Publication of support to Operational Groups imminent
MAPA has announced that the fourth call for Operational Groups will be published soon. It also recalls some important modifications that affect the regulatory bases that will be applied.
In view of the foreseeable short period of time for the submission of applications, it is advisable to anticipate project ideas and start preparing them in advance in order to be able to be on time with the submission of applications.
Recently, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA) has informed that the publication of the fourth call for innovative projects to be carried out by supra-autonomous operational groups is imminent.
This forthcoming call is part of the PERTE Agroalimentario, presented on 8 February by the minister Luis Planas, as a support measure for Axis 2, which aims to boost the digitisation of the agri-food sector. In this way, it is expected that the projects that are approved for funding will be strongly oriented towards promoting efficiency in the use of resources, in particular precision and intelligent agriculture, innovation, digitalisation and modernisation of machinery and production equipment, as well as promoting short distribution chains, the use of renewable energies and the circular economy in the agri-food sector. 12.2 million from the additional EAFRD envelope of the European Recovery Facility (EU-Next Generation) for the National Rural Development Programme (PNDR).
In view of the expected short timeframe for the submission of applications, it is advisable to anticipate project ideas and start preparing them in advance in order to be on time with the submission of applications. To this end, it is essential to take into account some recent modifications to the regulatory bases, through Royal Decree 1103/2021, which involve important changes and which will be applicable in the next call for applications.
Main changes and modifications
With regard to the main changes and modifications to the regulatory bases of this call, some important points stand out that directly affect the configuration of the operational groups, the grouping of beneficiary entities and, therefore, the budget associated with the projects for which the aid is requested:
- The representative of the grouping of beneficiaries must be a non-profit and private entity.
- Public bodies may only be involved as subcontracted members, not as beneficiaries of the aid.
- New eligible costs:
- Staff costs of the group for dissemination work.
- Project preparation and drafting costs.
- Certain limits on the blocks of expenditure are modified:
- There is an upper limit in the block of implementation costs (previously 75%).
- The subcontracting limit is increased from 40% to 70%.
- Cost moderation for all costs with no upper limit: a minimum of 3 comparable bids must be submitted, with the exception of own personnel costs and travel, accommodation and subsistence costs. If there is no more suitable supplier on the market, this must be duly justified.
- Modifications to projects: the deadline for submission will be set out in the call for proposals, not in the rules.
- Increased requirements for payment requests: among others, a single bank account will be required for financial transactions (income and expenditure) linked to the implementation of the approved actions of each of the beneficiary members.
The second point is particularly relevant as it implies that entities such as universities, public technology or research centres, as well as public companies that form part of the regional public sector, may not form part of the group of beneficiaries. It does not prevent them from being part of the operational group that will implement the project, only that their participation in it must be as a subcontracted member of the applicant group.
This is especially important for operational groups that have already applied in past calls and have not been successful beneficiaries and intend to reapply for grants, as they will have to reconfigure themselves as an operational group and reschedule the implementation of the project and its budget distribution.
Our experience in Operational Groups
Another of the main novelties is that the MAPA will finance the expenditure corresponding to the preparation of the project, provided that it has been executed in the 6 months prior to the publication of the call for proposals in the Official State Gazette. In this way, we make ourselves available to our clients to act, if they so wish, as an innovation agent and provide support in the design and drafting phase of the proposal, as well as in possible preliminary market studies.
It should also be noted that we currently participate in initiatives financed by previous calls for proposals for innovative projects to be implemented by operational groups, so we have experience in the monitoring and economic-administrative justification of this type of project.
Such is the case of the innovation project of the MaízSostenible Operational Group which, led by the company Vertex Bionergy, aims to improve the environmental sustainability and profitability of maize cultivation in Spain through the application of digital technologies and tools, which will help to accurately determine the carbon footprint of these crops in order to promote the first national certification of sustainable maize production in our country.
Another Operational Group that received our support was GOVALMAVIN. This initiative, led by the Wine Technology Platform, concluded in September 2020 with results that contributed to a greater knowledge of earthenware jars for the production and ageing of quality wines. For its development, GOVALMAVIN counted on our experience in the management of public-private consortia, to provide technical support and support in the economic justification and certification, as well as in the dissemination and transfer of results.
Finally, we would also like to highlight our participation in the GOPHYTOVID Operational Group as the project’s technical office. Thus, from our department of Innovative Investment Grants, the consortium of this initiative, led by Familia Torres, relied on our services for the monitoring and justification of the project from a technical, economic and administrative point of view.