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Promoting a sustainable livestock sector in Europe


Horizon 2020 is the new EU Research and Innovation programme. With a budget of nearly €80 billion available over 7 years (2014-2020), Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU research programme yet, and one of the biggest publicly funded ones worldwide. Horizon 2020 is a continuation on the Seventh Framework programme (KP7).

The European Council, European Commission and Members of European Parliament together decided that research is an investment in our future and so put it at the heart of the EU’s blueprint for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and jobs. By coupling research and innovation, Horizon 2020 is helping to achieve this with its emphasis on three pillars: excellent science, industrial leadership, and tackling societal challenges. The goal is to ensure Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation.

Three pillars 
  • Excellent science, budget €24,4 billion: Under the Excellent Science pillar, activities are funded that aim to reinforce and extend the excellence of the European Union’s science base and to consolidate the European Research Area in order to make the Union’s research and innovation system more competitive on a global scale. This pillar includes the European Research Council; Future and Emerging Technologies; Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions; and Research infrastructure (including e-infrastructures).  
  • Industrial leadership, budget € 17,0 billion: This pillar aims to speed up development of the technologies and innovations that will underpin tomorrow's businesses and help innovative European SMEs to grow into world-leading companies. It is built op of three parts; Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies, Access to risk finance, and Innovation in SMEs.
  • Societal challenges, budget € 29,7 billion: Horizon 2020 reflects the policy priorities of the Europe 2020 strategy and addresses major concerns shared by citizens in Europe and elsewhere. Seven societal challenges have been identified as priority:
  1. Health, demographic change and wellbeing;
  2. Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research, and the Bioeconomy;
  3. Secure, clean and efficient energy;
  4. Smart, green and integrated transport;
  5. Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials;
  6. Europe in a changing world - inclusive, innovative and reflective societies;
  7. Secure societies - protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens.

Innovation, SMEs and a multi-actor approach
Horizon 2020 will focus on bringing innovation to practice. It is aimed at bridging the so called ‘valley of death’ of innovations. There will be a specific focus on innovation in SMEs, and at a multi-actor approach. 

Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) are encouraged to participate across the whole Horizon 2020 programme. Only SMEs will be able to apply for funding. The integrated approach and simplification efforts should lead to a minimum of 20%, or about € 8.65 billion, of the total combined budgets of the specific objective 'Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies'(LEITs ) and the ‘Societal Challenges’ going to SMEs. The SME instrument will be crucial in achieving this target. 

Multi actor approach
The multi-actor approach requires that the end-users of the research results, such as farmers and farmers’ groups, advisors, enterprises and others, should be closely involved throughout the whole project period. This should lead to innovative solutions that are more likely to be applied in the field, because those who need the solutions from research will be involved right from the start: from defining the questions, to planning, to implementing research work, to experiments and right up until possible demonstrations and dissemination. 

The major novelties are
• A new structure consisting of 3 pillars with similar rules for the entire programme 
• Simplification of Rules for Participation, in particular regarding the funding model where all types of participants receive similar funding rates in accordance with the activities to be undertaken 
• The use of 3 years Strategic Programmes to set the priorities in the Work Programmes 
• Biannual Work Programmes 
• A challenge-driven approach to the formulation of topics. Topic texts include the definition of a specific challenge, a scope which defines the elements addressed by selected projects and the expected impact of selected projects 
• More emphasis on industry, innovation and linking research to deployment, market application and impact 
• Horizon 2020 will combine all research and innovation funding previous provided through the Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development, the innovation related activities of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).  

Opportunities for Animal production and research
Horizon2020 offers many opportunities for research and innovation in the animal production sector. Please find below an overview of the opportunities that could provide for actions undertaking in the animal domain.
  • Excellent science: European research council 
    The European Research Council supports frontier research, cross disciplinary proposals and pioneering ideas in new and emerging fields which introduce unconventional and innovative approaches.
  • Industrial leadership: Innovation in small and medium sized enterprises 
    Horizon 2020 actively supports SMEs by providing both direct financial support, and indirect support to increase their innovation capacity. 'Innovation in SMEs' aims at creating a bridge between the core of the framework programme - support to research, development and innovation projects - and the creation of a favourable ecosystem for SME innovation and growth.
  • Societal challenge: Climate Action, Environment, Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials 
    This Challenge funds research and innovation with the following specific objectives:
    • to achieve a resource – and water - efficient and climate change resilient economy and society,
    • the protection and sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems, and
    • a sustainable supply and use of raw materials, in order to meet the needs of a growing global population within the sustainable limits of the planet's natural resources and eco-systems.
    Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research and the bioeconomy 
    Consumers need to have access to safe, healthy, high quality and affordable food. The challenge is how to ensure that these basic human needs are met for optimal health and well-being, while protecting the environment and ensuring that the European food and drink industry is able to develop its full growth potential, provide new jobs, and remain competitive in the global market place.
    A transition is needed towards an optimal and renewable use of biological resources and towards sustainable primary production and processing systems. These systems will need to produce more food, fibre and other bio-based products with minimised inputs, environmental impact and greenhouse gas emissions, and with enhanced ecosystem services, zero waste and adequate societal value.

Work programme 2014-2015
In December the first work programme under Horizon 2020 is published for the years 2014-2015. The work programme 2014-2015 indicates the specific research areas and  challenges which the European Commission will work on for the coming two years.  The first Horizon 2020 call include several opportunities to support demand-driven innovation actions in agriculture, through multi-national thematic networks and multi-actor research projects. 
Proposals for calls can be submitted on the website of the European Commission (click here). 

Work programme 2016-2017
The  Animal Task Force has provided input for the first Horizon 2020 work programme, through the ATF White Paper on research and innovation needs. Many of our recommendations can be found back in the calls. The European Commission will soon start generating the work programme for 2016-2017. The ATF will, together with her partners, gain endeavor to give solid input on the area of animal production for the 2016-2017 work programme.  If you wish to discuss with us the research and innovation needs in support of a sustainable and competitive animal sector in Europe, please contact the Animal Task Force Secretariat.