visit regularly the Funding and Tenders Portal where Frequently Asked Questions related to impacts of the spread of the coronavirus Covid-19 for H2020 programme implementation can be found. National Contact Points are regularly updated with relevant information.

On behalf of all INEA staff, we would like to wish you all the best under these difficult circumstances.

 

Source © European Commission

 

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Public Consultation Document: Towards a Smart Specialisation Strategy 2021-2027 for Malta

Uploaded On: 21/03/2020

Details:

Objective of the consultation

 

  This “Towards” document provides an outline of the potential RIS3 areas for 2021-2027 and is being put forward for public consultation to confirm, or otherwise, whether the outcomes of the EDP truly reflect the R&I potential and the economic strengths of Malta, ensuring that investments are made to support Malta’s competitiveness in the coming seven years. This consultation might also reveal gaps in the analysis carried out, and hence, the final RIS3 Strategy could indeed look very different.

 

  Period of consultation

 

  20th March 2020 – 9th April 2020

 

  How to submit your contribution

 

  We welcome contributions via email on strategy.mcst@gov.mt.

 

  Results of the consultation and next steps

 

  Following receipt of feedback and its review, MCST will work towards a final Strategy document which will take into consideration the feedback received, and which will give a full picture of the analysis undertaken, the final RIS3 areas and proposed interventions.

 

  Personal data and privacy statement

 

 

  The Malta Council for Science and Technology is committed to protecting your personal data and to respecting your privacy. When carrying out public consultations the Council adheres to Data Protection Act, Chapter 586 of the Laws of Malta and Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation).

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Extension of MicroInvest submission deadline for self-employed

Uploaded On: 20/03/2020

Details:

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Due to disruptions caused by COVID-19, Malta Enterprise is extending the primary deadline for self-employed persons to submit their MicroInvest application from 24th March, 2020 to 30th April, 2020.  Applicants are still urged to submit their applications at the earliest possible so that the evaluation process can still function efficiently.

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Esplora going online

Uploaded On: 20/03/2020

Details:

​Esplora is providing online content to reach out to everyone at home. This initiative started as from Tuesday 17th March. Esplora's team members are currently working on videos, graphics and animations which are all aimed at disseminating fun content online through Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Esplora's website.

As an Interactive Science Centre, Esplora is always responding to current events and hence, due to the present situation, some of the material will deal with Immunity, Health and Safety. Some of the experiments shared, will be aimed so that families could safely do at home. Other material will include scientific facts and myth busters.

 

Every Friday, Esplora's Programme Development Team, through Esplora's website blog, will be delivering some interesting science projects.

 

For these fun activities visit:

Website: www.esplora.org.mt

Facebook: @esploramalta

Instagram: EsploraMalta

YouTube: Esplora Channel

 

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The new industrial strategy for a sustainable and digital Europe

Uploaded On: 20/03/2020

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On 10 March 2020, the European Commission published its new industrial strategy Making Europe's businesses future-ready: A new industrial strategy for a globally competitive, green and digital Europe.

The strategy displays a comprehensive set of actions addressing three key priorities:

  1. maintaining European industry's global competitiveness and a level playing field, at home and globally,
  2. making Europe climate-neutral by 2050 and
  3. shaping Europe's digital future.
 

Moreover, the new European industrial policy includes a dedicated strategy for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) 'for a sustainable and digital Europe'.

The SME Strategy announces a series of measures fostering the sustainable and digital transitions of European SMEs:

  • 'Sustainability advisors will be appointed within the existing Enterprise Europe Network to help SMEs with environmental and social challenges and improve access to skills.
  • Up to 240 Digital Innovation Hubs will advise SMEs on how to integrate digital innovations into their products, business models and processes.
  • The new European Innovation Council (EIC) will make available €300 million as of next year to encourage breakthrough innovations delivering Green Deal objectives.'

The EC equally plans to take action on improving the access to markets for SMEs in the Single Market as well as better access to finance. The most significant actions foreseen are:

  • 'Creating an SME Initial Public Offering (IPO) Fund with investments channelled through a new private-public fund set up under the InvestEU programme and launching a gender-smart finance initiative to stimulate funding for female-led companies and funds.
  • Create the ESCALAR initiative, a mechanism to boost the size of venture capital funds and attract more private investment, to help high-potential enterprises to grow.'

A further interesting aspect is the importance given in the new EU Industrial Strategy to the governance of Industrial Ecosystems bringing together academic and research institutes, suppliers, SMEs and larger companies.

 

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COVID-19: Commission launches European team of scientific experts to strengthen EU coordination and medical response

Uploaded On: 19/03/2020

Details:

The European Commission launched an advisory panel on COVID-19 composed of epidemiologists and virologists from different Member States to formulate EU guidelines on science-based and coordinated risk management measures. This panel, which was created following a mandate by EU Member States, will be chaired by the Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, and co-chaired by Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.

President von der Leyen said: "The coronavirus is rapidly changing our lives and societies. All governments have to take well-informed and appropriate decisions for the people of Europe every day. That is why scientific expertise and good advice is now more valuable than ever. I am very grateful to all the high-profile experts on the panel for putting their knowledge at the service of the community."

Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “Together with our public health professionals, clinical practitioners, epidemiologists and virologists, we are at the forefront of the fight against the spread of COVID-19. Time and science matter if we want to win this fight. This panel will play an important role in the EU's medical response to the pandemic. Its work will complement and capitalise on the work of the European Centre of Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).”

The panel will provide advice to the Commission on the following:

  • Formulation of response measures to be addressed to all Member States in line with the different stages of the epidemic in the EU as a whole and taking into account particular Member State contexts;
  • Identification and mitigation of significant gaps, inconsistencies or inadequacies in measures taken or to be taken to contain and manage the spread of COVID-19, including in clinical management and treatment, and overcome its impact;
  • Prioritisation of health care, civil protection and other resources as well as support measures to be organised or coordinated at EU level;
  • Subsequently, recommendation of policy measures for addressing and mitigating long-term consequences of COVID-19.

The panel is composed of seven members from six Member States who will act in their personal capacities and independently. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) will participate as observers.

The members will deliberate at least twice a week – if not more – through videoconferencing, based on questions put forward by the Commission or on their own initiative.

The panel's first official meeting will take place tomorrow, Wednesday 18 March. The Commission will publish the group's agenda and documents online on the panel's page to ensure transparent, coordinated communications around the EU's response to tackling the spread of the epidemic.

 

 © European Commission 

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Global research on coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Uploaded On: 19/03/2020

Details:

WHO is gathering the latest scientific findings and knowledge on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and compiling it in a database. WHO updates the database daily from searches of bibliographic databases, hand searches of the table of contents of relevant journals, and the addition of other relevant scientific articles that come to our attention. The entries in the database may not be exhaustive and new research will be added regularly.

 

To access the database click on the link below. 

Source: World Health Organisation 

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COVID-19 Business Assistance

Uploaded On: 18/03/2020

Details:

In order to help minimize the effect of the current instability in relation to COVID-19, the Government of Malta is issuing the 2 following incentives for business. These incentives along with the application process shall be handled by Malta Enterprise via the email address covid@maltaenterprise.com or by calling 144.

 

1) Fiscal assistance - Postponemnet of payment of certain taxes

 This incentive gives a two-month extension to enterprises, including self-employed, to pay Provisional Tax, VAT and National Insurance Contribution on Salaries. This will apply for taxes owed till end of April.

 All tax forms should be submitted according to normal deadlines. The incentive is primarily aimed, but not limited to, the tourism and hospitality, entertainment, transport and manufacturing sectors that are being affected by COVID-19.

 More details regarding applications and guidelines to follow.

  

2) Facilitation of Teleworking activities

Call for the Facilitation of Teleworking Activities (through the Business Development and Continuity Scheme)

This call supports Employers/ Self-employed to invest in technology that enables teleworking and to partially cover the costs of teleworking solutions. Support shall be limited up to €500 per teleworking agreement and €4,000 per undertaking. The grant shall be awarded against 45% of the eligible cost. This call is eligible for costs incurred between 1st March and 30th March 2020. Total support under this call shall be capped at €2M.

