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International co-operation in research and science will deliver stronger economic and social returns for Europe

Guest contributor



On 2 February, the launch of the Horizon Europe research, innovation and science programme 2021-2027 took place. This launch is being officiated by the European Commission and by the Portuguese Presidency of the EU. Horizon Europe is a key policy instrument that the EU will be rolling out to boost EU competitiveness, tackle the UN sustainable development goals and support the implementation of the EU Green deal. The final agreed budget for Horizon Europe over the next seven years is €95.5 billion, writes Huawei Technologies Director EU Public Affairs David Harmon.

The use of new and evolving technologies are central elements within the infrastructure of Horizon Europe. In fact, all the key building blocks of Horizon Europe contain strong collaborative ICT research components in support of important EU policy objectives. The European Research Council (ERC) will continue to support the Nobel prize winners of the future under pillar 1 of Horizon Europe. Many successful ERC grantees will include advancement in the field of technological research as part of their high-end research proposals.

The core objective of Pillar 2 of Horizon Europe is to boost economic growth in Europe and to tackle grand societal global challenges. Again collaborative actions in the field of information and communication technologies (ICT) will support EU Horizon Europe calls covering the health, energy, climate, agriculture and industry sectors. A core objective of the EU institutions is to build a policy framework that will make Europe fit for the digital age. Europe is already home to 20% of all global research and development activities in the world today. This lays the foundation for the building of the necessary digital and sustainable manufacturing tools that will deliver stronger value chains and a more innovative circular economy in Europe.

Pillar 3 of Horizon Europe will ensure that innovative ICT products can gain entry into the marketplace. The European Innovation Council (EIC) and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) are strengthening synergies and cooperation among businesses, educational institutions and research organisations. These respective bodies will help scale up companies in Europe and provide stronger levels of financial support to tech start-ups and to small and medium sized companies.

The putting in place of new standards for the tech products of the future starts at the basic scientific research level. It is very important that there is strong international cooperation in the building of new standards for the tech products and services of the future. International collaboration and cooperation can ensure that unitary as opposed to de-coupled standards can apply to the development of the next generation of smart networks and services. Unitary standards for products in general, including within the tech sector reduce costs, promote higher levels of efficiency and foster innovation.

The research and science policy areas are in reality economic instruments. Countries and companies alike that invest higher levels of investment into basic collaborative research activity deliver stronger economic returns in the medium term. Horizon Europe does support individual scientific excellence. But policy makers rightly want to increase the participation levels of small and medium sized companies in Horizon Europe research and innovation initiatives. This will support stronger economic progress noting that the EU is home to over 25 million small and medium sized enterprises alone.

David Harmon is director of EU public affairs at Huawei Technologies and is a former member in the cabinet of the European commissioner for research, innovation and science 2010-2014.


Research and scientific innovation essential for economic recovery in Europe

Guest contributor



The next EU budget 2021-2027 will pave the way for strong EU support for the research, innovation and science sectors – vitally important in the delivery of economic recovery in Europe, writes David Harmon.

The European Parliament is set to vote on November 23th next on the provisions of the revised EU budgetary framework for the period 2021-2027.

€94 billion as of now is being put aside to finance Horizon Europe, nextGenerationEU and Digital Europe. These are key EU initiatives that will ensure that the EU stays to the forefront in developing new digital technologies. This in now more important than ever. Digital transformation is moving centre stage in terms of how technology will develop key vertical industries and future smart grids in Europe.

And Europe has the know-how to fulfil its key policy targets under these important EU flagship programmes and to do so in an environmentally manner.

The bottom line is that we are now living in the 5G era. This means that new products such as high definition video and self-driving vehicles are going to become a reality in everyday life. 5G is driving this process of ICT innovation. But EU member states do need to work together to make 5G a success so as to economically develop Europe and to comprehensively address broader societal needs.

ICT standards must operate in a structured and in an inter-linked manner.  Governments must ensure that spectrum policies are managed in a manner that guarantees that self–driving cars can travel seamlessly across borders.

Policies at an EU level that promote excellence in science through the European Research Council and via the European Innovation Council are now ensuring that highly innovative ICT products are successfully entering the EU marketplace.

But the public and private sectors must continue to work closely together in the delivery of EU policy goals that fully incorporate and integrate the research, innovation and science sectors.

Already under Horizon Europe a number of public private partnerships are being put in place that will cover the development of both key digital technologies and smart networks and services. The process of innovation works at it’s best when the private, public, educational and research communities are collaborating and cooperating together in the pursuit of common policy objectives.

In fact, in even a broader context the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals can be achieved via scientists and researchers across the world engaging in common projects.

Europe is playing to its strengths under the Horizon Europe programme.

