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THE FAIR-INNOVATION (FA-INN) DISSEMINATION PROJECT: USING 57 FOCUSED WORKSHOPS AND 22 RETUER EVENTS FOR TRANSFERRING RESULTS

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The FAIR-INNOVATION (FA-INN) project disseminated the results from EU sponsored food research programmes (notably from the FAIR programme) to food SMEs in 19 countries (15 EU plus Iceland, Norway and later in the project, Hungary and Switzerland) via 79 focused workshops including 22 RETUER (ready to use European research) workshops. The project builds on the FLAIR FLOW I and II projects (1991-1996) which disseminated results to food SMEs through 147 Europe wide workshops with a combined attentance of 7800 people

The objectives of this project were to:

- obtain feedback from food SMEs regarding the usefulness of the results presented and their potential for uptake
- obtain the opinion of SMEs as to their RTD requirements and the possible content of future R&D programmes
- to promote innovation in the European food industry through the diffusion of RTD results to food SMEs and by bringing technology providers (researchers) and the technology users (food SMEs) together.

The workshops generated 73 technical handouts, 5 of which were upgraded to technical manuals and disseminated and are available on the FLAIR website (www.flair-flow.com) which in itself was a useful spinout from the project. The RETUER workshops, as expected, were seen to be more useful by the food SMEs than the ordinary workshops. Some countries did not hold workshops and disseminated electronically instead. In terms of feedback, the response rate for feedback forms was low (23%). Suggestions for future food R&D programmes were related to topics that came from workshops or were company specific, and therefore tended to be the short-term requirements of SMEs.

The workshops established close contact between the network leaders and their national food industry initiating a 'culture' of technology transfer. This generated systems of national networks. Many researcher end-user links were also established as a result of the workshops.

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