Monthly update from Commissioner, Mariya Gabriel

The European Commission have shared the following link to the first edition of Commissioner Mariya Gabriel’s monthly update so that we may keep up to date on the latest developments from the Commission in these areas of interest.

This will be a regular mail with the latest news, and information on calls and collaborations, from across the Commissioner’s portfolio covering Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth. The first edition has a special focus on the coronavirus outbreak.

To receive future editions of the monthly update direct to your inbox, sign up here. 

Horizon Impact Award 2020 – IRELAND – deadline extended 15 April 2020

It’s time to celebrate impact and apply for the Horizon Impact Award 2020

This award is the European Commission’s initiative to recognize and showcase the wider socio-economic benefits of the EU investment in research and innovation. It also enables individuals or teams to share their best practices and place their achievements in the spotlight.

We would also like to inform you that due to the recent escalation of restrictions related to the COVID-19 outbreak, we have extended the deadline for the Horizon Impact Award until 15 April 2020. We hope that this extra time will help the applicants to prepare and finalise high-quality proposals.

Award value
5 awards of €10,000 each

The winners will also be invited to an award ceremony hosted in Brussels, which will include a selected audience of high-level representatives and promoters of innovation in industry and the public sector. The Horizon Impact Award will provide the winners with high visibility in the form of public interest and increased media coverage. The Commission will further promote the winners by inviting them to provide testimony at other major events.

Who can apply?
The contest is open to all legal entities, individuals or teams from FP7  and/or Horizon 2020  projects that have closed and can already demonstrate a societal impact deriving from their research results.

How to apply?
The call is available through the Funding and Tenders portal  until 15 April 2020.

We kindly ask you to support, endorse and promote the contest via your internal and external communication channels and networks within your service. The applications will remain open until 15 April 2020.

Please find enclosed an infographic for your consideration/engagement. For more information about the Rules of Contest, Application Templates and information about the last year’s winners, we invite you to consult the prize webpage.

For more information, please contact us at this address:

Don’t hesitate to get back to us in case of questions.

Thank you and with kind regards,
Horizon Impact Award team

Opportunities for Green Entrepreneurs and Female CEOs

The European Innovation Council (EIC) supports disruptive and market-creating innovations for high-tech SMEs to scale-up and prepare for the foundation of Horizon Europe. Irish Entrepreneurs were approved €38m of funding Irish companies under this programme in 2019. Enterprise Ireland is looking to support companies to exceed this success in 2020.

Due to a proposed substantial increase to the Horizon 2020 European Innovation Council Pilot budget for March 2020, a one-off EIC Accelerator call for Green Deal start-ups and SMEs is also planned for SMEs submitting for the 19th May 2020 cut-off. Companies will need to demonstrate how their innovation contributes to the goals of the European Green Deal:

➢Increasing the EU’s climate mitigation and/or adaptation ambition;
➢Supplying clean, affordable and secure energy;
➢Transitioning of industry to a clean and/or circular economy (including waste prevention and/or recycling); ➢Building and renovating in an energy and resource efficient way;
➢Accelerating the shift to sustainable and smart mobility;
➢Transition to a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system;
➢Preserving and restoring ecosystems and biodiversity;
➢Realizing a zero pollution ambition and a toxic-free environment

The 7th of October 2020 cut-off for the EIC Accelerator Pilot will remain open to all kind of innovations.

Further opportunities for companies with women CEOs will be implemented in May and October, to ensure that 25% of all selected applicants in the EIC Accelerator Pilot are women-led companies. In addition, should the first round evaluation show that a minimum of 25% of companies selected for the final-stage interviews are not led by women, additional interviews will be planned.

Further details are available here: and in the attached sheet available here.


EU Prize for Women Innovators 2020

Women are underrepresented in terms of creating innovative enterprises. This is an untapped potential for Europe, which needs to optimise all available resources to remain competitive and find solutions to our societal challenges.

