Open Call


SmartAgriHubs offers funding for Digital Innovation Hubs to develop, set-up, offer, provide, test and validate their services for Digital Transformation and Innovation. You can receive either 70 or 100% of funding to cover your eligible costs. This shall help you to become:

•             A regional partner for innovation in the agri-food domain,

•             Support preparation & realisation of Innovation Experiments for free, and/or

•             Node of a European Innovation Network.

As we consider a “Digital Innovation Hub” as a Role of an organisation than its only purpose, all kinds of organisations could apply that aim at the set-up and offering of DIH services. The fol-lowing figure presents typical examples for innovation services SAH considers very valuable to promote digital transformation in the European Agri-Food Sectors.

Those innovation services are usually provided to teams of stakeholders that are realising so called Innovation Experiments. The strategic objective is to help those teams to lower innovation barriers, facilitate knowledge exchange as well as learn about available solutions, costs, benefits and potential pitfalls.

SmartAgriHubs organised different open calls that are designed in accordance to different activ-ities realised by established or new DIHs. The following figure provides some information about the purpose of the different SmartAgriHubs Open Calls as well as indicating the max. funding that can be requested. It starts with the question, if the team(s) that shall be supported has/have already appropriate ideas for realising an innovation experiment.


Open Call for Digital Innovation Hubs that are supporting organisations in the planning and definition of Innovation Experiments for digital transformation in the Agri-food economy.


Open Call for hackathon type of activities that will contribute to the RESTART of the European Agri-Food Economy with short and medium-term impact to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

•    EXPAND:

Open Call for Digital Innovation Hubs that are supporting the realisation of Innovation Experiments, mobilising the related stakeholders, and facilitating the access to Competence Centre related services.

The PREPARE open call was published on 18th March 2021 and will close on May, 26th 2021.

The RESTART & EXPAND Open Calls were published on July, 08th 2020. The RESTART Open Call will close in September 2021. The EXPAND Open Call will close in June 2022. At several deadlines during that period, batches of proposals will be evaluated and can be started accordingly. This means that until the final deadline you can submit your proposal to the RESTART or EXPAND Open Calls, receive a response and start your project before this deadline. The deadlines for evaluation batches are available below. 

Next Open Call submission 

You want to submit a proposal?

Please use the designated Templates for proposal preparation as presented in the Open Call fiches for the PREPARERESTART and EXPAND Open Calls. You can find in this page more information about the aim of our Open Calls.  

Please use the Proposal Submission Tool to register and submit your proposal before the deadlines. 

Please check the FAQ in a first instance. If you have further doubts, please use the Open Call Forum to contact the SAH Open Call team and get assistance. 


The SmartAgriHubs Open Call for proposals has as a key objective to expand the existing SmartAgriHubs community network with additional stakeholders and to promote the realisation of innovation experiments. The collaboration with new and existing Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) and Competence Centres (CCs) shall result in a joint effort of an active and dynamic community that creates knowledge and practical experience that will ultimately facilitate and disseminate digital innovation in the agri-food domain.                    

       Digital Innovation Hub

Digital Innovation Hubs (DIH) are support organisations that aim to make businesses more competitive by speeding up the development and uptake of digital innovations. They provide these services close to the end-users (“at working distance”) and thereby cater to the needs of agricultural producers and food processors in a specific region.   

      Competence Center

These can be (agricultural) research institutes at universities, experiment stations or farms, extension agencies or seed companies. The Competence Centre may also play the role of the Digital Innovation Hub orchestrator, taking a coordinating, organising and/or an agenda setting role. 


SmartAgriHubs supports this with its available team, knowledge, and tools: 

•  The existing DIH network in SmartAgriHubs offers collaboration with additional and new Digital Innovation Hubs to facilitate experience exchange.

  • •  The network of Competence Centres is helping to identify the most appropriate technology related expertise required for a successful realisation of an innovation experiment.
  • •  Community of SMEs, startups and scaleups, helping to find promising tech suppliers, partners as well as reference end-users.
  • •  Flagship Innovation Experiments from SmartAgriHubs and use cases from IoF2020 serving as show cases for digitisation and innovation in the agri-food domains and
  • •  Excellent, well-equipped support team present in most European regions, familiar with local and sector specific challenges. 
  • The current COVID-19 crisis and its impact on the agri-food economy has pushed the SmartAgriHubs team to design the Open Call approach responding to the needs of the sector in these critical times. We launched the PREPARE, RESTART and EXPAND open calls that are addressing the overall agri-food economy,  assigning up to 5,000,000€ funding to the RESTART and EXPAND open calls1, 200,000€ funding the PREPARE open call. These open calls are addressing Digital Innovation Hubs that are supporting diverse stakeholders in the agri-food economy and specifically SMEs as drivers for digital innovation. 

