Research & Innovation - Participant Portal

TOPIC : Business models for modern rural economies

Topic identifier: RUR-09-2017
Publication date: 14 October 2015

Types of action: RIA Research and Innovation action
Planned opening date:
04 October 2016
2nd stage Deadline:
14 February 2017 17:00:00
13 September 2017 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020 H2020 website
Pillar: Societal Challenges
Work Programme Year: H2020-2016-2017
Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

The modernisation of rural economies depends on the capacity of rural businesses to cooperate successfully to form efficient value chains which will deliver competitive products and services, high-quality and diverse jobs, and resilience to global economic and climate changes. The greater interest being shown in regional and local economies, resource-efficient and low carbon value chains or short supply chains provides opportunities to rethink and improve value chain organisation so as to turn specific assets into economic, environmental and social benefits, including through enhanced valorisation and optimisation of ecosystem services. There is a need to identify business models that have the most potential to empower rural communities to take advantage of these opportunities.


Building on the outcomes of past European projects on rural economic development and rural jobs, proposals will identify innovative business models that are developing in rural areas, have significant potential to create added value, social cohesion and jobs, and are likely to be upscaled to or replicated in other areas, taking into account the diversity of conditions in different areas. Proposals should undertake socio-economic analyses to identify, describe and benchmark different business models in terms of starting conditions, obstacles faced, enabling factors, financing mechanisms, generation of added value, jobs and other potential environmental and social benefits, gender issues, attractiveness to young workers, and the distribution of the value generated, exploring the concept of shared value. Particular attention should be paid to models that foster a more sustainable mobilisation of resources, improved cooperation between operators along the value chain and/or across traditional and developing sectors (e.g. via clusters/platforms), and lead to new products or services, and the recycling or up-cycling of materials. Proposals should consider food, bio-based value chains and other forms of rural business or service, in particular those based on digital technologies or valorisation and optimisation of ecosystem services. Proposals should produce practical and business-oriented tools, e.g. a collection of business cases, targeting new entrepreneurs who would like to set up businesses in rural areas and seek guidance and benchmarks on similar businesses to draw up their business plans.

Proposals should fall under the concept of' the multi-actor approach'[1], engaging relevant actors such as businesses/entrepreneurs, business or economic development organisations and innovation support services, involved in development of these new business models. Communication and dissemination activities should be carefully planned and targeted to reach audiences likely to take up, replicate and adapt the business models identified.

Selected projects should cooperate closely to maximise impact across Europe (e.g. production of common tools for entrepreneurs and stakeholders, joint analysis and recommendations, joint dissemination plans).

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 4.5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact:

This action contributes to the modernisation and sustainable growth of rural economies. Applicants will measure the expected short-term impact of the project on the basis of:

  • improved tools for entrepreneurship in rural areas, in particular with a database of business cases and supportive environment (e.g. clusters/platforms, technical/scientific services and infrastructure, advisory services, funding opportunities); and
  • improved knowledge of business models emerging in rural areas, including a thorough understanding of their potential for development, performance and interest in economic, environmental and social terms and success factors or reasons for failures.

In the longer term, the results will:

  • increase the potential for rural economic diversification, added value and job creation in a variety of rural areas thanks to the dissemination of promising business cases;
  • make rural economies and societies more resilient to global changes; and
  • improve the delivery of ecosystem services resulting from innovative forms of valorisation.

[1]See definition of the 'multi-actor approach' in the introduction to this Work Programme part.

Topic conditions and documents

Please read carefully all provisions below before the preparation of your application.

  1. List of countries and applicable rules for funding: described in part A of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme.
    Note also that a number of non-EU/non-Associated Countries that are not automatically eligible for funding have made specific provisions for making funding available for their participants in Horizon 2020 projects (follow the links to Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Hong Kong & Macau, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Taiwan).

  2. Eligibility and admissibility conditions: described in part B and C of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme

    Proposal page limits and layout: Please refer to Part B of the standard proposal template.

  3. Evaluation

    3.1  Evaluation criteria and procedure, scoring and threshold: described in part H of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme

    3.2 Submission and evaluation process: Guide to the submission and evaluation process

  4. Indicative timetable for evaluation and grant agreement:

    Information on the outcome of single-stage evaluation: maximum 5 months from the deadline for submission.
    Signature of grant agreements: maximum 8 months from the deadline for submission.

    Information on the outcome of two-stage evaluation:
          For stage 1: maximum 3 months from the deadline for submission.
          For stage 2: maximum 5 months from the deadline for submission.
    Signature of grant agreements: maximum 8 months from the deadline for submission.

  5. Provisions, proposal templates and evaluation forms for the type(s) of action(s) under this topic:

    Research and Innovation Action:

    Specific provisions and funding rates
    Standard proposal template
    Standard evaluation form
    H2020 General MGA -Multi-Beneficiary
    Annotated Grant Agreement

  6. Additional provisions:

    Horizon 2020 budget flexibility

    Technology readiness levels (TRL) – where a topic description refers to TRL, these definitions apply.

    Financial support to Third Parties – where a topic description foresees financial support to Third Parties, these provisions apply.

  7. Open access must be granted to all scientific publications resulting from Horizon 2020 actions, and proposals must refer to measures envisaged. Where relevant, proposals should also provide information on how the participants will manage the research data generated and/or collected during the project, such as details on what types of data the project will generate, whether and how this data will be exploited or made accessible for verification and re-use, and how it will be curated and preserved. This topic participates per default in the open access to research data pilot which aims to improve and maximise access to and re-use of research data generated by projects:
  • The pilot applies to the data needed to validate the results presented in scientific publications. Additionally, projects can choose to make other data available for open access and need to describe their approach in a Data Management Plan (to be provided within six months after the project start).
  • Note that the evaluation phase proposals will not be evaluated more favourably because they are part of the Pilot, and will not be penalised for opting out of the Pilot.
  • Projects can at any stage opt-out of the pilot.
  • The legal requirements for projects participating in this pilot are in the article 29.3 of the Model Grant Agreement
  • Further information on the Open Research Data Pilot is made available in the H2020 Online Manual.

8.  Additional documents

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