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ICT Innovation for agriculture – Digital Innovation Hubs for Agriculture


The topic calls for promoting Digital Innovation Hubs in agriculture. It should address the adoption of ICT-based solutions for more productive and sustainable agriculture systems. The focus is on innovative technologies that need to be customized, integrated, tested and validated not only by technology developers but also the farming community before they are placed on the market. Special emphasis is on the strengthening of European start-ups and SMEs by adopting new concepts linked to innovative agri-business and/or service models, and connecting them with actors that can provide access to finance, advanced training skills, knowledge and needs of the farming community.

Hence, the following is requested for this topic:

  1. Organisations participating in the call should demonstrate that they are deeply rooted in a digital innovation hub that offers digital transformation services to companies in its proximity. They should provide a clear analysis of how the proposed project will add value to the existing service offer, and how it is aligned with the national or regional digitisation initiative. Every project should support a critical mass of dedicated pan-European innovation experiments that bring together technology suppliers and the farming sector. At least 50% of the budget should directly benefit SMEs. The action may involve financial support to third parties. The proposal will define the process of selecting entities for which financial support will be granted, typically in the order of 40.000 – 100.000 per party[[In line with Article 23 (7) of the Rules for Participation the amount referred to in Article 137 of the Financial Regulation may be exceeded, since this is necessary to achieve the objectives of the action.]];
  2. Activities proposed should be sustainable in the long term and must include a business plan for the Digital Innovation Hubs, a plan to attract investors, to address needs of the farming sector and dissemination activities. The use of established networks for SMEs such as the Enterprise Europe network is encouraged;
  3. The project should create a network and help achieve a broad coverage in terms of technological aspects, application, innovation and geography. It should also link up with regional/national innovation initiatives and other DIHs. This shall include maintaining a single innovation portal, sharing of best practice, dissemination, brokerage between ICT suppliers and farming users, leveraging investment and training;
  4. Selected projects are expected to collaborate on building a network of Digital Innovation Hubs, covering most regions in Europe[[Please refer to topic DT-ICT-06-2018, Call ""Digitising and transforming European industry and services"" H2020-DT-2018-2020 published under Annex 6 of the WP 2018-2020 "" Information and Communication Technologies""]].

Proposals should fall under the concept of the multi-actor approach[[See definition of the 'multi-actor approach' in the introduction to this Work Programme part.]].

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU up to EUR 10 mill would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

European agriculture could gain a decisive competitive advantage if the ICT sector and the farming community could work together to generate a wave of bottom-up ICT innovations across Europe designed to create more productive and sustainable agricultural systems. The topic will facilitate the adoption and widespread transfer of ICT-based solutions for agriculture.

The Digitising European Industry Strategy[[]] aims to ensure that every business in Europe has access to a Digital Innovation Hub at ‘a working distance’. A Digital Innovation Hub (DIH) helps companies become more competitive by improving their business/production processes, products and services through the use of digital technologies. DIHs offer services to test and experiment with advanced technologies and produce innovative products/solutions. They should also act as a broker between user companies and technology suppliers.

Many components of Digital Innovation Hubs already exist at European, national and regional level.[[]] Through this topic, the European Commission is adding value to these existing investments by supporting highly innovative experimentation on a pan-European scale.

Proposals must promote the creation of a self-sustaining innovation ecosystem of competence centres, farming users and suppliers supported by services available through a marketplace, covering a large number of regions. Through the creation of a sustainable network of Digital Innovation Hubs, proposals will provide European added value to investments made at national and regional level in DIH. It should have a high leveraging effect on other sources of funding, in particular regional and national funding.

In the short to medium term work will:

  • Attract a significant number of new users of ICT in the agricultural sector;
  • Attract a significant number of innovative and competitive technology suppliers (start-ups and SMEs) able to supply the farming community with new solutions for improving farming operations;
  • Create a critical mass of pan-European experiments that explore new application areas for ICT in agriculture in general;
  • Increase deployment of technologies in the agriculture sector.

In the longer term funded activities will create sustainable production systems and increase the competitiveness of the farming sector.