The agri-food sector is subject to multiple external pressures, such as rising demand for food, competition for land and other natural resources with other biomass uses, globalisation, threats from animal or plant diseases, environmental changes and public health considerations. This implies the need to become more efficient and sustainable; improve its impact on consumer health; take advantage of new technological developments; and become more transparent and responsive to consumer demands, within a food-system approach.Scope:
Proposals should address one or more of the following sub-topics (A) to (C) and should clearly indicate to which one they refer.
A.  ICT-enabled agri-food systems
Today, despite increased information demand from consumers and food chain players alike, Europe's food businesses and farmers are slow at adopting digital technologies. This is due in part to the inherent complexities of relevant products and processes, and in part to the dynamically changing open network organisation of the food sector with its multitude of SMEs, its cultural diversity, its differences in expectations and in the ability to serve transparency needs. The agri-food sector needs to take more advantage of the potential of digital technologies. Relevant technologies may include Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data technologies, remote and localised sensing. This sub-topic will engage the agri-food community in supporting the development of solutions to remove the barriers to adoption of digital technologies, taking a multi-actor approach across different supply chains (conventional and organic) from farm to fork. These solutions will be targeted to supporting third party development of a variety of digital technologies which can take advantage of, integrate with, and complement the standardisation efforts and platform developments in other Horizon 2020, European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) and regionally/nationally-funded projects. In addition, this sub-topic will support the development of new data-driven ICT platforms and solutions which derive value for multiple actors from the data collected throughout the food chain, thereby enabling new business models which will increase the affordability and adoption of such solutions, reduce the environmental footprint, increase system resilience, and empower consumers. Interregional and international cooperation will be encouraged and complementarity with other ERA-NETs will be ensured throughout the project development stages by means of active collaboration and communication. When relevant, projects should consider synergies with the Thematic Smart Specialisation Platform on Agri-food (TSSP-AF) and related interregional partnerships under the Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3).
B.  Climate change and food systems
Proposals under this sub-topic will aim at developing climate-resilient and sustainable value chains for food systems. In particular they will assess risks and vulnerabilities of food systems faced with climate change, thereby offering low carbon footprint solutions (technological and/or non-technological) to increase resilience and sustainability. Specific focus will be put on the socio-economic impacts of climate change on different food chains, price volatility and the territorial dimension on access to accessible and nutritious foodstuffs. Complementarity with SusFood ERA-NETs will be ensured throughout the project development stages.
C.  International veterinary vaccinology
Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective prevention strategies for controlling and eliminating infectious diseases of animals. Despite recent successes there are still diseases for which there are either no vaccines or where current vaccines lack optimal efficacy. New and improved vaccines have been identified as an important component in strategies to reduce reliance on antimicrobials. In most cases the lack of vaccines is because classical methods of generating vaccines have failed or the current market situation does not justify the cost of their development. While the induction of immunological memory is fundamental to vaccines we still do not have a clear understanding of how best to design vaccines that drive long-lasting and protective memory responses. It is also possible that technological advances would make the development of vaccines more economically viable. Addressing current challenges will require international collaboration, not least for infectious diseases that do not respect country borders and are threats to EU animal production and trade, and in a number of cases, to public health. The ERA-NET will pool resources and expertise to increase knowledge on immunology and to develop novel tools and generic technology platforms for producing novel and/or improved vaccines that are applicable to specific livestock sectors and/or diseases. Areas of particular interest include vaccine delivery systems and thermo-stabilisation. Vaccines for regulated diseases, in particular an efficient and safe vaccine against highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses and its companion DIVA test, will be part of the activities developed. Industry engagement in projects selected under the ERA-Net is encouraged. The projects selected should follow the policies and contribute to the objectives of the STAR-IDAZ international research consortium.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of EUR 6 million for sub-topic A) and 5 million for sub-topics B) and C), respectively, would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.Expected Impact:
OECD/WTO (2013), developing on FAO (2005) on agrifood value chain: "A ‘value chain’ in agriculture identifies the set of actors and activities that bring a basic agricultural product from the field to final consumption and add value at each stage of the production process."