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Horizon 2020

Horizon 2020 is the financial instrument supporting Research & Innovation in the EU, implementing the Innovation Union policy, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at enhancing Europe's global research competitiveness.  This funding programme will finish at the end of 2020.

Horizon Europe is the EU’s next funding programme for research and innovation which will run from 2021 to 2027 inclusive with a proposed budget of €95 billion, this figure is yet to be confirmed (April 2020).

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s (DAFM) role in Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe:

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.  DAFM facilitates Irish involvement in Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 2, and in preparing for Horizon Europe by providing a National Delegate and a National Contact Point..(Mr. Matthew Clarke), for the Agri-Food related calls whereas fisheries and marine related calls are serviced by the Marine Institute.

The National Delegate has an influential role regarding the H2020 Societal Challenge 2 Work Programme at the related Programme Committee while the role of the National Contact Point is to increase Irish participation and success in these funding programmes.  The National Contact Point includes the following activities: provision of information and advice; dissemination of information on upcoming and open calls, 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 and Horizon Europe is available from:

Matthew Clarke (National Contact Point)
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine,
Agriculture House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2, D02 WK12
Tel: +353 1 607 2327   Mobile: +353 87 102 6192

Philip Kennedy Email:
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine,
Agriculture House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2, D02 WK12
Tel: +3535 1 607 2501   Mobile: +353 87 225 4208

The SC2 National Delegate and Contact Point are also members of the Enterprise Ireland led National Horizon 2020/Horizon Europe Support Network where they work closely with other National Delegates, National Contact Points and Academic Institution Research Offices to promote agri-food related Irish participation in Horizon 2020 across agri-food relevant parts of the other two pillars, e.g. Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions, as well as other relevant challenge areas  in particular health (SC-1), energy (SC-3), and environment (SC-5).

The Horizon Europe funding program will incorporate research and innovation Missions to increase the effectiveness of funding by pursuing clearly defined targets.  The Commission has engaged policy experts to develop studies, case studies and reports on how a Mission oriented policy approach will work.

Five Mission areas have been identified under Horizon Europe, each with a dedicated Mission Board and Assembly.  They will help specify, define and implement specific Missions within this new funding program.  The 5 Mission areas are; -Adaption to climate change including societal transformation; - Cancer; - Climate neutral and smart cities; - Healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters and - Soil health and food.

Furthermore there will be approximately 48 partnerships with 7 or so of these being of interest to the Agri-food sector.  The list of partnerships has not been finalised yet but is expected to include, antimicrobial resistance, infectious animal diseases, agro-ecology living-labs and a sustainable blue economy among others.

DAFM and specifically the National Contact Point for Horizon Europe will engage fully in preparing the Horizon Work Programmes and work to promote and engage with the Partnerships and the Soil Health and Food Mission in particular but also assist with the Climate Adaptation mission.

The Standing Committee on Agricultural Research (SCAR)

SCAR is a broader setting used to discuss all agricultural research; it is not limited to Horizon 2020 topics.  It meets several times per year in different formats, depending on the topic or level.  It is a group of high level officials from around Europe providing advice to the Commission and other MS in relation to research for agriculture, food, fisheries and the Bioeconomy.  DAFM is coordinating Irish involvement in SCAR.  Mr. Matthew Clarke coordinates the Irish involvement in this.

European Innovation Partnership & Other Agri-Food related innovation:

  • The European Innovation Partnership for Agriculture productivity and sustainability (EIP-AGRI) produces specific brochures on Horizon 2020 calls, 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.
  • 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 2020 BBI JU Call for proposals is now opened.  This is the link in the participant portal.  The opening date was: 15 April 2020.

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


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 2020.

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.

Philip Kennedy, National Correspondent for the CRP for Ireland (01-607 2501 or 087-225 4208) is happy to assist Irish scientists wishing to apply.