2024 General Assembly in Berlin: Registration Is Now Open

ALLEA is delighted to announce that registrations are now open for its upcoming general assembly, set to convene in Berlin, Germany, on 22–23 May 2024. This event, celebrating ALLEA’s 30th anniversary, promises a dynamic platform for intellectual exchange and collaborative engagement.

At the heart of the assembly is a public symposium, ‘European Research Collaboration in a Shifting Geopolitical Landscape: How Open Can We Be?’ on 22 May. Co-hosted by the German National Academy of Sciences – Leopoldina, the German Young Academy – Die Junge Akademie, and the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities, this public event will ignite conversations on the evolving dynamics of cross-border research collaboration amidst geopolitical shifts.

Distinguished physicist Professor Fabiola Gianotti, Director-General of CERN and recipient of the 2023 ALLEA Madame de Staël Prize for Cultural Values, will deliver a keynote address following the award ceremony. A subsequent high-level panel discussion, featuring experts from academia and policy spheres, will delve into the challenges and opportunities presented by geopolitical complexities in scientific collaboration.

Who should attend this event?

The public symposium on 22 May explores pressing issues from the fields of science, society, and policy. It provides a platform for international, interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral debate. Participation is open to all and is free of charge. This is an in-person event. An online livestream will be provided.

In addition to the public symposium, ALLEA Members are invited to participate in an internal business meeting on the morning of 22 May. The business meeting addresses governance, strategy and policy matters and is restricted to member academies’ delegates.

For detailed programme information and to register for the event, please visit the ALLEA General Assembly website.

ALLEA Releases Statement Addressing IP Challenges for Developing Crops Using New Genomic Techniques

Today, ALLEA released a statement addressing concerns surrounding the impact of the current intellectual property (IP) system on the adoption and development of New Genomic Techniques (NGTs) for crop breeding. The outcomes will be further discussed during an open webinar on Wednesday, 6 March, 14:00 (CET).

The statement entitled, ‘Measures to Ease the Impact of the IP System on New Genomic Techniques for Crop Development’, examines how the current IP system affects the operations of European breeders and farmers, especially small ones. It provides a range of short-, medium-, and long-term recommendations to overcome possible obstacles posed by the current IP system.

Due to their potential to contribute to sustainable crop development, environmental safety, and food security, the enhanced precision and speed offered by NGTs, such as genome editing through the use of CRISPR-Cas, are considered to offer promising advancements in crop breeding  (see ALLEA’s work on NGTs for more information). However, the current IP landscape, which is governed through the European Union (EU) Biotechnology Directive 98/44/EC and the special Plant Breeders’ Rights, presents various challenges for breeders and farmers, including concerns about unintentional patent infringement, monopolisation of these technologies and the resulting plant varieties, and licensing complexities.

This statement highlights the increasing complexity of the patent landscape for NGT plants and products, which would arise primarily due to the increased speed in which new varieties can be produced, as well as the fact that plant varieties developed with NGTs may not be easily distinguishable from those generated by traditional breeding techniques. It also draws attention to the uncertainty arising from legal disputes surrounding patents on CRISPR-Cas9 technology. In addition, the lack of transparency and clarity in licensing agreements pose substantial obstacles to innovation and equitable access to these technologies.

In response to some of the challenges resulting from the current IP system, measures proposed in this statement provide a toolbox for multi-faceted solutions.

“The proposed short- and medium-term measures could be implemented relatively quickly and should help to alleviate some of the challenges for breeders and farmers by increasing transparency and access to these technologies. At the same time, however, it may be necessary to explore a more fundamental redesign of our IP system for food plants and related technologies in order to provide a more structural and future-proof solution.”

Heinz Müller, Task Force Chair

This comprehensive statement on IP for New Genomic Techniques underscores the urgency of a nuanced approach. To arrive at these recommendations, a dedicated task force, consisting of leading experts on the topic, consulted with stakeholders representing a variety of perspectives, including patent holders, small breeders, academic researchers, and NGOs.

