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Horizon Europe

Engaging Citizens in Soil Science: The Road to Healthier Soils (ECHO)

Soil is a vital, yet often disregarded, resource that supports life on Earth by providing the foundation for agriculture, forests, and various other natural ecosystems. However, soil degradation is a growing concern around the world, and it can have severe consequences for our planet like reduced crop yields, increased greenhouse gas emissions, and decreased biodiversity. The ECHO-project aims to prevent this by bringing together citizens and volunteer scientists from around Europe to work towards a common goal of protecting and preserving our soils, thus contributing to the transition towards healthy soils of the EU Mission: “A Soil Deal for Europe”.
ECHO will generate new data on the health status of EU soils, complementing existing soil mapping and monitoring in EU Member States, including the EU Soil Observatory (EUSO). The project will develop and deploy 28 tailor-made citizen science initiatives across EU Member States, taking into account different land-uses, soil types, and biogeographical regions, as well as stakeholder needs. With 16 partners from all over Europe, ECHO will assess 16,500 sites in different climate and biogeographic regions to achieve its ambitious goals.
The project aims to engage citizens in protecting and restoring soils by building their capacities and enhancing their knowledge. Citizens will thereby not only actively contribute to the project’s data collection but also promote soil stewardship and foster behavioural change across the EU. The ECHOREPO, a long-term open access repository with a direct link to the EUSO, will make the citizen science data available for exploitation not only by scientists but also by the general public, policy makers, farmers, landowners and other end-users, providing added value to existing data and other relevant soil monitoring initiatives. ECHOREPO will thus provide valuable information about the state of soil health in various regions, and help citizens make informed decisions about land use and conservation.

Principal Investigator: Tanja Mimmo — Faculty of Agricultural, Environmental and Food Sciences
Project Duration: 01/06/2023 — 31/05/2027
Project Partners: Universität Hohenheim, FCiências.ID – Associação para a invesigação e Desenvolvimento de Ciências, Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna, Solutopus – Recursos e Desenvolvimento, Fundaciòn Ibercivis, Plantpress, University of Eastern Finland, Quanta Labs, American Farm School, Stefan Cel Mare University of Suceava, Re Soil Foundation, Universidad de Extremadura, Ambienta Ingenieria y Servicios Agrarios y Forestales, The James Hutton Institute
Project Website:
Funding Type: RIA — MISS-2022-SOIL — Grant Agreement n. 101112869


Healthy Municipal Soils (HuMUS)

The EU mission 'A Soil Deal for Europe' (Soil Mission) aims to drive the transition to healthy soils through sustainable soil management. This requires knowledge and awareness of the importance and value of soil health and its challenges and drivers across Europe. Involving and activating municipalities and regions across Europe to protect and restore soil health is vital for the success of the soil mission.
Creating spaces for dialogue with Quadruple Helix stakeholders, including marginalised and/or vulnerable segments of the population, on soil health and land management issues can help develop a shared understanding of the challenges and help co-create solutions for soil protection and restoration. In this context, the main objective of HuMUS is to promote the European Soil Mission among regions and municipalities through: (i) creating and piloting spaces for social dialogue on soil health between public and private actors in Europe; (ii) promoting shared understanding and co-assessment exercises of soil challenges (biophysical and socio-economic dimensions); and (iii) improving knowledge sharing between municipalities and regions, including on the transformations needed in current S4 (Sustainable Smart Specialisation) strategies and on the use of available EU funds to support the transition.
The project will support the involvement of stakeholders and citizens in decision-making processes through case studies, educational activities as well as exchanges of good practices at regional and local level. HuMUS will also help raise awareness of the issue among regional and local governments, businesses and society at large through the use of the multi-stakeholder Bio-districts methodology, whereby production and consumption patterns are planned in a coordinated way by all actors in the supply chain.

Principal Investigator: Tanja Mimmo — Faculty of Agricultural, Environmental and Food Sciences 
Project Duration: 01/01/2023 — 31/12/2025
Project Partner: ANCI Toscana Associazione (Lead Partner), Università degli Studi di Scienze Gastronomiche, Chambre Regionale d’Agriculture des pays de la Loire, Universität Hohenheim, Centro Tecnologico Nacional Agroalimentario Extremadura, Stichting Louis Bolk Institute, Agroecology Europe, University of Granada, Ernährungsrat Stadtregion Stuttgart, Regional Association of Municipalities Central Stara Planina, Fundación FUNDECYT Parque Científico y Tecnológico de Extremadura, Agencia de Gestión Agraria y Pesquera de Andalucía,Regional Rural Development Standing Working Group in South Eastern Europe, Regional Development Agency for Podravje – Maribor, Landwirtschaftskammer Nordrhein-Westfalen, Vegepolys Valley, University of Cordoba
Funding Type: RIA — MISS-2022-SOIL — Grant agreement 101091050


A Strategic Roadmap Towards the Next Level of Intelligent, Sustainable and Human-Centred SMEs (SME 5.0)