Figure 1: Overall timing of the planned open calls by SmartAgriHubs 

PREPARE Innovation Experiments

A specific objective of this PREPARE open call is to prepare a proposal for an Innovation Experiment that can be submitted in the EXPAND open call. Because these Innovation Experiment proposals are not necessarily to be submitted in the EXPAND call, the more general objective is to plan and prepare the realisation of one or more Innovation Experiments.

What are the kind of projects to be funded by the PREPARE Open Call?  

The projects selected under PREPARE should produce the following deliverables:

Team: Compilation of an appropriate team, able and committed to realise the Innovation Experiment from an end-user, business, technological and extended stakeholder perspective.

Technnology readiness level and feasibility: Analysis of the technology readiness level of the envisaged innovation, the technical and economic feasibility and its relevance for the supported team to have an impact that could be realised in the scope of an Innovation Experiment.

Budget: A budget planning for realising the Innovation Experiment(s). DIHs shall also include the financial plan, detailing the path to facilitate access to additional private investors and/or regional, national, European funding schemes provided by third parties.

Project plan: A project plan consisting in one or more Innovation Experiments, explaining the timing of activities, milestones and deliverables. This could also be materialised in the form of a project proposal to be later on submitted to a relevant open call to further support the realisation of the aforementioned Innovation Experiment(s) (e.g. by the SmartAgriHubs EXPAND open call).

• Letter of intent: Signed letter of intent by the main participants in an Innovation Experiment, stating their role and envisaged effort and in-kind contribution to be committed.

All details about deliverables and the open call is available in the PREPARE open call fiche for download

What are the kind of potential proposers to be funded by the PREPARE Open Call?  

   The funding is exclusively available to fund the efforts/costs of  Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) preparing one or more Innovation Experiments

These results should serve as preparation for one or more subsequent proposals to the SmartAgriHubs EXPAND open call, other initiatives organising open calls and/or potential investors that offer funding for:

• Organisation(s) or consortia that are realising an Innovation Experiment.

Check the PREPARE Open Call fiche for more information

RESTART the Economy around Food Systems

SmartAgriHubs launched a focused open call for hackathon type of activities that will RESTART the economy around the agri-food related sectors and affected food systems. The main objective is to generate ideas for potential Innovation Experiments that can be realised by related teams, going beyond initial conceptual implementations. Generally, such activities shall facilitate networking of organisations and individuals, aimed at the mobilisation of talent and enable the realisation of digital innovations that address current challenges, opportunities and threats.

What are the kind of projects to be funded by the RESTART Open Call?  

Proposed projects could realise hackathons, challenges and datathons that have a direct and indirect impact to mitigate effects of the COVID-19 or similar (future) pandemics. Such initiatives should facilitate the RESTART of the agri-food economy after the COVID-19 crisis.

The underlying idea is to support the European agri-food economy to better cope with the requirements of the “new normal” and maintain its global competitive position, for example by:

  • •   Helping specific sub-sectors and regional economies to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic impact, through new opportunities for digital innovation.
  • •   Stimulating private investments in the agri-food sector and promoting opportunities across the European investment community.
  • •   Making food systems fair, healthy and environmentally friendly, in line with the Farm to Fork Strategy that is at the heart of the European Green Deal.
  • •  SDGs: Initiatives in the agri-food economy that contribute significantly to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • •   Introducing principles of circular economy in the agri-food sector.
  • •  Automations: Relieving agri-food stakeholders (e.g. farmers) from tasks without added value, e.g. by automating monitoring and/or control of farming activities.
  • •   Resilience: Increasing the resilience of the agri-food chain.
  • •   Increasing the availability and the shelf-life of food products.
  • •   Tracking & tracing of food and related products from farm to fork, facilitating regional sourcing.
  • •  Consumer information: Helping consumers to make informed decisions about food choices.
  • •   Facilitating access to data and services for an easier digital innovation in the agri-food sectors

Are you eligible to the RESTART Open Call?  

   The funding is exclusively available to fund the efforts/costs of one or more Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) preparing and realising hackathons, datathons or focused challenges. 

