LEAP-Agri Call for Proposals for African-European Collaborative Research on Sustainable Agriculture and Aquaculture and on Food and Nutrition Security

LEAP-Agri is a partnership between partners from 19 European and African countries and the EU aimed at research and innovation for food and nutrition security as well as sustainable agriculture, including aquaculture. The partnership is an ERA-NET co-fund financed by Ministries from these countries with additional finances from the European Commission in support of the EU-Africa High Level Policy Dialogue on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) and the implementation of the jointly funded EU-Africa Research and Innovation Partnership.

This call for preliminary proposals invites consortia composed of at least four research organisations and/or private and public practitioners from four of the partner countries (two African and two European) to submit project proposals for research and innovation in the countries concerned with an added value for the EU-AU partnership on food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture (FNSSA). The proposal development and execution should be driven by local demand and include an approach that contributes to enhancing impact. Specific requirements for applicants may differ between institutes/countries.

Structural objectives

This call includes research on technical and organisational, socio-cultural and/or socio-economic issues. Solutions should contribute to income generation and provide selling arguments to producers, service providers as well as young entrepreneurs.

The research & innovation (R&I) needs to be relevant to African and European priorities for sustainable agri- and aquaculture, food and nutritional security.

Applications should pursue a holistic (system) approach to find integrated solutions that can be implemented in the relevant context and should address the following aspects:

  • Solving of complex economic, ecological and social challenges to improve local nutrition in a sustainable way using comprehensive system-oriented approaches;
  • Expected impact of research and likelihood of uptake contributes to solutions and evidence for policy change, to positive agricultural and nutritional outcomes and to significant improvements in economies, wellbeing and resilience;
  • Scalability of R&I, impact at national or regional scales;
  • Contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Countries participating in the call

The call has been developed in partnership between the following countries/organisations:

  • African countries: Algeria (DGRSTD-MESRS), Burkina Faso (FONRID), Cameroun (MINRESI), Egypt (MHESR), Ghana (STEPRI-CSIR), Kenya (MOEST), Senegal (MESR), South Africa (NRF), Uganda (UNCST);
  • European countries: Belgium (FWO, FNRS, BELSPO), Finland (AKA), France (ANR, AFD), Germany (BLE, DLR-PT), The Netherlands (NWO, MINEZ), Norway (RCN), Portugal (FCT), Spain (MINECO), Turkey (TUBITAK);
  • International organisations: CIHEAM-IAMB (based in Italy)

The four partners (institutions) in a consortium have to be located/working in four of the aforementioned countries (two from each continent). In addition to the general framework of this call, national eligibility criteria and funding regulations apply for each organisation or country. Annex 1 provides an overview of participating organisations in 19 African and European countries with contacts for Individual Eligibility Criteria and Funding Regulations and a link to the LEAP-Agri website for more detailed information.

Governance of LEAP-Agri

LEAP-Agri consists of 30 consortium partners, 24 of which are funding the call. The project is coordinated by ANR (France) in collaboration with MEST (Kenya). The Group of Funding Partners (GFP), comprising all institutes who provide funding to LEAP-Agri, is the ultimate decision-making body regarding the joint call, including the final decision about the granting of proposals.

An international review panel will assess preliminary and full proposals and provide advice on ranking to the GFP. An operational joint Call Secretariat (CS) has been established in order to align the necessary processes related to the call and assessment procedure. This CS will bring together the partners DLR-PT (Germany), NRF (South Africa), and NWO-WOTRO (The Netherlands).

The General Assembly (GA), comprising all consortium members of LEAP-Agri, will constitute the highest decision-making body and the core structure for oversight. It will be in charge of making strategic decisions, reviewing progress, and approving documents, results and approaches of the joint activities. An overview of all consortium partners is available on the LEAP-Agri website.

All parties involved in evaluation and selection procedure and its administration will be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement and code of conduct form.

