Are we safe online? Looking for answers with Horizon 2020

Pubblicato su Science on the Net

In a world of 1s and 0s… are you a zero, or The One? Every year, as reported by the European Commissioner for Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes, 200 million of Europeans buy things online. Furthermore, the web economy generates a fifth of the growth in the European Union. Therefore, it is now important to apply the fundamental rights online as well as offline. Presently, the European Commission is seeking to develop trustworthy Information and Communication Technology (ICT) solutions, which can guarantee a secure and reliable digital environment in Europe. Funding is already available for cyber security and online privacy under Horizon 2020.

The European Commission will invest 85 million Euro this year and at least 500 million Euro until 2020. Six projects involving research institutes, SMEs and large firms are already helping people to be safe online. ABC4Trust works on personal credentials and test the Attribute Based Credentials (ABC) protection of privacy, which allow users to provide only the information required for authentication, but without revealing the full identity. SECURED is a project that aims to design antivirus, firewall and parental controls to protect the devices from online threats. HINT has the objective to make impossible to clone or modify the hardware of a device. PCAS tries to develop a device that allows users to store and share their data with trusted applications. Trust in Digital Life is a community that encourages industry to develop innovative and reliable technologies and that allows users to judge if their devices, applications and services are sufficiently reliable. Advanced Cyber Defence Centre is a pilot project that aims to develop a European centre focused on advanced cyber defence botnet.

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Space research in Horizon 2020: which advantages for Italy?

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Horizon 2020 identified space research as one of Europe’s key industrial technologies. The Commission highlighted its potential for EU innovation and competitiveness, but what are the consequences and advantages for our country? We had the pleasure to speak with Augusto Cramarossa, Head of National and International relations Unit of the Italian Space Agency (ASI).

How does ASI view the recent Draft Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2014-2015 in the area of Space? Is there any aspect that, in your opinion, could be improved?

The meeting held in Rome on November 27 was an informative and not a decisional one. The calls for 2014-2015 were published last December 11. Whilst everything has been already set for 2014, reviews of the calls for 2015 will be still possible until July 2014. Italy and France decided to abstain in regards to the 2014 Programme. In fact, we reserve our judgment on the included activities. We positively worked with the Commission and the other delegations, but, in our opinion, there was still place for improvements. In particular, we criticized the fact that the calls were defined without a clear idea of the general objectives.

In addition, we consider the overall fund distribution for Horizon 2020 (1,7 billion euros) inadequate, since it does not reflect the priority that, in our opinion, projects such as Galileo and Copernicus should be given to. We believe that research and development-funds allocated for these projects are too low. Another problem, then, regards call issue. The Commission proposes to follow a scheme 2+2+2+1 (years). Considering the maturity of the various activities, Italy on the other hand has proposed to invert the scheme, i.e. 1+2+2+2, in order to improve contents and general objectives. This is another reason that led us to abstention.

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A more sustainable food system in Europe?

Pubblicato su Science on the Net

Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are. On November 12th-15th 2013, Bologna (Italy) hosted the Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Food Science & Technology (EFFoST). The conference was especially focused on two topics: the bio-based scientific approaches for food-human well-being interaction and the bio-based technologies for industry competitiveness. EFFoST federates several organizations in Europe and it is also a member of the International Union of Food Science & Technology (IUFoST). Several esteemed speakers, many from Italian universities, discussed on the bio-based technologies in the context of European food innovation systems.

Presently, as reported by Marco Dalla Rosa (Conference Chair), there is a big interest in correlated topics such as food consumption, public health, well-being, healthy ageing, sustainability and resource efficiency. From this point of view, the new Draft in the area of food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research and the bioeconomy (Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2014-2015) includes all the developments in food research areas and bio-based technologies. Overall, the 2014-2020 EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation will be structured around three main cores: Excellent Science to boost top-level research (~€24.4bn), Industrial Leadership to support key technologies as well as SMEs (~€17bn) and Societal Challenges (~€29.7bn), which includes important fields such as bioeconomy, climate, energy, health and transport.

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