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Regional ecosystems of innovation to foster food system transformation
Horizon Europe - Cluster 6 - Destination 7: Innovative Governance, Environmental Oberservations and Digital Solutions in Support of the Green Deal
Estimated EU contribution per project
Link to the call
Link to the submission
In line with the objectives of the European Green Deal, the farm to fork strategy for a fair, healthy and environment‑friendly food system, the food 2030 priorities and the EU’s climate ambition for 2030 and 2050, the successful proposal will contribute to the sustainability and resilience of EU food systems by supporting the establishment of innovative governance models notably to achieve better-informed decision-making processes, social engagement and innovation. Successful proposals will boost knowledge sharing, interactions and priority setting in the form of an acceleration agenda between all relevant food systems actors, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and industrial clusters, start-ups, universities/research centres, public authorities and civil society organisations.
Collaboration between innovation actors across Europe is necessary to accelerate and master the innovative solutions needed for the food system transformation and the implementation of sustainable solutions. Innovation ecosystems can be found in many locations in Europe, but too few places can be seen as regional ecosystems of innovation. Moreover, the strength and depth of interconnections, information flows and knowledge transfers inside innovation ecosystems and between actors vary widely.
Strong and well-connected food systems actors, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and industrial clusters, start-ups, universities/research centres, public authorities and civil society organisations, have the potential to become ecosystems of innovation facilitating coordination and multi-stakeholder engagement, to create an effective framework for action to support the food system transition in the EU and Associated Countries. The framework is expected to allow pooling of resources, coordinating efforts, and facilitating and promoting the multi-actor approach. Relevant capacities to foster the necessary R&I in the short, medium, and long term will be developed, giving a specific focus to the objective to boost the organic food sector.
Proposed activities should cover all of the following aspects:
- Strengthen existing ecosystems of innovation to broaden their scope and take on a “food systems approach” that delivers on the Food 2030 co-benefits (nutrition, public health, climate, circularity and communities) by: (a) deploying a quadruple helix model (that fully engages the four major actors in the innovation system: small and medium-sized enterprises and industrial clusters, universities/research centres, public authorities, and civil society organisations); and (b) delivering solutions that empower regional actors and their regional innovation ecosystems through an acceleration agenda.
- Devise an acceleration agenda connected with existing research and innovation agendas that align to target mutual objectives and cross regional collaborations, in particular by identifying and creating links to regions with priorities relevant for sustainable food systems identified in their local smart specialisation strategies, as well as relevant smart specialisation partnerships and platforms (such as the Thematic Smart Specialisation Platform on Agri-food).
- Provide technical assistance, encourage “mutual learning” and stimulate “new” ecosystems of innovation in parts of Europe that are less well integrated, for example with the objectives of the BIOEAST Food Systems Thematic Working Group (e.g., to catalyse future reflections and discussions at regional level regarding the need to work together to tackle food system transformations).
- Explore how the existing Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) approach can help regional actors to implement farm to fork relevant objectives, in particular for societally relevant market solutions that contribute to public health objectives and environmental businesses such that they contribute to the “EU Code of Conduct on Responsible Food Business and Marketing Practice”.
- Take a systemic view to help industries built up around the European food systems related businesses, to innovate and cooperate, thereby proposing solutions of regional relevance.
- Identify and facilitate synergies with other financing and capacity building instruments to enable progress along the whole innovation pipeline, including the Interregional Innovation Investments (I3), a new funding instrument under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Proposals must implement the 'multi-actor approach' and ensure adequate involvement of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and industrial clusters, start-ups, universities/research centres, public authorities and civil society organisations and other relevant actors of the value chain.
Proposals should include a dedicated task, appropriate resources and a plan on how they will collaborate with other projects funded under in the work programme from 2018-2020 and 2021-2022, namely CE-FNR-07-2020: “FOOD 2030 - Empowering cities as agents of food system transformation” and HORIZON-CL6-2021-GOVERNANCE-01-07 “Regional governance models in the bioeconomy”.
Collaboration and complementary with the European Partnership on “Sustainable Food Systems for People, Plant and Climate” is encouraged. This topic should involve the effective contribution of SSH disciplines, as it involves the quadruple helix to deliver innovative locally-based and bottom-up solutions, engaging citizens and leading to behavioural changes. In order to achieve the expected outcomes, international cooperation is encouraged.
Project results are expected to contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:
- Coherent business-focused analysis of R&I bottlenecks and opportunities for the transition of European food systems in line with the farm to fork strategy objectives, in particular to contribute to the 25% organic food target.
- Improved coordination of existing European and national platforms with regional innovation ecosystems actors at EU level.
- Strengthened European regions (NUTS 2 level) and their regional actors.
