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SusCrop - ERA-NET Cofund on Sustainable Crop Production


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Joint Call for Proposals ERA-NET Cofund on Sustainable Crop Production

  - 41 days Deadline: 04 Apr 2018

 Fisheries and Food
 Agriculture
 Agrifood
 Food Safety
 Sustainable Development
 Agricultural Biotechnology
 Water Resource Management



This document announces the first transnational Call in the field of sustainable crop production, within the framework of the ERA-NET-Cofund on Sustainable Crop Production (SusCrop). The main purpose of the Call is to improve the sustainability and resilience of crop production within the European Research Area (ERA) by supporting transnational research projects on this topic. Joint projects must have a minimum of three independent eligible partners applying for funding from a minimum of three different SusCrop partner countries. A partner is defined eligible, if the applying entity is legally eligible to receive funding by a SusCrop funding agency according to the relevant national/regional funding regulations. The Call will consist of two stages:

1) A submission deadline for pre-proposals of April 4, 2018 (13:00 CEST),

2) A submission deadline for full proposals of August 31, 2018 (13:00 CEST).

Projects should aim to start from March 2019, depending on individual grant negotiations with the relevant national funding organisation(s). A harmonised start date for each project agreed among all partners within a given consortium is highly recommended. Table 1 outlines the Call timeline.

Table 1 Indicative Call timeline

December 15, 2017
Call Pre-Announcement

January 15, 2018
Call Announcement

April 4, 2018 (13:00 CEST)
Deadline for submission of pre-proposals

Mid-June 2018
Letters to applicants / invitation to submit full proposal

August 31, 2018 (13:00 CEST)
Deadline for submission of full proposals
(only for projects that pass the pre-proposal phase)

October 1-7 2018
Rebuttal

Mid-December 2018
Communication of the evaluation outcome to the applicants and start of grant negotiations

Between March - July 2019
Initiation of funded projects

 

Background

One of the Grand Societal Challenges of the 21st century is to ensure food and nutrient security for a growing population under climate change and pressure on natural resources.

Thus, sustainable crop production needs to be secured and enhanced. Current food production methods utilise excess energy, water, pesticides and chemicals. New ways of sustainable crop production are necessary to increase productivity, reduce the amount of used chemicals and/or improve the quality of the crops. This will be crucial to maintain access to affordable safe and nutritious food for a healthy life, and to serve the increasing demand for industrially used biomass whilst keeping and improving a healthy environment, natural habitats and increasing biodiversity. Indeed all aspects of sustainability need to be covered: environmental, economic and social and cultural.

Modern crop production must be addressed by taking into account the whole food value chain, crop diversity and resilience, resource use efficiency, nutrient recycling, ecosystem services, limiting negative environmental impacts, integrated pest management, reducing and re-using waste and achieving food and nutritional security. To meet this challenge, the EU Member States established inter alia the Joint Programming Initiative on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change: FACCE-JPI (https://www.faccejpi.com/). FACCE-JPI developed a strategic research agenda focusing on five core research themes. In this context the ERA-NET Cofund activity SusCrop was initiated to address the core research theme 2 “Environmentally sustainable intensification of agricultural systems”.

The SusCrop Consortium brings together owners and managers of national and regional R&D&I programmes of EU Member States and EU-associated Countries with significant experience in research funding and coordination.

This SusCrop co-funded Call aims to attract proposals focused on Sustainable Crop Production in order to tackle the societal challenges of the 21st century. To achieve this, funding provided by national and regional programmes of Member States and other countries will be combined with co-funding from the European Commission to launch this joint Call for transnational research projects addressing sustainability and resilience of crop production.

SusCrop aims to connect partners with different but complementary scientific and technological expertise to maximise resources and share risks, costs and skills.

The SusCrop co-funded Call will support basic and applied crop research. Participating funding organisations and countries of the co-funded Call

The following funding organisations will be participating in this joint Call for transnational collaborative research projects:

  • Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH (JUELICH/BMBF), Germany
  • Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR), France
  • Norges forskningsråd (RCN), Norway
  • Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft e.V. (DFG), Germany
  • Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), Ireland
  • Türkiye Bilimsel ve Teknolojik Araştırma Kurumu (TUBITAK), Turkey
  • Sihtasutus Eesti Teadusagentuur (ETAg), Estonia
  • The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), United Kingdom
  • Narodowe Centrum Badan i Rozwoju (NCBR), Poland
  • Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique FNRS (F.R.S.-FNRS), Belgium
  • Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MMM), Finland
  • Latvijas Lauksaimniecibas un meza zinatnu akademija biedriba (LAAFS), Latvia
  • Agriculture and Food Development Authority (TEAGASC), Ireland
  • Ministry of Food Agriculture and Livestock (TAGEM), Turkey
  • Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO), Netherlands
  • Ministerio de Economia Industria y Competitividad (MINECO) through the State Research Agency, Spain
  • Centro para el Desarrollo Tecnológico Industrial, E.P.E. (CDTI), Spain
  • Bundesministerium für Nachhaltigkeit und Tourismus (BMNT, former BMLFUW), Austria
  • Maaeluministeerium (MEM), Estonia
  • Ministry of Environment and Food (MFVM), Denmark
  • Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca (MIUR), Italy
  • Unitatea Executiva pentru Finantarea Invatamantului Superior, a Cercetarii, Dezvoltarii si Inovarii (UEFISCDI), Romania
  • Ministry of Agriculture (FM), Hungary
  • Agriculture and AgriFood Canada (AAFC), Canada

 

In addition to the online publication of the co-funded Call on the SusCrop webpage (https://www.suscrop.eu), the joint Call will be explicitly promoted through the webpages of all involved funders as well as through the official webpage of FACCE-JPI (https://www.faccejpi.com/).

 

Scope of the joint Call

The aim of the Call is to support scientifically excellent transnational research, development and innovation projects that contribute to the improvement of sustainability and resilience of crop production.

The submitted proposals must be multidisciplinary and should address at least one of the following topics:

  1. Enhancement of predictive breeding technologies and development of new genotypes leading to new phenotypes and crop varieties for improvement of plant health, protection, production and resilience

  2. Development and exploitation of novel integrated pest and crop management methods and practices

  3. Improvement of resource-use efficiency of crops and cropping systems

  4. Systemic research on agricultural crops as part of an ecosystem including

    interactions between plants and other organisms (“the plant as a meta-organism”)

The Call is open for both fundamental and applied research.

Regarding all topics, applying research consortia should clearly state how their project aims will be relevant and/or contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/) including the sustainability and resilience of crops or cropping systems, considering environmental challenges due to climate change, the scarcity/limitation of natural resources etc.

It is encouraged that proposals include bioinformatics along with information and communication technology (ICT) sciences and that they demonstrate how these will be used to promote innovation.

Please carefully check the national/regional funding regulations (under Call Documents on https://www.submission.suscrop.eu) because some of the topics described and types of research may not be suitable/eligible for all funding organisations.

Funding will be provided for scientifically and technologically excellent projects managed by universities, other research organisations and companies from SusCrop partner countries. Funding will follow the nationality principle meaning each participating national or regional funding agency will fund its respective national/regional research partners in a particular project consortium.

Research project coordinators and their partners must follow the corresponding national/regional funding regulations and limitations which can be downloaded from the Call Documents in the submission portal (https://www.submission.suscrop.eu).

 

In addition, applying research consortia are encouraged to interact with and/or include partners of the private sector (e.g. SMEs), stakeholders and/or end-users (e.g. farmers) while preparing the proposal and/or carrying out the project. Where possible SMEs and other stakeholders should be encouraged to participate in the consortia, to enhance impact, facilitate knowledge exchange and uptake of results to deliver measurable benefits to Sustainable Crop Production in Europe. However, the inclusion and support of any type of stakeholder as an active partner in the research consortia depends on the national/regional funding regulations defined by the funding organisation (see Call Documents in the submission system at https://www.submission.suscrop.eu).

Further, projects are required to consider the following principles:

All project partners should contribute to, and benefit from, equitable and balanced cooperation.

Results of collaborative projects must be shared within the research consortium through a controlled process that adequately protects and equitably allocates intellectual property used in, and generated during, joint research and development.

Each full proposal must include a one page Data Management (DM) Plan to ensure the availability of data generated by the research proposed. Applicants are encouraged (but not obliged) to utilise available DM services. Further information on the development and preparation of a data management plan is provided in the document “Guidelines for Applicants” (download from https://www.submission.suscrop.eu).

Each pre-proposal must allocate an appropriate budget for communication, dissemination and exploitation of the results, whereas each full proposal must also include a one A4-page plan for communication, dissemination and exploitation of the results and an appropriate budget for those activities. Further information on the development and preparation of a communication, dissemination and exploitation plan is provided in the document “Guidelines for Applicants” (download from https://www.submission.suscrop.eu/). Furthermore, applicants are advised to take into consideration the guidelines on “Communicating EU Research & Innovation” by the European Commission (download from http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/other/gm/h2020-guide- comm_en.pdf).