“With the increasing pressures on our food systems arising from climate change and geopolitical developments, collaboration among diverse stakeholders is paramount to securing the availability of sufficient and high-quality food. The proposed measures aim at supporting future European food systems that are more sustainable and serve the needs of our society.”

– Antonio Loprieno, ALLEA President

On Wednesday, 6 March, 14:00 (CET) a webinar will take place to discuss the outcomes of this statement, and further explore the implications of its recommendations as well as their potential impact in this field.

Read the full statement here

ALLEA Welcomes Launch of European Research Area Policy Platform

Last week marked a significant step towards a more integrated European Research Area (ERA) with the official launch of the ERA Policy Platform by the European Commission.

This ‘one-stop-shop’ serves as a gateway to comprehensive information on current ERA policies, activities, and achievements. It reflects the joint ambition of EU Member States, the European Commission, associated countries, and Research and Innovation (R&I) stakeholders such as ALLEA for a unified, borderless market for research, innovation, and technology across Europe.

Following this goal enshrined in Article 179 of the Lisbon Treaty, the ERA Policy Platform is an integral part of the new ERA governance framework and the Pact for R&I in Europe. Its multifaceted role includes providing up-to-date information on the implementation of the ERA Policy Agenda, showcasing EU-wide activities contributing to ERA progress, and serving as a repository for key ERA-related documents.

As such, the ERA Policy Platform serves as a central space for communication among various stakeholders interested in advancing ERA objectives. EU Member States, countries associated with Horizon Europe, and R&I stakeholder organisations can actively contribute to the platform, fostering collaboration and supporting the ERA monitoring system by sharing relevant information, data, or documents at both national and EU levels. The platform also serves as a source of information for interested citizens, in line with the goal of fostering inclusivity through a borderless market that benefits individuals across Europe.

ALLEA is pleased to contribute valuable insights from the European academies to the platform through the active involvement of its working group on the ERA in the ERA forum. As an umbrella organisation of academies from across Europe, ALLEA’s involvement reflects the collaborative spirit of the ERA’s ambitious objectives.

For more information on the ERA Policy Platform and to explore its features, please visit the European Research Area Platform website: https://european-research-area.ec.europa.eu/.

Nominations Open for 2025 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, Life Science and Mathematics

In collaboration with ALLEA, the Breakthrough Prize is releasing the call for nominations for the 2025 awards in fundamental physics, life sciences, and mathematics. This prestigious international recognition celebrates groundbreaking research and advancements in these fields. ALLEA warmly invites members of the European scientific community to participate actively by nominating individuals and teams for these esteemed awards. This is an opportunity to spotlight the outstanding contributions of European scientists on the global stage, emphasising their vital role in shaping the landscape of research worldwide.

 

Press release, The Breakthrough Prize, 9 January 2024

The public nomination period for the 2025 Breakthrough Prizes in Fundamental Physics, Life Sciences and Mathematics is now open. Nominations can be submitted online today through 1 April 2024. While self-nominations are prohibited, anyone may nominate another person. The nomination forms and rules are available at breakthroughprize.org.

For the 13th year, the Breakthrough Prize, recognised as the world’s largest science prize, will honour top scientists, handing out three prizes in Life Sciences, one in Fundamental Physics and one in Mathematics. Each prize comes with a $3 million award. In addition, six New Horizons Prizes, each for $100,000, will be available to promising early-career researchers in the fields of Physics and Mathematics. Nominations will also be taken for the Maryam Mirzakhani New Frontiers Prize, an annual $50,000 award presented to early-career women mathematicians who have completed their PhDs within the previous two years.

The Breakthrough Prize, dubbed ‘The Oscars of Science,’ hosts an annual globally broadcast gala awards ceremony to celebrate the laureates’ achievements and to foster broad popular support for scientific endeavours and inspire the next generation of scientists. The cohort of 2024 laureates was announced in September 2023.