Europe is home to some of the finest software developers in the world. Over a quarter of all global [email protected] is carried out in Europe.

Horizon Europe and its predecessor programme Horizon 2020 are recognised as leading global research initiatives. But industry has to step up to the plate if Horizon Europe is going to be a success.

Horizon Europe must and will support the process of innovation.

This is the key if traditional industries such as the energy, transport and health and manufacturing sectors are going to be fit for the digital age.

International collaboration and co-operation can and will support the implementation of the strategic autonomous policy goals of the EU.

We are living through a digital revolution. We all must work together to make this revolution a positive success for everyone and this includes bridging the digital divide.

David Harmon, Director for EU Government Affairs at Huawei Technologies

David Harmon is director of EU Government Affairs at Huawei Technologies

Now that Europe is on the verge of securing agreement to the terms of the new EU budget 20210—2027, interested parties can prepare for the first call for proposals under Horizon Europe. The publication of such calls will take place within the first quarter of 2021. Advances in the fields of AI, big data, cloud computing and high performance computing will all play critical roles in bringing new innovative ICT products and services into the marketplace. We have witnessed at first hand this year the very positive role that new technologies can play in supporting high-speed online platforms and in enhancing connections for businesses, friends and families alike.

Policy frameworks will of course have to be put in place to cater for the evolving technologies that are coming on stream. Civic society, industry, the education and researcher sectors must be fully engaged in developing this legislative roadmap.

We know the challenges that lie ahead for us. So let us all actively address these challenges in a spirit of determination, friendship and international co-operation.

David Harmon is director of EU Government Affairs at Huawei Technologies and he is a former member within the cabinet of the European Commissioner for research, innovation and science during the period 2010-2014.

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Artificial intelligence

International collaboration in the field of #ICT research is a central cog in the wheel in tackling the global challenges of today

Guest contributor




Researchers and scientists from all over the world are working together to find a vaccine to combat Coronavirus. Companies from Europe, China, USA, Australia and Canada are at the forefront in seeking to find medical solutions to tackle Covid-19. But there is one common denominator in the work of all these specific research programmes. They bring scientists together from different parts on the world to work on this incredibly important field of health research, writes Abraham Liu, the Huawei chief representative to the EU institutions.


Abraham Liu, the Huawei chief representative to the EU institutions.

Abraham Liu, the Huawei chief representative to the EU institutions.

The pursuit of scientific excellence does not stop at any defined geographical border. If governments or companies alike want to deliver the most innovative products and solutions into the marketplace, they should pursue a policy of international co-operation and engagement.

In other words, ensuring that the best scientists in the world are working together in the pursuit of a common purpose. For example, this can relate to collaborative research activities in combatting chronic health disorders, tackling climate change and in building the most environmentally friendly and energy efficient cities of the future.

Advances in the field of information and communication technologies (ICT) now, underpin today the innovative development of all vertical industries. The energy, transport, health, industrial, financial and agriculture sectors are being modernized and transformed via the process of digital ingenuity.

  • 5G can now ensure that medical operations can be carried out remotely.
  • Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) can help in identifying Covid-19 via cloud applications.
  • Innovations in the field of the Internet of Things (I.O.T) ensure the more efficient operation of water supply systems by automatically identifying faults and leaks.
  • Today 25% of all traffic congestion in cities is caused by people looking for parking spaces. By properly using data centres and by integrating the use of video, voice and data services, traffic-light and parking systems are operationally more efficient.
  • 5G will deliver self-driving cars because the latency response times in carrying out instructions are now much lower compared to 4G. Car companies are now using server computers to test new vehicle models as opposed to deploying physical cars for such demonstrations.
  • 85% of all traditional banking services are now carried out online. Advances in AI are also leading the fight in combating credit card fraud.
  • By properly using sensors to identify the blood pressure and heartbeat levels in cattle, milk production can increase by 20%.

At the core of all these advances is a very strong commitment by both the public and private sectors to invest in basic research. This includes areas such as mathematical algorithms, environmental sciences and energy efficiencies. But international co-operation and engagement is the key component in delivering the digital transformation that we are witnessing today.

The policy objectives of Horizon Europe (2021-2027) will be successfully achieved through positive international collaboration. This research programme of the EU will help make Europe fit for the digital age, build a green economy, tackle climate change and implement the sustainable development goals of the United Nations. Huawei can and will help the EU fulfil these vitally important social and economic policy goals.

Huawei is committed to continuing our policy of international engagement in delivering new innovative products and solutions into the marketplace. Huawei employs over 2400 researchers in Europe, 90% of whom are local recruits. Our company works with over 150 universities in Europe on a range of different research activities. Huawei is an active participant in EU research and science initiatives such as Horizon 2020.