Over the last ten years many efforts have been made to transfer Industry 4.0 from research to practice. Recently, great progress has been made to introduce also SMEs to the use of Industry 4.0. The next big challenge for SMEs will be to implement the dual (or twin) transformation in sense of a digital transformation towards more intelligent manufacturing, while tackling and accelerating the sustainability transformation to enhance economically, socially and environmentally sustainable processes, factories and value chains. In this project we aim to take SMEs to this next level by developing a Strategic Roadmap for making them not only intelligent but also sustainable, resilient and human-centric. This next level of SMEs will be data and intelligence-driven, thus using available data to acquire new knowledge and to apply it for optimisation purposes using artificial intelligence in a secure way. Further, a great attention is paid to how manufacturing and value chains in SMEs can become more circular, green and resilient by considering ethical, human and societal values for more socio-centred factories. In this next level of SME 5.0 factories the human will play a much more important, albeit changing, role. Besides identifying emerging future work profiles and competencies of SME employees, we will develop guidelines for rendering SME workplaces in industry more inclusive and diverse and for empowering them for increased well-being and attractiveness of SME jobs.

The main outcome of the project is to develop and propose a Strategic Guideline and Roadmap that will facilitate SMEs in Europe and worldwide to achieve the above mentioned goals. To expand the impact and exploitation an SME 5.0 Stakeholder & Training Network will be build. The applicability of the results and guidelines is ensured through a close collaboration with non-academic partners, SMEs in the partner network and the aim to validate the results through demonstrators and case study research.

Principal Investigator: Dominik Matt — Faculty of Engineering
Project Duration: 01/01/2023 — 31/12/2026
Project Partners: Deakin University, Chiang Mai University, Stellenbosch University, Universidad del Salvador, Trustees of Purdue University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, ELCOM sro, Endian Srl, Komptech GmbH, Technische Universität München, Montanuniversität Leoben, KTH Royal Institute of Technology,  University of Malta, Technical University of Kosice, Technische Universität Graz
Project Website:
Funding Type: Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions — RISE — grant agreement 101086487


Physical Cognition for Intelligent Control and Safe Human-Robot Interaction (Sestosenso)

The digitalisation of the industry hinges on the successful integration of workers with robots. Also important is the use of robots capable of safe operations with minimum amount of robot setup times and costs and increasing shopfloor configuration flexibility. The EU-funded Sestosenso project will develop technologies for the next generations of collaborative robots capable of self-adapting to different time-varying operational conditions and capable of safe and smooth adaptation from autonomous to interactive when human intervention is required either for collaboration or training/teaching. The project proposes a new sensing technology from the hardware and up to the cognitive perception and control levels, based on proximity and tactile sensors embedded in the robot body, providing a unified proxy-tactile perception of the environment, required to control the robot's actions and interactions, safely and autonomously. Sestosenso is motivated by the industrial need to integrate workers with robots and the need for robots that could operate safely without out-of-the-robot infrastructure, thus reducing robot setup times and costs and increasing the flexibility of the shopfloor configuration.
The Sestosenso technology is demonstrated by three Use Cases of industrial interest: cooperative assembly (automotive), handling and packaging (logistics), and cooperative harvesting (agriculture).

Principal Investigator: Renato Vidoni — Faculty of Engineering
Project Duration: 01/01/2023 — 30/09/2025
Project Partners:  Università degli Studi di Genova (Lead Partner),  Centre for Research and Technology Hellas, Centro Ricerche Fiat SCPA, Idiap Research Institute, Inertia Technology B.V., Institut Franco-Allemand de Recherches de Saint-Louis, Ocado Innovation Limited, Rise Research Institutes of Sweden AB, University of Ljubljana, University of Zaragoza, Institute Of Solid State Physics University of Latvia, University of Oxford
Project Website:
Funding Type: RIA — DIGITAL EMERGING — grant agreement 101070310


Advancing plant-based food fermentation technology for healthy diets (HealthFerm)

Food fermentation is a natural process in which food components are converted by microbial growth of desired yeast and bacteria and enzymes. It is an ancient technique purported to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Food and health experts on the EU-funded HealthFerm project will advance fermentation technology and enable the transition from traditional to sustainable grain-based fermented foods. These will be rich in protein and designed to offer maximum health benefits to EU consumers. For optimal results, they will unravel the relationship between fermentation, the gut microbiome, grain-based foods and health. Moreover, they will identify and employ suitable microorganisms in the development of novel grain-based food sources and assess their impact on gut health.
The multi-actor consortium HealthFerm brings together first-class researchers, food companies and dissemination partners to enable the transition from traditional to sustainable grain-based fermented foods and diets that deliver health benefits to consumers by design. This will be achieved by (1) disentangling the interaction between food fermentation microbiomes, grain-based foods and the human gut microbiome and health and (2) using microbial resources and fermentation technology to develop healthy pulse and cereal-based food and diets that cater to the desires and needs of EU citizens.

Principal Investigator: Marco Gobbetti — Faculty of of Agricultural, Environmental and Food Sciences
Project Duration: 01/09/2022 — 31/08/2026
Project Partnership: 23 partners from Belgium, Switzerland, Finland, Denmark, Italy, Romania, Sweden, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, with Katholieke Universiteit Leuven as Lead Partner
Funding Type: RIA — FARM2FORK — grant agreement 101060247
Project Website: