Horizon Europe alternative protein funding calls for 2024 – everything you need to know
The latest Horizon Europe deadlines are fast approaching, with calls offering exciting opportunities closing early in 2024. Our Research and Grants Manager walks through the key calls for alternative protein researchers.
10 November 2023
The EU’s €95.5 billion flagship research and innovation programme, with its strong focus on collaboration and open science, is ideally suited to scientists hoping to develop plant-based, cultivated meat and fermentation based foods.
There are a huge range of calls available each year on a wide range of projects. Below is a summary of the open calls that could be relevant for researchers working in alternative proteins.
Three calls, which close on 22 February 2024, explicitly focus on alternative proteins:
- Microbiome for flavour and texture in the organoleptic dietary shift (HORIZON-CL6-2024-FARM2FORK-01-9) includes creating fermentation-based ingredients to improve the flavours and textures of plant-based meat, dairy and fish products, piloting new precision fermentation techniques and developing new biomass production methods.
- Impact of the development of novel foods based on alternative sources of proteins (HORIZON-CL6-2024-FARM2FORK-01-7) will assess the environmental potential of foods including algae-based products and microbial proteins, as well as production cost and consumer acceptance.
- New healthy and sustainable food products and processes (HORIZON-CL6-2024-FARM2FORK-01-2) is relevant to researchers focusing on developing nutritious new plant-based ingredients.
Scaling up fermentation
Funding is also available to help fermentation projects scale up, develop new strains and demonstrate how this process – with its potential to use waste sidestreams as feedstocks to produce large quantities of protein – can help Europe achieve its circular economy goals:
- Targeting marine extremophiles for sourcing novel enzymes, drugs, metabolites and chemicals (HORIZON-CL6-2024-CircBio-01-10) is a fantastic opportunity for researchers interested in the potential of organisms capable of living in some of the world’s most extreme conditions – such as hot springs, volcanoes and hydrothermal vents – to help develop alternative proteins. Deadline: 22 February 2024.
- Green hydrogen as feedstock in innovative production routes (HORIZON-CL4-2024-TWIN-TRANSITION-01-34) and Turning CO2 from waste to feedstock (HORIZON-CL4-2024-TWIN-TRANSITION-01-35) could involve upcycling these gases as a feed for biomass fermentation. Deadlines: both 07 February 2024.
- From silos to diversity – small-scale bio-based demonstration pilots (HORIZON-CL6-2024-CircBio-02-6-two-stage) will enable researchers to focus on using waste products in plant-based or fermentation-made protein production. Deadlines: 22 February 2024 and 17 September 2024.
- Demonstrating the fair and just transition from GHG-intensive economies facing challenges towards circular bioeconomy model regions (HORIZON-CL6-2024-CircBio-01-7) focuses on developing new bioeconomy structures, including for areas of intensive livestock or crop production, and so could fit a project aiming to demonstrate the use of crop sidestreams for fermentation. Deadline: 22 February 2024
- Bioeconomy project development assistance – Increased access to financial, legal and technical support along all Technological Readiness Levels and whole supply chains for bioeconomy projects (HORIZON-CL6-2024-CircBio-01-8) aims to demonstrate how new techniques such as the development of novel foods can help rural and coastal areas in achieving a just, green transition. Deadline: 22 February 2024
Changing the food system
Transforming our food system will depend on more than just improving the taste and texture of products. These calls focus on researchers who want to engage with farmers on this challenge:
- EU-African Union – towards climate neutral, social just fair trade food systems (HORIZON-CL6-2024-FARM2FORK-01-11) covers tipping points for scaling up a climate-neutral and just food supply, including land use change. Deadline: 22 February 2024
- Promoting minor crops in farming systems (HORIZON-CL6-2024-BIODIV-02-3-two-stage) would be ideal for projects helping European farmers to grow protein crops for plant-based foods. Deadlines: 22 February 2024 and 17 September 2024
And for those interested in tackling broader questions, engaging with policymakers and wider society in the transition to a more sustainable food system:
- Next generation low-emission, climate-resilient pathways and NDCs for a future aligned with the Paris Agreement (HORIZON-CL5-2024-D1-01-05) requests proposals for projects developing sectoral climate transition scenarios, including food and agriculture. Deadline: 05 March 2024
- Regional ecosystems of innovation to foster food system transformation (HORIZON-CL6-2024-GOVERNANCE-01-2) and Circular bioeconomy start-up villages (HORIZON-CL6-2024-CircBio-01-9) are opportunities for researchers wanting to work on a local or regional level with rural ecosystems to develop new products and technologies. Deadline: 22 February 2024
- Citizens’ science as an opportunity to foster the transition to sustainable food systems (HORIZON-CL6-2024-FARM2FORK-01-6) might be of interest to engagement-focused researchers and networks. Deadline: 28 February 2024 and 22 February 2024 respectively
- Environmental impacts of food systems (HORIZON-CL6-2024-ZEROPOLLUTION-01-3) will help build an evidence base for the environmental and climate impacts of the food system, and improve Europe’s ability to reduce them. Deadline: 22 February 2024
- Land use change and local / regional climate (HORIZON-CL6-2024-CLIMATE-01-4) is an opportunity to develop a model for land use change, as well as modelling sustainable solutions including diet change. Deadline: 22 February 2024
These are just a few examples, but I strongly recommend alternative protein researchers delve into the full Horizon Europe 2023/24 work programme or look at Cluster 6’s Food and Bioeconomy calls for more information and ideas.
Don’t forget there’s also the European Research Council’s Starting, Consolidator, Advanced, and Proof of Concept grants, which are available to all researchers regardless of topic.
Check out our resources if you’re interested in applying for these calls:
- If you’re looking for research ideas, our Advancing Solutions initiative highlights high-priority knowledge gaps – with a more commercial, EU-focused version here.
- Individuals can use our alternative proteins researcher directory to connect with people interested in getting involved in the field. The European Commission’s partner finding tool offers a similar resource.
- Researchers previously funded by GFI can be found on our grantee web pages, while our company database provides information about potential private sector partners.
- You can find other relevant opportunities in our research funding database or see what projects are already being funded on our research grants tracker.
- GFI is often able to support strong research consortia addressing our highest priority research areas, by acting as project advisors and sharing letters of support – please get in touch for more information.