Report from the Status Seminar in September
Almost seven years have passed since the start of the ERA-NET Cofund FACCE SURPLUS. In this time, the Network has launched three trans-national calls, with the projects of the 2nd call reaching their end-term and projects of the 3rd call being at their mid-term at the end of 2021. A status seminar was considered a good opportunity to recognise the research projects’ outcomes and achievements so far. Read the report from the seminar in September here.
Since the ERA-NET ended in 2020, the conference was organised by the FACCE-JPI Secretariat and held in an online format due to the pandemic situation. The status seminars were accompanied by a valorisation workshop as well as a Horizon Europe Info Event and a meeting of funders.
“The event was a real success”, says Stefanie Margraf, Project Management Jülich, head of the FACCE-JPI organising team. “We had 90 participants representing Funding Agencies, Industry, Policy Makers, Representative of Farmers and Farmer Associations and of course also Scientists.”
The FACCE SURPLUS conference provided an opportunity for researchers of the 2nd and 3rd call to present their projects. Inspiring results and outcomes in the area of integrated food and non-food biomass production and transformation systems were shown: Project coordinators of the 2nd call on Small Scale Biorefineries (SURPLUS-2) presented results on biomass conversion, (marginal) land use, the utilisation of different feedstocks such as food waste, urban waste as well asoptions for new value strains for the food and feed industry and as potential substrates for the agricultural and chemical industry. Many projects showed a strong multi-disciplinary set-up and are close-to-market. 3rd call Project Coordinators presented initial results regarding the utilisation of second-class vegetables and fruits, sunflower by-products, upcycling of (agricultural) waste streams and upgrading of marginal land for the use of biomass.
After the status seminars, project representatives were invited to work with stakeholders representing different types of actors in the field during a FACCE SURPLUS valorisation workshop. Representatives of COPA-COGECA, BIOVEGEN - Spanish Technology Platform for Plant Biotechnology, BIC - Biobased Industries Consortium, BASF & Plant ETP, European Commission’s Knowledge Centre for Bioeconomy, JRC, and the private company Filamania Ltd., Hungary were present. Similar to the previous event, the workshop aimed to enable an open dialogue on how to interact with stakeholders, how to shape the available project results for valorisation and how to respond to societal, political and other questions/problems.
The workshop showed the importance of strengthening collaborations and of increasing networks beyond the field of academia and research with actors from e.g. policy, industry, agriculture (farmers) and society. It was discussed how networks of stakeholders, such as farmers or industry associations, could be involved more actively in the design of the projects as well as in the utilisation of their outputs. In this regard, valorisation activities such as workshops with stakeholders could support the uptake of project results. A synthesis of projects or short project profiles tailored to the stakeholders’ needs and easy to digest are needed to provide short answers in short time frames, which is especially important for policymakers.
Regional organisations may work as a bridge between science and practice. It was stressed that policy regulations, legislative frameworks and bureaucracy hinder the exploitation of scientific knowledge and that more public support is needed to achieve higher Technology Readiness Level particularlyto implement high-risk projects like demo plants. Overall, participants welcomed the exchange and further interactions amongst researchers and stakeholders might be sought.
The event ended with a Horizon Europe Info Event for researchers and an internal meeting of FACCE SURPLUS funders.
“Although the ERA-NET officially ended in 2020, and the current situation necessitated only virtual meetings, it is important to stay in contact with the scientific and stakeholder community”, says Stefanie Margraf. “It is a great advantage for FACCE SURPLUS to be associated with FACCE-JPI, which is able to continue the exchange amongst the network’s members, whether scientists, funders, stakeholders or administrators.
Strengthening the dialogue is a prerequisite to determine the programme’s success to support the valorisation of its outcomes and to evaluate further research needs in the area of sustainable and resilient agriculture for food and non-food systems.”
Kathrin Weber, Coordinator of ABC4Soil, explaining the circular principle of the project aiming at biochar production and utilisation.
Wouter Tack, Coordinator of DEMETER, explaining the circular biochemical changes during processing vegetable juice and soup.
Bart Van Droogenbroeck, Coordinator of CichOpt, explaining the different feedstock used in the project.
Evelin Loit, Coordinator of BioFoodOnMars, highlighting the importance of valorising marginal land for sustainable food and feed production.
Group photo from the seminar