Horizon 2020 and Welsh universities

Welsh universities have been very successful in the previous EU research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020, with over £90m of funding received to date. Awards have received across a wide range of thematic areas and including European Research Council awards, Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions and collaborative projects addressing societal challenges. A small selection of Horizon 2020 work involving Welsh universities is outlined below with a project from every Welsh university that has received Horizon 2020 funding.

Territorial inequalities and spatial justice issues in Europe

The IMAJINE Horizon 2020 project is led by Aberystwyth University with 14 partners from 12 countries. It focuses on territorial inequalities/ spatial justic issues in Europe and aims to contribute to shaping policies for a more equal and just future. IMAJINE runs from January 2017 to June 2022 with a budget of 5m euros. Project findings so far include the indication that disparities between regions in Europe have narrowed overall since 2000 but benefits have not been evenly experienced. The complexity of geographical inequalities are not adequately captured by the current scale at which the EU evaluates indicators or by the emphasis on GDP in EU Cohesion Policy. Wales' Well-being of Future Generations Act could provide a model for a more holistic approach.

Covid 19 has also intensified regional disparities across Europe with its most severe impacts in less affluent regions. In almost all countries surveyed residents rate the response of local and regional governments more highly than that of national governments or the EU. The last phase of the project will include scenarios for regional inequalities in Europe over the next 30 years and the identification of policy changes that can reduce inequalities. Further information on this project can be found through: www.imajine-project.eu and @IMAJINE_h2020

Circular economy - using food waste to produce new products

The Pro-Enrich project involves Bangor University as one of 16 organisations in 7 countries. The project aims to develop plant-based functional ingredients from food and agricultural waste. The project runs from May 2018-October 2021 with 3.312m euros of funding from the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI-JU) within Horizon 2020. The project aims to determine the residues with the highest market potential, undertake and develop a range of bio-refining processes on these residues to yeld high-purity functional proteins and bioactive components; demonstrate how these components can be used technically and in economically attractive ways. The approaches will also be assessed for their sustainability to ensure environmental benefits.

Anticipated outcomes include the introduction of residues such as pressed olive pomace, olive mill waste water, rapeseed press cake and fruit and vegetable processing residues as valuable bio-refining resources; the development of protocols for the production of these residues that can enable their use in foods, pet food, cosmetics and adhesives; the adaptation of bio-refineries to meet seasonal factors and more environmentally and economically sustainable processes. Further information: www.pro-enrich.eu 

Water management with rural communities

The DOWN2EARTH project is co-ordinated by Cardiff University and runs from 2020-24 with 6.7m euros from Horizon 2020. The project is focused on the translation of climate information into multilevel decision support for social adaptation, policy development and resilience to water scarcity in the Horn of Africa Drylands. The project involves 14 organisations across 7 countries. The project is also working closely with two other Horizon 2020 projects - CONFER and FOCUS-Africa - in order to maximise the potential outcomes of all the projects.

DOWN2EARTH works with rural communities to ensure their access to understandable and useful climate services allowing them to adapt to protect their livelihoods. The project aims to produce and integrate new hydrological modelling into existing forecasting and planning systems at ICPAC (a Climate Centre providing services to East Africa) and will share how the CUWALID (Climate into Useful Water and Land Information in Drylands) model on how rainfall translates into useable water for communities with relevant agencies and rural communities. Disseminating engaging and informative radio programming on climate change and adaptation through support for Kenyan journalists is another key focus for the project together with BBC Media Action. The project's broader goal is to support meaningful adaptation to climate hazards at multiple levels in society (from government ministers to the 'last mile') which will foster a more resilient rural community. Further information: http://down2earthproject.org @D2E_Project

Design as a tool to lead innovation

The PRESTIGE Horizon 2020 project involves Cardiff Metropolitan University and focuses on the design-driven integration of innovative printed functional materials into interactive high-end and fashion consumer goods addressing tomorrow's societal challenges. The project runs from November 2017 to April 2021 with 6.59m euros funding and involves 16 organisations across 8 countries.

