Periodic Reporting for period 2 - DIVA (Boosting innovative DIgitech Value chains for Agrofood, forestry and environment)
Reporting period: 2019-10-01 to 2021-03-31
DIVA is a collaborative project coordinated by Agri Sud Ouest Innovation with nine partners coming from 6 countries in Europe. Its main aim is to boost the development and use of digital technologies in the agrifood sector and more particularly to support the emergence and development of new industrial digitech value chains with applications to the agrifood sector and related ones like forestry and environment.
Two open calls were launched in February 2019 and February 2020 at the European level. As a whole more than 400 proposals were received. They were evaluated by the DIVA consortium following three main criteria: impact of the project, its excellence and its implementation. In the end, 134 projects involving 180 SMEs from 9 different EU countries were selected: 88 maturation projects, 38 demonstration projects and 8 internationalization projects, which represents a 35 % average success rate. The beneficiaries benefited from direct financial support under the form of vouchers worth 10 to 60 k€ depending on the type of project and a strong support of expertise from the DIVA partners to carry out their project. Trans-national cooperation has been encouraged for Demonstration and Internationalization projects where at least 2 SMEs were required. 28 % of these projects turned-out to be trans-national. The list and summary of all the projects is available on: www.projectdiva.eu/funded-projects/
The final event held on March 4th and 5th 2021 celebrated the end of DIVA with a series of conference and a matchmaking event.
The main recommendations to the SMEs are 1) to consider frugal, low-tech and organizational innovation together with high-tech solutions 2) to think “smart” and not only “Big data and AI”, as real big data situations where artificial intelligence can meet its full potential are not yet so often met in agriculture 3) to have in mind that farmers are not the only target of the digital transformation as many different players are part of the industrial value-chains (e.g. equipment manufacturers, input producers,...) with specific digital needs to be addressed 4) to combine “IT for Green” and “Green IT” to take into account the environmental foot-print of the digital solutions.
For the EU policies, there is a need 5) to unlock the barriers to data exchange and secure data flows to exploit its valorization potential as data is probably at the heart of the digital economy of tomorrow 6) to promote experimentation sites and facilities, and further, living labs to offer full demonstration test-beds for digital solutions in interaction of the end-users 7) to push forward cascade funding schemes with vouchers that turns out to be particularly relevant to boost innovation with SME as it allows to test ideas, which would not be done otherwise or require more time, 8) to give the possibility of intermediate size funding schemes since higher funding levels cc 300 k€ - 500 k€ are necessary for projects requiring more investment (e.g. robotics) and targeting higher TRL levels (7-8), 9) to give the possibility by way of derogation for experimentation outside the regulatory framework to unleash innovation and prepare future solutions. 10) Innovation clusters play a key role to reach SMEs and act as a catalyst for innovation within their ecosystems, together with intermediary organisations such as Research and Technology Transfer Organisation (RTO) and Experimentation Centres.
The European label of the project also provides visibility, and credibility when it comes to attract investors. Among the 180 beneficiaries, 34 SMEs benefited from an equity investment. Total equity investment represented 3,9 M€ and budget investment by the SMEs represented 4,8 M€. As a whole, 8,4 M€ of private investment have been made on the DIVA supported projects, which represents a leverage effect of 3,1 for the investment of the EC (2,7 M€ of vouchers). Finally, DIVA contributed to creating dynamics that find an echo at regional levels and European level. At regional level, the Digital Innovation Hub (DIH) initiative will typically build on some of the DIVA regional actions. The community built will be further valorised through the Green Deal and Horizon Europe programs to meet the European digital transformation and environmental sustainability objectives.