Practical information and deadline

The total finances available for this call for proposals amount to € 27 000 000. Projects can apply for a total budget between € 300 000 and € 1,500 000. The budget for each country or organisation is mentioned in the Individual Eligibility Criteria and Funding Regulations for that particular institute or country. Budgets should be balanced. Project duration is 36 months and a total of about 30 projects is expected to be funded.

This call is for preliminary proposals that must be submitted electronically before the deadline, Thursday, 15 June 2017 | 14:00 CEST. The deadline for full proposals will be in November and submission is upon invitation for selected consortia from the preliminary proposal stage only. Detailed information on project proposal and submission guidelines can be found in the sections below.

Foci

Food and nutrition security is a complex challenge crossing many sectors, disciplines and policy areas as well as being exposed to profound dynamics at national, regional and global level. Food and nutrition security is intrinsically linked to significant challenges our societies face today. Systemic change and transformation is therefore needed. This requires a more holistic and integrated approach based on well-specified targets.

This call seeks proposals for projects developed in partnerships, which play an essential role in bundling expertise, innovation and outreach, focusing on bottlenecks in the agricultural sector and food system. Inter- and/or transdisciplinary research proposals should therefore be submitted by teams of researchers and other (public/private) partners from Europe and Africa.

  • Research & innovation focus 1: Sustainable intensification
  • Research & innovation focus 2: Agriculture and food systems for nutrition
  • Research & innovation theme 3: Expansion and improvement of agricultural markets and trade

General and national eligibility criteria and funding regulations

Who can apply?

Applications can be submitted by consortia of at least four partners from four of the countries participating in the call. At least 2 African institutions and 2 European institutions in different countries must be part of the consortium.

Next to these four required project partners, additional consortium partners are allowed. Applicants must be eligible for funding according to the regulations of their respective national Funding Parties (FPs) which are available via the Individual Eligibility Criteria and Funding Regulations, which can be downloaded via the LEAP-Agri website (link). Addresses of the contact persons at the respective funding organisations can be found in Annex 1 to this call. Applicants can represent research and higher education entities, companies, and other legal entities such as NGOs, once again subject to institutional restrictions set by individual Funding Parties (FP). These project partners must be eligible for funding according to the regulations of their respective FPs, which are members of the Group of Funding Partners (GFP). The main applicant is as Consortium Project Coordinator (CPC) responsible for all contact with LEAP-Agri and for informing the other consortium partners about the selection result as well as for synchronising the project start with her/his partners.

Besides the fundable Project Partners it is possible to add additional partners, including from other countries, as Associated Partners, who would then be fully part of the consortium. Associated Partners may not request financing from the LEAP-Agri project, but could be funded by other Funding Agencies, either national, regional or international, including Development Banks such as the World bank.

Proposals must address one or more of the thematic areas supported within the framework of the LEAP-Agri call. For specific requirements national eligibility requirements should be consulted. A consortium can only submit one proposal. Individual consortium members can be part of other consortia. Consortia submitting proposals are obliged to report submission of the same or similar proposals to other funding schemes, as well as funds awarded as a result of such submission. LEAP-Agri retains the right to reconsider the granting of funds should the concerned project consortium fail to report double submissions or the funds awarded as a result of such submissions.

What can be applied for?

The total funding of one project must be between € 300 000 and € 1,500 000 for a period of 36 months. The funding of an individual proposal will depend on the nature and duration of the proposed activities and must be justified in terms of the resources needed to achieve the objectives of the project. The funding requested should therefore be realistically adjusted to the actual needs of the proposal, taking into account any other funds available.

Eligible costs depend on the Individual Eligibility Criteria and Funding Regulations. The following general categories apply:

  • Personnel costs (as defined by the relevant FP and according to its local rates and currency) of the research staff and other personnel;
  • Mobility costs (travel and subsistence expenses);
  • Costs related to organising seminars and workshops within the project;
  • Costs for attending the kick-off, mid-term and final workshops of all funded projects;
  • Acquisition of material and small-scale research equipment;
  • Capacity building, Knowledge Sharing and Research Uptake, and dissemination;
  • Research costs;
  • Overhead.

