UCD Professor Named Member of Horizon Europe Mission Board on Climate Change

Pictured is Professor Kevin O'Connor

UCD Professor Named Member of Horizon Europe Mission Board on Climate Change

Carlos Moedas, the EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation has announced the names of experts, including a leading University College Dublin (UCD) researcher, Professor Kevin O’Connor, who have been selected as members of mission boards to work on five major European research and innovation mission areas.

The board members will identify the first possible specific missions on the following five areas; cancer, climate change, healthy oceans, climate-neutral cities and healthy soil and food by the end of 2019. The missions will be part of Horizon Europe, the next EU research and innovation funding programme (2021-2027).

Professor O’Connor, UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science and the UCD Earth Institute, has been named a member of the mission board on adaptation to climate change, including societal transformation.

He is an international expert in areas such as the bioeconomy, bioprocessing, protein engineering and biocatalysis. His research output, to date, includes over 100 international peer review articles and 150 international conference papers.

Professor O’Connor is also the co-founder and CEO of Bioplastech, a UCD spin-out company, which uses a patented manufacturing technology process to convert waste materials into high value-added, environmentally friendly (i.e. biodegradable) polymers.

In 2016 the NovaUCD Innovation Award was presented to Professor O’Connor in recognition of the quality and impact of his peer-reviewed research, his technological developments for the production of bio-based products as well as his industrial collaboration and successes in the commercialisation of the intellectual property arising from his research at UCD.

Professor O’Connor said, “It is a great honour to have been named a member of the Horizon Europe mission board on Climate Change. Climate change is affecting our capacity and that of other species to survive on earth. We need to transform how we live, produce and consume so we can mitigate and even perhaps reverse the man-made effects on climate change that is affecting life on earth now and will affect future generations." 

"The climate change mission board is an ambitious and exciting opportunity to inform and shape the approach we as a society take to tackling this huge challenge."

Inspired by the Apollo 11 mission to put a man on the moon, the research and innovation missions aim to deliver solutions to five of the greatest challenges facing the world. These five mission areas were identified during the negotiations of the Horizon Europe programme and to narrow down the five broad mission areas, the Commission has now appointed a mission board for each area.

Each mission board consists of 15 experts, including the chair. Each mission board will also establish an assembly, a gathering of a larger number of high-level experts, who will provide an additional pool of ideas, knowledge and expertise that will be actively called upon to contribute to the success of the five missions.

Carlos Moedas, EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation said, “Missions 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.”

Professor O’Connor is also Director of Beacon, the SFI Research Centre for Bioeconomy and chairperson of the scientific committee for the BBI JU, a €4 billion public private partnership between the European Commission and the Biobased Industries Consortium (BIC) in Europe to develop sustainable biobased industrial activity in Europe. He also leads a UCD team that is part of two pan-European research consortia in Horizon 2020 funded projects

Professor Orla Feely, UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact, said, “I am delighted to congratulate Professor 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”.

She added, “Kevin has an outstanding track record in this area, and I wish him and his colleagues every success with their important work.”

Over 2100 experts from across the EU and beyond applied to become a member of a mission board. The selection process ensured that the boards are composed of creative and highly motivated experts from a wide range of backgrounds, including academics, innovators, civil society, industry, finance and end-users.

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.


1 August 2019

For more information contact Micéal Whelan, Communications and Media Relations Manager, NovaUCD, UCD Research and Innovation, t: + 353 1 716 3712, e: miceal.whelan@ucd.ie.