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European Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems (AKIS) towards innovation-driven research in Smart Farming Technology

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Smart-AKIS (European Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems (AKIS) towards innovation-driven research in Smart Farming Technology)

Reporting period: 2017-03-01 to 2018-08-31

Smart-AKIS is a Thematic Network on Smart Farming Technologies (SFT) that attempted to overpass the research and innovation divide in this area by the effective exchange between research, industry, extension and the farming community so that direct applicable research and commercial solutions are widely disseminated and grassroots level needs and innovative ideas are thoroughly captured. SFT has the potential to contribute to the wider goal of meeting the increasing demand for food, feed, and raw materials while ensuring the sustainability of primary production, based on a more precise and resource-efficient approach to agricultural production. Smart-AKIS addressed a timely and relevant topic to EU agriculture, since SFT is an area that develops very fast. There is a continuous offer of commercial farming technologies, many of which do not reach the practitioners, while research on SFT has also drastically increased over the past years.
The objectives of the project are:
1. To create an inventory of direct applicable SFT solutions by systematically reviewing research projects in the areas of precision farming, farm management information systems and agricultural automation and robotics.
2. To assess end-user needs and interests, and identify factors influencing adoption taking into account national specificities
3. To generate multi-actor, innovation-based collaborations among different stakeholders by developing interactive innovation processes in the national agricultural value chains, by bringing together farmers, advisors, researchers and industrial partners in interactive innovation workshops.
4. To develop an ICT tool, the “Smart Farming Platform”, for the on-line and interactive communication and knowledge exchange, the assessment of SFT solutions and the crowdsourcing of grassroots-level ideas and needs
5. Liaise with EIP-Agri and its structures in order to maximize stakeholder mobilization and enhance the impact of the project for closing the research and innovation divide in the area of SFT.
"During the whole duration of the project, Smart-AKIS has achieved to follow all its objectives:
1. In the first period, the consortium realized an inventory including 718 filtered journal publications related to SFT in open field agriculture in the last 6 years, 201 research projects within SFT and 164 commercial products derived by companies within the SFT domain. During the last period, Smart-AKIS has achieved to reassess thoroughly the inventory by adding and excluding SFTs based on a more intense evaluation of the SFT practical use for the practitioners. Therefore, the journal publications were reduced to 531, the research papers were also reduced to 94, while the commercial products that are already useful for the end-users were increased rapidly to 439.
2. Regarding SFT research needs and innovation practices, a framework was elaborated for the analysis of SFT related innovation processes and based on a common methodological approach for interviewing farmers, their needs and constraints in terms of SFT acceptability were obtained through a survey carried out with 271 farmers. Moreover, the identification and characterization of factors that hinder and/or foster user acceptance of SFT on a general level has been captured by extensive literature review and interviews with 22 experts within the SFT domain. Smart-AKIS proposed cases of successful SFT innovations providing information on all steps of the entire innovation process (needs and origins of the innovation idea until its implementation and steps of its diffusion). Six innovation cases were analysed and studied in an interactive way to better understand the innovation processes as well as the roles and functions fulfilled by actors of the innovation system. The cases were documented through written and video-based material.
3. A series of 20 Regional Innovation Workshops (RIW) in the 7 Hubs (940 attendants), combined with 2 Transnational Innovation Workshops (TIW) (67 attendants) and a final conference in Brussels (110 attendants) were organised to involve all types of actors and receive their ideas and thoughts on SFT innovation in Europe and allow Smart-AKIS to produce a set of recommendations for closing the research and innovation divide in the field of SFT in Europe and the identified policy gaps and policy briefs for the expansion of SFT use in Europe.
4. A fully functional platform ( together with the Smart-AKIS webpage was designed and operated in order to cover the objective of on-line assessment of SFTs and crowdsourcing of grassroots-level ideas and needs from the SFT end-users and developers. All SFT products, papers and projects have been uploaded on this platform.
5. Collaboration with EIP-Agri was continuous and EIP-Agri contributed in the design of the SFT survey format for the inventory and of the Smart Farming Platform according to the EIP-SP specifications. Smart-AKIS prepared 94 practice abstracts that were provided to EIP-AGRI in its common format. Smart-AKIS was presented to 17 EIP-AGRI workshops and EU conferences, kept close contacts with 32 TNs and multi-actor projects, informed OGs about the Network and had contacts with SCAR AKIS Strategic Working Group.

Smart-AKIS have achieved to improve the information flow between academia and practitioners in agriculture by changing the linear approach in which research and industry develop solutions for the end-users, to a systemic approach, in which solutions are developed with the end-users by:
- Collecting the most promising and innovative knowledge on SFT from science and industry (1064 SFTs) in the Smart Farming Platform.
- Interacting with the main actors (farmers, advisors, researchers, industry) through a survey (271 farmers), a set of interviews (22 experts), 20 RIWs, 2 TIWs and a conference (>1000 attendants) to get their opinion on the subject of SFT
- Recommending actions and policies to increase adoption of SFT in Europe

Exchanges between European regions on innovative matters was increased and more efficient methods for innovation support services were developed through the design and deployment of the Smart Farming Platform to act as the main networking facility for increased exchanges and dissemination of innovations between all actors involved. All information is delivered in the form of easily accessible end-user material using the EIP common format for broad dissemination.
The vast reservoir of existing scientific and practical knowledge was successfully deployed by the inventory of existing scientific knowledge on SFT and the economic and environmental indicators to assess this knowledge in order to deploy solutions with high potential for being taken up by practitioners, thus maximizing the return of investment the EC has made on SFT research. In addition, commercial products have been collected into the Platform to assist extension services and farmers to identify practical knowledge in the area of SFT and enable practitioners to assess these industrial applications.
Interactive Innovation in Regional Workshops