Other relevant costs may be funded according to the FPs’ institutional regulations, while some of the items listed above may not be eligible for funding by individual FPs. For this reason, it is imperative that applicants take notice of the rules of the FPs concerning the costs they are able to fund prior to proposal preparation. The national contact should be consulted well before the submission deadline.

Co-funding is not required, but is encouraged.

Evaluation and selection procedure

The fundamental principles governing the evaluation of project proposals are:

  • Transparency. The process for reaching funding decisions will be clearly described and available to any interested party;
  • Equality of treatment. All proposals shall be treated alike, irrespective of where they originate or the identity of the proposers;
  • Ethical considerations. Any proposal that contravenes fundamental ethical principles of a Funding Party (FP) may be excluded from being evaluated and selected at any time by decision of the GFP.

The evaluation and selection procedure will be monitored by independent observers of the EC and the LEAP-Agri ethics board, who will oversee the process and report on it.

Description of the two-stage process

The Call will follow a two step-procedure:

Step 1) Preliminary proposal stage

Consortia submit a preliminary proposal by the call deadline at 15 June 2017 | 14:00 CEST. This short application will undergo an eligibility check by the CS as well as the respective national funder. The merit of all eligible proposals will be assessed by an International Review Panel (IRP) which will conduct a scientific evaluation and a feasibility/impact check (criteria see below). Based on this preliminary proposal the expert panel will shortlist consortia who will be invited to submit a full proposal. On behalf of LEAP-Agri the CS will inform applicants of the outcome and whether they are invited to submit a full proposal. This call concerns the preliminary proposal stage.

Step 2) Full proposal stage

The consortium submits a full proposal, providing more detailed information on the aims and objectives of the project outline than in step 1). The submission of full proposals is possible upon invitation only for consortia which were successful in the preliminary proposal phase. Full Proposal submission will be in November. Full proposals will be assessed by at least three external peer-reviewers (evaluators). Applicants will receive the reviews and will be given the opportunity to write a reply and provide comments to the expert’s assessments (rebuttal). The IRP will rank all proposals based in the application itself, the reviews and the rebuttal. The final funding decision will be made by the GFP in line with EC regulations and based on the IRP ranking, taking into consideration availability of the funds.

The call for full proposals will be launched in early December 2017 (exact date will be confirmed later) and provide more information and guidelines for the invited applicants.

Criteria for preliminary proposals

The International Review Panel (IRP) will assess all preliminary proposals based on the following criteria:

  • Is the consortium appropriate in order to tackle the identified research/innovation question?
  • What relevance has/Innovativeness offers the approach described?
  • How is the research answering to/addressing the call foci?
  • Is the proposed Knowledge Sharing and Research Uptake approach adequate?

Timetable

Exact deadlines will be confirmed and published soonest

  • Deadline preliminary proposal 15 June 2017, 14:00 CEST
  • IRP meeting September 2017
  • Invitation for full proposal application Beginning of October 2017
  • Deadline for full proposals Mid-December 2017
  • Proposals assessed by reviewers January-February 2018
  • Rebuttal March 2018
  • IRP meeting March/Beginning April 2018
  • Funding decision April 2018
  • Procedure with national funder April-August 2018
  • Starting date projects August 2018
  • Finalisation of projects – no extension possible! August 2021

Whilst LEAP-Agri aims to meet the target dates provided above, we reserve the right to change these at any stage.

Criteria for full proposals

The International Review Panel (IRP) will assess all full proposals based on the following criteria, in line with EC regulations:

  • Excellence of the project;
  • Expected Impact of the project;
  • Quality and efficiency of the implementation.
Institution
Application date
Duration
Up to 36 months
Discipline
Social sciences : Economy, Environmental Sciences, Geography, International Relations, Law, Pedagogic & Education Research, Political science, Sociology
Humanities : Anthropology & Ethnology
Other : Biology, Chemistry, Physics, mathematics and engineering, Medicine