Apart from these two initiatives Malta Enterprise will continue its exercise of client outreach in order to continue to take stock of the situation. Malta Enterprise will also assist companies through its various support measures as can be found on maltaenterprise.com/support.

Malta Enterprise is the home of business and we will do our utmost to assist each and every company that needs assistance, especially at this particular time. However, in line with directions by health authorities and in order to safeguard our clients and our own employees, we are currently discouraging face to face meetings and encouraging assistance via videoconferencing or phone. This applies to all our offices including Malta Enterprise Headquarters in Pieta, Business First Offices in Mrieħel, Life Sciences Park in San Gwann and the Kordin Business Incubation Centre.

 

Clients are encouraged to either call 144, send an email on covid@maltaenterprise.com or to contact their Client Relationship Officer at ME.

 

Please call 144 or contact your Client Relationship Officer directly. 

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Coronavirus: Commission offers financing to innovative vaccines company CureVac

Uploaded On: 17/03/2020

Details:

Today, the Commission offered up to €80 million of financial support to CureVac, a higly innovative vaccine developer from Tübingen, Germany, to scale up development and production of a vaccine against the Coronavirus in Europe. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, discussed with the CureVac management via videoconference. The Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), Ambroise Fayolle, also participated. The support would come in form of an EU guarantee of a currently assessed EIB loan of an identical amount, in the framework of the InnovFin Infectious Disease Finance Facility under Horizon 2020.

 

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “In this public health crisis it is of utmost importance that we support our leading researchers and tech companies. We are determined to provide CureVac with the financing it needs to quickly scale up development and production of a vaccine against the Coronavirus. I am proud that we have leading companies like CureVac in the EU. Their home is here. But their vaccines will benefit everyone, in Europe and beyond.”

 

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “Supporting excellent EU research and innovation is an essential part of our coordinated response against the spread of the Coronavirus. In 2014, CureVac won EU's first ever innovation inducement prize. We are committed to support further its EU-based research and innovation in these critical times. Science and innovation in Europe are at the heart of our policies for protecting people's health.”

 

Ambroise Fayolle, Vice-President for Innovation in the European Investment Bank, said: “The EIB is and remains the EU Bank for innovation, even more than ever in the current health crisis. Thanks to our strong and fruitful long partnership with the Commission in the area of research and innovation financial instruments (InnovFin), we are determined to do our best to support CureVac scale up needs for the benefits of EU citizen and beyond.”   

 

Founded in 2000, CureVac is a German biopharmaceutical company that has developed a novel technology to overcome one of the biggest barriers to using vaccines: the need to keep them stable without refrigeration. Its vaccine technology is based on messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules that stimulate the immune system. Preliminary studies have shown that the technology holds a promise for rapid response to COVID-19. If proven, millions of vaccine doses could potentially be produced at low costs in existing CureVac production facilities. CureVac has already started its COVID-19 vaccine development program and estimates to launch clinical testing by June 2020.

 

The Commission recognised CureVac's potential to bring life-saving vaccines to people across the planet in safe and affordable ways already in 2014 when CureVac received the first ever EU innovation inducement prize of €2 million, funded by the EU's research and innovation programme, FP7. The award was intended to support further development of the breakthrough idea. Now the Commission and the EIB are strengthening jointly their efforts to provide the necessary means to CureVac, taking advantage of their long and fruitful cooperation in financial instruments dedicated to support research and innovation such as Horizon 2020 InnovFin and in particular its Infectious Disease Finance Facility.

 

Background

The support to CureVac is part of coordinated EU response to the public health threat of COVID-19.

 

Working closely with the industry, the Commission has mobilised up to €140 million in public and private funding to support urgently needed research. On 6 March, the Commission announced that it selected 17 projects involving 136 research teams to receive a total funding of €47.5 million from its research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020. The teams will work on developing vaccines, new treatments, diagnostic tests and medical systems aimed at preventing the spread of the Coronavirus. In addition, the Commission has committed up to €45 million for research on vaccines and treatments through a call published on 3 March by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), which is to be matched by the pharma industry, so up to €90 million in all.

 

In the past years the European Commission has invested greatly in research to prepare exactly for this type of public health emergency. Several EU funded projects are currently contributing to the European and global preparedness and response activities.

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Applications welcome from startups and SMEs with innovative solutions to tackle Coronavirus outbreak

Uploaded On: 17/03/2020

Details:

The European Commission is calling for startups and SMEs with technologies and innovations that could help in treating, testing, monitoring or other aspects of the Coronavirus outbreak to apply urgently to the next round of funding from the European Innovation Council. The deadline for applications to the EIC Accelerator is 17:00 on Wednesday 18 March (Brussels local time). With a budget of €164m, this call is “bottom up”, meaning there are no predefined thematic priorities and applicants with Coronavirus relevant innovations will be evaluated in the same way as other applicants. Nevertheless, the Commission will look to fast track the awarding of EIC grants and blended finance (combining grant and equity investment) to Coronavirus relevant innovations, as well as to facilitate access to other funding and investment sources.

 

The EIC is already supporting a number of startups and SMEs with Coronavirus relevant innovations, awarded funding in previous rounds. This includes the EpiShuttle project for specialised isolation units, the m-TAP project for filtration technology to remove viral material, and the MBENT project to track human mobility during epidemics.

 

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PRIMA SECTION 1 EXTENSION

Uploaded On: 17/03/2020

Details:

Important news concerning PRIMA Calls 2020:

Announcement of the extension of the Deadline for the Submission of PRIMA 2020 Calls

Due to the COVID19 outbreak, PRIMA will postpone the Deadline for Section 1 Calls Stage 1, from 1st April to 13th April.

No changes in the Deadline for Section 2 Call is foreseen up to now.

In any case, PRIMA is monitoring the situation closely and stands ready to review or introduce further measures if need be.

The possible review of the Submission date will be communicated on 31st March for both Section 1 and Section 2 Calls.

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Collaborative Doctoral Partnership programme

Uploaded On: 16/03/2020

Details:

The Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships (CDP) is an initiative of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) to establish strategic collaborations with higher education institutions (HEIs/universities) that grant doctoral degrees (PhD).
CDP is characterised by research excellence and international reputation.
The purpose of CDP is to train a new generation of doctoral students in science and technology.
 A specific focus lies on the science-policy interface.
 
HEIs/universities
 
A first call for expression of interest for the CDP pilot phase was launched at the end of 2016. A second call has started in 2020.
HEIs/universities located in EU Member States and countries associated to the EU Research Programme Horizon 2020 are eligible for participation to the CDP.
HEI/universities can apply to one or more thematic fields with several proposals, each proposal submitted on a separate application form.
List of CDP HEIs/universities collaboration agreements of first Call (2016)
 
PhD positions
 
Doctoral studies under CDP are co-screened, co-hosted and co-supervised by selected HEI/universities and the JRC.
Doctoral students have the opportunity to carry out part of their doctoral studies at the JRC.
For the period spent at the JRC, doctoral students are offered a grant holder category 20 contract.

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Dutch researchers first to find Covid-19 antibodies: Report

Uploaded On: 16/03/2020

Details:

A team of ten scientific researchers from the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam and Utrecht University say they are the first in the world to discover an antibody capable of fending off an infection by the Covid-19 variant of coronavirus. The discovery could lead to an antiviral medication, and the ability for people to test themselves at home for the presence of the virus.

“I am too old to jump on a table,” said cellular biology professor Frank Grosveld to Erasmus Magazine. Their article is undergoing a peer review by other researchers on the online platform BioRxiv, and they believe it well then be published by top science journal Nature.

"Here we report a human monoclonal antibody that neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 (and SARS-CoV)," the researchers state in their academic paper's abstract. This is the SARS-2 virus, which causes coronavirus induced disease 19, or Covid-19 for short.

