Whats the purpose?

Innovation for Agriculture is an active partner in the SmartAgriHubs project, which aims to locate, unleash and promote agricultural innovation across Europe.

In light of Covid-19 pandemic, SmartAgriHubs have launched an open call for proposals for agricultural innovation experiments. The collaboration with new and existing Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) and Competence Centres (CCs) shall result in a joint effort of an active and dynamic community that creates knowledge and practical experience that will ultimately facilitate and disseminate digital innovation in the agri-food domain.

SmartAgriHubs supports this with its available team, knowledge, and tools: 

  • The existing DIH network in SmartAgriHubs offers collaboration with additional and new Digital Innovation Hubs to facilitate experience exchange 
  • The network of Competence Centres is helping to identify the most appropriate technology related expertise required for a successful realisation of an innovation experiment
  • Community of SMEs, startups and scaleups, helping to find promising tech suppliers, partners as well as reference end-users
  • Flagship Innovation Experiments from SmartAgriHubs and use cases from IoF2020 serving as show cases for digitisation and innovation in the agri-food domains
  • Excellent, well-equipped support team present in most European regions, familiar with local and sector specific challenges. 

Facilitated by an Open Call, SmartAgriHubs will complement and connect existing and upcoming programmes that are supporting innovation and funding stakeholders (i.e. from both public and private sources) in the agri-food community.

Subsequently, these activities shall generate a critical mass of digital innovation experiments, where stakeholders share experiences gained and build an international community of regional hubs (DIHs) and knowledge transfer centres (CCs) that will result in a sustainable European network dedicated to closing the gap between research, innovation and business development.

The current COVID-19 crisis and its impact on the agri-food economy has pushed the SmartAgriHubs team to redesign the Open Call approach to respond to the needs of the sector in these critical times. In accordance to the current COVID-19 related situation and the importance of the food system’s resilience, two individual open calls were launched in May 2020 as an immediate RESPOND to the crisis. Now, we are following-up with the RESTART and EXPAND open calls that will address the agri-food economy on the medium term. SmartAgriHubs will assign up to 5,000,000€ funding to the RESTART and EXPAND open calls, addressing Digital Innovation Hubs that are supporting diverse stakeholders in the agri-food economy and specifically SMEs as drivers for digital innovation. 


Can digital innovation help mitigate the impact of COVID-19? SmartAgriHubs RESPOND open call focused on the organisation and realisation of hackathon type of activities and the proposal of immediate technological solutions that will RESPOND to the effects of the COVID-19 crisis and use potential opportunities to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic. This call was closed on June 3rd, 2020.

RESTART the Economy around Food Systems

SmartAgriHubs will realise a focused open call for hackathon type of activities that will RESTART the economy around the agri-food related sectors and affected food systems. The main objective is to generate ideas for potential Innovation Experiments that can then be realised by related teams and that go beyond initial conceptual implementations. Generally, such activities shall facilitate networking of organisations and individuals, aimed at the mobilisation of talent and enable the realisation of digital innovations that address current challenges, opportunities and threats.

Proposals could realise hackathons, challenges and datathons that have a direct as well as an indirect impact to mitigate effects of the CORONA COVID-19 or similar (future) pandemics. By such initiatives, the RESTART of the agri-food economy after the COVID-19 crisis shall be facilitated. The underlying idea is to support the European agri-food economy to better cope with the requirements of the “new normal” and maintain its global competitive position. Examples for topics that would match this underlying strategy are presented in the following:

  • Helping specific sub-sectors and regional economies to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic impact, by new digital innovation potentials.
  • Stimulating private investments in the agri-food sector and promoting opportunities across the European investment community.
  • Proposals in line with the Farm to Fork Strategy that is at the heart of the European Green Deal, aiming to make food systems fair, healthy and environmentally friendly.
  • Enabling a significant contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals by initiatives in the agri-food economy.
  • Introducing principles of circular economy in the agri-food sector.
  • Generally disburdening agri-food stakeholders (e.g. farmers) from non-added value tasks, by e.g. automating monitoring and/or control of farming activities.
  • Increasing the resilience of the agri-food chain.
  • Increasing the availability and the shelf-life of agri-food related products.
  • Tracking & tracing of food and related products/items from farm to fork, facilitating regional sourcing.
  • Helping consumers to make informed decisions about the selection of their food.
  • Facilitating access to data and services for an easier digital innovation in the agri-food sectors