Exploitation of the project results can aim at different target groups, support policymakers, and be used in industry and/or education etc., as appropriate, particularly from applied research proposals.

 

Eligibility

Only proposals which meet all eligibility criteria will be considered for evaluation. National/regional eligibility criteria can be downloaded from the submission system at https://www.submission.suscrop.eu. Furthermore, applications should also fit to the specific 

remit of the respective national/regional funding organisation(s); thus, it is strongly recommended that applicants (coordinators and partners) contact their National/Regional Contact Persons (see Call Documents at https://www.submission.suscrop.eu) before submission.

In addition, all proposals must meet the following general eligibility criteria:

General eligibility criteria

Pre-proposals and full proposals must be written in English.
Pre-proposals must be submitted by April 4, 2018 (13:00 CEST) via the SusCrop

submission website (https://www.submission.suscrop.eu).

If national/regional forms are required, these must be submitted directly to the national/regional agency by the deadlines stated in national/regional funding regulations (see Call Documents at https://www.submission.suscrop.eu).

The project duration must not exceed 3 years.

Consortia must include at least three eligible partners requesting funding from three different SusCrop member countries who contribute funds to the Call.

If a proposal does not meet the minimum number of partners or if one or more partners are ineligible, it will be rejected before pre-proposal evaluation.

Project outputs are expected to provide benefits to all partner countries. Consortia need to be balanced between countries both in terms of number of partners and distribution of work; such that all project partners contribute to and benefit from equitable and balanced cooperation.

The requested funding budget of each partner must not exceed national or regional funding limits (for details, see Table 2 and the national/regional funding regulations under Call Documents at https://www.submission.suscrop.eu). No single applicant, region or country can represent more than 70% of the budget of the proposal.

Eligible funding recipients/consortium partners

Funding is provided according to the “nationality principle”, meaning that each participating national/regional funding agency funds their respective national/regional applicant(s) in a particular project consortium. Funding is subject to national/regional eligibility regulations (see Call Documents at https://www.submission.suscrop.eu) and project partners should check their eligibility for funding prior to submission.

Partners from countries not participating in the Call may participate in a project at their own expense, if their contribution is important to achieve the project goals. The coordinator should take steps to ensure that sufficient funds are secured from these additional partners, and evidence of the availability of funds should be provided prior to project submission (Letter of Commitment). The same applies for partners who are not eligible for or do not seek national/regional funding from the agencies participating in the Call. Partners participating at their own expense do not count towards the minimum number of participants.

The coordinator of any applying consortium must be from an organisation that is eligible for funding from one of the agencies participating in the Call, i.e. an organisation that plans to participate at their own expense, without public funding provided via the SusCrop joint Call, cannot act as consortium coordinator.

Within a joint proposal, each partner will be the contact person for the relevant national or regional funding agency. All research groups agree to abide by the rules and agreements of the SusCrop Call.

 

Financial modalities and funding prerequisites

The total budget available for this Call is ~€18.03 M (Table 2). Funding is granted according to national or regional regulations (see Call Documents at https://www.submission.suscrop.eu).

 

Table 2 Available funding (NOT AVAILABLE)

 

Application procedure

The application process is two-phased (pre- and full proposal). Throughout the whole process, the SusCrop Call Office (suscrop-call@agencerecherche.fr) is the central communication point for all applicants. In case of technical problems with the submission system, the technical helpdesk at Project Management should be contacted (ptj-suscrop@fz- juelich.de).

Firstly, a pre-proposal must be submitted electronically via the SusCrop submission website (https://www.submission.suscrop.eu/). Only the coordinators of pre-proposals that have passed the first evaluation step will then be invited to submit a full proposal. Only full proposals submitted by consortia explicitly invited by the Call Office will be accepted. The basic project data, such as project title, project acronym, project area, project duration, consortium composition, project coordinator, total requested funding, requested funding by each partner etc., provided in the pre-proposal cannot be changed in the full proposal phase.

Detailed instructions for the use of the electronic submission are described on the website (https://www.submission.suscrop.eu/).

If national/regional forms are required for individual partners, these must be submitted directly to the national/regional agency by the deadlines stated (see Call Documents at https://www.submission.suscrop.eu).

 

Evaluation procedure

Pre-proposal evaluation

The submission deadline for pre-proposals is April 4, 2018 (13:00 CEST).

Pre-proposals that are submitted correctly and within the deadline will be checked for eligibility. The eligibility check will focus on the “General Eligibility Criteria” (see page 8)”, and “National/Regional funding regulations” (see Call Documents at https://www.submission.suscrop.eu). Non-eligible pre-proposals will result in immediate rejection of the entire project.