For the eighth year, the Breakthrough Prize will partner with two prestigious institutions – the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities (ALLEA) and ResearchGate – to directly engage with researchers and the science community.

ALLEA brings together more than 50 academies from over 40 countries, with members leading scholarly enquiry across all fields of the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

ResearchGate is the professional network for researchers. Over 20 million researchers use researchgate.net to share and discover research, build their networks, and advance their careers. Based in Berlin, ResearchGate was founded in 2008. Its mission is to connect the world of science and make research open to all. ResearchGate members are encouraged to nominate their peers for the 2025 prizes in Fundamental Physics, Life Sciences, and Mathematics.

Selection Committees are composed of previous Breakthrough Prize laureates, who select the winners from the list of candidates generated during the nomination period.

Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics

One 2025 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics ($3 million) will recognize an individual or individuals who have made profound contributions to human knowledge. It is open to theoretical and experimental physicists. The prize can be shared among any number of scientists. Nominations are also open for the New Horizons in Physics Prize, which will include up to three $100,000 awards for early-career researchers who have already produced important work in their fields.

The Selection Committee for the 2025 physics prizes includes: Eric Adelberger, Nima Arkani-Hamed, Charles H. Bennett, Charles L. Bennett, John Cardy, Sheperd Doeleman, Michael Green, Jens Gundlach, Alan Guth, Blayne Heckel, Joseph Incandela, Charles Kane, Hidetoshi Katori, Alexei Kitaev, Andrei Linde, Arthur McDonald, Juan Maldacena, Eugene Mele, Lyman Page, Saul Perlmutter, Alexander Polyakov, Adam Riess, John Schwarz, Nathan Seiberg, Ashoke Sen, David Spergel, Andrew Strominger, Cumrun Vafa, Ewine F. van Dishoeck, Yifang Wang, Rainer Weiss, Edward Witten, and Jun Ye.

Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences

Three 2025 Breakthrough Prizes in Life Sciences ($3 million each) will be awarded to individuals who have made transformative advances in comprehending living systems and extending human life. One of the prizes is designated for progress in understanding of Parkinson’s disease or other neurodegenerative disorders.

The Selection Committee for the 2025 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences includes: David Allis, James Allison, Victor Ambros, David Baker, Shankar Balasubramanian, Cornelia Bargmann, Alim Louis Benabid, Frank Bennett, David Botstein, Edward Boyden, Clifford P. Brangwynne, Lewis Cantley, Emmanuelle Charpentier, Zhijian “James” Chen, Joanne Chory, Don Cleveland, Hans Clevers, Karl Deisseroth, Titia de Lange, Mahlon DeLong, Jennifer Doudna, Catherine Dulac, Stephen Elledge, Napoleone Ferrara, Jeffrey Friedman, Thomas Gasser, Sabine Hadida, Michael Hall, John Hardy, Ulrich Hartl, Demis Hassabis, Helen Hobbs, Arthur Horwich, Anthony A. Hyman, John Jumper, David Julius, Carl June, Katalin Karikó, Jeffery W. Kelly, David Klenerman, Adrian Krainer, Eric Lander, Robert Langer, Virginia Lee, Richard Lifton, Dennis Lo, Pascal Mayer, Emmanuel Mignot, Kazutoshi Mori, Kim Nasmyth, Paul Negulescu, Harry Noller, Roeland Nusse, Yoshinori Ohsumi, Svante Pääbo, Gary Ruvkun, Michel Sadelain, Charles Sawyers, Ellen Sidransky, Andrew Singleton, Fredrick Van Goor, Alexander Varshavsky, Bert Vogelstein, Peter Walter, Robert Weinberg, Drew Weissman, Shinya Yamanaka, Masashi Yanagisawa, Richard Youle, Xiaowei Zhuang, and Huda Zoghbi.

Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics

One 2025 Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics ($3 million) will be awarded to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the field of mathematics. Nominations are also open for the New Horizons in Mathematics Prize, which will include up to three $100,000 awards for early-career researchers who have already produced important work in their fields. In addition, up to three $50,000 Maryam Mirzakhani New Frontiers Prizes will be presented to early-career women mathematicians who have completed their PhDs within the previous two years (2019, 2020).

The Selection Committee for the 2025 mathematics prizes includes: Ian Agol, Simon Brendle, Alex Eskin, Simon Donaldson, Martin Hairer, Maxim Kontsevich, Christopher Hacon, Vincent Lafforgue, Jacob Lurie, James McKernan, Takuro Mochizuki, Daniel Spielman, Terence Tao, and Richard Taylor.

Information on the Breakthrough Prizes is available at breakthroughprize.org.

[End of press release]

ALLEA Announces Date and Theme for 2024 General Assembly in Berlin

ALLEA is delighted to announce its forthcoming 2024 General Assembly, scheduled to convene in Berlin on 22–23 May 2024, celebrating the organisation’s 30th anniversary and co-hosted by its German member academies.

ALLEA Ceases Activities on X/Twitter

After careful consideration, ALLEA has decided to cease communication activities on X, formerly known as Twitter, starting from January 2024. ALLEA’s commitment to academic freedom and science as a global public good is at the core of its activities, and X’s current policies don’t align with its mission.

This decision wasn’t made lightly, and we appreciate the support of our community throughout this journey. Moving forward, we invite you to join us on LinkedIn and Mastodon. ALLEA remains dedicated to fostering collaboration, dialogue, and the dissemination of knowledge within the academic and scientific community. Thank you for your continued support as ALLEA navigates this transition and continues to uphold our values in the pursuit of advancing science and the humanities.

Follow ALLEA on LinkedIn / Mastodon, or subscribe to our newsletter.

ALLEA Outlines Its Vision for the Future of European Research and Innovation

Today, ALLEA published a statement on the guiding principles for the forthcoming 10th European Union Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (FP10), outlining a transformative vision for European Research and Innovation (R&I).

Emphasising the need for a robust FP10, which will run from 2028-2034, and a ring-fenced budget of €200 billion, ALLEA envisions a future where Europe stands at the forefront of global competitiveness and leadership in R&I. The statement advocates for heightened investment, reinforced basic research, Open Science, international collaboration, the nurturing of diverse talent, and streamlined processes to propel European R&I forward. It follows a position submitted to the European Research Area and Innovation Committee (ERAC) in September 2023, presenting key guiding principles and recommendations for the seven-year EU research programme.

“Investing in European Research and Innovation is not only a financial commitment, it is much more an investment in our common future. ALLEA envisions a transformative Framework Programme for R&I, which guarantees ambitious investments in science, open collaboration, and excellence across disciplines and borders. With a commitment to diversity, we also call for a more inclusive European Research Area, delivering knowledge for a better tomorrow.”

– Antonio Loprieno, ALLEA President

What’s next?

The budget for FP10 will be defined by the negotiations on the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) due in the summer of 2025, which will be preceded by an interim evaluation of the Horizon Europe Programme. Seeking expert advice for FP10, the European Commission recently established a high-level group, while Member States are working in parallel on their own report in the ERAC.

Building on the guiding principles outlined in this statement, the European academies stand ready to actively support and engage in these activities and further discussions to design a Framework Programme that will have a positive impact on future societies by fostering collaboration, excellence, and inclusivity.

The statement was drafted by the ALLEA Working Group on the European Research Area (ERA), incorporating insights from the ALLEA Permanent Working Group on Science and Ethics (PWGSE) and the ALLEA Open Science Task Force.

Read the statement

 

New ALLEA Report Highlights the Evolution of Digital Practices in the Humanities

In an era marked by rapid advancements in technology and an increasing emphasis on Open and digital outputs, the humanities have seen a significant transformation in their scholarly practices. To address, evaluate and recognise these changes, the report ‘Recognising Digital Scholarly Outputs in the Humanities’ sheds light on the evolving landscape of digital humanities scholarship.

