Framework Partnership Agreement (FPA) for a Living Lab network support structure




May 12 2022


Sep 27 2022



This Framework Partnership Agreement (FPA) aims at supporting the effective implementation of the Mission ‘A Soil Deal for Europe’ (hereafter referred to as the Soil Deal Mission) and in particular its overall goal of setting up a network of 100 living labs and lighthouses by 2030.

The FPA will allow to establish an effective support structure (hereafter referred to as LL support structure) to coordinate and promote activities under the mission’s network of living labs and lighthouses. The LL support structure will cater for the needs of living labs and lighthouses that will be selected through open calls in forthcoming Work Programmes of the Soil Deal Mission (from 2023 onwards).

Following the evaluation of proposals submitted under this FPA call[1], one consortium of partners is going to be retained. The FPA will specify the objectives, the nature of the actions planned and the procedure for awarding specific grants through subsequent calls resulting in Specific Grant Agreements (SGA). The FPA will thereby contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:

  • The network of living labs is effectively performing and expanding, ensuring a comprehensive representation of all types of soils, land uses and soil health challenges across the EU and Associated Countries.
  • Potential applicants and selected projects are well equipped with information and advice (e.g. formal, technical) to set up and run living labs in line with the criteria established in the Mission’s implementation plan[2].
  • Approaches between living labs and lighthouses are harmonised and the interface between the living labs / lighthouses and other mission activities is well established.
  • Participants in living labs and lighthouses benefit from comprehensive exchange of experiences as well as from thematic, technical advice provided by the LL support structure.
  • Social capital and citizen engagement on soil health challenges is increased and solutions developed and tested in living labs are effectively disseminated.
  • The uptake and scaling up of good practices by land managers is promoted by the LL support structure within and beyond living lab areas.
  • Experiences across the Living Lab network can be assessed based due to common monitoring and evaluation procedures.

Living labs and lighthouses are a core element of the mission ‘A Soil Deal for Europe’. They are meant to bring together a variety of actors to co-create and test solutions on the ground, thereby delivering innovations with high potential for rapid uptake by land managers and other relevant actors (e.g. industry, consumers etc.) across Europe.

This FPA will establish the conditions and identify the consortium of partners who – through subsequent calls and one or more Specific Grant Agreements - will run a support structure for the coordination of Living Labs funded under the Soil Deal Mission. The mission’s implementation plan foresees that the LL support structure should start operating in 2024, at the same time as the first waves of living labs are effective[3]. In this way, the LL support structure will provide timely and targeted services to the emerging network of living labs.

Applicants should develop a draft action plan to broadly describe how they foresee to implement the following activities:

  • Set up a structure that will act as a one-stop shop catering for the needs of living labs and lighthouses funded under the Soil Deal mission and providing tailor made advice to participants of living labs and lighthouses. The structure will serve as a contact point for interaction with counterparts in Europe and beyond.
  • Build on the engagement sessions organised by the project funded under topic HORIZON-MISS-2021-SOIL-02-07[4] to further promote the creation of transnational clusters of living labs. This will include a continued methodological support provided to stakeholders concerning the building of the consortia, the setting-up and the running of the living labs under the Soil Deal Mission. Due attention shall be given to a balanced geographic and thematic coverage of living labs and lighthouses.
  • Facilitate the exchange of knowledge and innovation among the different actors involved in the funded living labs and lighthouses, e.g. through the organization of workshops, seminars, annual network meetings, cross-visits. The facilitation could involve the creation of joint working groups on transversal aspects (e.g. digital knowledge, behavioural sciences, data management) as well as specific technical themes (e.g. on particular soil challenges or land uses).
  • Provide a web-portal and other tools for information, exchange of experiences and outreach. This should include the continuation and further development of an interactive map of all living labs and lighthouses funded under the soil deal mission, building on the work undertaken by the Horizon 2020 project SMS[5] and the project selected under topic HORIZON-MISS-2021-SOIL-01-01[6]. The web-portal and associated tools should benefit both participants in the network of living labs and lighthouses and a wider public beyond the network.
  • Monitor and assess activities of living labs and lighthouses and report on the main outcomes and experiences. This will include providing feedback on the links between activities under the Living lab and lighthouse network and other parts of the mission (i.e. the R&I programme, monitoring and citizen engagement).
  • Disseminate solutions created, tested and demonstrated in living labs and lighthouses so that these are widely known and can be accessed by potential users outside the living lab areas.

Applicants under the FPA topic should demonstrate relevant expertise to implement successfully the foreseen activities listed above. They should possess a good understanding of the concept of soil health living labs and lighthouses as well as sound skills in project management, coordination and monitoring, including the implementation of actions for stakeholder and citizen engagement, communication, dissemination and knowledge sharing.

The work should be implemented in close connection with the European Partnership EIP-AGRI[7] and its activities at EU, national and regional levels. Synergies should be developed as well with activities carried out under other relevant programmes and initiatives such as INTERREG[8] and the Smart Specialisation Platform[9]. Where possible, work should make use of the Education for Climate platform593.

Partners should connect with other projects and initiatives relevant for the Soil Deal Mission’s network of living labs and lighthouses, both in Europe and beyond. This includes EU projects ALL-Ready[10] and AE4EU[11], the upcoming Horizon Europe partnership on agroecology living labs[12] and like-minded international activities such as the Canadian Agroecosystem Living Labs Network (CALL)[13] and the US Long Term Agroecosystem Research Network (LTAR)[14].

Close cooperation with Commission’s Joint Research Centre is essential in view of further developing the European Soil Observatory (EUSO), and ensuring the longevity, sustainability and interoperability of data, knowledge and services arising from Mission implementation.

The cooperation between the European Commission and selected partners under this FPA will cover – through subsequent Specific Grant Agreements - the period 2023-2030. The FPA needs to be in place during this whole period in order for the SGAs to be awarded to fund the LL support structure that will run until the conclusion of the Soil Deal Mission in 2030.

Cross-cutting Priorities:

Artificial Intelligence
Digital Agenda
Societal Engagement

[1] See General Annexes of the Horizon Europe Work Programme (box listing other types of actions and forms of funding): https://ec.europa.eu/info/funding-tenders/opportunities/docs/2021-2027/horizon/wp-call/2021-2022/wp-13-general-annexes_horizon-2021-2022_en.pdf

[2] See criteria listed in section 8.D of the mission implementation plan: https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/default/files/research_and_innovation/funding/documents/soil_mission_implementation_plan_final_for_publication.pdf

[3] Calls for Living labs will be launched in Work Programme 2023 and continue throughout subsequent Work Programmes such as to reach the target of 100 living labs by 2030. See section 3.2 of the implementation plan: https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/default/files/research_and_innovation/funding/documents/soil_mission_implementation_plan_final_for_publication.pdf

[4] HORIZON-MISS-2021-SOIL-02-07: National engagement sessions and support to the establishment of soil health living labs

[5] www.soilmissionsupport.eu

[6] HORIZON-MISS-2021-SOIL-01-01: Preparing the ground for healthy soils – building capacities for engagement, outreach and knowledge.

[7] https://ec.europa.eu/eip/agriculture/en

[8] https://interreg.eu/

[9] https://s3platform.jrc.ec.europa.eu/

[10] https://www.all-ready-project.eu/

[11] https://www.ae4eu.eu/

[12] https://ec.europa.eu/info/research-and-innovation/research-area/agriculture-forestry-and-rural-areas/partnership-agroecology_en

[13] Living Laboratories Initiative: International engagement and partnerships - agriculture.canada.ca

[14] The Long-Term Agroecosystem Research Network (usda.gov)