Eligible pre-proposals will undergo peer-review evaluation by an international expert panel (IEP) and will be ranked according to the following criteria (including the sub-criteria mentioned below):

Relevance of the project to the scientific scope of the co-funded Call

Excellence

- Clarity and pertinence of the objectives
- Soundness of the concept
- Credibility of the proposed methodology
- Quality and expertise of the consortium as a whole
- Degree of novelty and innovation of the proposed research

 

Impact

Extent to which the outputs of the project will be relevant for, or contribute to, impacts on:

  • -  Economic aspects

  • -  Environmental aspects

  • -  Societal aspects such as Ethical, Legal and Social Aspects (ELSA)

  • -  Transnational added value

  • -  Knowledge generation

Each reviewer/expert will be independent of any funding organisation involved in this Call. The SusCrop Call Office will ensure that no Conflict of Interest exists concerning the experts and the proposals evaluated. Each pre-proposal will be reviewed by three reviewers/experts from different institutions.

Pre-proposal scoring and ranking

For pre-proposals evaluation scores will be awarded for each of the three main criteria by the international experts. Sub-criteria are aspects that the expert will consider in the assessment of that criterion. Each criterion will be scored out of 5 (half scores allowed) and equally weighted.

The 0-5 scoring system for each criterion indicates the following assessment:

0 - The proposal fails to address the criterion or cannot be assessed due to missing or incomplete information.

1 - Poor. The criterion is inadequately addressed, or there are serious inherent weaknesses. 2 - Fair. The proposal broadly addresses the criterion, but there are significant weaknesses.

3 - Good. The proposal addresses the criterion well, but a number of shortcomings are present.

4 - Very Good. The proposal addresses the criterion very well, but a small number of shortcomings are present.

5 - Excellent. The proposal successfully addresses all relevant aspects of the criterion. Any shortcomings are minor.

 

The scores of the three evaluators will be averaged for each criterion and agreed on by the 3 experts involved. The sum of the three agreed scores for each criterion will equal the final score for each pre-proposal. All pre-proposals will be ranked according to the final scores.

Selection of projects and invitation for full proposal submission

Based on the ranking list provided by the external reviewers the SusCrop Steering Committee (composed of representatives of all SusCrop funding organisations) will select projects for the second application step (top-down). The number of selected projects will depend on the available budget of the involved funding organisations.

 

Communication of pre-proposal evaluation results

The coordinators of the research consortia will be simultaneously informed about the evaluation results, and whether they are invited for full proposal submission. Evaluation summaries will be provided. The coordinators of the research consortia are responsible for forwarding all information to their research consortium partners.

 

Full proposal evaluation

The deadline for submitting full proposals is August 31, 2018 (13:00 CEST). Full proposals that are eligible according to the above stated eligibility criteria, submitted correctly and within the deadline will undergo peer-review evaluation by an international panel of experts with relevant expertise in the scientific field(s) concerned. Each expert is independent of any funding organisation involved in this Call and no conflict of interest will exist in relation to the proposals evaluated. Each proposal will be reviewed by at least three external reviewers/experts of the panel from different institutions. The composition of the international evaluation panel will be approved by the SusCrop Steering Committee.

Full proposals will be evaluated according to the evaluation criteria (including the sub- criteria) given below:

Excellence

  • - Clarity and pertinence of the objectives
  • - Soundness of the concept
  • - Credibility of the proposed methodology
  • - Quality and expertise of the consortium as a whole
  • - Degree of novelty and innovation of the proposed approach

Impact

Extent to which the outputs of the project will be relevant for, or contribute to, impacts on:

  • -  Economic aspects

  • -  Environmental aspects

  • -  Societal aspects such as Ethical, Legal and Social Aspects (ELSA)

  • -  Transnational added value

  • -  Knowledge generation

Quality and efficiency of the implementation

  • -  Quality and effectiveness of the work plan, including extent to which the resources assigned to work packages are in line with their objectives and deliverables

  • -  Appropriateness of the management structures and procedures, including risk and innovation management

  • -  Complementarity of the participants and extent to which the consortium as a whole brings together the necessary expertise

  • -  Appropriateness of the allocation of tasks, ensuring that all participants have a valid role and adequate resources in the project to fulfil that role

  • -  The project budget is appropriate to the planned work and allows the achievement of the project goals

 

For full proposal evaluation scores will be awarded for each of the three main criteria. Sub- criteria are aspects that the expert will consider in the assessment of that criterion. Each criterion will be scored out of 5 (only full scores allowed) and equally weighted.

