Green innovator Professor Kevin O’Connor named to EU Horizon Europe mission board

Posted 31 July, 2019

Green technology innovator Professor Kevin O’Connor has been named to Europe’s latest initiative to combat climate change.

The UCD academic is to join one of the European Union’s five new Horizon Europe mission boards.

Inspired by the Apollo 11 mission to put a man on the moon, these research and innovation missions aim to deliver solutions to some of the world's greatest challenges in the areas of cancer, climate change, healthy oceans, climate-neutral cities and healthy soil and food.

The current five mission areas were identified during the negotiations of the Horizon Europe programme.

To narrow down the five broad mission areas, the European Commission appointed a mission board for each area.

Each board has 15 experts who will seek to identify the first possible specific ‘mission’ on cancer, climate change, healthy oceans, climate-neutral cities and healthy soil and food by the end of 2019.

In addition, for each mission an assembly will be established, gathering a larger number of high-level experts to help contribute to its success.

The missions will be part of Horizon Europe, the next EU research and innovation programme (2021-2027).

EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas said each mission will address “some of the main challenges European citizens are facing”.

“With their vision and knowledge, I am confident that these first-rate experts will help making missions a success, inspiring citizens and showing them what Europe, and research and innovation, can do about the issues that matter most to them.”

Commenting on the announcement, Professor Orla Feely, UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact, said: “I am delighted to congratulate Professor Kevin O’Connor on this very important appointment. 

“The Mission Boards will play a vital role in the Horizon Europe programme. In particular, the Mission Board for Adaptation to Climate Change, including Societal Transformation, to which Kevin has been appointed, will address one of the great challenges of our time. Kevin has an outstanding track record in this area, and I wish him and his colleagues every success with their important work.”

An international expert in areas such as the bioeconomy, bioprocessing, protein engineering and biocatalysis, Professor O’Connor’s research output, to date, includes over 100 international peer review articles and 150 international conference papers.

Director at the Science foundation Ireland BEACON bioeconomy research centre, and chairperson of the scientific committee that advises the Biobased industries joint undertaking (a €4bn public private partnership between the EU and Biobased industries), the researcher from UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science and the UCD Earth Institute currently leads a UCD team that is part of two pan-European research consortia in Horizon 2020 funded projects

Over 2100 experts from across the EU and beyond applied to become a member of a mission board.

A first discussion with citizens, stakeholders and experts from Member States will take place at the European Research and Innovation Days in Brussels from 24 to 26 September.

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations