FACCE SURPLUS is a partnership of countries and regions, in collaboration with the European Commission. It was established in the frame of the Joint Programming Initiative on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change (FACCE-JPI). The FACCE SURPLUS consortium consists of 23 partners. Its objective was to strengthen the European Research Area in support of different integrated food and non-food biomass production and transformation systems. Its first joint transnational call for research projects was organised, implemented and co-funded with the EU on the topic of sustainable and resilient agriculture.
Since the start in 2015, FACCE SUPLUS has successfully mobilized around EUR 25 million of public funding from the EU and the Member States for research in the sector. During the entire duration of FACCE SURPLUS, the consortium and the researchers funded in the frame of three calls have made substantial efforts in order to reach impact. Van Esch describes the process of defining the call topics for the second and third call as one of successes. After a first, quite broad call for research projects, specific gaps analyses, events to demonstrate state-of-art and a dedicated workshop were organised to define to ‘urgency topics’ for the second call. ‘Efforts have led to a quite balanced set of research projects covering relevant areas, and it was good to notice the participating researchers were distributed quite nicely across the participating countries’.
More than excellent science
In addition to very positive scientific outcomes, the cooperation itself has led to an enhanced research network that will compete for future European project funding. ‘It has been relevant and of added value that through the call, researchers that weren’t working together in projects prior to SURPLUS, now became connected’. Also the added value in terms of policy use of the outcomes is significant: ‘Several projects were working on operationalising several of the Sustainable Development Goals, a challenge that is particularly suitable and necessary to tackle transnationally’. Van Esch describes the dedication and motivation of all involved, as a significant success factor, and also refers to the cooperation with the Biobased Industries Joint Undertaking BBI-JU. Where the BBI-JU focuses on Public-Private Partnerships, SURPLUS has contributed as a Public-Public Partnership.
In addition to high quality research, considerable efforts have been made in order to exploit and disseminate scientific outcomes to stakeholders through a wide variety of communication tools. Workshops, on-farm demonstrations and conferences were organised. Interviews were held, peer-reviewed as well as more general publications and policy briefs have been written and decision-making tools and models were developed.
With SURPLUS now formally ended, Van Esch looks forward: ‘Research on how to connect the non-food system to food- and agriculture systems will remain important. There are opportunities to make much more efficient use of the available knowledge, for example to find novel ways to use biomass as a resource in such a way the outcomes contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals’. Transnational cooperation in this area makes sense and will continue: ‘we are currently looking for a logical way to do so. The form such cooperation can take will depend on what is suitable. One of the options can be the proposed partnerships under Horizon Europe’.
Read more on the results and impact of the FACCE SURPLUS ERA-NET Cofund on their website.
Policy makers in the spotlight with joint programmes
Joint programming is about aligning research & research funding. At the policy level, this includes finding and assembling national priorities into a common research agenda, shared and supported by the national governments involved. In a series of interviews, Dutch policy-makers and funders, as well as researchers from Wageningen University and Research present their part in the joint programming process.