Research & Innovation - Participant Portal


TOPIC : Innovations in plant variety testing

Topic identifier: SFS-29-2018
Publication date: 27 October 2017

Types of action: RIA Research and Innovation action
Opening date:
31 October 2017
2nd stage Deadline:
13 February 2018 17:00:00
11 September 2018 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020 H2020 website
Pillar: Societal Challenges
Work Programme Year: H2020-2018-2020
Topic Updates
  • 28 May 2018 17:40



    The generalised feedback, resulting after the 1st stage evaluation of this topic, is published on this page. To download the document, just expand the "Topic conditions and documents" area (i.e. click on '+ More'), scroll down until "Additional documents" and the generalised feedback can be downloaded in pdf.

  • 22 May 2018 19:02


    Letters informing on the results of the evaluation are being sent to applicants.




    Under the tab 'Topic conditions and documents' the following document is available in section 8. "Additional documents":
    ◦An overview of the evaluation results (Flash Call Information);


  • 05 March 2018 11:47

    An overview of the number of proposals submitted is now available under the ‘Topic conditions & documents’ section on the topic page.

  • 11 December 2017 17:08

    Under the point "5. Proposal templates, evaluation forms and model grant agreements (MGA)" of the "Topic Conditions" area, the 1st stage proposal template is now embedded in the general template.

Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

Agriculture (including horticulture and other forms of primary production) is increasingly being urged to reduce its dependency on external inputs, lower its environmental footprint and cope with more variable climatic conditions. In this context, plant breeding needs to further evolve and take into account more systematically those characteristics that contribute to crop resilience vis-a-vis biotic and abiotic stresses. This implies that criteria and methods are in place to test the performance of new plant varieties under conditions associated with sustainable and more variable farming practices[1]. Innovations in breeding can be further promoted by increasing the robustness and efficacy of variety testing methods for obtaining marketing authorization and Plant Variety Rights[2].


Proposed work will help identify crop characteristics and "sustainability criteria" associated with the capacity of new varieties to maintain yield under more variable conditions and under more sustainable crop management practices (e.g. with regard to the use of fertiliser, water or plant protection products). Work shall result in the development of methods and tools to integrate sustainability criteria into performance testing (VCU testing and other performance trials) under a range of agro-ecological environments, soil types and on-farm conditions. In addition, activities will improve precision and speed of methods for DUS testing based on European/international requirements for the marketing and granting of rights for new varieties. Proposals must clearly address the specificities of VCU and DUS testing while exploiting synergies between the two, in particular when advancing field-based phenotyping methods, molecular tools and when setting up databases and reference collections. Consortia are required to tap into the expertise of various sectors – ranging from research, breeding, performance testing networks (including VCU testing), plant variety DUS examination offices to farming (conventional and organic) - to bring together the necessary, multidisciplinary know-how. The work proposed shall address performance (including VCU) and DUS testing in a balanced way and maximise synergies between related activities.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 8 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:

Activities will support the introduction of new varieties that are “fit for purpose”, i.e. that provide stable and high(er) yields while having an increased capacity for adaptation to varying biotic and abiotic conditions (e.g. mitigating the impacts of climate change. This will help introduce plant traits that respond to new challenges and demands in the conventional and organic sectors, while also taking into account the economic return of growers. More specifically, activities will help:

  • gain a better understanding of crop-specific characteristics underpinning resource efficiency as well as resilience to more challenging environments;
  • develop experimental designs, methods and tools to improve performance testing (including VCU) of new varieties for their sustainability profile;
  • evaluate protocols and increase the range of tools available to European plant variety offices for DUS testing;
  • support activities of the network of European and national plant variety examination offices;
  • provide breeders and bodies entrusted with variety testing with more robust selection/testing criteria and tools to predict the performance of genotypes in different pedo-climatic and agronomic conditions;
  • improve information and recommendations on variety performance available to growers.

Potentially, molecular tools developed under proposed activities will benefit other uses such as the detection of new breeding methods.

In the longer term improved testing methods will promote the marketing and use of more adaptable and sustainable varieties by European farmers.

[1]For the purpose of this topic performance testing - including testing for value for cultivation and use (VCU) - is not limited to important agricultural species. In relation to agricultural species mentioned in the Seed Directives this implies that the term "performance testing" should be understood as equal to testing the VCU.

[2]Distinctiveness, Uniformity and Stability (DUS) are legal requirements for authorisation of marketing of new varieties of agricultural, fruit and vegetable species in the EU. They are also applied for granting Plant Variety Rights to breeders to protect their innovations. Varieties belonging to important agricultural species (for food and feed) can be marketed on the Common market only if – in addition to the DUS requirements - they exhibit a significant value of cultural use (VCU).

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 (two-stage call):
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. Proposal templates, evaluation forms and model grant agreements (MGA):

Research and 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.


Additional documents

  • SFS-2018-2 second stage flash info_en en
  • SFS-2018-2 first stage flash info_en en
  • Generalised_Feedback_LC_SFS_19_2018_2019 en

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