 

They claim the antibody they found "neutralizes" the virus, and "offers the potential to prevent and/or treat COVID-19, and possibly also other future emerging diseases in humans caused by viruses from the Sarbecovirus subgenus."

"As far as we know, this is the very first antibody that blocks the infection," Grosveld explained to the magazine. "Finding something like this is very rare," he said.

Their research would not necessarily lead to a vaccine, but rather a new medicine that could be used to treat those infected with the current coronavirus strain. It could be developed far faster than a vaccine, but would need months of testing, he stated, adding that it would also be more expensive to produce than a vaccine.

"We are now trying to get a pharmaceutical company on board – which is looking promising, by the way – that can produce the antibody on a large scale as a medicine," Grosveld said.

"If you were to take this as a patient, it is expected – only an expectation right now – that the infection will be stopped. And so it can give the patient an opportunity to recover," he told the magazine. 

 

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A new financial instrument for energy efficiency in Extremadura

Uploaded On: 13/03/2020

Details:

Extremadura is one of Spain’s largest regions, and has a high proportion of old and inefficient building stock, built before 1980. Whilst the region has high potential to save energy through renovation of buildings, comprehensive rehabilitation rates remain low.

'We detected that there were important barriers, since the housing stock was old and energy inefficient. And, we asked ourselves what we could do to remedy this, seeing that there was a potential savings of up to 40% in the energy consumption of our buildings', explains Cosme Segador, Director of Extremadura Energy Agency (AGENEX).

Recognising the need to mobilise investment, the region wished to establish financial instruments to encourage investment in more projects, whilst also providing more advantageous financial parameters for borrowers, including subsidised interest rates.

Financial instruments such as guarantees and subsidised loans can be set up with the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIFs) and local and national banks. AGENEX therefore set about to convince the region’s Managing Authority to change their Operational Programme for the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to enable financial instruments to be created. They also recognised the need to learn more about setting up such instruments and developing skills for managing financial instruments in both public authorities and financial institutions.


Changing the operational programme

Looking to overcome its regional challenges, AGENEX drew support from three European programmes – Interreg Europe (FINERPOL project), Interreg South West/SUDOE (REHABILITE project), and Horizon 2020 (HousEEnvest and Innovate) – to define a new policy instrument for financing wide-scale building renovation.

The  AGENEX co-ordinated project FINERPOL ('Financial Instruments for Energy Renovation Policies'), brings together partners from seven European regions to share good practices and support regional capacity building, with each region seeking to improve their policy frameworks.

It supported the implementation of an ex-ante assessment in each of its regions to identify market failures and funding gaps. In Extremadura, the assessment found a lack of specific financial products available for comprehensive refurbishment of buildings, low demand for refurbishment works as a result of low-awareness, and significant costs of managing refurbishment projects.

As a first step in securing ERDF funding for a new financial instrument, AGENEX sought to raise political awareness of the opportunities provided by financial instruments and the need to modify the Operational Programme (OP). After securing support via FINERPOL stakeholder meetings and awareness raising activities, AGENEX presented and defended the proposed change to the Monitoring Committee of the OP.

AGENEX then prepared the required documents to amend the OP, with the support of the Extremadura Regional Government. The amendment was approved by the European Commission in December 2018, paving the way for the region to use ERDF funding to establish a financial instrument.


Setting up the financial instrument

 

Drawing from the good practices of other regions – including KredEx (Estonia) and the Urban Development Fund in Pomorskie (Poland) – Extremadura is now establishing a portfolio guarantee fund. The instrument draws together funds from the European Regional Development Fund and regional financial institutions.

A portfolio guarantee aims to provide better access to finance for targeted final recipients, by providing credit risk coverage to financial intermediaries (banks) on loans. In this way, it provides security to a bank to encourage it to invest in energy renovation, where it may otherwise be reluctant to do so.

The fund will mobilise 30M EUR with a guarantee of 5M EUR from the ERDF. It will be managed by the regional Government (Junta de Extremadura) and AGENEX will provide the technical assistance for the studies. It is foreseen that 300 technical and financial studies and 100 integral renovations will be done before the end of 2021. 

As well as the guarantee fund, the region will also create a one-stop-shop, the OSIR (Office of Integral Services for Rehabilitation), which is one of the main products developed by the INNOVATE project. The OSIR will give home owners a single contact point for gaining advice on renovations, support on access to finance, and management of the overall renovation project, starting in March 2020.

'The technical assistance provided by the Agency responds to the need to offer an independent and expert accompaniment in integral rehabilitation projects that guarantees users a quality technical study, far from economic interests, and also provide the banks with confidence on the experience and development that AGENEX can guarantee. These two aspects will boost the market for achieving a comprehensive rehabilitation of buildings higher rates', says Daniel Encinas, AGENEX Technical Co-ordinator.

Find out more information at the FINERPOL Action Plan for Extremadura, or discover good practices and support in the Policy Learning Platform Policy Brief on Funding Energy Efficiency through Financial Instruments, and the Policy Brief on Supporting energy renovation of private households through One-Stop-Shops.

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The 2019 EIT AI report is here! EIT Artificial Intelligence activities report 2019

Uploaded On: 12/03/2020

Details:

In February 2020, the European Commission presented a white paper ‘On Artificial Intelligence - A European approach to excellence and trust’. The paper sets out the Commission's proposals to promote the development of AI in Europe while ensuring respect of fundamental rights. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is developing fast, which is why Europe needs to maintain and increase its level of investment.  

With its extensive network and broad thematic coverage, the EIT is uniquely placed to help Europe make the most of the potential of Artificial Intelligence and keep up with the AI technological race. The EIT is one of the largest European public-private AI innovation initiatives and it has the capacity to accelerate and harvest AI applications that have a positive societal effect.

AI is a key driver of productivity and economic growth, and already has a significant effect on our daily lives. Through entrepreneurial education, business creation and acceleration and innovation activities, the EIT is already helping the EU to power AI innovation. You can discover more about this in this report that presents ongoing activities and achievements by the EIT Community in driving AI innovations across Europe.

For more information, kindly access the link provided.

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COVID-19: Horizon 2020 partly funding Innovative Medicines Initiative fast track call

Uploaded On: 12/03/2020

Details:

The European Commission funds through Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation programme, up to €45 million of the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) fast track call for research proposals in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. A commitment of a similar scale is expected from the pharmaceutical industry so that the total investment could reach up to €90 million.

The IMI call invites proposals for projects to develop treatments and diagnostics to better tackle the COVID-19 outbreak and to increase preparedness for potential future outbreaks.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said:

 

''I welcome the rapid response of IMI to the coronavirus outbreak. This collaboration between the public and the private sectors brings their expertise and resources together in our fight against the coronavirus outbreak. This will help speed up the development of treatments and diagnostics in face of this global emergency and increase our preparedness for future outbreaks''.

 

This call comes as part of the coordinated EU response to the public health threat of COVID-19, hand in hand with the emergency research funding mobilised recently under Horizon 2020. The special call for expression of interest (SC1-PHE-CORONAVIRUS-2020) was launched on January 30 with a budget of €10 million. In the coming weeks, the selected projects will start their work to advance the knowledge on COVID-19 and its impact on infected people, with the aim of contributing to efficient patient management and/or public health preparedness and response.

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Ideal-ist Topic Tree

Uploaded On: 28/02/2020

Details:

The Topic Tree is a visual tool illustrating connections between closed, open and forthcoming Horizon 2020 topics related to ICT. It helps you to identify historical and future links to call topics and offers you background information provided by Ideal-ist and EC Participant Portal.

You can customise the Topic Tree view using controls on the left-hand side. The panel on the right-hand side displays basic information related to chosen topics. 

Information and image source:

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The European Green Deal Starts with the Energy Transition

Uploaded On: 28/02/2020

Details:

The European Technology and innovation Platform for Smart Networks in Energy Transition (ETIP SNET) and the International Council on Large Electric Systems (CIGRE) strongly welcome the announcement of the European Green Deal by the European Commission - a document that outlines overarching policy priorities for the next five years, which are meant to help Europe reach carbon neutrality by 2050. 

