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ISIB-02-2015 - Closing the research and innovation divide: the crucial role of innovation support services and knowledge exchange

Specific challenge: In view of fostering economically viable and sustainable development in agriculture, forestry and rural areas it is essential to close the research and innovation divide. The Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems (AKIS) are very different between countries, regions and sectors and generally don't fully meet the challenge to increase simultaneously productivity and sustainability in agriculture and rural areas. Despite the continued generation of knowledge through scientific projects, research results are often insufficiently exploited and taken up in practice, and innovative ideas from practice are not captured and spread.

The AKIS Collaborative Working Group of the Standing Committee of Agricultural Research advocates the distinction between science-driven research and innovation-driven research, which are governed by different incentives. Cooperation between research and extension services or farmers and other actors in the supply chain is crucial for innovation-driven research and should be promoted, notably through the EIP. Therefore, mechanisms and networks, which stimulate this interaction and knowledge exchange, should be developed in view of optimising resource use and enhancing the transition to innovation-driven research. Making available science and practice based information is an essential condition for the setting up of EIP operational groups.

Scope:Projects should involve actors from science and agricultural practice and facilitate the exchange on existing knowledge on innovative approaches in agriculture, the supply chain, and rural areas. They should help to put existing research into practice and capture creative ideas from the grassroots-level. Methods for generation of innovation-driven research should be promoted taking into account the diversity of European regions, farming and agro-food systems.

Two types of networks are foreseen: (1) a network focusing on innovation support services, whose activities would include exchange and development of methods for innovation brokering and advisory activities with a focus on innovation, and (2) a number of networks on specific themes. Activities of these networks would include synthesising, sharing and presenting best practices and research results that are near to be put into practice, but not known or tested by practitioners. The resulting innovative knowledge and easy accessible end-user material should feed into the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) 'Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability' for broad dissemination to farmers and other actors in the agricultural innovation chain.

The networks shall involve a wide range of actors concerned by the specific themes, including scientists, farm advisory services, innovation support services,  farmers/farmers' groups,  various groups operating in the context of EIP, SMEs, etc. Up to one network on innovation support services shall be funded in 2014; all other projects should be networks dealing with specific themes. Proposals should fall under the concept of 'multi-actor approach'[1].

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 2 million per network would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact:

  • Improved flow of information and knowledge between academia and practitioners in particular on agricultural and forestry practices and innovations
  • increased exchanges between European regions on innovative matters; new funding formats enhancing innovation-driven research; more efficient methods for innovation support services
  • successful deployment of the vast reservoir of existing scientific and practical knowledge
  • focused collection of innovative knowledge on specific themes, a greater user acceptance and intense dissemination of solutions for a more competitive and sustainable agriculture and forestry to farmers and other actors in the agricultural innovation chain
  • thematic networks delivering accessible and long-term available end-user material on the themes which should also generate a better targeted and shared research agenda for innovation-driven research and multi-actor projects
  • improved skills and education material on innovation approaches and on specific thematic areas

         Support to implementation of the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) 'Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability'.

Type of action: Coordination and support actions

[1] See definition of 'multi-actor approach' in footnote 1 in the introduction of this Work Programme part.