Research & Innovation - Participant Portal


TOPIC : Circular bio-based business models for rural communities

Topic identifier: CE-RUR-10-2019
Publication date: 27 October 2017
Focus area: Connecting economic and environmental gains - the Circular Econonmy (CE)

Types of action: IA Innovation action
Opening date:
16 October 2018
Deadline: 23 January 2019 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020 H2020 website
Pillar: Societal Challenges
Work Programme Year: H2020-2018-2020
Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

To boost the development of a bio-based economy in Europe, there is a need for business models that can be replicated easily in a variety of locations and contexts, with relatively low levels of investment, risk and technical sophistication. A wider range of rural entrepreneurs needs to get involved in the emerging bio-based business sector, including farmers, forest owners, their associations, and small rural business. This will help to diversify and revitalise the economy and create quality jobs in rural areas. Local and regional authorities need to do more to support the bio-economy in their respective territories. They should therefore have a range of options to choose from and be able to select the approach that best suits local needs and assets. As a key part of a circular economy, the bioeconomy needs to close loops to make the most efficient possible use of biomass under market and logistical constraints, and to ensure the sustainability of business models.


Based on an established agro-food system[1], proposals shall consider a variety of additional bio-based processes and end products that could be integrated into the system, and that are viable on a small scale (farm to rural community level). The TRL of the technologies considered can vary at the start. The project shall test and demonstrate the combination of these in a circular configuration. The integrated system shall achieve a TRL 6-7.

Proposals can target any combination of non-food bio-based outputs, but projects focussing mainly on bio-fuels or bio-energy are not eligible. The choice of feedstock sources shall avoid negative effects on food security[2]. Proposals shall focus on a single agro-food system that should be common in Europe and offer high replication potential, and can be combined with sustainable management of natural areas[3] and/or use of marginal lands. A complete assessment (economic, environmental and social) of the integrated system shall be carried out. The project shall include a business plan[4], and a set of policy options and recommendations.

Proposals shall fall under the concept of the 'multi-actor approach'[5], ensuring solid collaboration between relevant actors such as farmers or farmers associations, agro-food industry (including small businesses), technology providers, research centres or public authorities. Proposals should include a task to cluster with other projects financed under this topic, under topic CE-SFS-36-2020 and – if possible – with other relevant projects in the field that are funded by Horizon 2020 (including under the BBI JU).

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 10 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact:

Proposed activities will expand the range of business models available to entrepreneurs and local authorities by developing circular and sustainable business models with large potential for replication in areas with unexploited resources, at a relatively low cost, risk and with low levels of technical complexity. This will help to:

  • expand and diversify the sector by mobilising a wider range of players in the bio-based economy, including small businesses, farmers, forest owners and their associations;
  • develop regional and local bio-based models adapted to the wide variety of contexts found in the EU, including rural and remote areas and outermost regions;
  • ensure adequate recovery of nutrients and organic matter, and their reuse in agriculture.

In the longer term results consolidate a diversified, circular and climate-friendly bio-based sector that harnesses regional assets, provides quality jobs and opportunities in rural areas and revitalises rural economies.

Cross-cutting Priorities:

Blue Growth
Socio-economic science and humanities

[1]Agro-food system’ shall be understood here as a characteristic combination of farming activities and first transformation or conditioning of the farming outputs. In coastal areas, this may include fisheries, aquaculture and first processing of their products.

[2]E.g. by focusing on agricultural waste and/or dedicated crops on marginal/abandoned lands or through multi-cropping strategies.

[3]E.g. forestry or paludiculture (cultivation of marshlands).

[4]The business plan should take into account, among other things, the marketability of the end-products

[5]See definition of the 'multi-actor approach' in the introduction to this part of the work programme.

Topic conditions and documents

1. Eligible countries: described in Annex A of the Work Programme.
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. See the information in the Online Manual.


2. Eligibility and admissibility conditions: described in Annex B and Annex C of the Work Programme.


Proposal page limits and layout: please refer to Part B of the proposal template in the submission system below.


3. Evaluation:

  • Evaluation criteria, scoring and thresholds are described in Annex H of the Work Programme.
  • Submission and evaluation processes are described in the Online Manual.

4. Indicative time for evaluation and grant agreements:

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

5. Proposal templates, evaluation forms and model grant agreements (MGA):

Innovation Action:

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

6. Additional provisions:

Horizon 2020 budget flexibility
Classified information
Technology readiness levels (TRL) – where a topic description refers to TRL, these definitions apply

Members of consortium are required to conclude a consortium agreement, in principle prior to the signature of the grant agreement.

8. Additional documents:

1. Introduction WP 2018-20
9. Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research and the bioeconomy WP 2018-20
18. Dissemination, Exploitation and Evaluation WP 2018-20

General annexes to the Work Programme 2018-2020

Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Regulation of Establishment
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Rules for Participation
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Specific Programme

7. Open access must be granted to all scientific publications resulting from Horizon 2020 actions.

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.

Open access to research data
The Open Research Data Pilot has been extended to cover all Horizon 2020 topics for which the submission is opened on 26 July 2016 or later. Projects funded under this topic will therefore by default provide open access to the research data they generate, except if they decide to opt-out under the conditions described in Annex L of the Work Programme. Projects can opt-out at any stage, that is both before and after the grant signature.

Note that the evaluation phase proposals will not be evaluated more favourably because they plan to open or share their data, and will not be penalised for opting out.

Open research data sharing applies to the data needed to validate the results presented in scientific publications. Additionally, projects can choose to make other data available open access and need to describe their approach in a Data Management Plan.

Projects need to create a Data Management Plan (DMP), except if they opt-out of making their research data open access. A first version of the DMP must be provided as an early deliverable within six months of the project and should be updated during the project as appropriate. The Commission already provides guidance documents, including a template for DMPs. See the Online Manual.

Eligibility of costs: costs related to data management and data sharing are eligible for reimbursement during the project duration.

The legal requirements for projects participating in this pilot are in the article 29.3 of the Model Grant Agreement.


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To access the Electronic Sumission Service, please click on the submission-button next to the type of action that corresponds to your proposal. You will then be asked to confirm your choice of the type of action and topic, as these cannot be changed in the submission system. Upon confirmation, you will be linked to the correct entry point.

To access existing draft proposals for this topic, please login to the Participant Portal and select the My Proposals page of the My Area section.

Type of Action Innovation action [IA]
Topic Circular bio-based business models for rural communities - CE-RUR-10-2019
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