The 10 key messages from CIGRE and ETIP SNET

Information and image source:

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EU-wide public consultation on Europe's Beating Cancer Plan - Consultation

Uploaded On: 28/02/2020

Details:

Every year, 3.5 million people in the EU are diagnosed with cancer, and 1.3 million die from it. Over 40% of cancer cases are preventable. Without reversing current trends, it could become the leading cause of death in the EU. Europe’s beating cancer plan aims to reduce the cancer burden for patients, their families and health systems. It will address cancer related inequalities between and within Member States with actions to support, coordinate and complement Member States’ efforts. 

The consultation will help shape the Plan, identify key areas, and explore future action. 

Have your say and contribute to the ongoing public consultation. Access the link below to participate.

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Development of therapeutics and diagnostics combatting coronavirus infections

Uploaded On: 24/02/2020

Details:

Proposals submitted under this topic are expected to advance the knowledge specifically on COVID-19 and more widely on the coronavirus family with the aim of contributing to an efficient patient management and/or public health preparedness and response to current and future outbreaks of coronavirus infection. Considering that this is a newly identified virus, the scope of this topic remains broad and must address at least one of the following objectives . Applicant consortia will be competing for the maximum total financial contribution from IMI2 JU up to EUR 45 000 000.

 

IMI will also hold a webinar on IMI2 – Call 21 on the novel coronavirus on Wednesday 4 March at 14:30 CET (Central European Time / Brussels time).

 

There are also some supporting measures provided by senet-hub.eu. Here are a few tools and resources that are already in place and available for use on the SENET website:

 

Call power partnering 

A Scoping paper: Review on health research and innovation priorities in Europe and China 

News and events

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FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: PRIMA CALLS 2020 ARE NOW LAUNCHED

Uploaded On: 18/02/2020

Details:

PRIMA – Partnership for R&I in the Mediterranean – facilitates collaborative R&I in the areas of Water Management, Farming Systems and Agro-Food Chains. PRIMA operates under two main lines of funding – Section 1 and Section 2. Section 1 Calls are funded directly by the European Commission whilst Section 2 Calls are funded directly by the countries participating in PRIMA.

The following topics under Section 2 will be eligible for funding :

Thematic Area 1: Water Management

Topic 2.1.1 Low cost, lean solutions for enhancing irrigation efficiency of small-scale farms
Thematic Area 2: Farming Systems

Topic 2.2.1 Re-design the agro-livelihood systems to ensure resilience
Thematic Area 3: Agro-food Value Chain

Topic 2.3.1 New optimization models of the agro food supply chain system to fair price for consumers and reasonable profit share for farmers
For more information on the eligible topics for Section 1, please visit this link. 

Academic, Industrial and Public entities residing in Malta are eligible for funding under the Section 2 calls, with the option of requesting up to 500,000 euros to participate in a PRIMA proposal consortium (N.B. if more than one National partner is present in one consortium, the total amount of funding for the participating National partners cannot exceed the 500,000 euros capping).

Please consult the Section 2 Call Text and the National Rules for Participation (State Aid) / National Rules for Participation (non-State Aid) for more information.

Pre-proposal submission deadline – 15th April 2020 at 5pm Barcelona Time

Apart from the pre-proposal submission by the Project Coordinatior on the PRIMA submission platform, each National applicant shall be required to submit a National Application Form to eusubmissions.mcst@gov.mt by 15th April 2020 at 23:59 CET. Please access the National Application Form together with its corresponding Annex I and Annex II, II.i & III.

For further information, please contact MCST on prima.mcst@gov.mt / 00356 23602241

 

 

PRIMA website – http://prima-med.org/

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PRIMA Proposal Writing Assistance Scheme 2020

Uploaded On: 14/02/2020

Details:

This scheme has been launched to provide opportunities for entities, intending to submit a PRIMA pre-/ full proposal as a coordinator of a consortium, to engage a service provider who can support them through the pre- / full proposal writing and/or submission stages. 

Please access the Rules for Participation or contact MCST on prima.mcst@gov.mt for more information.

Please download the Application Form and de Minimis declaration form.

Applicants that deem their application as having no State Aid implications are requested to contact the Council on prima.mcst@gov.mt.

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Malta National R&I Monitoring Report 2018

Uploaded On: 14/02/2020

Details:

Executive Summary

The main aim of this report is to monitor the implementation of the actions in the National Research and Innovation Strategy 2020 and the R&I Action Plan 2015-2020.  A comprehensive set of indicators covering the three Pillars and Action Lines were established with the support of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Policy Support Facility (PSF). Data was collected from NSO, Eurostat and directly from stakeholders.     

A set of seven headline indicators was established to monitor the overall inputs and outputs  of the national R&I system. This report compares the latest available figures with the 2020 targets for these indicators. The target for number of PhD holders as a percentage of active population has been achieved  and the data collected on the number of researchers (expressed in full-time equivalents, FTE) shows an upward trend towards achieving the 2020 target. The figures for employment in knowledge-intensive activities as a percentage of total employment also show an upward trend, however data trends for all other indicators have faltered.     

Several recommendations are made regarding the indicators at Action Line level since data confidentiality and the restructuring of data sources (such as the Community Innovation Survey) were major obstacles in the data collection process. This was especially noted for the Smart Specialisation Areas. These obstacles made it difficult to reach robust conclusions and improvements to the system will be considered for future reports.

Please access link below for full report:

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Investing in Sustainable Permaculture Design for Farm Resilience

Uploaded On: 13/02/2020

Details:

Permaculture is a living metaphor that offers concrete possibilities for those leading conventional lives and yet struggling with contemporary existential dilemmas around climate adaptation. On finding ways how to live that are sustainable and respect planetary boundaries and limitations. Permaculture poses a concrete alternative to our style of living, inviting us to make changes that are essential, sustainable, and embracing of the ecosystems where we live - as our common home, instead of living in hostility towards our own habitat. Permaculture invites us to take a closer look at how we live within our communities and societies, inviting us to live better lives and harmonize our relationships through understanding symbiosis.

On a permaculture farm no plant is an invasive: behaviour of intensity of plant genus is indicative to ecosystemic functionality and reparative systems over time , on the long term plants learn to live in community through achieving balance, together creating forests of various diversity scales. At Baħrija Oasis men and women, irrespective of their gender or sexual orientation tend to the fields, to the plants and trees that grow there. They tend to the seeds, to the bees and to Zulu (the dog) as well, which makes Baħrija Oasis a little ‘secret’ paradise-garden tucked in the rugged rocks on the cliffs on the Maltese Islands. 

 

It may all sound very utopic, and yet a permaculture farm is far from an abstract ideal. It requires hard work, commitment, dedication and also financial investments. Permaculture rests on three main ethics which are; Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share. Baħrija Oasis is a living witness, exhibiting real possibilities of how a life lived based on these three principles could look like.  The Oasis shows that it is possible to live from the earth without exploiting its resources, but rather through cultivating and co-creating the conditions for abundance for oneself, others and future generations. Baħrija Oasis is dynamic resilience, always moving within and towards creativity. 

 

The EAFRD funds through the Young Farmers Project (Measure 6.1) is presently financially supporting this small permaculture farm to upgrade its operations and improve its agricultural production. While upgrades are being implemented, these are carried out in full respect to the permaculture principles that the farm strictly adheres to, reinforcing its ethics and principles. Thanks to the EAFRD funds, Baħrija Oasis can continue with its transformative educational programme, that of being a living witness of how life looks like when lived within a healthy productive ecosystem.

 

 

 

“The garden is the only living artwork that men can do, and in which the walker enters an experience that transforms him by returning to his own origins.”

Fernando Caruncho

 

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The Future of Cancer Research - Post 2020 - Survey

Uploaded On: 04/02/2020

Details:

The objective of this survey is to collect citizens suggestions on Malta’s future in CANCER RESEARCH.