This award scheme recognises the role of women in bringing about game-changing innovations to market honouring the outstanding achievements of women running innovative companies. The “EU Prize for Women Innovators” will be awarded to up to four women innovators in total (including one young woman innovator, so-called ‘rising innovator’) who have created the largest impact on the innovation ecosystem by transforming ideas into new and advanced products and/or services for the benefit and wealth of the European citizens.

The prizes will boost public awareness of the potential, importance and contribution of women to the innovation ecosystem and create strong role models inspiring other women to become innovators themselves

Three prizes of EUR 100,000 each for the Women Innovators category and EUR 50,000 for the Rising Innovator category.

Opening of the submission: 11 February 2020 Closing date for submission: 21 April 2020, 17:00 CET1

For more information, please see the prize website:

Any queries please contact the Research Enquiry Service or contact or

AIT Leads Global Effort to Tackle Plastic Pollution and Develop Next Generation Materials in a H2020 project

Developing a full plastics circularity has the potential to contribute to a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, resource efficiency and job creation.

Researchers from Athlone Institute of Technology’s Materials Research Institute are spearheading a major pan European Chinese research effort aimed at tackling plastic pollution – a global crisis of prodigious proportions.

The Horizon 2020 research innovation project, dubbed BioICEP (Bio Innovation of a Circular Economy for Plastic), will seek to develop sustainable, environmentally-friendly alternatives to traditional petroleum-based plastic.

A number of innovative booster technologies are at the core of this solution – accentuating, expediting, and augmenting mixed plastics degradation to levels far in excess of those current achievable.

Drowning in plastic

Global production and consumption of plastic has grown exponentially in recent decades. Since the 1950s, approximately 8.3 billion tonnes of the material has been produced – 60% of which has ended up in landfill or the natural environment.

Researchers believe that it will take hundreds, if not thousands, of years for bacteria and the enzymes that they produce to evolve to a point where they can break down the long chains of molecules that compose plastic. As a result, the accumulation of plastic is causing serious problems in the environment.

According to Dr Margaret Brennan Fournet, a foremost authority on materials science and leader of project BioICEP, there are microplastics in the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. Scientists have even found them in remote mountain ranges.

“People may need to start using monitors, not just to measure air quality, but to measure the level of microplastics in the atmosphere – similar to how Geiger counters are used to measure radiation,” she said.

“It’s been suggested that people are ingesting a credit card-sized amount of plastic every week. These scientific results are only starting to come out now and every few months we’re hearing new, even more staggering results.”

Using an innovative triple action process, Dr Brennan Fournet and the BioICEP team will attempt to accelerate the degradation of traditional plastic and turn it into biopolymers, which can be used as natural biodegradable replacement plastics.

“In essence, we’ll be tacking in the mixed plastic waste at one end, treating it with bacteria and enzymes, recovering the molecules, fermenting them, and turning them into new bioproducts,” she explained.

Indispensable to modern living

In many respects, plastic’s strength is actually its weakness. It’s sheer versatility and high resource efficiency has enabled innovations across many sectors, allowing for the development of new products and solutions.

Plastic has completely revolutionised how food is bought, stored and consumed. For example, beef that has been vacuum packed in multilayer plastic can last up to 45 days on the shelf. By extending the shelf life of food, food waste is kept to a minimum.

“It is near-impossible to buy food to feed your family in the supermarket without encountering some form of plastic,” Dr Brennan Fournet said. “Its myriad applications and low production costs has ensured its indispensability to modern living.”

With dependency on petroleum-based plastic showing no sign of abating, the race is on to create viable, ecological alternatives that won’t negatively impact companies’ bottom line or affect the consumer adversely.

“Our ultimate goal is not to change consumer behaviour as this alone isn’t sufficient to solve the problem. Instead, we’re trying to target manufacturers and give them a better option that won’t cost more and isn’t harmful to the environment,” she explained.

Plastic: In need of a rebrand

It’s not just individuals who are looking for ecological solutions to the global plastic pollution crisis either. With more than one million plastic bottles being produced every minute, soft drinks manufacturers are under pressure to make their packaging more sustainable.

