The activities of thematic networks focus on summarising, sharing and presenting, - in a language that is easy to understand and is targeted to farmers and foresters - existing best practices and research findings that are near close to being put into practice, but not sufficiently known or used by practitioners. The specific themes of the networks can be chosen in a 'bottom-up' way and must focus on the most urgent needs of farmers and foresters. If appropriate, they can cover important or promising cross-sectoral issues. They should pay attention to the cost/benefit aspects of the new practices. A comprehensive description of the state of the art on the chosen theme should explain the added value of the proposal, the relevance of the theme and how it avoids duplication with ongoing or completed projects and networks. If duly substantiated, proposals may focus on the widening of an existing thematic network. 'Widening' could apply to content and/or geographic coverage (e.g. through twinning or cross-border exchange visits). In order to better reach and capture knowledge from the targeted farmers/foresters, the networks may organise 'cross-fertilisation' through sub-networks covering, for example, a region, a language or a production system.
The result of the project should be an extensive range of appealing end-user material. This information should be easily to access and understand, and feed into the existing dissemination channels most consulted by end-users in countries. It should also be provided to the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) 'Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability'. Proposals should fall under the concept of the 'multi-actor approach'[[ See definition of the 'multi-actor approach' in the introduction to this Work Programme part.]], with a consortium based on a balanced mix of actors with complementary knowledge involving farmers/foresters, farmers' groups and advisors. Wherever possible and relevant to the chosen theme, synergies and complementarity with EIP Operational Groups and interactive innovation groups operating in the context of the EIP-AGRI are encouraged, and, if useful, with other European Structural and Investment Fund projects. In the exceptional event that minor testing of specific solutions would be needed, a maximum of 20% of the project budget may be used for this purpose.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 2 million per project would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
Despite the continued funding of scientific projects, innovative ideas and methods from practice are not captured and spread, while also research findings are often not integrated into agricultural and forestry practice. It is essential to close the research and innovation divide and to act at EU level. National and sectoral agricultural knowledge and innovation systems (AKISs) are insufficiently connected to fully meet this challenge. More intense cooperation is needed between researchers, advisors and farmers/foresters to stimulate the exchange of knowledge in view of fostering economically viable and sustainable agriculture and forestry.
Activities must contribute to the collection and distribution of easily accessible practice-oriented knowledge on the thematic area chosen, including delivering as many as possible “practice abstracts” in the common EIP-AGRI format and as much audio-visual material as possible. The aim is to:
- conserve the practical knowledge for the long term - beyond the project period - using the main trusted dissemination channels which farmers/foresters consult most often, and also serve education and training purposes;
- increase the flow of practical information between farmers/foresters in Europe in a geographically balanced way, creating spill-overs and taking account of the differences between territories;
- achieve greater user acceptance of collected solutions and a more intensive dissemination of existing knowledge.