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Enhancing working conditions and strengthening the work force through digital and data technologies – the potential of robotics and augmented reality in agriculture
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 farm to fork strategy, the common agricultural policy post 2022, and the headline ambition of a Digital Age, a successful proposal will contribute to transition to a fair, healthy and resilient agriculture. It will therefore also directly and/ or indirectly contribute to the enhancement of the sustainability performance of the sector, including social sustainability, and competitiveness in agriculture through research and innovation which will support the further deployment of digital and data technologies as key enablers.
Digital and data technologies can facilitate the work in agriculture, enhance working conditions and mitigate the challenge of a lack of work force, by which some branches and regions are affected. They have the potential of making farm-related jobs more attractive, including for younger generations, and to make them safer. Digital and data technologies can increase the effectiveness and efficiency of applications, including for instance through a higher level of precision, and thus increase the sustainability and competitiveness of the sector. Automation is increasingly used in agriculture; frequently, the cost-effectiveness of innovative digital and data technologies still presents a bottleneck to their use in the sector, particularly in fields where their application is not primarily relevant for increasing process efficiency and effectiveness. Technical solutions based on augmented reality approaches offer many opportunities to facilitate and enhance the use of digital technologies in agriculture, to enhance the performance of digital tools, and to provide remote assistance, which is important for remote businesses, particularly in rural areas.
Proposals should address the following:
- Development of augmented-reality based solutions to improve working conditions, safety and failure avoidance, and to further increase robotic performance.
- Development of robotic solutions to improve unhealthy working conditions, where applicable. Robotics tasks to be fostered might be directly related to agricultural production, such as harvesting, weeding, crop monitoring, animal husbandry or indirectly related, such as logistics/ farm management (TRL 7-8).
- Development of robotic solutions for tasks, for which there is a high interest/ need to support and/ or replace the human work force, not only because of an interest to improve productivity, but to ensure production in an environmentally and socially sustainable way (TRL 7-8).
- Strengthening AI capabilities for agro-robotics in the fields of applications fostered by the proposals including through the use of (scalable) platforms to further increase robotics performance (TRL 7-8).
- Development of business models for the use of the developed innovative technologies under consideration of various farm structures and inter-farm linkages as well as of various biogeographic and socio-economic framing conditions.
- Development of a tool for system analyses of the consequences for farmers and rural communities of enhancing working conditions through automation and augmented reality and of replacing human work force with robotic systems.
The development of such technologies should take into account relevant (forthcoming) EU legislation, in particular linked to the horizontal Act on AI, as well as the legislation related to liability and machinery. Projects are encouraged - when reflecting on the effects of automation and augmented reality - to dedicate particular attention to youth/ younger generation, women and persons with disabilities as well as to the affordability of digital solutions. Projects are expected to develop training material allowing the targeted end users and multipliers to easily deploy and promote the new technologies.
Proposals must implement the ‘multi-actor approach’ including a range of actors to ensure that knowledge and needs from various stakeholder groups, including farmers, farm workers, farm advisors and scientists are taken into consideration. This topic should involve the effective contribution of social sciences and humanities (SSH) disciplines.
Projects are expected to take into consideration the results of other related Horizon 2020/ Europe projects as well as of other relevant EU-funded projects and initiatives.
Proposals may involve financial support to third parties, e.g. to academic researchers, hi-tech start-ups, SMEs, and other multidisciplinary actors, to for instance, develop, test or validate developed approaches, tools and applications or to provide other contributions to achieve the project objectives. Consortia need to define the selection process of organisations, for which financial support may be granted. A maximum of 20% of the EU funding can be allocated to this purpose.
Project results are expected to contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:
- Enhanced working conditions in agriculture (including increased safety of workers and reduced drudgery) through innovative digital solutions exploiting the potential of augmented reality.
- Lowered environmental impacts and productions costs and increased product quality in and through the use of digital technologies, through robotics and augmented reality in particular.
- Reduced share of risky or unattractive actions/tasks to be performed by workers through automation-based solutions.
- Mitigated shortage of work force in agriculture in some sub-sectors through automation-based solutions.
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
- Activities should reach TRL 7-8 by the end of the project.
- The proposals must use the multi-actor approach. See definition of the multi-actor approach in the introduction to the work programme.
- Beneficiaries may provide financial support to third parties. The support to third parties can only be provided in the form of grants. The maximum amount to be granted to each third party is EUR 60000.
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).
The limit for a full application (Part B) is 45 pages.