The 0-5 scoring system for each criterion indicates the following assessment:

0 - The proposal fails to address the criterion or cannot be assessed due to missing or incomplete information.

1 - Poor. The criterion is inadequately addressed, or there are serious inherent weaknesses.

2 - Fair. The proposal broadly addresses the criterion, but there are significant weaknesses.

3 - Good. The proposal addresses the criterion well, but a number of shortcomings are present.

4 - Very Good. The proposal addresses the criterion very well, but a small number of shortcomings are present.

5 - Excellent. The proposal successfully addresses all relevant aspects of the criterion. Any shortcomings are minor.

The scores of the three evaluators will be averaged for each criterion and agreed on by the three experts involved. The sum of the three agreed scores will equal the final score for each full proposal. All full proposals will be ranked according to the final scores.

Selection of projects and funding recommendations

Based on the ranking list provided by the external reviewers the SusCrop Steering Committee (composed of representatives of all SusCrop funding organisations) will select projects to be recommended for funding (top-down). The number of selected projects will depend on the available budget of the involved funding organisations.

Note that the following thresholds apply for full proposal to be funded. The agreed score for each evaluation criterion must be 3 or higher. The final score must be 10 or higher.

Communication of the full proposal evaluation results

The coordinators of the research consortia will be simultaneously informed about the evaluation results, and whether they are recommended for funding. Evaluation summaries will be provided. The coordinators of the research consortia are responsible for forwarding all information to their research consortium partners.

The entire evaluation procedure of the SusCrop co-funded Call will be followed by an independent external observer. The observer will have electronic access to the evaluator area of the online proposal submission tool and will attend the physical IEP meetings. At the end of the evaluation procedure the external observer will inform the European Commission about the evaluation procedure in form of an Observer’s report on the evaluation procedure of the co-funded Call.

 

Confidentiality

SusCrop ensures complete confidentiality to applicants, i.e., the proposal will only be read by the national or regional funding organisations involved and by the international experts, and be handled by the SusCrop Call Office. All persons in charge (including the independent external observer) will have signed a confidentiality agreement before they get access to the proposals.

Forms, guidelines and further information

All documents related to the Call (Call Announcement, Guidelines for Applicants, National Contact Persons, Templates for Letters of Commitment etc.) are available on www.submission.suscrop.eu. As individual national and regional funding organisations may have additional national or regional requirements, it is strongly recommended that applicants (coordinators and partners) contact the national or regional funding bodies prior to submission of the pre-proposal for further information. For questions related to the proposal submission, please contact the SusCrop Call Office at ANR (suscrop- call@agencerecherche.fr). For technical questions and problems with the submission system, please contact the technical helpdesk at Project Management Jülich (ptj- suscrop@fz-juelich.de).

All project partners are required to sign a Consortium Agreement (CA) before the official project start or in any case no later than three months after the project start. On request, the CA must be made available to the national or regional funding organisation(s), together with any other information required by national or regional regulations.

Project monitoring and reporting
Projects must be completed within a maximum of three years.

Project coordinators are required to provide both a mid-term and final report as well as a non-confidential summary of the outcomes of their project for publication via the website https://www.suscrop.eu) and the SusCrop newsletter. Hereby, SusCrop wants to reach out to the wider research community and interested public, therefore a summary of research results is needed that can be understood by a wide audience. SusCrop will provide a template for this summary as well as for the mid-term and final report. Each funding body may require additional reporting or monitoring of the projects.

The coordinators of the funded projects are obliged to present their projects at three seminars to the ERA-NET SusCrop partners, other interested parties and relevant stakeholders:

  • -  an initial research project seminar (kick-off meeting), explaining objectives and expected results;

  • -  a midterm seminar (mid-term meeting), presenting the mid-term reports including status, preliminary results and future work;

  • -  a final seminar (end term meeting) presenting the final reports including research results and assessment of possible impact on sustainable crop production and future actions required.

 

The three seminars will be organised by SusCrop. The costs for attending the status seminars should be covered by the allocated project budget. The objective of the status seminars is the monitoring of the projects funded through SusCrop as well as providing networking and future collaboration opportunities.

Communication, dissemination and exploitation of project results

Funded projects must dedicate appropriate resources for communication and dissemination activities including for participation in activities organised by SusCrop.

Each research project proposal must include a plan for communication, dissemination and exploitation of results.

Use of the project results can aim at various target audiences, such as industry, policy makers and teachers.

Communication and dissemination of project-related information and results (e.g. oral/poster presentations in workshops or conferences, scientific publications or public articles) should provide a clear reference to FACCE-JPI, SusCrop and the European Commission.



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