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European research collaboration

August 2010

A major new Europe-level research initiative has been launched to meet the food security challenge within the European Research Area (ERA).

EU Joint Programming Initiatives (JPIs) bring EU countries together to address a pan-European or global challenge by adding value to existing national and EU research programmes.

The 20 starred countries will share  resources, data and expertise.

The 20 starred countries will share resources, data and expertise.

More than a billion euro are spent on agricultural research by EU member states each year but less than 15% research is coordinated at the European level. Because each country funds research separately, this compartmentalisation means that only national programmes are tackling international problems.

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BBSRC and the France’s main funder of agricultural research, the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), are leading a JPI on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change (FACCE-JPI) involving 20 European countries and are applying to the European Commission for funds to deliver the JPI.

JPIs undertake a three-stage process. First, development of a common vision on how cooperation and coordination of research at EU level can address the combined challenges of food security against the continuous threat represented by various scenarios of climate change, global population growth and food demand. 

Second, this is translated into a Strategic Research Agenda that established medium to long term research needs and objectives, for example in the area of food security through adaptation to and mitigation of the impacts of climate change on agriculture.

The JPI then enters an implementation phase where joint research activities and new ways of integrating and coordinating national and EU programmes are developed.

At a 10 June 2010 meeting in Paris at INRA headquarters, the JPI Scientific Advisory Board of 12 scientists, including two from the US, discussed formalising the common vision and Strategic Research Agenda – a further two meetings are scheduled for 2010.

The 20 partner countries oversee the JPI through a Governing Board, with BBSRC and Defra representing the UK.  Wider UK inputs to the JPI are made through the Programme Board and partner organisations of the UK Global Food Security Programme.

Over the last five years, the European Commission has provided €300M for joint projects in the areas covered by the JPI through EU Framework Programmes. Total annual public investment in Europe for challenges linked to agriculture, food and climate change is estimated at €1.3Bn.

Through the JPI, future work between European countries, the European Commission and other stakeholders will be aligned to avoid duplication and maximise value for money, thus improving the effectiveness of national and EU funding.

Other JPIs are currently underway. A pilot JPI addressed tackling the prevalence of neurodegenerative diseases and other programmes that cover healthy diets for healthy lives and cultural heritage and global change are at similar early stages.