The private and public research and educational communities from all parts of the world – by working together - with a common sense of purpose - can and will tackle the serious global challenges facing us today.

Where we are united, we will succeed. Where we are divided, we will fail.

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#Kazakhstan is increasing its #biosafety capacity

Colin Stevens



Since March 16, Kazakhstan has been living in a state of emergency. Tough quarantine measures have been introduced in the country, public transport has been suspended, most organizations and institutions have switched to a remote mode of operation, streets and residential facilities being disinfected, while COVID-positive patients receive medical care.

The state of emergency was introduced to prevent the spread of the dangerous virus in Kazakhstan. We have largely succeeded in this. The pandemic is not growing exponentially: today the number of cases does not exceed 4,000 people per population of 18 million of Kazakhstan.

In addition to quarantine, the entire healthcare system in Kazakhstan is currently working on the development of tools to counteract the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. An important element of this work is the development of a domestic test system and the formation of a batch of reagent kits for the detection of COVID-19 coronavirus by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

The Central Reference Laboratory (CRL), a branch of the National Center for Biotechnology in Almaty, jointly with the units of the National Scientific Center for Especially Dangerous Infections named after M. Aykimbayev began development of such test systems for the detection of the COVID-19 coronavirus in order to further equip subordinate institutions of the Ministry of Healthcare and create a strategic reserve in case of infection spread throughout the country.

There are a number of benefits resulting from the fact that this development is domestic: the availability of technical and consulting support, adaptation of the kits to the equipment available at the departments of the Ministry of Healthcare of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and the provision of some other types of support from the developers. Thus, thanks to its own laboratory, Kazakhstan was able to develop and implement national tests.

This Central Reference Laboratory (СRL) did not appear out of thin air, and the Kazakh Scientific Center for Quarantine and Zoonotic Infections named after M. Aykimbayev, which in Soviet times was created as the Almaty Anti-Plague Station, has been the basis (technical and personnel) for its creation.

It is well known that natural environmental factors affect the spread and functioning of natural foci of infections that cause human disease. Due to geological and climatic features (desert and mountainous terrain), there were and are natural foci of plague, cholera and other infectious diseases in a significant part of the territory of Kazakhstan.

In this regard, Kazakhstan needs a CRL-level laboratory to effectively counter current threats to biological safety. The construction of the CRL was started in April 2010 and completed in September 2017. It was constructed within the framework of the Executive Agreement on the Elimination of the Infrastructure of Weapons of Mass Destruction, signed by the Governments of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the United States of America on August 23, 2005.

The laboratory was built and equipped at the expense of US funds as part of a joint threat reduction program. The program is being implemented by the Threat Reduction Agency of the US Department of Defense and aimed at strengthening the non-proliferation regime of weapons of mass destruction in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia and several other CIS countries.

Upon completion of the construction, the CRL was transferred by the Americans to full control of Kazakhstan. From January 1, 2020, the Laboratory has been fully funded from the budget of Kazakhstan. Today, the Central Reference Laboratory (CRL) is an international advanced research center of the third level of biological protection. The laboratory belongs to Kazakhstan and is not American. The main goal is to preserve the collection of pathogens and viruses.

The Kazakhstan’s collection of pathogens and viruses has been collected for years (one of the largest in the world). Storing these collections needs special conditions with security requirements ensured. The old building of the laboratory built during the Soviet times did not meet the requirements in terms of design and equipment. The new building resolved all these issues. It has separate laboratories, provides ventilation, the air goes through multiple filtration; all procedures are in accordance with international standards.

The laboratory's tasks include strengthening diagnostic and research capabilities for the development and implementation of state policy in epidemiological and epizootological monitoring. Special engineering and technical personnel was trained and prepared for the maintenance of the laboratory. The staff of the CRL includes Kazakhstani specialists from subordinate organizations of three ministries: healthcare, science and education, and agriculture.

Since the CRL was established in collaboration with the United States, various speculations appear from time to time on several Russian media about the biological weapons allegedly being created at the CRL, as well as artificial coronavirus strains of the COVID-19 type, which was spread in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

In a recent official statement, the Kazakh Foreign Ministry said that this is untrue due to the lack of such capabilities at the CRL. Information published in some media sources that Kazakhstani laboratory is allegedly creating a biological weapon aimed at defeating representatives of Slavic ethnic groups and peoples is a conspiracy fiction.

Controlling the epidemiological situation of infectious diseases is a matter of international importance. In this regard, the CRL in Kazakhstan is a guarantee that various infections that are especially dangerous for humans are being carefully studied and reliably contained through timely measures taken by Kazakhstani scientists. The example of the current COVID-19 pandemic proves this.


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