Research & Innovation - Participant Portal


TOPIC : Resource-efficient urban agriculture for multiple benefits – contribution to the EU-China Urbanisation Partnership

Topic identifier: SFS-48-2017
Publication date: 14 October 2015

Types of action: IA Innovation action
Opening date:
04 October 2016
Deadline: 14 February 2017 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020 H2020 website
Pillar: Societal Challenges
Work Programme Year: H2020-2016-2017
Topic Updates
  • 11 January 2017 16:27

    As of 1st January 2017, Switzerland is associated to the whole Horizon 2020 programme instead of the previous partial association. More information on this matter can be found here.

Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

With increasing urbanisation, massive daily flows of agricultural products, water and energy coming from rural/remote areas to cities generate high amounts of heat, CO2, waste water and other waste. In certain contexts, urban agriculture has been shown to improve food security and to bring economic, environmental and social benefits to cities. Given the diversity of urban agricultural systems emerging worldwide, there is a need to demonstrate and assess how technological and social innovation in urban agriculture can help overcome the shortcomings of urban food systems while providing cities with other ecosystem services (e.g. mitigating climate change, closing nutrient cycles) and improving the resilience of urban areas.


The proposals should develop innovative integrated urban farming systems that use resources (e.g. space, energy, water, nutrients) more efficiently and re-use or recycle heat, water, CO2, waste or by-products from urban sources (e.g. industry, households) for horticultural production (e.g. fruits, vegetables, herbs, sprouts, mushrooms, algae, ornamental trees and plants). The production and use of renewable energies (e.g. solar/wind energy, biogas) in these farming systems will also be investigated. Activities should showcase several resource-efficient production systems in open or controlled environments, thereby providing a demonstration (at TRL 6-8) for the production of safe and high-quality products in different urban spaces (e.g. rooftop/vertical farming, individual/collective gardens, other unused spaces).

The work should be carried out at least in one European city and in one Chinese city. Breeding activities are not in the scope.

The work will support the development of innovative production systems both conventional and organic and their associated value chains in cooperation with relevant local actors and stakeholders, and according to business models that target economic and social benefits. Attention will be paid to land use issues in particular in relation to urban-rural interactions (e.g. urban sprawl dynamics). Evaluation methods of multi-functional urban agriculture should be used to assess the contribution of these systems and value chains to cities' food security, and their economic, environmental and social impacts on the urban communities. A cost-benefit analysis of urban farming production systems and associated value chains should compare these to other options (including peri-urban and rural agriculture). Policy recommendations and best-practices guides for sustainable urban farming systems should be produced and knowledge platforms promoted.

Proposals should fall under the concept of the 'multi-actor approach'[1] targeting all relevant actors such as researchers/technology providers, public authorities, and private actors (e.g. restaurants, retailers, urban farmers, real estate businesses) and promote the engagement of urban communities. SME participation is encouraged.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 7 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. Contributions for Chinese participants will come in addition and will be made available by China.

Expected Impact:

Applicants will gauge the expected impact of the project as regards:

  • the creation of shorter supply chains for safe, high-quality food and other horticultural products that reduce European and Chinese cities' ecological footprint by limiting losses and energy in transport and contribute to their food security;
  • resource-efficient low-carbon urban farming systems that:
    • consume low amounts of water, energy, fertilisers, pesticides and space;
    • use waste heat, CO2, waste and rain water and other waste or by-products from urban source, contributing to the development of the circular economy;
    • minimise environmental impacts;
  • improved knowledge of various business models for urban farming, including a thorough understanding of their potential for development, performance and impact on urban food systems in economic, environmental and social terms, and success factors or reasons for failures; and
  • increased cooperation at international level, in particular involving exchanges of knowledge and best practices between the EU and China.

In the longer term, the results should contribute to a more sustainable and resilient urban development, in particular via the provision of ecosystem services (e.g. reduced air pollution, better water retention thus limiting floods, biodiversity, carbon sinks, recreation, greener urban landscapes), social cohesion and jobs creation.

Cross-cutting Priorities:

Socio-economic science and humanities
International cooperation

[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. In the context of the EU-China Urbanisation Partnership, each project shall involve at least one city from Member States and/or Associated Countries and one Chinese city, where demonstration activities will be performed as defined in the topic text.
    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 [, with the following exceptions]:

    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:

    Innovation Action:

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


  1. 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.

  2. 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.
  • 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.
  • Further information on the Open Research Data Pilot is made available in the H2020 Online Manual.


  1. Additional documents


Additional documents

  • H2020-SFS-2017-1-single stage flash call info en

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