Horizon 2020: creating knowledge to boost agricultural innovation

Horizon 2020 supports research and innovation which answers farmers' and foresters' immediate needs, in particular multi-actor projects and thematic networks.

What is Horizon 2020?

Horizon 2020 is the largest source of public funding for research and innovation from the European Union. Around one third of the funding available is dedicated to answering societal challenges. One of the identified challenges is "Food Security, Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry, Marine, Maritime and Inland Water Research and the Bioeconomy". It has a budget of around 3.7 billion euros for 2014-2020, out of which at least 1.5 billion euros will contribute to the research area agriculture and forestry.

How will Horizon 2020 help farmers and foresters?

Horizon 2020 aims to create solutions for problems which farmers and foresters currently face. Along with support to academic projects, it funds projects where researchers and practitioners build solutions together: these are called 'multi-actor projects'. Specific efforts are also made to share knowledge and results that are ready to be put into practice, in particular via 'Thematic networks'.

How is Horizon 2020 funding made available?

Horizon 2020 works through two or three year work programmes which include concrete calls for projects. These calls for projects are further divided into 'topics'. For most of the topics, you will have to build consortia with at least three partners from three different countries. Three work programmes have been published so far (2014-20152016-2017 and 2018-2020). Every year the EIP-AGRI publishes a brochure guiding EIP-AGRI network members through the calls (including through calls of potential interest outside societal challenge 2): see brochures on calls 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020.

Next opportunities to apply to Horizon 2020 will be under calls 2020. The official work programme 2018-2020 including the calls was published on 27 October 2017. An updated version of the Work Programme with calls for 2020 was published in June 2019.

What is the multi-actor approach?

The multi-actor approach requires that end users and multipliers of research results such as farmers and farmers’ groups, advisers, enterprises and others, are closely involved throughout the whole research project period. This should lead to innovative solutions that are more likely to be applied in the field, because those who need the solutions will be involved right from the start: from defining the questions, to planning, to implementing research work, to experiments and right up until possible demonstrations and dissemination. Openness to involve relevant groups operating in the EIP context (such as rural development Operational Groups) has been strongly recommended in the Horizon 2020 bi-annual work programmes.

The EU has allocated around one billion euros to fund around 180 multi-actor projects of interest to agriculture, forestry and rural development in the seven years of Horizon 2020 (2014-2020). Over 100 of these projects have already started.

Learn more about multi-actor projects

What are thematic networks?

Thematic networks are multi-actor projects which aim to:

  • collect existing knowledge and best practices on a given theme and facilitate their use;

  • develop easily understandable material for practice, such as infosheets in a common format and audio-visual material. The material should be available on a long-term basis and easily accessible to end users such as farmers, foresters, advisers etc.

29 thematic networks have been selected for funding through Horizon 2020 calls 2014-2018.

Learn more about thematic networks

How to learn more about Horizon 2020?