Proposers shall consider the following key characteristics that need to be taken into account for being able to submit an eligible proposal for the RESTART open call:

  • •   The funding is exclusively available to fund the efforts/costs of one or more Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) preparing and realising hackathons, datathons or focused challenges.
  • •   Depending on the type of organisations, DIHs’ costs are funded with 70% (for profit organisations) or 100% (non-profit organisations).
  • •   SmartAgriHubs considers that proposals for hackathon type of activities requesting a contribution from SmartAgriHubs of 10,000 to 60,000 Euro would allow appropriate support for a range of activities.
  • •   The efforts/costs of third parties involved in the hackathon type of activities (e.g. person effort, offered infrastructure, or provided data sets) or effort/costs of teams participating in the specific hackathons (e.g. effort, equipment, travel, accommodation, prizes) are not funded.
  • •   For balancing efforts/costs of DIHs versus the number of supporters and participants in the hackathon type of activities, it is expected that the DIH part is generally not exceeding 20% of the overall effort/costs required.

Check the RESTART Open Call fiche for more information

EXPAND the network

The major amount of funding will be assigned to the implementation of programmes by DIHs to support the realisation of Innovation Experiments. This shall specifically contribute to the expansion of the network of DIHs as well as making available new knowledge and results from digital innovation activities. The EXPAND the Network open call is specifically targeting at DIHs as the main proposers thereby facilitating the realisation of innovation experiments, while the services of CCs would be logically consumed when implementing an innovation experiment.

Proposers should take into account the following key characteristics, in order to submit an eligible proposal for the EXPAND the Network open call:

  • •  The funding is exclusively available for developing, maturing, and providing Digital Innovation Hub (DIH) innovation services, that are used by teams realising an innovation experiment (IE).
  • •  For being eligible to receive this funding, DIHs need to support one or more Innovation Experiments with their services.
  • DIHs’ costs are funded with 70% (for profit organisations) or 100% (non-profit organisations).
  • •  Proposals shall explain the overall initiative – DIH services funded by SmartAgriHubs as well as thesupported Innovation Experiments that are not directly funded by SmartAgriHubs.
  • •  For balancing such initiatives in terms of efforts/budget, it is expected that the DIH part is generally not exceeding 20% of the overall effort/budget required (max. 20% budget for DIH support and 80% effort, budget or in-kind contribution for realising the Innovation Experiment).
  • •  One DIH could ask for a maximum of 100,000 Euro funding in total from SmartAgriHubs in one or also several proposals. A team of several DIHs could request up to 500,000 Euro for providing support services and programmes in one proposal/project.

Check the EXPAND Open Call fiche for more information

Call for Proposals and Evaluation Procedure

In the RESTART and EXPAND Open Calls, proposals are called under a continuous submission scheme. Proposals will be evaluated after reception in varying intervals after the Open Call publishing. The deadlines for submission will be regularly announced via this Open Call website. Currently, it is planned to close the RESTART open call in September 2021 and the EXPAND open call in June 2022. The open call will be closed at an earlier date, in case the budget that is reserved for open calls in SmartAgriHubs (i.e. for this and other SAH open calls) is completely allocated.

During that period, batches of proposals will be evaluated at several deadlines and can start immediately after the proposal evaluation & selection is completed.

Proposals will be evaluated and selected by experts based on the Evaluation Criteria. To be considered for funding, your proposal must score above a certain threshold for each criterion, and above an overall threshold.

Figure 2: Timing for the RESTART and EXPAND Open Calls.

The detailed funding conditions, evaluation procedure and eligibility criteria for RESTART the Economy around Food Systems and EXPAND the Network can be found in the Open Call publications and the SmartAgriHubs Open Call Programme.

The PREPARE open call will be closed at a fixed deadline on May 26th 2021.

Matchmaking opportunities

The SAH Portal offers the possibility for potential proposers to connect with different organisations (DIHs, CCs, SMEs, technology providers, NGOs, farmers, etc.) through different functionalities:

  • •   The SAH Network gathers over 500 organisations in the agri-food and other related sectors all over Europe, identified by organisation type, sector and region. Open Call proposers and interested stakeholders are invited to register and navigate the SAH Network in the search for potential collaborators.
  • •    Open Call proposers are welcome to check the information provided on Hackathons and Datathons that are supported by SmartAgriHubs in the scope of the RESPOND open call. This will provide some insights on regional activities, planned events and potential teams for cooperation.

  • •    Proposers are invited to check periodically the Open Call Forum to find support from SAH team members on solving doubts and answering questions regarding the Open Call.

Proposal submission

Proposals can be submitted for evaluation until closure of the open call and will be evaluated in batches at regular points in time. Currently the following dates are planned for evaluating delivered batches of proposals:

  • •    Next batch evaluation of submitted proposals: before 26th of May 2021, 17:00 (Brussels time)

    •    Further dates for batch evaluations in 2021 will be published a certain time after closing the previous batch evaluation.

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