Innovative and citizen-driven food system approaches in cities

The challenge of providing the inhabitants of European cities with affordable, safe, and nutritious food is both urgent and complex. Moreover, the health and wellbeing of EU citizens and consumers are directly affected by the way cities and regions themselves are shaping a sustainable food environment. Research and (open) innovation co-created with citizens are part of broader city-region food system approaches. Such initiatives stimulate the development of cities as innovative food hubs. Nevertheless, there are barriers to the application and demonstration of systemic food-related innovative approaches due to the diversity of European cities and regions that are not well understood, leading to market failure in the uptake of promising research results and innovation in cities. Demonstration and first application in the market of innovative solutions, co-created with citizen and cities with the involvement of public authorities, economic actors and non-profit organisations, could be one way to support sustainable food security in cities.


The proposals shall identify several food-related innovative approaches based on citizen science and engagement, to be practised in cities to foster sustainability of the food system. Proposals shall explore and share the application of these approaches in a wider range of European cities and shall be built on results of existing research, best practices and existing platforms and programmes. Proposals could comprise activities such as prototyping testing, demonstrating and piloting in a (near to) operational environment, as well as experimental production, all with a view to subsequent replication and application in other cities. Proposals shall include the development of a classification and assessment of the benefits (economic, environmental and societal) of existing approaches for dissemination purposes, accessible online. Proposals may include limited R&D activities and a clear focus on validating the benefits of pilot activities for citizens with a view of increasing engagement and replication. The action shall cover cities in rural and coastal areas and urban agglomerations. Proposals shall also include co-creation between social innovation and technological innovation. Following the RRI principles, proposals will ensure that societal actors work together during the whole research and innovation process in order to better align both the process and its outcomes with the values, needs and expectations of society. Active participation of municipalities and SMEs is strongly encouraged.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of the order of EUR 6 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact

In the framework of SDG no 2, 3, 9, 11 and 12, the EU's Bioeconomy Strategy 2012, and the FOOD 2030 Staff Working Document, proposals should explain how activities included are expected to contribute to:

  • Job creation in EU cities in which good practices for sustainable food security are applied in the short term (up to 3 years), fostering thriving urban, rural and coastal economies and communities;
  • Intensified interactions between all actors in the food chain such as research, (small scale) food production, city municipalities, education centres, consumers and citizens in the medium to long term;
  • Empowered local communities by using their potential to contribute to ensuring food and nutrition security at city level, which in turn supports the relevant SDGs;
  • Increased participatory and citizen science initiatives in the area of food and nutrition security in cities;
  • Easy and increased knowledge-sharing;
  • In the long term, positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas, meeting the needs, values and expectations of society in a responsible and ethical way.
Application date
Humanities : Anthropology & Ethnology
Social sciences : Demography, Economy, Gender studies, Identities, gender and sexuality, Environmental Sciences, Sociology