The EU Green Deal aims to make Europe climate neutral by 2050. How can Horizon Europe support the agri-food industry to green their business through research and innovation?

A new EU R&I funding program

Horizon Europe is the EU funding program for research and innovation (R&I) for the period between 2021 and 2027. With a budget of 95.5 billion Euro, it is the largest R&I program ever adopted by the European Union.

Horizon Europe focuses on three areas: Excellence in sciences, Global challenges and European industrial competitiveness, and Innovative Europe. Horizon Europe provides an opportunity for industry to become integrally involved in the digital and green transition of the European economy, as well as to cooperate with leading academic and scientific institutions, access funding and gain international visibility.

All this can be accomplished while working with organisations from across Europe to channel policy recommendations towards EU policymakers based on scientific outcomes from funded projects.

Horizon Europe in the context of the European Green Deal

Notably, Horizon Europe’ s R&I priorities align with the objectives of key European policies including the European Green Deal, which aims to make Europe climate neutral by 2050; the Farm to Fork Strategy, which aims to improve the sustainability of European food systems; the EU Biodiversity Strategy, which aims to prevent biodiversity loss and restore ecosystems; the European Industrial Strategy, which aims to support the twin transition to a green and digital economy, while making EU industry more globally competitive and enhancing Europe’ s open strategic autonomy.

Funding opportunities for the sustainable agri-food sector

In June 2021, the European Commission adopted the main work program of Horizon Europe for the period between 2021 and 2022, outlining the objectives and specific topic areas that will receive a total of 14.7 billion Euro in funding.

This funding will help accelerate green and digital transitions and sustainable recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Here, specific key areas will receive innovation financing, such initiatives that contribute to the objective of the Farm to Fork Strategy. More specifically, priority research areas earmarked for funding include microbiome-based applications, precision agriculture, plant-based foods, alternative proteins, urban agriculture, vertical farming, biopesticides and biofertilizers.

A strategic approach toward Horizon Europe

Hague Corporate Affairs considers R&I as a key element for the European transition into the world’s first digital, sustainable and circular economy. Industry plays a crucial role in this process and to benefit from the opportunities stemming from Horizon Europe, it should define its own R&I priorities, aligning these to the ones of the EU policy agenda and actively advocate these priorities towards EU policymakers. In this context, Hague actively provides strategic advice to industry to ensure an effective approach towards R&I funding opportunities in the framework of Horizon Europe.

Also, Hague is at the forefront of the transition towards European sustainable food systems by leading the dissemination and communication work packages of two Horizon 2020 funded projects: Controlling Microbiomes Circulations for Better food Systems (CIRCLES), which develop microbiome-based applications to improve the sustainability and resilience of food systems, and Food Systems in European Cities (FoodE), which accelerates the development and growth of urban agriculture across Europe.

By Attilio Caligiani and Aleksandar Atanasov