Drafted by the ALLEA Working Group E-Humanities, the new report stresses that the expansion of digital practices and open outputs in humanities scholarship should be regarded as a natural progression of scholarly endeavours leveraging digital technologies. It calls for the adaptation of assessment systems, emphasising the importance of interdisciplinary work, novel research methodologies, and innovative scholarly outputs that go beyond traditional academic formats such as books or journal articles.

The report also underscores the significance of linking studies with FAIR research data, acknowledging continuations and open-ended outputs, recognising multiple scholarly roles in the authorship attribution, providing interdisciplinary competence-building, and improving evaluation processes.

The report’s second section provides practical recommendations for evaluating specific types of digital scholarly outputs, such as digital scholarly editions, extended publications, databases and datasets, visual representations (infographics and maps), code, blogs, and podcasts. Each case study includes examples and suggested reading materials.

Maciej Maryl, chair of the ALLEA Working Group E-Humanities says:

Although the digital age offers a plethora of formats that seem better equipped to communicate diverse scholarly findings, our research assessment systems still heavily favour traditional outputs like journal articles and books. In our report, we provide examples of good practices for emerging and innovative digital outputs, as well as a framework for researchers and institutions of how to evaluate them.

Ultimately, this should contribute to increasing the diversity of scholarly outputs and ensuring that researchers receive the appropriate recognition and reward for developing and using them.

Read the full report here

TechEthos Holds Final Policy Event on Ethics for the Green and Digital Transition

On 14 November, the Horizon 2020-funded TechEthos project held its final policy event in Brussels to discuss the role of ethics in the green and digital transitions for an audience of researchers, policymakers, and the wider community.

Since 2020, an EU-funded consortium led by the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT) has been exploring the societal and ethical impacts of new and emerging technologies. The TechEthos project aims to facilitate “ethics by design”, i.e., it advocates to bring ethical and societal values into the design and development of technology from the very beginning of the process.

The policy event, which signals the end of the project in 2023, was hosted by Barbara Thaler, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and member of the Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA). The event highlighted ongoing ethical debates, as well as current and expected EU policy debates such as the proposed AI Act, the implementation of the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act, the European Green Deal, and the European Commission’s proposal for a Carbon Removal Certification Framework.

In his opening statement, Mihalis Kritikos, Policy Analyst at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD), stressed that ethically designed policies are essential for public acceptance of new technologies, and ultimately for a just digital and green transition.

His remarks were complemented by TechEthos Coordinator, Eva Buchinger, who provided an overview of how TechEthos addresses possible concerns from society related to new and emerging technologies using an approach that combines scanning, analysing and enhancing existing frameworks and policies. The key messages are condensed in a number of TechEthos policy briefs, which are available here.

Ethics for the digital transformation

In the first keynote of the day, Laura Weidinger, Senior Research Scientist at Google DeepMind, discussed different approaches to socio-technical safety evaluation of generative AI systems to explore how we can ensure that models like ChatGPT are safe to release into society. At an early developmental stage, it can be challenging to predict a technology’s capabilities, how it will be used, and its impact on the world.

Most of the current safety evaluations and mechanisms focus on fact-checking the direct capability of language models, i.e., whether the information they generate is accurate. However, the believability of such information, as well as its impact on society, remain largely understudied. Weidinger advocated for an ethics evaluation framework with a clear division of roles and responsibilities, where model-builders carry the main responsibility for capability testing, application developers for studying their use, and third-party stakeholders for looking at systemic impact.

A panel consisting of Laura Weidinger, Alina Kadlubsky (Open AR Cloud Europe), and Ivan Yamshchikov (CAIRO – the Center for Artificial Intelligence and Robotic), introduced by Alexei Grinbaum (CEA – the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission & TechEthos partner), dived deeper into the ethical, social, and regulatory challenges of Digital Extended Reality and Natural Language Programming.

