We did it! The ForestValue Call for Proposals 2017 is now finished, and the final joint selection list of projects recommended for funding includes 17 trans-national projects, the projects’ overall costs totalling around EUR 26.1 million with a total public funding request of around EUR 21.55 million.
When the ERA-NET Cofund ‘ForestValue – Innovating forest-based bioeconomy’ started on 1 Oct 2017, we announced that in total, the three ERA-NETs behind ForestValue (WoodWisdom-Net, SUMFOREST, FORESTERRA) had had national investments of around EUR 67 million to a variety of trans-national co-funded RDI projects (64 funded projects), the total volume of these projects being close to EUR 86 million. Now we can proudly tell that after the joint effort under the ForestValue ERA-NET Cofund, the total volume of national investments is expected to grow with another EUR 21 million, which means that since the first ERA-NET related to forest-based sector in 2004 the total national investments into forest research through these networks of national funders will now be up to more than EUR 100 million.
What about impact, what has been achieved so far and what can we expect from the ForestValue projects?
In March 2018 SCAR Forest released a report on impact assessment of past and existing ERA-NETs and COST Actions within and related to the European forest-based sector. In its conclusion the report makes it clear that “specifically for the European forest-based sector, which is largely composed of SMEs, the ERA-NET scheme has been the essential backbone for research and development activities”, and the ERA-NET scheme as such “has proven to be the perfect instrument for bottom-up, well-tailored research and innovation actions fostering considerable transfer and market impact”. Still, although it is quite obvious that large investments in P2Ps (incl. ERA-NETs) certainly have added value and progress has been achieved, this needs to be clearly demonstrated (see the conference report of the Annual Joint Programming Conference 2016 "Impacts of Public-Public Partnerships - expectations and experiences", organised by ERALEARN 2020 and the European Commission).
The next steps in ForestValue include a few tasks focusing precisely on demonstrating the added value and progress achieved (Task 4.2 “Follow-up, monitoring and analysis of co-funded projects”, Task Leader MINECO.AEI (ES); T5.3 “From Wood-Wisdom-Net to ForestValue: measuring impact of EU collaboration in the forest-based sector, a monograph publication”, MIZS (SI); T7.4 “Online evaluation of projects funded by WoodWisdom-Net+, FORESTERRA, Sumforest and ForestValue”, BLE (DE)), so during the project we will certainly also learn more about success factors and good practices. Nevertheless, it is also good to remember that there are numerous long-term impacts from research, which may take even up to 50 years to become visible depending on the area and type of research.
It is all about networking
Since the first ERA-NET related to forest-based sector in 2004 the results, make it evident: collaboration is key to successful teams and projects. ForestValue will continue networking different actors, and the coming ForestValue annual seminars are one chance for any stakeholder to get involved. Therefore, please keep following us via website, Twitter, LinkedIn and/or newsletters. Looking forward to meeting you!
Coordinator of ERA-NET Cofund ForestValue