We would like to understand what Malta should be focusing on, and whether we should look at new and exciting areas that through investment in research and innovation, can provide a better quality of CANCER CARE. 

We want to understand Malta’s challenges and opportunities and receive input on ideas and priority areas.

Participate in the online survey by clicking the below link:

Deadline 15 March 2020

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MarTERA Call 2020

Uploaded On: 08/01/2020

Details:

A funding opportunity has emerged.

 

MarTERA has launched a joint call for transnational research and innovation projects in the maritime and marine technology sector, initiated by ministries and funding organisations from 11 countries: Belarus, Belgium, France, Germany, Malta (represented by the MCST), Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, South Africa and Turkey.

 

Academic, industrial & public entities residing in Malta are eligible for funding under this call, with the option of requesting up to €300,000 to participate in a MarTERA proposal consortium.

 

Pre-proposal submission deadline: 27th March 2020

 

For more information, please access the following link:

 

https://mcst.gov.mt/funding-opportunity-transnational-call-reserach-innovation-projects-maritime-marine-technologies/

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SGE Water Catalogue 2019-2020

Uploaded On: 20/12/2019

Details:

The Sector Group Environment of the Enterprise Europe Network has elaborated a Water Catalogue 2019-2020.  In the Water Catalogue you can find:

  •  Water related Partner Opportunities profiles,
  • EEN Water related events,
  • Horizon 2020 & Water relevant calls with contributions from NCPs CaRE
  • Contact details of the Sector Group Environment members.

This catalogue was prepared as part of the collaboration between the Sector Group Environment and NCPs CaRE.

 

The Water Catalogue can be found at the following link

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Promoting Mediterranean Research and Innovation with the Lebanese Development Network

Uploaded On: 18/12/2019

Details:

The Malta Council for Science and Technology’ has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the  ‘Lebanese Development Network’ (LDN) to promote Mediterranean Research and Innovation through plumtri. The agreement was respectively signed by MCST's Executive Chairman Dr. Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando and the President of LDN Mr. Amin Nehme.

 

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Pre-announcement for MarTERA Call 2020

Uploaded On: 18/12/2019

Details:

MarTERA will launch a joint call for transnational research and innovation projects in 2020. This call is initiated by ministries/funding organisations from 12 countries: Belarus, Belgium, France, Germany, Malta, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, South Africa and Turkey. Detailed information on the transnational call will be published beginning of January 2020. The following priority areas are foreseen:

 

  • Priority Area 1: Environmentally friendly maritime technologies
  • Priority Area 2: Innovative concepts for ships and offshore structures
  • Priority Area 3: Automation, sensors, monitoring and observations
  • Priority Area 4: Advanced manufacturing and production
  • Priority Area 5: Safety and security

 

Applicants from the above-mentioned countries are eligible for funding and applicants from other countries are eligible in case they fund their own involvement.

 

Submission Deadline – 27th March 2020

 

Maltese based entities have the option of requesting up to €300,000 to participate in a MarTERA proposal consortium. Industry participation is highly encouraged.

 

For more information, please contact the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST) on international.mcst@gov.mt

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European Universities Initiative

Uploaded On: 19/11/2019

Details:

The aim of this initiative is to bring together a new generation of creative Europeans able to cooperate across languages, borders and disciplines to address societal challenges and skills shortages faced in Europe.

The education landscape across Europe is changing. At the 2017 Gothenburg Summit, EU leaders outlined a vision for education and culture. In its December 2017 Conclusions, the European Council called on Member States, the Council and the Commission to take forward a number of initiatives, including:

 

'…strengthening strategic partnerships across the EU between higher education institutions and encouraging the emergence by 2024 of some twenty 'European Universities', consisting in bottom-up networks of universities across the EU which will enable students to obtain a degree by combining studies in several EU countries and contribute to the international competitiveness of European universities'.

Please access below link for further information:

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PRIMA Networking Assistance Scheme - Water, Agriculture & Food

Uploaded On: 31/10/2019

Details:

UPDATED

As part of the PRIMA Networking Assistance Scheme, MCST will be organising networking event in Turkey. The main aim of this event is to facilitate networking between Maltese and Turkish stakeholders that are interested in submitting joint proposals under the PRIMA Programme.

The networking event will be taking place on:

  • 12th December 2019 in Ankara, Turkey

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION - Scheme will cover related expenses of travel and accomodation.

Application Deadline - 28th November 2019 UPDATED

For any queries, please contact MCST on prima.mcst@gov.mt

The PRIMA Networking Assistance activities are part of the PRIMA Programme supported by the European Union and funded by the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST). The PRIMA Programme is supported under Horizon 2020, the European Union's Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

APPLICATION FORM can be accessed from the below link:

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Erasmus for Young Enterpreneurs

Uploaded On: 23/10/2019

Details:

Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs is a cross-border exchange programme which gives new or aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to learn from experienced entrepreneurs running small businesses in other Participating Countries.

The exchange of experience takes place during a stay with the experienced entrepreneur, which helps the new entrepreneur acquire the skills needed to run a small firm. The host benefits from fresh perspectives on his/her business and gets the opportunities to cooperate with foreign partners or learn about new markets.

Who can participate?

  • New entrepreneurs, firmly planning to set up their own business or have already started one within the last three years
  • Experienced entrepreneurs who own or manage a Small or Medium-Sized Enterprise (SME)

Are you interested in R&I and want to start up your own business?

You can participate in the programme as a new entrepreneur if: 

  • You are firmly planning to start a business, based on a viable business plan;

OR

  • You have less than 3 years of total entrepreneurial experience.

Your (future) company or activity can be in any sector and there is no age limit (Note: all participants must be over 18 years old). 

However, you must also:

  • Be a permanent resident in Malta or in one of the Participating Countries;
  • Have a concrete project or business idea, reflected in a business plan;
  • Be motivated and committed to collaborate during your stay with an experienced entrepreneur from another Participating Country; be prepared to contribute to the development of the host entrepreneur's business and make your skills and competences available;
  • Be ready to complement the programme funds as needed to cover the costs of your stay abroad.
  • Note that new entrepreneurs can only take part in the programme once. 

Financial Support: The financial support to new entrepreneurs contributes to travel and subsistence costs during the visit. The grant is paid by the local contact point chosen by the new entrepreneur. The new entrepreneur and his/her local contact point sign an agreement which determines the funding granted during his/her stay, and how it will be paid in practice.  The financial support is calculated monthly and is based on the monthly lump sum for the relevant country. Note that the financial support is provided only for the time spent abroad collaborating with the host.  Download the table of monthly financial assistance paid per country of stay

Are you an SME involved in research and development and would like to host an entrepreneur?

As a host entrepreneur you can participate in the programme if:· 

  • You are a permanent resident in Malta and your company is registered;
  • You are the owner-manager of an SME OR a person directly involved in entrepreneurship at SME board level (not employee);      
  • You have been running a company as an entrepreneur (not employee) for more than 3 years;
  • You are willing to share your knowledge and experience with a new entrepreneur and act as a mentor.

Contact MCST for more information and to get you in contact with Malta’s contact point.

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Expression of Interest – National STEM Careers Expo

Uploaded On: 22/10/2019

Details:

Would you like to participate?

Do you employ operators, technicians or professionals in the STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)? Would you like to participate in the National STEM Careers Expo?

On 21st-26th January 2020, the Malta Council for Science and Technology within the Parliamentary Secretariat for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation, together with the University of Malta, the Malta College of Arts, Science & Technology and the Ministry for Education and Employment will be organising the first National STEM Careers Expo at Esplora Interactive Science Centre.

During the National STEM Careers Expo, students attending late Primary (Years 4, 5 and 6) will have the opportunity to meet you, the professionals working within STEM fields, and engage in hands-on activities that will help them identify the skills and competencies needed for particular STEM-related jobs.

