New Guidelines for Soil Health Living Labs Proposals

In an ambitious stride towards sustainable soil health, the European Commission's European Research Executive Agency has released a comprehensive factsheet which offers crucial guidelines for developing proposals aimed at establishing soil health living labs under the 2024 topics. The factsheet is a key resource for stakeholders interested in contributing to the EU Mission 'A Soil Deal for Europe', which aspires to establish 100 soil health living labs by 2030.

Context and Insights from the 2023 Mission Soil Call

The EU Mission 'A Soil Deal for Europe' is a groundbreaking initiative aimed at reversing soil degradation and promoting sustainable soil management practices across the continent. Under the Horizon Europe framework, the 2023 Mission Soil call for proposal funded the initial projects designed to create a network of living labs. These living labs serve as collaborative spaces where scientists, farmers, policymakers, and other stakeholders can co-develop, test, and demonstrate innovative soil health solutions in real-world settings.

The 2023 call introduced two specific topics: the bottom-up topic (HORIZON-MISS-2023-SOIL-01-08) and the carbon farming topic (HORIZON-MISS-2023-SOIL-01-09). These topics attracted a significant response, with 37 proposals for the bottom-up topic and 7 for the carbon farming topic, collectively proposing 220 living labs. Notably, all proposals met the eligibility criteria and had an average duration of 51.4 months, involving 877 unique organisations. Ultimately, five proposals were selected for funding, setting the stage for the establishment of 25 living labs by June 2024.

Key Insights and Geographic Representation

The geographic distribution of proposals was notably diverse, with coordinators from 20 countries, including 18 EU Member States and 2 Horizon Europe Associated Countries. Spain led the way, accounting for 25% of the coordinators. Southern European countries were particularly well-represented, though no applications were received from Luxembourg and Malta.

One of the striking findings from the 2023 proposals was the balanced composition of consortia. Proposals with a more varied mix of private, public, and other organisations tended to score higher, highlighting the importance of broad stakeholder engagement. Of the 220 proposed living labs, 80% were set up within a single country, with Spain, Italy, Greece, and France being the most active contributors. This emphasises the strong regional interest in soil health innovations.

Guidelines for Future Proposals

Looking ahead to the 2024 funding opportunities, the newly released factsheet provides guidance for crafting successful proposals. Prospective applicants are encouraged to consider several critical factors. For those interested in contributing to the mission's goals, now is the time to start preparing. Whether you are developing a new proposal or refining an existing one, leverage the insights and guidelines provided in the factsheet to maximise your chances of success. 

Download the factsheet and start shaping the future of soil health today. Together, we can lead the transition towards a sustainable, healthy soil ecosystem for Europe and beyond.


New Guidelines for Soil Health Living Labs Proposals