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Since 2007, the European research program CORE Organic has been a highly useful tool to support the development and growth of organic food and farming in Europe.

 

Author: Anne-Kristin Løes, ISOFAR board member, Norway

This program is not a EU frame program, but a cooperation between funding bodies from 19 European countries, who come together to decide priorities and follow ongoing and completed projects. The program manager is located with ICROFS, Denmark (link:www.icrofs.org). After six years, Ulla Bertelsen changed her position with ICROFS, and handed over the coordination to Ivana Trkulja. She will have a tough start with a lot of work to conduct, since her offset coincides with the new call of CORE Organic Cofund where partners have committed 13 million Euros of national funds to study intensive plant production systems, local feed, robust livestock systems and organic processing concepts, with a two-step proposal procedure.

During the last call for CORE Organic Plus we had 49 applications and we are expecting to have similar amount of the project proposals for CORE Organic Cofund, Ivana Trkulja explains. It is important to note that we follow a two- step procedure, which allows applicants to submit initially their pre-proposals and then after evaluation procedure, selected applicants are invited to a second phase to develop the full proposals. This allows additional time to the applicants for project development and partnership building.

Ivanaendelig 1This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. has more than fifteen years of professional experience in project management and academic research. Her Ph.D. in Political Theory was completed in 2010 at the LUISS University ‘Guido Carli’ of Rome. After this, in the course of post-doctoral research Ivana has participated in different ERC/FP7 international projects. Further, she has worked as an independent expert for the European Commission on the evaluation of research proposals, and prior to joining ICROFS as a project manager with the Italian Federation of Organic and Biodynamic Agriculture (FederBio). This is an excellent background for the important task of being the CORE Organic coordinator.

Asked whether the funding bodies seem to be satisfied with the CORE Organic program, compared with experiences from other ERA nets, Trkulja explains that the CORE Organic Cofund is a continuation of the ERA-Nets CORE Organic I, CO II and CO Plus. As one of the oldest ERA-Nets, CORE Organic has existed since 2003 and has launched 5 transnational calls. It is not easy to compare different ERA-Nets considering that they cover different thematic areas. In their case the funding bodies have created a strong partnership over the past years of joint work, and they plan to continue the collaboration with regular calls. This seems to demonstrate that the funding bodies are reasonably satisfied with the output of the funding efforts. Coming together to achieve a critical mass for conducting high quality research, while maintaining the high level of relevance for end users that traditionally has been a characteristic of organic research, were initial aims of CORE Organic.

We also asked Ivana Trkulja what are the major challenges for ICORFS as a coordinating body, to make so many different funding bodies participate, and whether they have some tricks to solve such problems. She agrees that the coordination of transnational cooperation has its challenges, but ICROFS together with all CORE Organic partners decided to join the forces towards the common goal of improving sustainable development in food production. Their logo resembles birds flying in formation, indicated that by coordinating their efforts, research programs can profit from transnational coordination, and it is worthy working in this direction.

ISOFAR aims at bringing the organic world forwards by activities that link researchers in organic food and farming together, such as the peer-reviewed journal Organic Agriculture (Springer), and the scientific track during the organic world congresses, which are arranged every 3rd year and will be next time in India in October 2017. Ivana appreciates the well-established cooperation between ICROFS and ISOFAR, which will be further supported in the following edition of CORE Organic Cofund. ISOFAR conferences are an important arena for dissemination of CORE Organic projects.

One of the first activities of Ivana Trkulja is now to conduct a brokerage event during the upcoming Organic Days in Brussels, on December 7, 2016. She expects lots of researchers interested in organic food and farming to get together, possibly even the day before for presentation of organic innovations and a social dinner. Brokerage sessions will be organized giving potential applicants the opportunity to find partners. For those not attending all material will be available on-line and access granted to the matchmaking tool.

CORE Organic I and II projects have been completed until now, covering issues from honey bees to milk quality. Deliverables from all these projects are available at the open archive Organic E-prints, which is a highly useful tool for the funding bodies, as well as for all people disseminating and searching new knowledge.