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ForestValue - Innovating forest-based bioeconomy

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ForestValue (ForestValue - Innovating forest-based bioeconomy)

Reporting period: 2017-10-01 to 2019-03-31

Today, forests cover 35% of the European Union's (EU) landmass and are instrumental in a number of key policy areas. The forest-based sector represents some 8% of the EU's total manufacturing added value, provides income for 16 million forest owners, supports 3-4 million industrial jobs, provides for a wide range of other social, economic and ecological services, and significantly contributes to achieving the European Commission’s ambitious target of an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050.

European research resources in the forest-based sector remain fragmented as a result of multiple uncoordinated activities. Therefore, better coordination between different existing industries, funding organisations and the research community is needed in order to implement the strategic research agendas with limited resources. As research priorities are set independently by the actors involved there is no systematic approach to achieve synergies through collaboration. Sustained collaboration between key research funding and managing organisations is needed to enable broader strategic analyses as a basis for management decisions on research priorities. This should also result in more efficient implementation of research results. The ERA-NET Cofund Action “ForestValue - Innovating the forest-based bioeconomy” will continue to improve implementation of joint activities with the ambitious goal of funding transnational research and offering access to resources of other countries.

ForestValue is to promote increased innovation and competitiveness of the forest-based sector in Europe and support its transformation from a resource-intensive to a knowledge-intensive, productive, resource-efficient and resilient sector. It will focus on sustainability and modernisation of forestry systems and downstream value chains including innovative business concepts and production technologies which will be needed to develop the forestry sector and the European bioeconomy, of which forestry accounts for a large share.
"On 17 October 2017 ForestValue launched the “ForestValue call for proposals 2017” for research, development and innovation in the forest-based sector (see https://forestvalue.org/joint-calls/joint-call-2017-jc-2017/). The overarching aim of the co-funded call is to support projects that will address the development and/or proof of concepts on novel strategies, methods, processes or products designed to support the forestry and forest-based industries including their respective partners, resellers, consumers and end-users in remaining competitive and efficient providers of sustainable bio-products and services. The call addresses the whole forest-based value chain in two areas: A. Innovative sustainable management of multifunctional forests, and B. Innovative industrial production and processing technologies, products, concepts and services.

The ForestValue Call was closed on 23 January 2018 and in total 114 pre-proposals were submitted. The great majority, about 70%, of the pre-proposals were assigned by the applicants in the thematic research area B ""Innovative industrial production and processing technologies, products, concepts and services"". Beyond the ForestValue consortium of 18 countries there were 17 partners from 8 other countries involved (Belgium, Chile, Denmark, Estonia, Macedonia, The Netherlands, Portugal and Russia).

Based on the recommendations of the international experts the Call Steering Committee to invite 50 applicants to submit full proposals. The Step 1 evaluation included a general eligibility check of the pre-proposals and a national eligibility check as well as an expert evaluation of the pre-proposals.

In Step 2, the full proposals were evaluated based on the evaluation criteria stated in Annex I to the Call Text. First, a remote expert evaluation for all full proposals that passed the eligibility check was run. Finally, the experts had a face-to-face meeting on 1-2 October 2018 to discuss each proposal and to determine on one final ranking list of proposals.

Based on the ranking list, the ForestValue Call Steering Committee (CSC) confirmed on 8 November 2018 that the final joint selection list of projects recommended for funding includes 17 projects, with a total public funding request of around EUR 21.55 million.

The 17 RDI projects – funded by the ForestValue funding bodies, with co-funding from the European Commission – were started early 2019."
ForestValue builds on the success of three previous ERA-NETs: FORESTERRA, Sumforest and WoodWisdom-Net. In order to maximise the synergies and avoid overlaps, all three initiatives have already established good co-operations with other existing EU initiatives, e.g.: FACCE-JPI (Joint Programming Initiative on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change), BBI JU (Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking), EIP-AGRI (The Agricultural European Innovation Partnership), and VERAM (Vision and Roadmap for European Raw Materials).

ForestValue will bring together owners and managers of national and regional RDI programmes in the Member States, associated and third countries with significant experience in research funding and coordination in all relevant areas of forestry and the wood sector in the context of bio-based economy, in order to strengthen the cooperation and coordination of their activities in the area.

The initiative is intended to facilitate collaboration between industry, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), stakeholder associations, research organisations, leading-edge scientists from a wider range of disciplines covering forest management, wood material, construction, natural, biological, social, economic and other relevant sciences who will bring their broad expertise to support the transformation of the European forest-based sector and to secure its competitiveness.

Expected impacts in brief:

- Reduced fragmentation by improved cooperation and basis for long-lasting cooperation.
- Capitalising the experience of joint calls and coordinated activities.
- Addressing issues of common interest with socio-economic relevance recognised at global level.
- Impact of activities on national and regional research programmes.
- Contribution to policies.
- Contribution to standards.