Companies like Coca-Cola have already started incorporating recycled PET, a plastic resin and member of the polyester family, into their packaging. Their goal is to make 100% of their packaging recyclable by 2025.

While other plastic substitutes, such as glass or sugarcane, are available to manufacturers, they can be significantly more expensive to produce and energy intensive to transport – resulting in a higher net carbon footprint.

According to the Athlone-based researcher, plastic is in need of a total rebrand: “It isn’t public enemy number one – or at least it doesn’t have to be. At the end of the day, we’re extremely reliant on it – there’s no escaping that. We do, however, need to be more considered in our approach to how we make and recycle it.”

While bioplastics research is still emerging and as of yet most materials don’t contain the performance properties required to ensure that they can be fully biodegraded, project BioICEP is still a much-needed step in the right direction.

“These new plastics are not going to cause the problems that traditional petroleum-based plastics have caused because they will be easy to break down and recycle post use,” Dr Brennan Fournet finished.

Researchers spearheading change

The €5 million project, which will span four years, commencing in February 2020, will be led by Athlone Institute of Technology, a third level institute in the heart of Ireland with a significant expert knowledge base and strong industry connections.

“Our researchers have long been at the forefront of plastics research and development and have been working on solutions to the global crisis of plastic pollution for more than 10 years in association with Enterprise Ireland,” Dr Declan Devine, director of the Materials Research Institute, explained.

The BioICEP approach to tackling mixed plastic waste has the potential to circumvent many of the current challenges associated with plastic packaging materials which will be essential in resolving current environmental damage.

Dr Sergio Fernandez-Ceballos, National Delegate and Contact Point for Horizon 2020 Industrial Technologies in Enterprise Ireland, outlined: ‘Only two projects got selected for funding across Europe for the plastics bio-degradation EU-China call in 2019, BioICep was one of them. This success is reflective of the talent and focus of Ireland’s research and innovation community, punching above its weight in this very relevant area.”

Two other Irish third level institutes have been selected to partner on the project: Trinity College Dublin and Limerick Institute of Technology. Nine countries – totalling 15 partners – have been selected to participate in the pan European Chinese research collaboration, each of whom represent different mixed plastic pollution environments.

‘The preparation of this consortium was lengthy and the team benefited from the Enterprise Ireland coordination grant and the support of the Horizon 2020 National Contact Points.

Please contact for further information: Dr Sergio Fernandez-Ceballos, National Delegate for H2020: Nanoscience, Advanced Materials, Biotechnology and Manufacturing at Enterprise Ireland. Email:

AIT Leads Global Effort to Tackle Plastic Pollution and Develop Next Generation Materials in a H2020 project.




Horizon 2020 Stakeholder Event

A Stakeholder Workshop on ‘Horizon Europe Implementation’ presented by the European Commission DG – RTD,  took place at our Enterprise Ireland, East point Dublin offices on December 2nd 2019.  Attendees mainly included the Horizon 2020 wider Network all Ireland members and Research Officers from the Institutes.

Remaining H2020 Opportunities under Energy, Transport & Climate

Remaining H2020 Opportunities under Energy, Transport & Climate

The Horizon 2020 team, Enterprise Ireland hosted an event on 11th November 2019 at The Glucksman, UCC, Cork, focussing on the remaining Horizon 2020 opportunities under Energy, Transport and Climate.

The event brought together innovators, researchers, public authorities and companies active across converging disciplines covering low-carbon technologies, climate resilience and the circular economy. It was an unique opportunity to develop new research partnerships, explore cross-cutting opportunities and get insights from Horizon 2020 experts across each of these areas.



Head Office

Enterprise Ireland
East Point Business Park, Dublin 3
Tel: +353 1 727 2000 | Fax: +353 1 727 2020

  • The Department for Agriculture Food and the Marine
  • The Environmental Protection Agency Ireland
  • Health Research Board
  • Higher Education Authority
  • Irish Research Council
  •  Irish Universities Association
  • The Marine Institute
  • Science Foundation Ireland (SFI
  • The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland

Horizon 2020 national support network led by Enterprise Ireland