The second of two Open Calls under the European Innovation Partnerships Initiative (EIP) has been launched by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
Projects developed under this Open Call will form part of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s (DAFM) new ‘Locally-Led’ initiative, a co-funded measure proposed by Ireland under the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.
EIPs are a new source of EU funding, which will allow local groups and rural communities to access funding for innovative projects across the agri-food sector, according to the DAFM. It said the range of projects supported will be flexible and that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ framework involved. Successful projects will develop ideas, or take existing ideas or research and put them into practice. The ultimate aim of the innovation partnerships is to road test new ideas and practices which can then be used more widely by farmers and others to improve productivity, enhance resource efficiency and pursue sustainable farming practices. A fundamental rule of EIPs is that a supported project shall be grant aided to promote forms of co-operation involving at least two entities.
“This is a completely new way of responding to local challenges and we were delighted at the response to the first Open Call. The range and quality of proposals submitted were excellent and the projects shortlisted from that process are now being funded to develop their ideas further for the next stage of the process. This is an opportunity for farmers, researchers, advisors and scientists to work together to develop new and innovative solutions and test these on the ground,” Minister Michael Creed said.
This will be a competitive process with Round 1 being an initial call for ideas using a simple application form. All proposals will be evaluated by a committee for relevance to the EIP programme and compatibility with rural development priorities. A shortlist of applicants will be chosen to go forward to Round 2 and these will be funded to prepare detailed project plans. These plans will then be assessed and a final shortlist drawn up for implementation on the ground, with up to 100 per cent funding provided under the new initiative.
An overall funding package of €24m has been set aside to support EIPs under these two calls.