Private entities, NGOs, government bodies and other professionals wishing to participate in the STEM Careers Expo are kindly requested to submit an expression of interest, explaining their proposed interactive activities, to stemengagement.esplora@esplora.org.mt

Deadline for registration is 31st October 2019.

The Expo will be open from 9am to 3pm on weekdays and 10am to 6pm on weekends.

For more information, kindly call 2360 2157.

A participation fee of 50 euros will apply (waived for non-profit organisations).

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Bulgaria's Mariya Gabriel picked to run Horizon Europe

Uploaded On: 12/09/2019

Details:

The incoming president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, nominated Bulgaria’s Mariya Gabriel to take charge of research, innovation and education, but has scotched research from the name of the brief for the first time, relabelling it the ‘Innovation and Youth’ portfolio.

 

While it won’t be in the job title, Gabriel will take over management of the €94.1 billion Horizon Europe, the EU’s largest ever research programme. Assuming the European Parliament approves the appointment, she will move over from her current post as European commissioner for digital economy and society, to take over from the outgoing Carlos Moedas on November 1.  Click on below link to read more.

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Horizon Europe – the next EU research and innovation programme (2021-2027)

Uploaded On: 04/09/2019

Details:

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European Startup Monitor Survey 2019

Uploaded On: 21/08/2019

Details:

In view of the 2019 European Startup Monitor of which, is a project that involves extensive quantitative and qualitative research, administering a pan-European Startup survey, organising interviews with founders, corporates and policy-makers and providing forward-looking policy recommendations to the European Commission. At the core of this research project, is the 2019’s European Startup Monitor Survey whereby Startup founders all across Europe are invited to submit their insights in a ten minute online questionnaire. 

Time for completion: approx. 10 minutes. Start survey by accessing the below link:

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European Space Agency Traineeship Scheme 2019 - 2ND CALL

Uploaded On: 20/08/2019

Details:

The Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST), in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA), would like to announce that it is receiving applications for ESA traineeship placements for Maltese graduates.  This scheme offers Maltese graduates the opportunity to gain practical hands-on experience at an ESA establishment in specific space-related research.

The scheme in brief:

  • 3 Opportunities: Space debris research supporting space safety (ESOC), Geohazard Applications (ESRIN), Maritime and Coastal Applications (ESRIN)
  • Duration of Traineeship: 12 months full-time
  • Start Date: between 1st October 2019 and 1st December 2019
  • Location: Within an ESA establishment
  • Funding: monthly subsistence of Euro2050 / month, for twelve months
  • Application Deadline: 10th September 2019, close of business

More information on the specific opportunities, including traineeship thematic areas and eligibility criteria are accessibe through the below link:

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Advanced Master in Sustainable Blue Growth - Trieste, Italy

Uploaded On: 19/08/2019

Details:

The Master is open to candidates from all Countries with priority for those coming from Mediterranean and Black Sea countries.

Format
Part-time, three short sessions of 15 days each will be held in Trieste in March, June and September 2020. There will be the possibility of a traineeship at the end of the program.

Duration
One year, starting January 2020 to May 2021

Language
English

 

Fields of studies of participants
Oceanography (physics, chemistry and biology), marine biology, geology, geophysics, geochemistry, environmental engineering, ecological modelling, climate study, coastal zone management, environmental economy and related fields.

For further information on how to apply, please visit the below link.

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Malta gets the chance to name a planet

Uploaded On: 19/08/2019

Details:

Malta has the opportunity to choose the official name of a distant planet as part of a global initiative by international astronomers.
 
The NameExoWorlds project, celebrating 100 years since the founding of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), gives each country the chance to name an exoplanet, that is one outside the solar system, and the star it orbits.

The planet Malta will get to name is a gas giant known as HAT-P-34 b, located around 838 lightyears away in the constellation Sagitta. Discovered in 2011, it is slightly larger than Jupiter and around seven times its mass. 

The name - which can be in Maltese or English - will be chosen from nominations by the public and after a public vote, with the process coordinated by a national committee made up of astronomers and academics. 

There are some rules, however.

The IAU has said the proposed names should be “of things, people, or places of long-standing cultural, historical, or geographical significance, worthy of being assigned to a celestial object.”

Moreover, the names cannot refer to “individuals, places or events principally known for political, military or religious activities”, living individuals or those who died less than a century ago. 

The names also cannot be made-up, or refer to organisations and commercial enterprises. 

Information and image source: www.timesofmalta.com

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Calling Europe’s innovation leaders to join the EIT Governing Board

Uploaded On: 14/08/2019

Details:

EIT has just launched a call for expressions of interest for the selection of up to eight new members of its Governing Board. The EIT is looking for innovation leaders who have experience with fostering cooperation at the European or global level as well as with mobilising public, private or philanthropic resources. The call will remain open until midnight (CET), 21 October 2019.

You can find more information about the call in the below link.

 To secure as many high-calibre candidates as possible, we would like to kindly ask you to disseminate this across your networks and spread the word about the call.

 Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us on the dedicated functional mailbox: eit-applications-gb@eit.europa.eu.

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RDA EU Early Career Researchers and Expert travel grants for the 14th RDA Plenary

Uploaded On: 07/08/2019

Details:

RDA Europe is offering financial support to nine Early Career Researchers and seven European Experts working with data to attend the 14th RDA Plenary meeting, in Helsinki, Finland, 23-25 October 2019. 

To find out more about the requirements, selection process and financial contributions please visit: 

Early Careers Researchers Open Call https://grants.rd-alliance.org/OpenCalls/call-for-early-careers-rda-14th-plenary

Expert Open Call  https://grants.rd-alliance.org/OpenCalls/call-experts-rda-14th-plenary 

The submission deadline for both Open Calls is the 16th of August, 17:00 CEST.

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Call for laboratories to participate in proficiency tests on microplastics in drinking water and sediments

Uploaded On: 07/08/2019

Details:

As a first step, the JRC, in collaboration with the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM) will organise proficiency tests on specific microplastics (food grade polyethylene terephthalate) in water (bottled water, drinking water) and polyethylene in sediments.

The proficiency tests will be organised in autumn 2019.

All interested expert laboratories are kindly invited to express their interest for participating until 1 September 2019 via the following email address:

JRC contact: jrc-microplastics@ec.europa.eu

Interested laboratories will receive further information about the details of the PT including the official invitation by 15 September 2019.

For further details please visit link below.

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Last chance for seed funding under SME Instrument Phase 1

Uploaded On: 07/08/2019

Details:

Are you a startup or innovator with a brilliant idea? The SME Instrument Phase 1 Horizon 2020 provides funding support for innovation projects that will help them develop and expand into other countries – in Europe and beyond. The €50k funding provides support in testing your innovation through feasibility assessment and business plan design. Last chance to apply for this funding - deadline on the 5th of September 2019! 

For further informationa please visit link below.

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2020 EURIPIDES² / PENTA Synchronised Call preparations

Uploaded On: 23/07/2019

Details:

The 2020 EURIPIDES² / PENTA Synchronised Call will be launched on 20 November 2019 at EFECS 2019 in the Finlandia Hall, Helsinki, stimulating innovative projects along the entire Electronic Components and Systems (ECS) value chain.

This is a unique opportunity to submit your project pitches and posters for EFECS 2019 before 1 November 2019 and find new partners for your project via the ECS Collaboration Tool

Updated in January 2019, the Electronic Components and Systems Strategic Research Agenda (ECS-SRA) outlines the common framework for Research, Development and Innovation (RD&I) along the ECS value chain and drives the focus areas of the 2020 EURIPIDES²/PENTA Synchronised Call as highlighted below - submit your project pitches and posters for EFECS 2019 by 1 November 2019 If your project idea follows one of these key areas (see attachment below).

Malta contact point: Malta Enterprise, please call on tel. 2247 7624 for further information.

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Eurostars Project

Uploaded On: 23/07/2019

Details:

If you are a small company in need of public funding for your innovative idea, participation in a Eurostars project can bring you a passport to growth, further innovation, an opening to new global markets and even greater business success.

