Fostering synergies among EU funds and improving Knowledge exchanges between Operational Groups and H2020 projects.

 

ACTA and the French Technical Institutes are fully involved in the overall EU R&I policy and the “Innovation union” flagship initiative whose objectives are a “smart, sustainable and inclusive growth”. In this way, ACTA aims to improve synergies among EU funds by playing a key and structuring interface role between EU (H2020) and Regional (ESIF) R&I strategies and policies.

 

The strategic priorities of EU research and innovation (R&I) policy for the years to come include actions aimed at capitalizing on research results. Into this framework, 120 smart specialization strategies were developed to define the Member States’ and regions’ strategic policy for research and innovation. Priority areas had been fixed to identify the best chances to gain competitive advantage by combining research and business strengths.

These strategies had to be developed at national or regional level, to explore how to make the most of innovation impacts of Horizon 2020, and to create synergies with the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF). Developing synergies will not only bring about more efficiency, it will ultimately lead to a positive impact on jobs, growth and competitiveness across Europe’s diverse regions.

In line with these expectations, the Languedoc Roussillon Region and ACTA organized in Bruxelles in September 2015 a seminar on “Smart Specialisation Strategies and Agriculture: what levers and challenges for research and innovation”. This event gathered almost 80 actors of the R&I field, policy makers and representative of European and French regions. The organisers wanted to outline the implementation of these smart specialization strategies, at the hearth of the innovative regional policies for the 2014-2020 period. The agriculture is in fact a key subject in this scope, being one of the most chosen specialization and not only by French regions but also by European ones. 

Among all important challenges, they underlined the synergies between different European programs (H2020 and ESIF), opportunities on collaborative projects at the European and regional/national scale, and exchanges between European regions trough these S3. It appears as essential to reinforce the coordination between regional managing authorities to not duplicate funding on similar projects and to improve efficiency among EU funds.

 

On the same way, the European Innovation Partnership for Agricultural productivity and sustainability (EIP-AGRI) contributes to integrating different funding streams toward the same goal. It aims to support a competitive and sustainable agriculture and forestry sector and adheres to ‘interactive innovation model’ which brings together specific actors (farmers, advisors, researchers, businesses, etc.) to work together in multi-actor projects to find a solution for a specific issue. In these ‘Operational Groups’, new insights and ideas will be generated and existing tacit knowledge will be built into focused solutions that are quicker put into practice.

The EIP-AGRI contributes to integrating different funding; a range of available funding sources can help get agricultural innovation projects started, such as the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EARDF) at regional level and Horizon 2020 at cross-border level.

As key actors of the R&I in the field of Agriculture at regional and European scale, ACTA and the Agricultural Technical Institutes (ITA) give particular attention to foster synergies among EU funds (ESIF & H2020) and especially in the frame of the EIP-AGRI.  Indeed, ACTA and the ITAs participate on the one hand to many H2020 projects (around 20 between 2014 and 2016) but also to many “Operational Groups” (around 15 on 2015 & 2016) and take at hearth this interface role between the EU and the regions by connecting regional “Operational Groups” to Horizon 2020 projects. Indeed, one of the aim of the EIP network is to connect “similar project” to improve knowledge exchanges between actors and stakeholders at all geographical level in order to rationalize the R&I project efficiency and enhance EU funding impact within the territories.

This strategy can be highlighted through a range of actions and projects carried out by ACTA and the ITAs: 

  • As National Contact Point on H2020 Societal Challenge 2, ACTA gives particular attention to provide support to the French Regions and to train some Regional actors on the H2020 funding opportunities and the interest to connect Operational Groups to H2020 related projects.
  • ACTA (with the support of ARVALIS and IFV):
    • Participate to the H2020 SMART AKIS project that aims to improve the adoption of Smart Farming Technologies by the farming sector.
    • Coordinate the WP3 of SMART AKIS on “interactive innovation model” which aims to generate EARDF Operational Groups and other projects in the French and EU Regions trough a serie of workshops matching Farmers, R&I actors and Funders (including ESIF Managing Authorities).
  • The French Livestock Institute (IDELE):
    • Participate to the H2020 EURODAIRY project
    • Coordinate a “mirror” EuroDairy Operational Group in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Region
    • Submitted another “mirror” EuroDairy Operational Group in the Bretagne Region.
    • Coordinate the H2020 SHEEPNETWORK project
    • Coordinate a “mirror” Sheepnetwork Operational Group called “Robustagno”
    • Stimulate the emergence of related “mirror” Sheepnetwork EARDF OGs among the Sheepnetwork partners in other EU countries.

This synergistic approach allows the OGs to i) benefit from the H2020 empirical know-how and scientific knowledge, ii) to implement R&I actions and experiments at regional level and relying on H2020 projects main findings and need for local adaptation of techniques and iii) to provide H2020 projects with local inputs and grass roots innovations.

In the coming years, ACTA and the ITAs will accelerate this interface role by connecting H2020 projects to regional Operational Groups and other regional projects in order to achieve the objectives of the EU wide EIP network, the overall objective of synergies among EU funds that must improve the impact of R&I on jobs, sustainable growth and competitiveness across Europe’s diverse regions.