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.

Aim:
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

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

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

CONTACTS:
For more information, please see the prize website: https://ec.europa.eu/info/research-and-innovation/funding/funding-opportunities/prizes/eu-prize-women-innovators_en

Any queries please contact the Research Enquiry Service or contact siobhan.hendrick@sfi.ie or rtd-womeninnovators@ec.europa.eu

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: sfernandez-ceballos@enterprise-ireland.com.

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.

 

The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF) Call 2 is live!

DTIF Call 2 is live! There will be an information session to officially launch the Call on 5 July 2019 at the University of Limerick. You can register your interest to attend the session on eventbrite.ie/Future Jobs Pillar 1 and DTIF Call 2 launch. Please see the relevant documents including the application form and guidelines for applicants here: DTIF: Call 2 – Documentation. The deadline for applications is 18 September 2019 (3pm Irish time).

The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund is a €500 million fund established under Project Ireland 2040 and is run by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation with administrative support from Enterprise Ireland.

In Call 1 2018 27 projects were approved for funding with many led by start-ups and SMEs. The successful projects will receive over €70 million to 2021. The successful projects represent the health, food, ICT and manufacturing sectors in Ireland.

There are some important changes to CALL 2:

– The minimum funding request from DTIF is at least €1.5 million (previously €1.0 million);

– Collaborations must have at least 3 partners (previously 2) with at least one SME and one other enterprise partner;

– Research Performing Organisations cannot receive more than 50% of the total DTIF funding in any collaboration.

If you have any questions regarding the application process, please address them to Enterprise Ireland at DTIF@enterprise-ireland.com with the subject line ‘DTIF 2019 FAQ’. Queries will be answered at the information event and through the webinar process (follow the Department on Twitter for updates – @EnterInnov). A webinar for applicants will be scheduled in JULY 2019 with materials (presentation and recording of Q&A session) available on the DTIF webpage thereafter: https://dbei.gov.ie/DTIF.

For general enquiries contact the Enterprise Ireland Helpdesk at: Telephone: +353-1-727 2665; E-mail: DTIF@enterprise-ireland.com ;Twitter: @DisruptiveEI

CeADAR research centre named as one of 30 EU AI innovation hubs

Ireland is to have a seat at the table when it comes to European AI research with CeADAR to join a new network of 30 innovation hubs.

Last week, the European Commission’s (EC) High Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence (AI) published the ethics guidelines for trustworthy AI. As part of this news, the EC said that it will start setting up networks of digital innovation hubs in member states to develop and implement a model for best practices in data sharing among them.

Now, the Centre for Applied Data Analytics Research (CeADAR) has revealed it is the only Irish centre among a network of 30 AI innovations hubs across Europe selected by the EC. Each of these centres will collaborate on various AI projects and will lay the groundwork for future European policies on the technology.

A total of 150 applications were received from 27 different member states as well as three Horizon 2020-associated countries: Serbia, Switzerland and Norway. CeADAR, the technology centre funded by Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland, was chosen by a steering committee of independent external experts in both digital innovation hubs and AI.

“This is a huge accolade for CeADAR and we are looking forward to the close collaboration with the other network members across the EU, sharing best practice in the area of AI,” said CeADAR’s director, Edward McDonnell.

“It will be a great opportunity to leverage expertise from across all these countries to ultimately help SMEs and other companies here in Ireland. There will also be an opportunity for the network to provide evidence and have a voice at EC level. We are looking forward to working on pulling this community of 30 hubs more closely together.”

Within Ireland, AI adoption continues to grow, according to recent research by the National Standards Association of Ireland.

In a survey of more than 100 professionals working in large companies and SMEs in IT, business and technology sectors, more than half of the companies plan to use AI in the next five years.

Courtesy of Colm Gorey, Silicon Republic

Horizon 2020: €195 million to improve the R&I potential in seven EU countries

The European Commission will invest €195 million in setting up and developing 13 new ‘centres of excellence’ in seven Member States, helping to boost research and innovation performance and inspiring the scientific community to develop new products and processes in tandem with leading scientific institutes from all over Europe.

Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said:

“Scientific talent is everywhere in Europe but in some parts of the Union it does not have fertile ground to develop. We want to change this and that is why we are investing €900 million from the EU’s Research and Innovation Programme in developing partnerships and setting up centres of excellence that will help talented researchers reach their full potential.”

To be funded by Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation programme, the 13 projects will be located in Bulgaria (1), Cyprus (3), Czech Republic (2), Estonia (1), Latvia (1), Poland (3) and Portugal (2). The projects will each receive close to €15 million once the final grant agreement with the Commission has been signed in the second half of 2019. The grant will allow the new centres of excellence to form partnerships with leading scientific institutions across Europe in areas such as health, marine and maritime research, industrial production, biodiversity and nanomaterials.

For example, the Polish NOMATEN project will see the cooperation of the National Centre of Nuclear Research of Poland with the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission and the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. Their goal is to create in Poland a new research organisation in which international world-class research teams will design, develop and assess innovative multifunctional materials for industrial and medical applications.

Background

The 13 project proposals have been selected for funding from the Teaming part of Horizon 2020, which is designed to facilitate institution building in countries with low research and innovation performance. The projects work in close cooperation with Europe’s leading scientific institutions.

A set of measures with total budget of around €900 million is available for creating the conditions for widening the participation of universities and research organisations in less R&I-performing countries in the competitive calls of Horizon 2020. These include the Teaming, Twinning and the ERA Chairs instruments. Eligible Member States under Teaming include all those that joined the EU after 2004 plus Portugal and Luxembourg, as well as some of the non-EU countries associated to Horizon 2020. So far 11 Teaming Phase 2, 61 Teaming Phase 1, 97 Twinning and 27 ERA Chairs projects have been funded under Horizon 2020.

List of project proposals selected for funding: https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/sites/horizon2020/files/widening_teaming_2_2019_results_table.pdf

 

Courtesy of the European Commission Europa News.

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Horizon 2020 national support network led by Enterprise Ireland