Eurostars is the only European funding programme to be specifically dedicated to support R&D-performing SMEs in their innovative R&D projects. With its bottom-up approach, it stimulates international collaborative research and innovation projects that will be rapidly commercialised. A Eurostars project must have a civilian purpose and be aimed at the development of a new product, process or service.

Eurostars online system is now open and organisations are invited to register and start filling in their online application form, save drafts, upload annexes and check their eligibility and financial viability using the designated tools.

Currently the “Submit Project” button is blocked however in the meantime, it is already possible to work on the application form given that all functionalities (except submit) are enabled.  

For further details, check out the below link. 

Malta contact point: Malta Enterprise, please call on tel. 2247 7624 for further information.

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39 PhD fellowships on Quantum Science and Technologies

Uploaded On: 22/07/2019

Details:

EU-funded PhD programme QUSTEC on quantum science and technologies: apply before August 19 to get a fully funded PhD position in France, Germany or Switzerland!

QUSTEC is a doctoral training programme set up by the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) Eucor – The European Campus. The programme offers 39 early stage researcher (ESR) positions and outstanding training opportunities within the field of Quantum Science and Technology, in a highly international, interdisciplinary and intersectoral setting. The ESR positions each last 48 months and culminate in the award of a doctoral degree.

The doctoral research will be carried out at one of the following institutions:

QUSTEC aims to address some of the grand challenges in Quantum Science today: The principles of quantum mechanics, which govern physics, chemistry, material science and computing at the atomic scale have already led to a wave of new technologies. In new applications, quantum technologies provide a massive leap that can be a decisive factor for many European industries and markets in the 21st century.

For further details please check link below:

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Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing - Work Programme 2018-2020

Uploaded On: 15/07/2019

Details:

The last update of the Work Programme now contains all the topics that have to be submitted in 2020, published on 3rd July 2019. 

For further details see link below:

Information source:

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JRC Malta Young Scientist Award

Uploaded On: 11/07/2019

Details:

The Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST) is receiving proposals under the JRC Malta Young Scientist Award. The aim of this Award is to showcase the efforts of Maltese young scientists to the JRC.
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission’s science and knowledge service which provides independent scientific advice and support to EU policy. 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.
JRC Awards will be selected by MCST through a two-phase process. A number of young scientists from Malta will be selected for the Award. They will visit the JRC (most likely the Seville site) for 2-3 days. Envisaged timeframe is autumn 2019. The JRC Award will cover the costs for the flight and accommodation for the respective visit. The event programme will include;

  • A general overview of JRC as the science and knowledge service of the European Commission,
  • Presentation of the visitor’s projects to JRC Seville scientists,
  • “Shadowing” of JRC scientists according to the individual fields of interest.

Interested Applicants are to submit their application documents electronically to jrc.mcst@gov.mt keeping melchior.cini@gov.mt in copy, with “JRC Malta Young Scientist Award” as a subject heading. Applications should be received by not later than midnight on Friday 13th September 2019. All submissions should be initialised or stamped on each page of the application form and a full signature by the applicant and head of entity on page 5 of the application form. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered. Only one application per scientist may be submitted and will be evaluated by MCST.
More information on this opportunity, the rules for participation and the application form, can be found in the attachments below.

For rules of application and application form please visit the below link.

Image source: pxhere.com, information source as per link below.

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SESAR - Calling young scientists: Applications Open for SESAR Young Scientist Award 2019

Uploaded On: 27/06/2019

Details:

The SESAR Young Scientist Award aims to recognise young scientists with high potential contributing to the scientific research in the field of air traffic management and aviation. The award also provides a mechanism for further personal development through a financial contribution of 5000 EUR, as well as opportunities to further profile and disseminate their research.

For more information on the competition process please do not hesitate to contact George Bugeja – Transport NCP on george.b.bugeja@gov.mt

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Call for Space Startups

Uploaded On: 27/06/2019

Details:

Space Academies are two-day events for European ​space-tech entrepreneurs to accelerate their business Prominent experts will cover topics such as:

  • Investment readiness,
  • Crowdfunding,
  • Hot trends in artificial intelligence and robotics,
  • Business models, European funding for young SMEs,
  • ​European Space ecosystem

The second Space Academy will be held in Bremen:

  • on 18th November 2019 in the BITZ, Fahrenheitstr.1, and
  • on 19th November 2019 back to back to the Space Tech Expo , Exhibition Halls 4&5, Buergerweide, which continues until 21st November  

Register now to the Space Tech Expo, it is free and a requisite to participate at the Space Academy

More information can be found on the below link or contact Mr Steven Frigerio, Space NCP, Horizon 2020 Unit, MCST (steven.frigerio@gov.mt)

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Peer Review of the Maltese Research and Innovation system

Uploaded On: 25/06/2019

Details:

In 2018, the Malta Council for Science and Technology embarked on a peer review of the national R&I system with the support of the European Commission's Policy Support Facility under Horizon 2020. The objective of the Peer Review of the Maltese Research and Innovation (R&I) System was to provide recommendations to inform the design of the next National R&I Strategy Plan 2020. The review assessed to what extent Malta has adequate and appropriate policies, structures, resources, measures and instruments in place to achieve the country's goals.

This peer review was launched in July 2018 and  the Peer Review Panel carried out two fact-finding visits to Malta in October 2018 and January 2019.

In June 2019  the Panel finalised their Report and the final PSF Report is now available on the EU PSF site, link here below:

Should you wish to clarify any aspects or send feedback, please contact Jennifer Cassingena Harper on email:  jennifer.harper@gov.mt

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Traineeships at the European Space Agency - An Opportunity for Maltese Graduates

Uploaded On: 20/06/2019

Details:

2019 Call Open!

The Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST), in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA), would like to announce that it is receiving applications for two ESA traineeship placements for Maltese graduates.This scheme offers Maltese graduates the opportunity to gain practical hands-on experience at an ESA establishment in specific space-related research.

The scheme in brief:

  • Duration of Traineeship: 12 months full-time
  • Start Date: between 1st September 2019 and 1st December 2019
  • Location: Within an ESA establishment 
  • Funding: monthly subsistence of €2050 / month, for twelve months 
  • Application Deadline: 7th August 2019, close of business

More information on the specific opportunities, including traineeship thematic areas and eligibility criteria are accessible thourgh the below link.

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ReNature Interdisciplinary Summer School

Uploaded On: 19/06/2019

Details:

The ReNature Interdisciplinary Summer School aims to provide participants with an understanding of the features and potential of nature-based solutions in the context of a holistic approach towards landscape sustainability.  All participants will have the chance to interact and share experiences and activiites with international experts.

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Foundation invests €2.5m in cancer research

Uploaded On: 11/06/2019

Details:

Successful research depends not on the size of the country, but the professional expertise of the people located there, according to the founder of an organisation that has just invested €2.5 million in cancer research equipment in Malta.

The equipment includes a number of cutting-edge devices that allow for highly accurate, in-depth examinations that range from analysis of DNA fragments, to the capture of tumour cells circulating in the blood and the identification of cancer bio-markers.

Further details on link below.

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Eureka Global Innovation Summit

Uploaded On: 27/05/2019

Details:

MCST participated for the first time at the Eureka Global Innovation Summit held in Manchester, UK between 14-16 May 2019. This event which is an international meeting place for businesses and innovation agencies to share knowledge, network, collaborate and secure future business growth opportunities attracted around 2000 attendees and stakeholders from 60+ countries and was an opportunity for MCST to further develop and enhance its collaborative links abroad.

Malta’s participation was coordinated by Malta Enterprise, with the aim of raising the country’s R&D and innovation profile on a global level, thereby facilitating better partnership opportunities for local entities and businesses interested in carrying out collaborative R&D and innovation projects with international partners.

The event also included a 3-day conference programme consisting of over 50 inspiring sessions with more than 140 speakers, as well as a wide range of interactive sessions with the EUREKA Clusters, practical workshops, and various matchmaking and networking opportunities.

