Academies’ event on migrant health: European Commission promises to keep migration high on its agenda

On 22 November, numerous academics and experts discussed the health status of migrants in Europe and new challenges to healthcare systems posed by the recent influx of newcomers. The conference organised by ALLEA and the Federation of European Academies of Medicine (FEAM) saw active participation of academics, practitioners, policymakers and NGOs.

While contributions during all sessions caught the interest of the audience, the speech of John F. Ryan, Director of the Public health, Country Knowledge, Crisis Management Unit at the European Commission’s Directorate for Health and Food Safety received special attention. He confirmed that more funds would be mobilised to address the rise of migratory pressure in Europe and the health status of migrants and refugees.

Likewise, the session chaired by ALLEA Vice-President Professor Graham Caie was successful in stimulating a lively debate as the interactions went on between panellists and the audience. The speakers discussed research confirming that migrants are less likely to bring diseases from their places of departure and that in certain aspects migrant populations tend to be in good physical condition. However, they stressed that people on the move often face mental health challenges as they embark on a long and risky journey to Europe. Upon arrival, they additionally experience barriers that make access to healthcare systems difficult.

The event took place in Brussels and was hosted by the Royal Academy of Medicine of Belgium (ARMB) in collaboration with the French Academy of Medicine.

While the conference considerations and outcomes will be summarised in a conference report, which will be published early 2020, more related discussions can be expected at ALLEA upcoming events:


Unite to defend evidence-informed policy, science advice community tells European Commission

Politicians, scientists and civil society need to defend evidence-informed policy as a cornerstone of liberal democracy.

This was the key message to the new European Commission, as voted by Europe’s science advice community at a major event in Helsinki on The Future of Science Advice in Europe.

Some 150 of Europe’s science advisors, government officials, researchers, politicians, academy representatives and members of the public met on 13 November to discuss the future of science advice and the role of scientific evidence in good governance.

The event was hosted by the Office of the Prime Minister of Finland, in the wider context of the current Finnish Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and co-organised by one of ALLEA’s flagship projects: Science Advice for Policy by European Academies (SAPEA), together with the Finnish Academy of Sciences and Letters and the Academy of Finland. As one of SAPEA’s five networks, ALLEA leads the work package on communications, which managed this notable event.

Read more on SAPEA website.


Science Academies need to be less self-centred and more open to society, says ALLEA President

ALLEA President Antonio Loprieno was one of the speakers at the conference “The Role of Academies in Sustaining European Knowledge Societies in Time of Crisis”, which took place in Turin on 7 and 8 November.

“Our contemporary knowledge is social knowledge, not individual. Which means that our Academies need to embrace the social dimension of knowledge and science activity. And that  means embracing science communications and open access.”, said Antonio Loprieno in his presentation.

The event, which focused on discussing the function of Academies today, both in general and with particular reference to the European crisis, was a part of the ALLEA conference series Europe on Test: Narratives of Union and Disunion. It was co-organised by ALLEA and its member, the Academy of Sciences of Turin.

The full programme and videos of the lectures that took place during the event are on the website of the Academy of Sciences of Turin. Following the event, Antonio Loprieno was interviewed by Italy’s national public broadcasting company Radiotelevisione italiana (RAI). The interview in Italian is available on-line.

Europe on Test: Narratives of Union and Disunion” is a series of conferences under the patronage of ALLEA and hosted by selected Academies of Sciences and Humanities in various European cities. It seeks to address recent political developments and other aspects of relevance that may pose a challenge for the future of Europe as a community.

The Future of Research: Assessing the impact of Plan S

Impacts of Plan S on researchers, research-intensive institutions, societies and publishers were debated at an international symposium organised by Academia Europea Cardiff Knowledge Hub and KU Leuven Libraries.

The event took place in Leuven on 5 and 6 November. An audience of around 130 gathered at the historic Leuven Institute for Ireland in Europe. ALLEA was represented by its Board Member Luke Drury, who underlined some of the key points introduced by the ALLEA statement on Plan S.

ALLEA’s work was also presented to the participants at an exhibition accompanying the event. The materials were in high demand from the audience, especially ALLEA’s statement on Plan S. SAPEA, the project on science advice for policy that ALLEA is involved in, also exhibited its materials.

A more detailed report on the event is available on the website of Academia Europaea.

The potential and challenges of genome editing for crop improvement lively discussed in Brussels

The science behind genome editing, its regulation and its impact on society– those were only few of the topics discussed on 7 and 8 November at the Academy Palace in Brussels. The symposium ‘Genome Editing for Crop Improvement’, organised by ALLEA and the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts (KVAB) brought together eminent speakers and stakeholders to discuss how to harness the benefits of genome editing while ensuring a wide-spread acceptance of the new technology in society.

The symposium provided a holistic overview with a variety of different backgrounds, a comprehensive overview of scientific evidence on safety of the genome edited crops and their potential for solving current and future problems in agriculture. It further addressed issues relating to intellectual property and the desirability of amending current European legislation on genome-edited plants.

A document synthesising the discussions from the symposium will be published in due course.


Academic institutions need to adapt IPR strategies to fulfil their role in Europe’s innovation ecosystem

ALLEA published the statement ‘The Need for Intellectual Property Rights Strategies at Academic Institutions’ today. The publication formulates recommendations both to scientific organisations and European and national legislators and highlights the importance of managing intangible assets with due consideration of intellectual property rights (IPR).

The increasing relevance of intangible assets, such as computer software or patented technology, in today’s economy requires fundamental rethinking and a cultural change in the management of IP portfolios in scientific organisations just as it does in companies. With its statement, ALLEA addresses this shift of economic relevance from tangible to intangible assets and urges academic institutions to adopt adequate IPR strategies which ensure that knowledge transfer benefits society, for example in public-private partnerships. It also presents options to European and national legislators on ways to incentivise the translation of publicly funded research results into IP-protected innovative products and processes.

The statement has been produced by ALLEA’s Permanent Working Group on Intellectual Property Rights, which comprises experts from various disciplines and from academies across Europe.

“Europe risks lagging behind other regions in incentivising knowledge transfer for innovation. Academic institutions and policymakers must prepare better for the pivotal economic shift towards intangible assets and adapt their legal frameworks and academic plans to efficiently respond to these trends”, said Professor Joseph Straus, Chair of the ALLEA Permanent Working Group on Intellectual Property Rights.

The statement recommends to academic institutions:

  • To adopt a holistic approach as regards to their IP strategies, in order to remain attractive as partners in public-private partnerships (PPP) or for third party funding.
  • To raise awareness of the importance of IPR for innovation on both the micro- and macroeconomic scale and developing models which adequately remunerate employees in case of a successful commercialisation of research findings.
  • To make available financial and human resources in order to secure in-house structures or external mechanisms to deal with invention disclosures, filing and prosecution of IPRs, as well as the monitoring of granted IPRs.
  • To establish clear rules around the ownership in and handling of IPRs in cases of commercial spin-outs.

The statement furthermore advises European and national legislators:

  • To devise legal frameworks similar to those adopted in the US, China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea.
  • To introduce a grace period into patent law, and to consider preferential tax treatment for income generated through commercialisation of publicly funded research.
  • To better support cooperation between academic institutions in the commercialisation of their research results and to optimise cooperation of existing Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs).

Europe risks lagging behind other regions in incentivising knowledge transfer for innovation. Academic institutions and policymakers must prepare better for the pivotal economic shift towards intangible assets and adapt their legal frameworks and academic plans to efficiently respond to these trends

Download the full statement here



Genome Editing for Crop Improvement

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