Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP6

IN-SIGHT Report Summary

Project ID: 44510
Funded under: FP6-POLICIES
Country: Germany

Final Report Summary - IN-SIGHT (Strengthening Innovation Processes for Growth and Development)

The IN-SIGHT project aimed at building a conceptual framework and knowledge base for a more effective European policy on innovation in agriculture and rural areas. The project addressed the question what kind of knowledge and innovation infrastructure is required to support the future needs of rural economies, including the sectors based on natural resources. The direct involvement of the institutions and stakeholders concerned in the research process has contributed to the development of policy and practice recommendations that are directly applicable in the work and decision-making of relevant actors at European Union (EU), national and regional level.

The IN-SIGHT final report encompasses the following results:

- A conceptual framework and knowledge base for a more effective European policy on innovation in agriculture and rural areas, consistent with the new European agenda for agricultural and rural policy and sensitive to the diversity of the European agricultural and rural systems. Success factors and best practice examples in present innovation systems and processes have been identified and explored in a series of country-level appraisals of innovation systems and processes, in-depth reviews and case studies.

- In the summary of country-level reviews of innovation systems in Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, France and Finland the following factors were identified, amongst others:
(i) the need for greater flexibility in organisations and institutions dealing with innovation and more (pro)active support;
(ii) hybrid networks or multi-actor platforms are better stewards of innovation and catalysts of change processes than formalised institutions;
(iii) building relationships, networking and education are important features in innovation processes where constant cooperation with different actors, from various organizations, is essential;
(iv) necessity to balance mainstream scientific / technological and rural innovation policies and support.

- Processes, organisation and actors involved in different types of innovations, i.e. in the three fields of direct marketing in agriculture, bioenergy and new rural services.
(a) Processes: The main theoretical assumption is that changes in actor networks constitute the mechanism of innovations. Innovations start with problem recognition and identification of opportunities and evolve towards creation of novelties. They may develop further with niches formation and lead to changes in market regimes. Through diffusion of innovations in wider societal and market networks the political, economic and cultural landscape may be transformed.
(b) Organisation: Every stage of innovation is characterised by certain activities, leading actors, innovation forces, configuration of actor networks, and characteristic ways of cooperation and support.
(c) Actors: Four categories of innovation actors can be distinguished: socio-economic actors (farmers, supply chain actors, associations, etc.); information and knowledge system actors (research institutions, extension services, schools etc.); public decision system actors (public administration, hygiene and control institutions etc.); and end users / consumers.

- Relations between knowledge exchange, social capital and the success of innovations. As the case studies in the three rural development fields witness, networking and social learning - as social mechanisms for the implementation of new practice - are important to any innovation.

- Systemic, cross-sectoral and territorial aspects of innovation processes: role of embeddedness, territorial governance and institutional collaboration in rural innovation. Different types of innovation are often supported by different bodies and levels of administration: European, national, regional, local. The actors involved are numerous and their number is increasing as the innovation diffuses in several policies. In general, decentralisation is seen as a point of strength of innovation systems, as it allows for a more effective detection of local problems and development of tailored projects.

- Recommendations for policies and delivery services (support strategies and frameworks), according to the state of the innovation process (novelty, niche, regime) and to the innovation actors concerned (public decision system and knowledge system). The recommendations are of a general character and have to be studied and developed at European level and in each country / region to add appropriate measures to the specific European, national and regional conditions and frames. The overall recommendation is openness: sectoral and territorial barriers should be overcome; collaboration between communities, regions and nations and between various sectors (agriculture, rural economy, industry etc.) is needed; social and organizational aspects of innovation should be considered.

- Further development of the initial conceptual framework. Successful rural innovations are co-produced through the evolution of collaborative networks. Four steps in the co-production of innovation can be distinguished (corresponding to different types and levels of collaboration within networks; not all innovations follow necessarily the uniform path through the four steps):
(i) creativity and initiative: actors' response to problems and opportunities;
(ii) establishing partnerships: actors get involved, relationships and alliances are built, roles and responsibilities are differentiated, the network mobilises resources to develop a new product or service;
(iii) unfolding innovation: collective norms are established, novel economic, social and organisational solutions are achieved, innovative products and services are promoted and reach the market;
(iv) stewardship and reflexivity: innovation networks, norms and practice are consolidated and results are evaluated in a reflexive process re-directing innovations towards new challenges and sustainability objectives.

Related information

Reported by

VEREIN FUER LAENDLICHE STRUKTURFORSCHUNG E. V.
FRANKFURT (MAIN)
Germany
Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top