Funder: European Commission
Deadline: February 13, 2018
Aquatic biomass from the seas and oceans, rivers and lakes has a large potential to ensure future food and nutrition security and to supply raw materials for other high added value chains and products, such as bioenergy, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics while factoring in environment and climate change risks. These so-called provisioning ecosystem services could ensure private and public benefits, while demonstrating synergies or trade-offs with a broader range of ecosystem services. However, this potential is currently underutilised due to a lack of synergies between sectors and of adequate investments. Consequently, EU intervention is needed to create the conditions to mobilise investments by aligning national and regional innovation research agendas across different blue bioeconomy sectors.
Activities shall pool the necessary financial resources from the participating national and/or regional research programmes with a view to implementing a joint call for proposals with EU co-funding resulting in grants to third parties. Proposers are requested to implement other joint activities, including additional joint calls without EU co-funding. Activities shall address innovative, sustainable and climate-friendly possibilities to produce, harvest and exploit aquatic biomass from different trophic levels for use in food and other value chains. The technical and economic feasibility of these possibilities should be clearly demonstrated by including in the projects industry partners that contribute a concrete and feasible business perspective. The ERA-NET Cofund shall address research and innovation gaps such as achieving zero waste by optimising the use of underutilised and waste material from fisheries and aquaculture and apply biotechnology and ICT in the blue bioeconomy to develop smart, efficient, traceable food systems and other biomaterials and create synergies between aquaculture and fisheries (e.g. through genetic assessment); to unlock the potential of microbiomes in aquaculture, fisheries, food processing and biotechnology; to create predictive tools to improve the identification, targeting and conservation of biodiversity “hot-spots” in the oceans (e.g. through omics-based technologies); explore synergies with land-based production in areas such as food and feed processing, biorefining, bioenergy, biomaterials, chemicals and nutrients, and include waste streams from aquatic to terrestrial value chains; to improve aquaculture and fisheries by using a combination of methods, processes and technologies such as biotechnology to create innovative feeds, improve brood stock, introduce new species, improve biosecurity, define stock baselines, and assess stocks. Activities shall also build on developments derived from relevant Framework Programme projects. Activities shall also aim to implement other joint activities without EU co-funding, on issues related to fisheries, aquaculture, seafood processing and aquatic biotechnology in line with the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda of the Joint Programming Initiative “Healthy and Productive Seas and Oceans”, the COFASP Strategic Research Agenda, and the Marine Biotech Strategic Research and Innovation Roadmap. Inclusion of societal actors and stakeholders at large during the whole research and innovation process shall allow to better align both the process and its outcomes with the values, needs and expectations of society while facilitating the creation of new value chains in the market. The interdisciplinary and cross-sectorial nature of the project should also apply to training activities improving the professional skills and competencies and supporting the creation of new jobs in the blue economy. Proposers have to demonstrate that the topic for the cofunded call excludes duplication with calls launched or planned under Horizon 2020.
Participation of legal entities from international partner countries will be encouraged in the joint call as well as in other joint activities including additional joint calls without EU co-funding. Participants from countries which are not automatically eligible for funding may request a EU contribution (on the basis of the ERA-NET unit cost) for the coordination costs of additional activities.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 8 million would allow this specific challenge to be adequately addressed. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
Contributing to ongoing implementation at EU and national level of EU policies such as the Bioeconomy Strategy, the Circular Economy Strategy, the Blue Growth Strategy, the Common Fisheries Policy, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive, the BLUEMED Initiative and notably common priorities with the WestMED Initiative and the EUSAIR, as well as the priorities defined in the European Commission Staff Working Document FOOD 2030 and international initiatives such as the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance, this ERA-NET Cofund shall:
In the short term:
- Create, test, upscale and bring to the market new knowledge-intensive products and services derived from aquatic biomass, fostering job creation and economic growth in Europe.
- Provide consumers with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions about safe, healthy and sustainable food and policy makers with robust scientific advice.
In the medium term:
- Increase the efficient and sustainable use of by-products generated from blue bioeconomy sectors.
- Contribute to the UN SDG 2 target to ensure sustainable food production systems and the UN SDG 14 target to effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing.
- Contribute to improve the professional skills and competences of those working and being trained to work within the blue economy.
- Contribute to policymaking in research, innovation and technology.