- Contribution to the farm to fork objectives and food 2030 priorities: nutrition for sustainable healthy diets, climate, biodiversity and environment, circularity and resource efficiency, innovation and empowering communities (e.g., meeting the needs, values and expectations of society in a responsible and ethical way).
Regions / countries for funding
Moldova (Moldova), Albania (Shqipëria), Armenia (Հայաստան), Azerbaijan (Azərbaycan), Belarus (Беларусь), Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosna i Hercegovina / Босна и Херцеговина), Faeroes (Føroyar / Færøerne), Georgia (საქართველო), Island (Ísland), Israel (ישראל / إِسْرَائِيل), Kosovo (Kosova/Kosovë / Косово), Montenegro (Црна Гора), Morocco (المغرب), New Zealand (Aotearoa), North Macedonia (Северна Македонија), Norway (Norge), Serbia (Srbija/Сpбија), Tunisia (تونس /Tūnis), Türkiye, Ukraine (Україна), United Kingdom
Education and training institution, International organization, Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) / Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Other, Private institution, incl. private company (private for profit), Public Body (national, regional and local; incl. EGTCs), Research Institution incl. University, Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME)
To be eligible for funding, applicants must be established in one of the following countries:
- the Member States of the European Union, including their outermost regions
- the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) linked to the Member States
- third countries associated to Horizon Europe - see list of particpating countries
Applications may be submitted by one or more legal entities, provided that one of those legal entities is established in a Member Sate or an Associated Country.
Any legal entity, regardless of its place of establishment, including legal entities from non-associated third countries or international organisations (including international European research organisations) is eligible to participate (whether it is eligible for funding or not), provided that the conditions laid down in the Horizon Europe Regulation have been met, along with any other conditions laid down in the specific call topic.
A ‘legal entity’ means any natural or legal person created and recognised as such under national law, EU law or international law, which has legal personality and which may, acting in its own name, exercise rights and be subject to obligations, or an entity without legal personality.
- Affiliated entities — Affiliated entities (i.e. entities with a legal or capital link to a beneficiary which participate in the action with similar rights and obligations to the beneficiaries, but which do not sign the grant agreement and therefore do not become beneficiaries themselves) are allowed, if they are eligible for participation and funding.
- Associated partners — Associated partners (i.e. entities which participate in the action without signing the grant agreement, and without the right to charge costs or claim contributions) are allowed, subject to any conditions regarding associated partners set out in the specific call conditions.
- Entities without legal personality — Entities which do not have legal personality under their national law may exceptionally participate, provided that their representatives have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf, and offer guarantees to protect the EU’s financial interests equivalent to those offered by legal persons.
- EU bodies — Legal entities created under EU law including decentralised agencies may be part of the consortium, unless provided for otherwise in their basic act.
- Joint Research Centre (‘JRC’)— Where provided for in the specific call conditions, applicants may include in their proposals the possible contribution of the JRC but the JRC will not participate in the preparation and submission of the proposal. Applicants will indicate the contribution that the JRC could bring to the project based on the scope of the topic text. After the evaluation process, the JRC and the consortium selected for funding may come to an agreement on the specific terms of the participation of the JRC. If an agreement is found, the JRC may accede to the grant agreement as beneficiary requesting zero funding or participate as an associated partner, and would accede to the consortium as a member.
- Associations and interest groupings — Entities composed of members (e.g. European research infrastructure consortia (ERICs)) may participate as ‘sole beneficiaries’ or ‘beneficiaries without legal personality’. However, if the action is in practice implemented by the individual members, those members should also participate (either as beneficiaries or as affiliated entities, otherwise their costs will NOT be eligible.
other eligibility criteria
The proposals must use the multi-actor approach. See definition of the multi-actor approach in the introduction to the Work Programme.
Relevance for EU Macro-Region
EUSAIR - EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, EUSALP - EU Strategy for the Alpine Space, EUSBSR - EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, EUSDR - EU Strategy for the Danube Region
UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs)
All proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funders & Tenders Portal electronic submission system (accessible via the topic page in the Search Funding & Tenders section). Paper submissions are NOT possible.
Proposals must be complete and contain all parts and mandatory annexes and supporting documents, e.g. plan for the exploitation and dissemination of the results including communication activities, etc.
The application form will have two parts:
- Part A (to be filled in directly online) contains administrative information about the applicant organisations (future coordinator and beneficiaries and affiliated entities), the summarised budget for the proposal and call-specific questions;
- Part B (to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and then assembled and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system) contains the technical description of the project.
Annexes and supporting documents will be directly available in the submission system and must be uploaded as PDF files (or other formats allowed by the system).
Eligible costs will take the form of a lump sum.
The limit for a full application (Part B) is 33 pages.