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Common Agriculutral and wider bioeconomy reSearch Agenda

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CASA (Common Agriculutral and wider bioeconomy reSearch Agenda)

Reporting period: 2018-03-01 to 2019-08-31

The overall objective of CASA was to support and facilitate the development of a consolidated Common Agricultural and wider bioeconomy reSearch Agenda within the European Research Area.
CASA achieved this by supporting the Standing Committee on Agricultural Research (SCAR), which has made significant contributions in the past to this objective, in its efforts to move to the next level of performance as a research policy think tank. SCAR was established in 1974 through a Regulation of the Council of the EU on the coordination of agricultural research and was re-launched in 2005. SCAR plays an important role in coupling R&I and in removing barriers to innovation, and aims to make it easier for public-public and public-private sectors to work together in delivering innovation that tackles the challenges faced in the bioeconomy area.
SCAR involves representatives from 37 countries (status 09/2019). For more information on SCAR and its bodies refer to the SCAR website:
The four specific objectives of the CASA project were:
1. Increased and broadened participation, interaction and collaboration of MS and AC with each other and also with the Directorate-Generals (DG) of the European Commission in the different SCAR bodies
2. Improved quality of outputs and outcomes of SCAR and its SWGs and CWGs creating added value for greater impact
3. Strengthening the production by SCAR of more strategic policy advice for the coming years within the evolving landscape of the broader bioeconomy
4. Improved overall organisation, communication and dissemination of SCAR activities, outputs and outcomes for greater impact
To address the 1st specific objective of CASA, the previous and current participation of MS, AC and EC DGs in SCAR and its bodies was assessed at the beginning and towards the end of the project. Results of the 1st study were discussed at the SCAR Conference in Tallinn, Estonia, 4th - 5th December 2017. Outcomes of the 2nd study were discussed at the SCAR conference 2019 and the report was submitted in August 2019.
To increase visibility, highlight the relevance of SCAR and to motivate new and less active countries to increase their participation in SCAR, SCAR meetings were held in Spain, Bulgaria, Hungary, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, France; a Baltic meeting was held in Latvia. Some of these meetings were also aimed at promoting the development of national and/or regional bioeconomy strategies.
A mentoring programme was implemented to help newly appointed country representatives in SCAR bodies become acquainted with SCAR and its context more quickly, and so that they could learn from experienced delegates.
The 2nd objective was addressed by providing support and facilitation to the working groups (WGs), to the Foresight Group and the EC. SWGs Bioeconomy, Forest, AKIS, Food Systems and ARCH benefitted from facilitation support provided by CASA. Support and facilitation activities comprised support in the organisation of meetings, e.g. planning, moderation, and writing of reports, etc.
Funding for expert studies was another important CASA instrument utilised by all WGs and the Foresight Group, e.g. to examine funding strategies and programmes in the EU, identify gaps, address gaps and study specific topics of importance to SCAR. One of the main activities of SCAR is the Foresight Exercise. The implementation and impact of the 4th Foresight Exercise outcomes were assessed and recommendations for improvements were made.
Furthermore, an impact assessment framework (IAF) was developed, supported by an implementation plan strategy. This tool will support SCAR in providing improved quality of outputs and outcomes for greater impact. It was published in September 2019 on the SCAR website.
The 3rd objective was addressed through a SWOT analysis of the bioeconomy R&I policy landscape and the outcomes in terms of achieving transformative change. It reviewed some of the principle R&I policy frameworks adopted at EU level to support the bioeconomy. Building on the results of the study, opportunities for improvement were highlighted to give further impetus to increased participation and use of SCAR as a policy think tank influencing national and European research strategies and programmes. Furthermore, guidelines for the initiation and setting-up of new SCAR activities were developed and published.
An analysis was made on better alignment of R&I policies in coordination with SCAR. As result a list of proposals for better alignment was published in September 2019.
The IAF, and its supporting strategy and implementation plan, is a basis for strengthening the production of more strategic policy advice.
To address the 4th specific objective, communication and dissemination materials were developed to increase the visibility of SCAR and its outcomes and products. CASA created a new official SCAR website ( which replaced the previous SCAR website hosted by the EC. CASA also provided support in harmonising the layout of communication tools and media across all SCAR bodies to strengthen the branding and visibility of SCAR. Finally, two issues of the new annual SCAR Newsletter were published prior to SCAR Plenary meetings. The newsletters are publicly available on the website and disseminated directly to all SCAR contributors.
In the figure below the four specific objectives of CASA are matched to the activities and outcomes in relation to the corresponding communication and dissemination target groups. These groups are listed in the outer margin of the figure.
The support provided by CASA helped bring SCAR and its bodies to the next level of performance as a research policy think tank in the following ways:
- SCAR conferences provided opportunities to discuss topics of relevance for SCAR in dedicated sessions.
- SCAR national meetings and specific workshops were hosted to foster the participation of more countries in SCAR activities and to act as linchpins between SCAR and the national level. The SCAR mentoring programme initiated by CASA created an environment of cooperation and knowledge exchange, supporting the active engagement of new delegates in SCAR bodies.
- Facilitation measures provided for SCAR WGs and external expert studies contributed to streamlining research policy, and influencing national (ERA-NET Cofund, JPI, etc.) and European (Horizon 2020, future R&I framework programmes, Food 2030 strategy, etc.) research strategies and programmes.
- The overall organisation and coordination of SCAR was enhanced by direct support to development of the SCAR Rolling Work Plan. Workshops supported by CASA contributed to improving the alignment between the general activities of the WGs and the needs of the SCAR SG. CASA fostered an improved quality of SCAR outputs and outcomes, e.g. by developing an impact assessment framework and creating a structure for future foresight exercises.
- CASA’s efforts, assessments and analyses revealed opportunities to further shape the bioeconomy R&I landscape. Even beyond the lifetime of CASA these activities will continue to serve SCAR’s role as a major catalyst for European and national research strategies and programmes.
- The new SCAR website has improved access to information about SCAR and the SCAR WGs, and to reports. It provides a platform for direct communication and dissemination, as well as involvement in and better alignment of activities of the SCAR WGs.