EU's Call for Proposals: ERANETs in agri-food

The agri-food sector needs to take more advantage of the potential of digital technologies. Relevant technologies may include Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data technologies, remote and localised sensing.
Application Deadline in 2 months

The agri-food sector[1] is subject to multiple external pressures, such as rising demand for food, competition for land and other natural resources with other biomass uses, globalisation, threats from animal or plant diseases, environmental and climatic changes and public health considerations. Climate change will further impact the agri-food sector both directly through its effect on production at EU level, but also indirectly through its supply chain. This implies the need to become more efficient and sustainable; improve its impact on consumer health; take advantage of new technological developments; and become more transparent and responsive to consumer demands, within a food-system approach.

Scope:

Proposals should address one or more of the following sub-topics (A) to (C) and should clearly indicate to which one they refer.

A. [2019] ICT-enabled agri-food systems

Today, despite increased information demand from consumers and food chain players alike, Europe's food businesses and farmers are slow at adopting digital technologies. This is due in part to the inherent complexities of relevant products and processes, and in part to the dynamically changing open network organisation of the food sector with its multitude of SMEs, its cultural diversity, its differences in expectations and in the ability to serve transparency needs. The agri-food sector needs to take more advantage of the potential of digital technologies. Relevant technologies may include Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data technologies, remote and localised sensing. This sub-topic will engage the agri-food community in supporting the development of solutions to remove the barriers to adoption of digital technologies, taking a multi-actor approach across different supply chains (conventional and organic) from farm to fork. These solutions will be targeted to supporting third party development of a variety of digital technologies which can take advantage of, integrate with, and complement the standardisation efforts and platform developments in other Horizon 2020, European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) and regionally/nationally-funded projects. In addition, this sub-topic will support the development of new data-driven ICT platforms and solutions which derive value for multiple actors from the data collected throughout the food chain, thereby enabling new business models which will increase the affordability and adoption of such solutions, reduce the environmental footprint, increase system resilience, and empower consumers. Interregional and international cooperation will be encouraged and complementarity with other ERA-NETs will be ensured throughout the project development stages by means of active collaboration and communication. When relevant, projects should consider synergies with the Thematic Smart Specialisation Platform on Agri-food (TSSP-AF)[2] and related interregional partnerships under the Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3).

B. [2019] Climate change and food systems

Proposals under this sub-topic will aim at developing climate-resilient and sustainable value chains for food systems. In particular they will assess risks and vulnerabilities of food systems faced with climate change, including expected effects on supply chains, thereby offering low carbon footprint solutions (technological and/or non-technological) to increase resilience and sustainability. Specific focus will be put on the socio-economic impacts of climate change on different food chains, price volatility and the territorial dimension on access to accessible and nutritious foodstuffs. Complementarity with SusFood ERA-NETs will be ensured throughout the project development stages.

C. [2019] International coordination of research on infectious animal diseases

Animal health is a key element to guarantee food safety and security, by means of competitive and sustainable livestock systems. Partnerships and collaborations at the European and International levels are important for fighting infectious animal diseases, including those which are a significant threat to human health and international trade.

The ERA-Net will cover the major groups of infectious diseases of animals, including infections by viral, bacterial, protozoal, fungal pathogens, prions, parasites, and multifactorial diseases. An important focus will be put on at least African swine fever (ASF) and animal influenza.

The ERA-NET will pool and share resources and expertise between countries to further the fundamental understanding of hosts, pathogens and their interactions. Also, focus on understanding wider animal infectious disease issues e.g. systems-based studies that integrate host/pathogen studies with the epidemiology, and population dynamics of disease, pathogenesis, ecology, evolution, and transmission, resulting eventually in better prevention of disease. An important focus will be put on the role of wildlife in the emergence and transmission of infectious diseases to livestock, and on related disease surveillance and control, in order to also contribute to animal health risk assessment activities, in particular by EFSA or OIE.

In addition, consideration needs to be given to data sharing, integration and analysis to develop new tools to accelerate identification of outbreaks, enabling a rapid response and thus reducing the spreading of diseases. This should be done in coordination with existing data sharing systems (e.g. WAHIS[3] and ADNS[4]systems).