Check the RESTART Open Call fiche for more information

EXPAND the network

The major amount of funding will be assigned to the implementation of programmes by DIHs to support the realisation of Innovation Experiments. This shall specifically contribute to the expansion of the network of DIHs and CCs as well as making available new knowledge and results from digital innovation activities. The EXPAND the Network open call is specifically targeting at DIHs as the main proposers thereby facilitating the realisation of innovation experiments, while the services of CCs would be logically consumed when implementing an innovation experiment. The main objective is to stimulate initiatives involving all of those and even fostering the collaboration of different type of DIHs, engaging DIHs with diverse maturity levels, to elaborate blueprints to facilitate the expansion of the community.

Proposers shall consider the following key characteristics that need to be taken into account for being able to submit an eligible proposal for the EXPAND the Network open call:

  • The funding that is provided by SmartAgriHubs is exclusively available for developing, maturing, and providing Digital Innovation Hub (DIH) innovation services.
  • For being eligible to receive this funding, DIHs need to support one or more Innovation Experiments (IEs) with their services.
  • The overall proposal budget shall assign a maximum of 20% for DIH service provision and a minimum of 80% for realising the supported Innovation Experiment(s).
  • The maximum of 20% for DIH service provision can be requested as funding from SmartAgriHubs, where the 80% should be mobilised by additional public or private sources.
  • One DIH could ask for a maximum of 100,000 Euro funding in total from SmartAgriHubs in one or also several proposals.

Check the EXPAND Open Call fiche for more information

Call for Proposals and Evaluation Procedure

Proposals are called under a continuous submission scheme. Proposals will be evaluated after reception in varying intervals after the open call publishing. The intervals will be regularly communicated via the open call website. Currently, it is planned to close all open calls latest on July, 28th 2021, 17:00 h CEST, or at an earlier date, in case the budget that is reserved for open calls in SmartAgriHubs (i.e. for this and other SAH open calls) is completely allocated.

Proposals will be evaluated and selected by experts based on the Evaluation Criteria. To be considered for funding, your proposal must score above a certain threshold for each criterion, and above an overall threshold.

Figure 1: Timing for the RESTART and EXPAND Open Calls.

The detailed funding conditions, evaluation procedure and eligibility criteria for RESTART the Economy around Food Systems and EXPAND the Network can be found in the Open Call publications and the SmartAgriHubs Open Call Programme.

Matchmaking opportunities

The SAH Portal offers the possibility for potential proposers to connect with different organisations (DIHs, CCs, SMEs, technology providers, NGOs, farmers, etc.) through different functionalities:

  • The SAH Network gathers over 500 organisations in the agri-food and other related sectors all over Europe, identified by organisation type, sector and region. Open Call proposers and interested stakeholders are invited to register and navigate the SAH Network in the search for potential collaborators.
  • Open Call proposers are welcome to upload a Pitch presenting an initial project concept idea or a specific organisational capability profile.
  • Proposers are invited to check periodically the Open Call Forum to find support from SAH team members on solving doubts regarding the Open Call.

Proposal submission

Proposals can be submitted for evaluation until closure of the open call and will be evaluated in batches at regular points in time. Currently the following dates are planned for evaluating delivered batches of proposals:

  • First batch evaluation of proposals that were submitted: before September 03rd 2020, 17:00 (Brussels time)
  • Second batch evaluation of proposals that were submitted: before November 05th 2020, 17:00 (Brussels time)
  • Dates for batch evaluations in 2021 will be published after closing the second batch evaluation.

Ready to submit a proposal? 
Please use the designated Templates for proposal preparation as presented in the Open Call fiches for the RESTART and EXPAND Open Calls. Templates for proposal preparation.

Please login to the SmartAgriHubs Innovation Portal first before submitting your proposal. 

Please check the FAQ in a first instance. If your have further doubts, please use the Open Call Forum to contact the SAH Open Call team and get assistance.