The project team is focusing on key challenges such as safe urban mobility, health, well-being and plastics waste management. The design-driven innovation approach enables users wants and needs as well as circular economy considerations to be brought into the materials and product design process much earlier. The project has developed three technology demonstrators and one design concept to show how printed functional materials can improve urban living. These address road safety - a steering wheel using haptic printed materials to enable eyes free control of car systems and a smart cycling helmet; health - a fitness tracker powered by printed photovoltaic materials; and waste management - a refillable make up container. Further information: www.prestige.dynergie.eu @PRESTIGEProjec2

Fellowships tackling cybercrime, migration and security issues

The University of South Wales (USW) has received Horizon 2020 funding to support a number of Fellowships as part of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions within the programme. The awarding of these Fellowships has enabled researchers from across Europe to undertake research into the security industry, migration and cybercrime at the International Centre for Policing and Security (ICPS) based at USW. In recent years three researchers have received over 224,000 euros each to support their research work.

Dr Joana de Deus Pereira focuses on the role of the security industry in shaping European migration policy. The Fellowship has led to lecturing roles at the NATO Centres of Excellence and USW looking at drugs, human trafficking and organised crime. Dr Eyene Okpanachi's research focuses on return migration in Africa with particular reference to Ethiopia and Nigeria and will enable Dr Okpanachi to develop a global research network. Dr Ethem Ilbiz is examining the role of Europol in fighting cybercrime and how public-private partnerships can work more efficiently in cybersecurity. The research undertaken by these Fellows will feed into academic and governmental debates in these increasingly important areas. Further information: https://police.research.southwales.ac.uk 

Let it flow! Reconnecting and restoring European rivers

Swansea University led the AMBER (Adaptive Management of Barriers in European Rivers) Horizon 2020 project. The project has reconnected hundreds of kilometres of river from barriers to help restore some of the most threatened ecosystems in the world. The project involved 20 European partners from universities, conservation foundations, energy providers and policy advisers. It ran from June 2016- September 2020 and received 6.238m euros from the EU's research and innovation programme.

AMBER worked with angling associations, environment ministries, fisheries agencies, river trusts and energy providers around the world to develop tools that enable more effective and efficient restoration of rivers and improved fish migration. Over 2,725 km of rivers were surveyed and records from 36 European countries analysed as part of the project. These tools will allow hydropower companies and river managers to maximise benefits such as energy security and jobs while minimising ecological impacts. Key outputs include the AMBER Barrier Atlas that provides an overview of the information on river barriers in Europe showing more than 600,000 obstacles and the AMBER Barrier Tracker which is a citizen science app to record river barriers providing opportunities for people across Europe to reconnect rivers, track barriers and learn about their impacts. The results from AMBER have fed directly into the work to support the European Green Deal and particularly the EU Biodiversity Strategy that aims to reconnect 25,000km of Europe's rivers by 2030. The project also links to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Further information: www.amber.international @AMBERtools

Food nutrition security data and exploitation

The University of Wales Trinity St David (UWTSD) is part of the Food Nutrition Security (FNS)-Cloud Horizon 2020 project. The project aims to enable better understanding and exploitation of data on food nutrition security and integrate with the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC). The project involves over 40 organisations from 14 countries across Europe. FNS-Cloud runs from October 2019- September 2023 and has received 10.9m euros from the EU's research and innovation programme.

The project involves scientists from the agri-food, nutrition and health sectors together with communications experts, specialists in education and training and ICT and data advisers. The project aims to develop an infrastructure and services to exploit food nutrition security data for a range of purposes including better understanding of the data to benefit European citizens and add value to previously published research. The ultimate aim of food nutrition security is to ensure enveryone can access safe, affordable and nutritious food. Further information: www.fns-cloud.eu @FNSCloudEU