The information provided offered insights into the various initiatives and projects undertaken by Maltese researches and businesses, as well as the innovation support available through Malta Enterprise and the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST). It also touched on the R&D and innovation-related work at the Malta Life Sciences Park, Trade Malta, and the University of Malta.

In parallel and as part of the policy makers working programme, the representatives from Malta Enterprise and MCST took part in the Innovation Funders meeting, which brought together top level attendees involved in innovation support from over 30 countries, the EUREKA network and the European Commission.

Image source: https://www.eurekanetwork.org/

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Utrecht Network Summer School - Challenges in Data Science, Valencia, Spain

Uploaded On: 15/05/2019

Details:

The University of Valencia will be hosting its 2nd Summer School 'Challenges in data science: big data, artificial intelligence and communications'.

This Summer School faces the present data driven revolution with a view to understanding its scope. The aim is to provide students with advanced knowledge in the exponential increase in data management and applications: big data, cloud computing, text mining, gamification, artificial intelligence, smart cities.

1 – 5 July 2019

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Summer school: Understanding marine hydrogeology through the lens of geophysics

Uploaded On: 15/05/2019

Details:

Applications are now being accepted for the SMART Summer School 'Understanding marine hydrogeology through the lens of geophysics: Bridging the gap across the coastal zone' to be held at the University of Malta from 30 June to 5 July 2019.
 
The school is jointly organised by GEOMAR and the University of Malta through the SMARTMARCAN projects.
 
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Call for applications: 8th annual Science in the House Exhibition

Uploaded On: 15/05/2019

Details:

Scientists from all research disciplines and sectors are invited for participation in the 8th annual Science in the House exhibition. Science in the House is the official opening event of the prestigious science festival Science in the City, European Researchers’ Night. The exhibition is scheduled for the morning of Thursday 26 September. The format is a media forum showcasing the latest exciting scientific research at the University of Malta, and elsewhere in Malta, for discussion with Members of Parliament.

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EIT Food Summer School on New Product Development - Warsaw, Poland

Uploaded On: 15/05/2019

Details:

EIT offers a theoretical and paractical knowledge on NPD gathered by experts from many different countries and backgrounds.  Five days of intensive lectures, interactive workshops, project assignments and computer-based simulations, prepared jointly by partners from academia and industry, can become an important milestone for you to take your NPD skills to the next level.

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Research on medication wastage: scientific output and outreach

Uploaded On: 13/05/2019

Details:

Over the past three years, Dr Lorna Marie West, a Reach High post-doctoral scholar with the Medicines Use Research Group, Department of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, has conducted a considerable amount of research on medication wastage. Following on her initial doctoral work, she studied the topic from a variety of perspectives, contributing not only to scientific knowledge but also providing information which may be used for policy and planning purposes, both at a national and international level. Dr West has established herself as an expert in this field and contributed to the Department and the University, becoming a hub of expertise in relation to medication wastage. (continue reading on link below)

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Vulcanus in Europe - Host a Japanese Intern in R&D

Uploaded On: 17/04/2019

Details:

'Vulcanus in Europe' offers EU based companies the possibility to host a Japanese trainee in R&D for 8 months (from August to March). A valuable addition to their workforce and a positive input in the development of their business with Japan.

For the trainees, this is the experience of a lifetime: A full immersion in the European business culture and the opportunity to acquire a know-how in view of a future career in relation with Europe.

Structure of the programme

The programme takes place in Europe, where students stay for one year, from April to March. The Vulcanus year is structured in the following way:

  • Early April:  students attend a seminar in Brussels on European culture, industry and the EU;
  • From April to July:  students attends a 15-week intensive language course, to gain a working knowledge of the language spoken in their future host company;
  • From August 2019 to March 2020: students do a 8-month placement  at an industrial company located in the EU.
  • Deadline to apply: 23 September 2019

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EU reaches agreement on single-use plastic ban

Uploaded On: 10/04/2019

Details:

A plan to ban single-use plastic products such as disposable plates and straws has been agreed. 

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The Future of Research and Innovation – Post-2020

Uploaded On: 15/03/2019

Details:

MCST champions the National Research and Innovation Strategy, and the current strategy takes us till 2020. We are therefore working on a new strategy for post-2020 and we are currently in the consultation phase. MCST relies on its stakeholders to contribute and design a bottom-up strategy that takes into account the needs of academia, business, government and civil society.

The objective of this survey is to collect your opinion and suggesions on Malta's future in research and innovation. MCST would like to understand what Malta should be focusing on, and whether we should look at new and upcoming areas that through investment in research and innovation, can provide a better quality of life, a stronger economy and knowledge-intensive jobs.  We want to understand Malta's challenges and opportunities and receive input on ideas and priority areas for a new strategy post-2020.

Have your say and contribute to the ongoing consultation porcess by filling in the below survey. It will only take a few minutes.

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Affordable High-Tech for Humanitarian Aid

Uploaded On: 07/09/2018

Details:

Prize value: €5 million

The challenge is to develop innovative and more cost-effective solutions to be used in a humanitarian aid context,based on frugal application of advanced technologies.

2020 first quarter – deadline to submit applications

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Innovative Batteries for eVehicles

Uploaded On: 07/09/2018

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Prize value: €10 million

The challenge is to develop a safe and sustainable innovative battery solution for electric vehicles using sustainable low cost materials easily available in Europe.

23 February 2019 – deadline for registration of interest
17 December 2020 – deadline to submit applications

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Early Warning for Epidemics

Uploaded On: 07/09/2018

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Prize value: €5 million

The challenge is to develop a scalable, reliable and cost-effective early warning system to forecast, monitor and ultimately prevent outbreaks of one or more vector-borne diseases.

1 September 2020 – deadline to submit applications

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Blockchains for Social Good

Uploaded On: 07/09/2018

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Prize value: €5 million

The challenge is to use Distributed Ledger Technology, such as the one used in blockchain, to develop scalable, efficient and high-impact solutions to social challenges.

2 April 2019 – deadline for registration of interest

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Fuel from the Sun: Artificial Photosynthesis

Uploaded On: 07/09/2018

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Prize value: €5 million

The challenge is to build a functional prototype of an artificial photosynthesis-based system which is able to produce a useable synthetic fuel.

2021 first quarter – deadline to submit applications

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Horizon Prize - Low-Cost Space Launch

Uploaded On: 06/09/2018

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Prize value: €10 million

The challenge is to develop a solution for launching small satellites into Low Earth Orbit, to allow dedicated low-cost launches with committed schedule and orbit. The solution must be European and technologically non-dependent.

1 June 2021 – deadline to submit applications

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Horizon Europe - the next research and innovation framework programme

Uploaded On: 29/08/2018

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The Commission's proposal for Horizon Europe

The Commission has published its proposal for Horizon Europe, an ambitious €100 billion research and innovation programme that will succeed Horizon 2020.

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Area Science Park marks 40th anniversary with renewed commitment to high-tech innovation

Uploaded On: 29/08/2018

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AREA Science Park, a leading Italian Scientific and Technology Innovation centre, marked its 40th anniversary as a successful example of public-private partnership and announced plans to further expand its genetic research activities and forge new partnerships with domestic and international investors.

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Horizon Prize - Cleanest Engine of the Future Challenge

Uploaded On: 21/08/2018

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The purpose of this prize is to stimulate the development of next generation engine and powertrain technologies using conventional fuels. This should reduce emissions of pollutants in real driving conditions to the lowest level possible in order to improve air quality issues in European cities, while at the same time delivering better fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions under the same realistic test conditions.

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Horizon Prize - Low Carbon Hospital Challenge

Uploaded On: 21/08/2018

Details:

Horizon prize for Combined Heat and Power (CHP) installation in a hospital using 100% renewable energy sources will reward a hospital that has an innovative and perfectly integrated combined CHP installation within its premises. This installation has to use at least three different European renewable energy technologies, include energy storage component(s) and be able to provide 100% of the hospital's annual needs for energy consumption. In this context any renewable energy source is allowed.

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