Another focus will also be on development of safe and effective vaccines, generic technology platforms for producing novel and/or improved vaccines, and rapid, accurate and easy to use in-field diagnostics technology. Vaccination strategies, including the tools to distinguish vaccinated animals from non- vaccinated ones (DIVA vaccines) should also be addressed. New and improved vaccines have been identified as an important component in strategies to reduce reliance on antimicrobials (OIE ad hoc Group on prioritisation of diseases for which vaccines could reduce antimicrobial use in animals, 2015). There is a need to investigate new methods of generating vaccines and to understand of how best to design vaccines that drive long-lasting and protective memory responses.

Projects should be complementary to other H2020 projects in the same area.

International cooperation and industry engagement in projects selected under the ERA-Net are encouraged. The projects selected should take into consideration the EU animal health regulatory framework, and follow the policies and contribute to the objectives of the STAR-IDAZ international research consortium[5]. Participation of legal entities from third countries, and/or regions including those not automatically eligible for funding in accordance with General Annex A, is encouraged in the joint call as well as in other joint activities including additional joint calls without EU co-funding. Participants from countries not listed in General Annex A are eligible for EU funding under this topic and may request a Union contribution (on the basis of the ERA-NET unit cost) only for the coordination costs of additional activities.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of EUR 5 million for sub-topic A) and 5 million for sub-topics B) and C), respectively, would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact:

  • Improve coordination between national and EU funding and ensure better use of resources in the priority research areas above [A, B, C];
  • Reduce the environmental footprint of the sector by reducing inputs and waste [A, B].
  • Realise the potential of ICT and digital technologies to share data throughout the food value chain, thereby driving greater sustainability, offering new business models and helping to empower consumers to make smarter, more sustainable, healthier and more personal food and dietary choices, taking into account data regarding environmental impact, origin, nutrition, safety, integrity, etc., underpinned by the concept of transparency [A];
  • Integrate effectively with major digital platforms from food actors, ICT solution providers and consumers [A];
  • Enhance understanding and awareness about the effects of climate change on global food value chains [B];
  • Develop innovative solutions to cope with the multiple risks and challenges to the food systems posed by global environmental changes [B];
  • Improve control of specific infectious animal diseases, in particular those where the role of wildlife is prominent, by further understanding of the epidemiology and means of surveillance and control [C].
  • Provide new generic tools, systems for better prevention and improved preparedness to react to infectious animal disease outbreaks, in particular by designing and developing new or improved vaccines, diagnostic tools and vaccination strategies[C];
  • Improved translation of key knowledge on host and pathogen interaction into pathways for means of prevention, detection and control of animal infectious diseases [C];
  • Improve collaboration with international initiatives to promote coherence and the applicability of research to preventive tools in order to control infectious animal diseases [C];
  • Contribute to the reduction of antimicrobial use in livestock, minimising antimicrobial resistance [C].
  • Contribute to animal welfare by a better prevention of diseases [C].
  • More broadly, contribute to food security and sustainable production, by reducing the burden of disease and reducing impact on international animal trade [C].

[1] OECD/WTO (2013), developing on FAO (2005) on agrifood value chain: "A ‘value chain’ in agriculture identifies the set of actors and activities that bring a basic agricultural product from the field to final consumption and add value at each stage of the production process."

[2] http://s3platform.jrc.ec.europa.eu/agri-food

[3] http://www.oie.int/en/animal-health-in-the-world/wahis-portal-animal-health-data/

[4] https://ec.europa.eu/food/animals/animal-diseases/not-system_en

[5] http://www.star-idaz.net/

 
Dateline for submission: 23 January 2019 17:00:00 Brussels time
 
 

Source: The European Commission

Illustration Photo: A carton of blueberries is scanned after being traced from farm to store on the IBM Food Trust blockchain network. IBM Food Trust uses blockchain technology to address issues in the global food supply chain, including waste, freshness, safety and sustainability. (credits: IBM / Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0))

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