The panel reflected on key ethical issues related to emerging technologies, including transparency (should AI-generated content always be marked as such, and is this sufficient for users to process it accordingly?), accountability (how do we balance the responsibilities of users and developers and can real-world values and regulations be translated into the metaverse?), and nudging/manipulation (what should be permitted, and when does it serve the benefit society?).

Ethics for the green transition

In the afternoon, Behnam Taebi, Professor of Energy & Climate Ethics at Delft University of Technology, gave a keynote lecture on the governance and ethical challenges of emerging technologies for the green transition. Climate Engineering technologies continue to be controversial, and some researchers have even called for a complete ban on research in this area. This is largely due to substantial possible risks (e.g., ozone depletion, negative impacts on agriculture, and many as yet unknown risks), as well as regulatory complexity due to their international and intergenerational nature.

However, these technologies are increasingly being considered essential to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees, meaning that an ethically-informed future governance framework will be needed. Taebi emphasised that these technologies (and their potential and risks) continuously evolve, and so do public perception and moral beliefs. Therefore, a dynamic ethical assessment will be required to make regulatory frameworks fit for the future.

The lecture was followed by a panel discussion with Behnam Taebi, Dušan Chrenek (European Commission, DG Climate Action), and Matthias Honegger (Perspectives Climate Research), introduced by Dominic Lenzi (University of Twente & TechEthos partner), which provided further insights into the ethical, social, and regulatory challenges related to Climate Engineering .

The panel concluded that any technological opportunities that contribute to climate change mitigation should be explored. However, they emphasised that it is important to acknowledge that different technologies (i.e., carbon dioxide removal v. solar radiation modification) have very different societal implications, hugely diverse risk profiles, and unique intellectual property challenges, and should therefore be subject to tailored ethical analyses and regulatory frameworks.

Highlights and outlook for the ethical governance of emerging technologies

In the final session, Maura Hiney, Chair of the ALLEA Permanent Working Group on Science & Ethics, placed TechEthos’s outcomes in the larger context of the recently revised ALLEA Code of Conduct for Research Integrity, and reiterated the requirement for suitable research integrity frameworks to guide researchers that work on emerging technologies.

To conclude the event, Eva Buchinger, Laurence Brooks (University of Sheffield), and Renate Klar (EUREC – European Network of Research Ethics Committees) shared their views and insights on the continuation and implementation of the work beyond the lifetime of the TechEthos project.

 

ALLEA Participates in EU-Funded Project to Support Reforms in Research Assessment 

Research assessment has the aim of making well-informed decisions about funding, hiring, and promotion, and remains a core pillar of our research system. However, while current assessment practices provide an important means to support the advancement of knowledge and recognise and reward excellence, they rely heavily on quantitative approaches rather than qualitative evaluation. Likewise, they often fail to acknowledge the diversity of the research outputs and skills that are needed for a thriving research ecosystem. 

In October 2023, a consortium of European research stakeholder organisations embarked on a Horizon Europe-funded project in order to bring research assessment beyond its simplistic reliance on quantitative indicators. The three-year-long project has a budget of €5 million and aims to enact a systemic reform of research assessment following the principles and commitments agreed upon by the Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment (CoARA). ALLEA has been actively involved in the drafting of this European agreement, and was one of the early signatories and members of the coalition.  

The “CoARA Boost” project is led by the European Science Foundation (ESF), and includes, alongside ALLEA, leading European network organisations for (early career) researchers, research funders, and universities committed to promoting change. The key objectives of the CoARA Boost Project are to i) strengthen CoARA’s operational capacity, ii) catalyse knowledge development, policy evolution, and institutional change in research assessment, iii) facilitate the collection and exchange of information, and iv) widen the Coalition’s membership in Europe and beyond. 

The consortium will convene for a kick-off meeting in Brussels on 7-8 December 2023 to delve into the specifics of the collaboration, which will play a pivotal role in advancing CoARA’s mission. 

ALLEA approaches the topic of research assessment through its various working groups and task forces. A complete overview of these activities can be found here.