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Horizon 2020

Horizon 2020 is the financial instrument supporting Research & Innovation in the EU implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe's global competitiveness. 

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s (DAFM) role in Horizon 2020: DAFM facilitates Irish involvement in Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge by providing a National Delegate (Mr. Richard Howell) and the National Contact Point (Mr. Patrick Barrett).

The National Delegate has an influential role regarding the Societal Challenge 2 Work Programme and the related Programme Committee while the role of the National Contact Point is to increase Irish participation and success in the Horizon 2020 programme. The National Contact Point includes the following activities: provision of information and advice; identification of potential participants; assistance with partner search activities; pre-submission support; support and training including on legal, contractual and IPR issues (for successful participants); post call review; ongoing advice and support on next steps for successful and unsuccessful applicants.

Further information on Horizon 2020 is available from:

Patrick Barrett (National Contact Point)
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Agriculture House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2
Tel: +353 1 6072302, Mobile: +353 86 830 7726

Bernard Harris
Email: and/or
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Agriculture House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2
Tel: +3535 1 6072344

The SC2 National Delegate and Contact Point are also members of the Enterprise Ireland led National Horizon 2020 Support Network where they work closely with other National Delegates, National Contact Points and Academic Institutions Research Offices to promote agri-food related Irish participation in Horizon 2020 across the other two pillars (e.g. Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions, Infrastructures, Cross Cutting Activities e.g. Industry in the Circular Economy and Internet of Things, SME instrument and Fast Track To Innovation and other relevant Challenge areas of Horizon 2020 Pillar 3 in particular health (SC-1), energy (SC-3), environment (SC-5) and inclusive societies (SC-6). Operational support is also available from Enterprise Ireland for making applications to Horizon 2020 calls.

Horizon 2020 is broken down into three main pillars: 1. Excellent Science, 2. Industrial Leadership and 3. Societal Challenges. Societal Challenge 2 is one of seven societal challenges and encompasses research and innovation calls in relation to food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research and the bioeconomy. It has an overall budget of €3.8bn for the period 2014-2020. 

The primary aim of the Societal Challenge 2 programme is to contribute to securing sufficient supplies of safe, healthy and high quality food and bio based products and transform Europe into a sustainable bioeconomy. Work programmes announce the specific areas that will be funded by Horizon 2020 and to-date have been announced on a bi-annual basis.

Key points & dates:

  • The EU Commission (13.10.15) launched the Societal Challenge 2 (SC-2) Work Programme for 2016/17. The SC2 Calls officially opened on the 27 October 2015.  Separately the Bio Based Industries (BBI) Call opens on the 19 April 2016.
  • You can find the work programme for societal challenge 2 here on the Horizon 2020 Participant portal (key point of entry for participants), as well as other relevant H2020 parts. The 2016 Biobased Industries Work Plan can be found here.
  • The Societal Challenge 2 Info week is in Brussels on the 27th – 29th June 2016. Registration can be found here.
  • On an ongoing basis we encourage agri-food researchers to register as experts with the EU Commission
  • The EU Commission Joint Research Centre’s (see here) that provide useful data and can be very useful partners for Horizon 2020 projects.
  • The Valerie Project provides very useful links to the agri-food research community.  The main aim of the VALERIE research project is to improve the accessibility and availability of new knowledge for innovation in agriculture and forestry.  The ultimate goal is for a better flow of information to drive innovation in agriculture and forestry around six VALERIE themes.
  • Engage2020 is a project funded by the European Commission looking at research, innovation and related activities and exploring how members of society are involved today, and perhaps more importantly how they could be in the future.
  • A Societal Challenge-2 All Island Conference was held in The Westin Hotel on the 1st December 2015. This event was organised by InterTrade Ireland in conjunction with DAFM and DARD NI. Proceedings can be found here.
  • The preparation of the work programme 2018-2020 for Societal Challenge 2 has commenced and will involve various stakeholder engagement activities and consultations. Consultation of stakeholders will be an integral part of this programming process which will be managed as a participatory process.
    • Advisory group report: The advisory group started to work on programming for 2018/2020 in February 2016. Building on the outcomes of their work, they will produce a report by Q3 2016.
    • Stakeholder consultation: a consultation questionnaire will be made available on-line here in the course of Q2 2016. Contributions are especially expected from stakeholder organisations including SC2 relevant European Technology Platforms, Joint Programming Initiatives, European Research Area Networks (ERANETs), European Innovation Partnerships, science organisations, industry organisations. Results will be assembled in a report which is expected in Q3 2016. 
    • Strategic approach to EU agricultural research and innovation: a large participatory process has been launched in June 2015 to elaborate a long-term strategy for EU agricultural research and innovation, a draft version is currently available and the final version of which is expected in April-May 2016.

European Innovation Partnership & Other Agri-Food related innovation:

  • The European Innovation Partnership for Agriculture productivity and sustainability (EIP-AGRI) has produced a specific brochure on Horizon 2020 calls 2016 highlighting the opportunities for funding of interest in particular for agriculture, forestry, bioeconomy and rural areas. 
  • There is also further information available on EU funding opportunities related to innovation in agriculture, food and forestry found here. Further research and innovation opportunities can be also found here
  • The Societal Challenge 2 research & innovation community in Ireland should consider participating in the European Innovation Partnership with regard to sharing projects, ideas, and seeking out partners amongst many actions and possibilities available.
  • The European Commission is organizing a thematic information day for regional and national authorities, regional clusters and representatives of the agri-food sector who are actively interested in co-creating a smart specialization Agri-Food Platform to share best practices, jointly promote investments and innovation, and develop positions in new global value chains in the field of Agri-Food.  The event will take place in Brussels on 12 May 2016 (ERC Executive Agency, Covent Garden, Place Rogier 16 - Room 00 SDR2).
  • Relevant innovation finance opportunities related to agri-food can also be found here.
  • Relevant details for funding instruments for agri-food SMEs can be found here.


The Scientific Committee on Agricultural Research (SCAR) launched in late 2015 a foresight report in relation to the Bioeconomy.

The 2016 BBI JU Call for proposals is now opened.  This is the link in the participant portal.
The opening date was: 19 April 2016
The deadline is as follows: 8 September 2016

Please see the Biobased Industries Joint Technology Initiative website for more details 


OECD opens funding call

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – through its Co-operative Research Programme (CRP) – has opened a call for applications to fund research fellowships and attendance at international conferences (such as workshops, congresses and symposia) in 2017.

The CRP is supported by 24 of the 34 OECD member countries (including Ireland) and operates under three themes:

  • Managing Natural Capital for the Future;
  • Managing Risks in a Connected World;
  • Transformational Technologies and Innovation.

The CRP supports travelling fellowships from six to 26 weeks for established scientists and supports conferences/workshops on issues relevant to the programme and OECD.

More information, including full details of the application process and selection criteria for both the fellowships and conference support, is available on the OECD website.

Patrick Barrett (National Correspondent for the CRP for Ireland ( - (01-6072302 or 086-8307726)) is happy to assist Irish scientists wishing to apply.