Periodic Reporting for period 2 - INNO-4-AGRIFOOD (Capitalising the full potential of on-line collaboration for SMEs innovation support in the Agri-Food ecosystem)
Reporting period: 2017-09-01 to 2018-08-31
With that in mind, INNO-4-AGRIFOOD is set on facilitating online collaboration for innovation among agrifood SMEs. The project aims at enhancing the service portfolio and practices of innovation intermediaries by providing them with a blend of demand-driven value propositions. These include a set of novel innovation support services and ICT tools that emphasise online collaboration for innovation as well as a suite of e-learning courses that enables innovation intermediaries to acquire the necessary knowledge and skill-set to support online collaboration for innovation. All the value propositions of INNO-4-AGRIFOOD are iteratively co-developed, demonstrated and validated in real-life contexts with active involvement of agri-food SMEs and innovation intermediaries, with a view to ensuring that the final results of the project are shaped according to their needs and expectations.
During the project, a total of 285 agrifood SMEs across Europe were supported either with the INNO-4-AGRIFOOD innovation support services or with the developed ICT tools, and 152 innovation consultants addressed their training needs via the project’s e-learning offering. The INNO-4-AGRIFOOD offerings were favourably assessed by the end-users, indicating their great post-project exploitation potential for promoting collaborative innovation among SMEs of the agrifood sector and beyond.
The innovative concepts and ideas generated during the co-creation workshop led to the co-design of 3 new innovation support services: the “Agribusiness Scan” service, which provides SMEs with a better understanding of their position in the agri-food value chain, supporting them to identify the collaborations they should seek to innovate and grow internationally; the “Online Innovation Platforms” service, that supports SMEs to integrate the use of online innovation platforms to their everyday business and increase the number of innovation opportunities they can timely identify and seize with the help of their innovation intermediaries; and the “Online Collaboration Apps” service, which offers SMEs practical knowledge and hands-on practice on the use of online collaboration tools, with a view to making their cooperation with innovation partners and intermediaries more convenient and cost-effective across long distances.
In order to support the efficient provision of its services, INNO-4-AGRIFOOD co-developed a suite of 3 ICT tools backed by a search engine specialised to the agrifood ecosystem, as well as a toolkit with useful ready-made material to be employed during the service delivery process by innovation intermediaries. Along the same lines and to address their training needs in terms of online collaboration for innovation support, a tailored training curriculum was elaborated according to the outcomes of the co-creation workshop, guiding the development of 14 interactive e-learning modules featuring gamified exercises and webinars, as well as practical e-learning courses in the form of 12 real-life video-supported case studies. A custom-made e-learning platform served as the project’s e-learning environment.
The innovation support services, ICT tools and e-learning environment of INNO-4-AGRIFOOD have been successfully deployed and tested in real-life operational environments during 3 separate deployment rounds, engaging 285 agrifood SMEs and 152 innovation intermediaries across Europe, with the data and feedback collected along the process fuelling their demand-driven validation and fine-tuning. Along the way, a well-tailored dissemination and communication strategy has been implemented to promote the results and benefits of INNO-4-AGRIFOOD, while also fostering participation in their testing and validation. In this respect, INNO-4-AGRIFOOD has developed well-tailored promotional material, set-up its Advisory and Beneficiaries Boards, animated its web portal and social media, issued newsletters and articles, attended several external events and created mutually beneficial synergies with relevant initiatives and networks.
By the end of the project, a detailed replication guide was developed and made publicly available, presenting the replication potential of the project’s approaches and results in the agrifood sector and beyond, highlighting success factors and lessons learnt. Besides, the exploitation strategy employed during the project paves the way for further exploitation of the INNO-4-AGRIFOOD offerings beyond the end of the project.
The activities of the project have engaged a considerable number of SMEs, innovation intermediaries and stakeholders into the testing and validation of its offers and paved the way for their widespread adoption. Finally, the meaningful experiences gained and lessons learnt throughout the duration of INNO-4-AGRIFOOD was compiled into a meaningful guide to drive the replication of the project’s results for the benefit of other major European sectors as well.