FoPD 2020  will be ongoing in some countries, led by the respective National Coordinators, while respecting  the regulation and restriction regarding the coronavirus.

We invite you to post your FoPD news on Twitter with #FoPD and #PlantDay.

FoPD also has a new Instagram account @fascinationofplantsday. You can follow us for updates on FoPD as well as on our Facebook and Twitter.

We invite the FoPD National Coordinators and event organisers to send pictures and/ or short videos of your activities last year and as appropriate this year in your language (plus English if needed) to raise awareness on this Instagram.

Contacts : Alexandra Barnoux, Publications Officer & Ronald Tipan, Communications Officer

Strasbourg: 8 April 2020

The European Research Council (ERC) Scientific Council has made a clear statement on 8 April about the reasons that led to their unanimous vote of no-confidence in Mauro Ferrari as ERC President on 27 March.

Mauro Ferrari announced his resignation on April 7, three months after starting in his new position. Prof. Ferrari’s statement published by the Financial Times presenting his decision as having been triggered by the rejection by the ERC governing body of his proposal to allocate ERC resources for top-down funding of research related to COVID-19, contrasts the ERC SC statement.

ISE, the Initiative for Science in Europe, supports the ERC Science Council’s view that it is not for the ERC to engineer a quick response to this crisis. A move to top-down funding would be fundamentally at odds with the mission and the spirit of the organization. The ERC already funds projects related to coronaviruses; this recently published list illustrates the point that basic research is the best long term preparation for new challenges. In all of the research groups with a competence in virus research, including those funded by the ERC, researchers are working round the clock on SARS-Cov-2.

ISE strongly supports the values and mission of the ERC. More than ever now is its role for European research relevant to address global challenges. We praise the results achieved so far and are confident about ERC’s positive and long-lasting impact on Europe.

Contact: Professor Martin Andler, President of the Initiative for Science in Europe , [email protected]

o Full ISE statement
o ERC Scientific Council statement
o EU supported Coronavirus research and innovation
o The European Commission will now initiate an identification process to appoint a new ERC President in accordance with the provisions of the legal acts on Horizon 2020. In the meantime, one of the three ERC Vice-Presidents (Eveline Crone, Fabio Zwirner, Janet Thornton) will take over the President’s duties on an interim basis. [KoWi, 8.4.2020]

Source : Initiative for Science in Europe (ise)

The European Commission invites European scientific and research community organisations to nominate high-level candidates to be put on the short-list of candidate-members for the Commission’s Group of Chief Scientific Advisors.

The Group of Chief Scientific Advisors consists of seven members who provide high-quality independent scientific advice to the College of European Commissioners on specific policy issues. Members are nominated by the Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation from a short-list that is to be replenished by the current open call and of which two new members will be selected to join the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors in November 2020.

A high-level independent identification committee will oversee the selection process for this short-list following a set of pre-defined factors and criteria. The group of candidates should e.g. reflect the broad range of scientific disciplines but also consider gender balance and younger next-generation leaders.

Nominations can be submitted until 15 June 2020.

Further information:

» Further information on the selection process and candidates‘ profiles

» Current members of the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors

Source : EC, KoWi, 03.04.2020

The European Commission has awarded a contract for the setting up of an open access publishing platform for scientific articles from all disciplines (as well as to host pre-prints) as a free service for Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe beneficiaries.

Publications via this platform will undergo a peer review process and will meet all open access requirements of the current and the future EU research and innovation programmes.

The contract for setting up this service, worth around 5.8 M EUR, has been awarded to the London-based company F1000 Research Ltd. (owned by Taylor & Francis, and already supporting Open Access publishing platforms of the Wellcome Trust and the Gates Foundation). Additionally, Eurodoc (European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers), LIBER (Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche – Association of European Research Libraries) and the Global Young Academy will participate in this initiative and will be responsible for the involvement of researchers and libraries as well as for outreach and training activities.

The service will be launched officially at the beginning of 2021, the submission of publications will be possible from autumn 2020. Further information on the platform as well as the possibility to register interest in submitting articles for publication will be available soon.

Further information:

» European Commission press release

» EU Open Science policy and activities

» Press release Eurodoc

» Press release LIBER

» Press release Global Young Academy

» Contact at KoWi

Source : EC & KoWi, 27.03.2020

The European Commission has published a new article on the FAQ website of the Funding & Tenders Portal, which addresses possible disruptions of the implementation of H2020 projects, additional costs and travel cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Commission refers to the possibility of applying Article 51 of the H2020 Model Grant Agreement (MGA), which regulates the case of force majeure. Beneficiaries can rely on it if they are unable to meet their contractual obligations due to unusual and unpredictable events beyond their control. These cases are therefore not considered as a breach of contract. The prerequisite is that the beneficiaries immediately inform the Commission or the Executive Agencies about the disruption of the project. In addition, they must take all necessary steps to keep the damage caused by the disruption low (e.g. timely cancellation of orders or travel).

According to the explanations in the Annotated Model Grant Agreement, additional costs incurred due to force majeure (e.g. costs for the reorganization of an event) should in principle be borne by the beneficiaries. However, the new FAQ article promises a possibility of reimbursement of these costs as long as the maximum grant amount is not exceeded. Such costs must also meet the general requirements for reimbursement and must not have already been reimbursed by any other source. The same applies to costs for trips that cannot take place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The possibility of reimbursement of cancellation costs is also confirmed once again by the response of the European Commission to a request of our Austrian colleagues from the FFG, which you can find on their website. It stresses in particular that the beneficiaries must immediately inform the responsible project officer at the Commission or the Executive Agencies who then decide on the application of Article 51 H2020 MGA on a case-by-case basis.

Further information:
» FAQ article about force majeure and COVID-19
» FFG website about cancellation costs and COVID-19

Contact at KoWi:
Anita Bindhammer
Sebastian Claus
Cristina Condovici

Source : EC & KoWi, 20.3.2020

The deadline for pre-proposal submission is postponed from April 9 to April 28 2020, 13:00h (CEST) due to the current public health situation in Europe.

Following the Co-funded Call in 2018 (first call), the aim of this second call is to support scientifically excellent transnational research, development and innovation projects that contribute to the improvement of sustainability (environmental, economic and societal) and resilience of crop production.

There are currently at least 16 funding organisations from 12 countries intending to support the Call including France, Latvia, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, United Kingdom, Poland, Belgium, Finland, Spain, Romania (tbc), and Turkey.

More detailed information and any further updates are available on the SusCrop webpage and the proposal submission webpage.

SusCrop is an ERA-Net Cofund Action under H2020, which aims to strengthen the European Research Area (ERA) in the field of Sustainable Crop Production through enhanced cooperation and coordination of different national and regional research programmes. In this regard, SusCrop brings together owners and managers of national and regional R&D&I programmes of EU Member States, EU-associated States and Third countries with significant experience in research funding and coordination.

Contact: Christian Breuer (coordinator) [email protected]