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CIrCular Economy platfoRm for eurOpeaN priorities strategic agEnda

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CICERONE (CIrCular Economy platfoRm for eurOpeaN priorities strategic agEnda)

Reporting period: 2018-11-01 to 2019-10-31

The European Commission's package in Circular Economy has triggered an explosion of initiatives in Europe. Public funding is the key source of financing for Circular Economy Research & Innovation programmes: 70% are financed at national level, 18% at regional and 8% at European level.

However, national strategies are partly contradictive throughout Europe, leading to fragmentation and lack of alignment on priorities for the circular economy. It has thus become more and more evident that we need a more integrative approach to meet this challenge

CICERONE is developing the strategic coordination of objectives and programming of regional, national and European funding programmes. Bringing together key stakeholders including programme owners, researchers and businesses, the project is building a Strategic Agenda for Circular Economy Research & Innovation in Europe, and building a platform for joint circular economy funding and programming.

To achieve this, the project is undertaking three key steps:
- Assessing the state of the art of Circular Economy Research & Innovation, including priorities, funding mechanisms and performance
- Establishing common Circular Economy Research and Innovation priorities for the European territory to ensure more efficient programme development and greater impact
- Developing a platform for programme owners to enable more cross-collaboration and co-creation, resulting in joint programmes for Circular Economy Research and Innovation
Within the first year of the project, the project set a solid base to build the future Circular Economy Research & Innovation Strategic Agenda, as well as the supporting platform to enable joint programming at European scale:

1. Assess and benchmark the current performance of circular economy research & innovation funding in Europe, to better understand challenges, gaps, opportunities and best practices:
- Development of a common definition of circular economy
- Definition of a methodology and criteria to assess performance of funding
- Performance of a gaps and synergies analysis
- Benchmark of the European state of the art against the international landscape

2. Establish an efficient and inclusive mechanism to jointly define and prioritise circular economy research & innovation priorities at European scale – translated into the EU Strategic Research & Innovation Agenda:
- Creation of a methodology to prioritise Circular Economy Research and Innovation at European scale
- Definition of the main priority themes for specific challenge areas, including objectives and related innovations fields
- Begin the development of potential systemic joint programmes based on the prioritisation of innovation fields

3. Build and test a lasting organisation and pathways to reach the desired impact, translated into a joint programming platform for programme owners:
- Definition of the strategic role of a European CE Research and Innovation joint programming platform
- Surveys and synthesis around stakeholder interests and the future platform requirements were conducted.
- Development of a value proposition for the platform, including adoption drivers.
- An inter-operative and actor driven, collaborative platform model was defined, followed by the identification of potential services of the platform.
- A benchmarking report on governance and financing models was carried out, and various financing model options for the CICERONE platform were investigated.

The above activities were supported by a stakeholder engagement and communications strategy, resulting in the development of:
- A stakeholder engagement plan and consultation calendar
- A GDPR-compliant stakeholder database
-Key messages for each target audience
- An initial survey to gather feedback on Programme Owners on a potential joint programming platform for circular economy
- An online stakeholder consultation on the priority Circular Economy innovation fields
- Two stakeholder workshops to get feedback on CICERONE activities, each attracting over 70 participants.
- Development of key communications tools to support outreach for the project and its mission, including a website, flyers, factsheets, video, roll-up banner, newsletter, LinkedIn page and Twitter accounts.
The strategic coordination of European Circular Economy Research & Innovation will result in an aligned approach between EU member states on key priorities and targets for the circular economy transition. Moreover, the platform will create a space for more co-creation and knowledge sharing, generating value from best practices between programmes owners to ensure circular economy programme development is more efficient.

Through the analysis of funding programmes for Circular Economy in Europe and beyond, the project explores the role policy can play to support innovation for a Circular Economy transition in Europe, with a specific focus on challenges and key success factor. This, in turn, provides guidance to programme owners on best practices in the development of circular economy joint programmes.

To support implementation of joint programmes, the Strategic Research & Innovation Agenda (SRIA) will provide stakeholders with a key document outlining priority themes and innovation areas for the efficient transition to a circular economy in Europe. The SRIA will help overcome the current fragmentation of Circular Economy funds in Europe, ensuring a more effective and efficient allocation of funds across the European territory. This will result in job creation, in the development of new innovations (e.g. of technologies such as recycling solutions) and in strengthening the resilience of the EU economy.

Finally, the development of the platform, including a business model, a governance and a legal model, a capacity building program, a Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) for POs and a policy toolkit, will support stakeholders in the implementation of joint programming across borders and sectors in Europe. Several socio-economic and wider societal impacts will be achieved: establishing a network of POs in Circular Economy programming; orchestration of joint Research & Innovation initiatives, higher social and environmental impacts of Research and Innovation initiatives.
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