Horizon 2020 Foodstuffs and Bioeconomy

Provides 1 - 5M € in subsidies for research, development, and demonstration within:

About Horizon 2020 Foodstuffs and Bioeconomy

Horizon 2020 Foodstuffs and Bioeconomy has a strong focus on how to keep the EU in the lead of developing and marketing new technologies in the field of foodstuffs and biotech, combined with the development of new solutions that are responding to needs from industries and society. With a successful application to the program, companies can get:

  • 1-5 MEUR for technology and product development
  • IPR – Intellectual Property Rights
  • Network to partners
  • Access to new markets
  • Technology and knowledge transfer

Possibilities with Horizon 2020 Foodstuffs and Bioeconomy

The Horizon 2020 Foodstuffs and Bioeconomy program delivers opportunities for both SME’s and large companies to cofinance their development of new technologies and the use of existing technologies in new a context. Therefore the program is also interesting for more conventional production companies and not only companies in advanced technology. The most important is that the company is facing a technology challenge or is having an idea to solve a technical problem. Horizon 2020 Foodstuffs and Bioeconomy is both cofinancing research, development and demonstration activities.

Horizon 2020 Foodstuffs and Bioeconomy calls will be offered to projects within the following categories (see current calls below):

  • Food security: Future proteins, novel food processing, sustainable food chains, small farms and global markets etc.
  • Sustainable agriculture and forestry: Sustainable production (e.g. livestock, crops, soil), genetic resources, agricultural diversity, eco-innovation​ etc.
  • Marine, maritime, and inland waters:
    • Sustainable marine exploitation: Atlantic marine ecosystem preservation, novel biomolecules, industrial biomaterials, marine-derived enzymes etc.
    • Offshore challenges: Sub-sea technology, marine pollution and oilspill measures etc.
    • Ocean observation technologies: Atlantic Ocean observation, acoustic and imaging technologies etc.
  • Innovative and sustainable bioeconomy: Rural growth, renewable oil crops and bio-based products, CO2 to chemicals, innovation of biobased products, etc. 

Requirements for Horizon 2020 Foodstuffs and Bioeconomy

There are a number of requirements that need to be met to be considered for Horizon 2020 Foodstuffs and Bioeconomy:

  • Innovation height – the product or technology needs to be novel and solve an European problem
  • Large market potential or great socio-economic impact – minimum 100 MEUR over 5 years
  • The project requires international cooperation

Upcoming deadlines

Below are the upcoming deadlines for Horizon 2020 Foodstuffs and Bioeconomy. Expect 1-2 months for the proposal writing process.


Research and Innovation Actions will focus on the design, development and testing of robotics systems for precision farming, including autonomous or semi-autonomous farm vehicles or sophisticated sensors and intervention mechanisms. The actions will prioritise technologies such as selective harvesting, more targeted weed reduction or environment friendly fertilization, and / or livestock management, based on better planning and targeted intervention, using sensors (local and aerial, even maybe earth observation satellite). This will also allow the tagging of agricultural produce or livestock for better traceability and subsequent big data processing, optimizing the whole agricultural process. 


Proposals will contribute to understanding the drivers of disease emergence and to finding adequate responses to emerging diseases in plants (work on Xylella fastidiosa is excluded under this call topic) and newly emerging diseases in terrestrial animals. They will target one or more of the pests and diseases threatening EU agriculture/forestry (regulated or non-regulated, invasive or native) and causing significant economic losses.

They should improve methods and strategies for risk assessment, prevention and containment and enlarge the range of tools for integrated and sustainable pest/disease management.


The projects aim to harmonise and validate (including through ring trials) existing and new protocols for the detection and quantification of pathogens and other factors of concern for the health of plants and terrestrial animals, and correlates of infection/immunity. Work will build on existing knowledge and resources, and support the further development of promising existing protocols to deliver close-to-market end-products, including swift, portable tools for field testing. 


Activities will foster the development and testing of new products, tools and strategies for integrated pest and disease management to reduce the use of pesticides in the fruit and vegetable sectors (including herbs and medical plants). Work will improve current cultural practices so as to increase the resilience of fruit and vegetable crops against biotic stresses. It will tackle the development and testing of novel, more sustainable products and tools for their application, taking due account of the potential of nature-based compounds. Activities will enhance knowledge of the mechanisms whereby plants develop resistance and help understand how evolution and spread of resistance lead to control failures across farming systems.


The proposals should explore opportunities to increase the use of innovative technologies in all fisheries-related activities, including the extractive sector, the collection of data and information and the monitoring of compliance with the rules. Proposals should assess the innovative potential and applicability of new technologies in the fishing sector with the aim of avoiding unnecessary fish mortality, damage to other marine resources and ecosystems; improving energy efficiency; and increasing overall economic efficiency and social acceptability.


Proposals should clearly address the problems associated with the scaling-up and commercialisation of eco-innovative solutions to packaging in a developing framework of social, economic and environmental conditions. Activities should aim to produce plans and arrangements or designs for new, modified or improved products, processes or services. For this purpose they may include prototyping, testing, demonstrating, pilot projects, large-scale product validation and market replication. Proposals may, if necessary, include limited research and development activities.  


Focusing on monogastric species in confined intensive systems, the proposed research activities should assess the links between livestock welfare and health, the underlying factors, the related use of anti-microbial drugs and the subsequent presence of residues in products and their spread into the environment. They should in particular address immunity and health, biosecurity measures and residue detection. The activities should develop possible means, including tools, methods and schemes, by which more welfare-friendly production systems can help improve health and reduce the use of veterinary drugs. 


The proposals should develop innovative integrated urban farming systems that use resources (e.g. space, energy, water, nutrients) more efficiently and re-use or recycle heat, water, CO2, waste or by-products from urban sources (e.g. industry, households) for horticultural production (e.g. fruits, vegetables, herbs, sprouts, mushrooms, algae, ornamental trees and plants). The production and use of renewable energies (e.g. solar/wind energy, biogas) in these farming systems will also be investigated. Activities should showcase several resource-efficient production systems in open or controlled environments, thereby providing a demonstration (at TRL 6-8) for the production of safe and high-quality products in different urban spaces (e.g. rooftop/vertical farming, individual/collective gardens, other unused spaces).

The work should be carried out at least in one European city and in one Chinese city.


The research will focus on breeding terrestrial livestock for improved resilience and efficiency. It will target efficiency and resilience related traits and possible links between them (synergies, trade-offs) to address balanced breeding goals in an agro-ecological way. Research activities should assess and exploit the potential of underutilised genetic resources (other breeds, traditional breeds and crossbreeds). The projects should address the wide genetic variation among bovine breeds linking beef cattle over dual-purposed cattle to more specialized dairy cattle and link with other EU initiatives in the cattle dairy sector (scope A, 2016) or small ruminants and/or monogastrics (scope B, 2017).

Projects should generate tools able to accurately link genomics data from farm animals to efficiency- and resilience-related traits in order to help exploit the full potential of the growing amount of recently generated genomics data.

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