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Designing the path: a strategic approach to EU agricultural research and innovation

To close up the design process of a long-term strategy for European agricultural research and innovation (started with the kick-off event in Milan in June 2015), DG Agri organised a final conference in Brussels on 26-28th January 2016.

It was the occasion to discuss the content of the strategy, in particular how it could be implemented, with the relevant actors. The conference was opened by Commissioner Hogan and assembled over 500 participants including scientists, relevant science networks, agricultural stakeholders, international organisations and authorities.

strategic approach EU research innovation agriculture

Three main points were stressed during the conclusions of the event:

  • To place societal impact in the centre of the selection of research projects and to develop further holistic approaches

It means that research and innovation projects should focus on approaches that could contribute really to the well-being of the society

  • To build a bridge between researchers, practitioners and citizens

This was illustrated from the fact that citizens have a growing interest for science and research programmes outcomes and from the need for an open science with greater exchange of information. The participants stressed that efficient information and communication systems should be built in such a way that it makes the research sector accessible to the society. Currently, dissemination of knowledge within society is limited by the use of complex research terminology.

  • To take into account local realities

The participants illustrated this point through several dimensions. A farmer from Croatia shared her experience on Horizon 2020 and the complexity for farmers to get involved in research & innovation programmes (too bureaucratic, lack of knowledge on policy, geographical disconnection and language barriers). A solution offered to this issue was to develop systematically regional-based info points. Another attendant mentioned the difficulty to develop spaces for change and innovation at community’s level and that it should be taken into account when researchers present new solutions. Finally, a participant stressed once again that knowledge systems were not as simple as a linear development, from fundamental scientists to the field, that knowledge was produced everywhere and thus that it was needed to redefine what is considered a researcher.

After the event, the European Commission will work on the final version of strategy paper (the date of release is not known yet). The strategy will feed into the overall Horizon 2020 strategic programming for 2018-2020 and of its successor.

Euromontana is supporting the “Mountains for Europe’s Future” initiative. Its goals is to make the case for the inclusion of specific mountain research topics in the 2018-20 Horizon 2020 Work Programmes and, more widely, for mountains to be integrated more prominently in the EU policy agenda. Euromontana hopes that the final version of the DG Agri strategy paper will reflect the research and innovation needs of mountain areas.

The feedback of the implementation of the strategy will be ensured through stakeholder consultations monitoring and the mapping of the funded activities (in particular from the various parts of Horizon 2020) against the strategy’ set objectives. In addition, the strategy will be reviewed periodically in the light of findings and recommendations of new foresight reports (from the SCAR and others) and stakeholder consultations.

More information on the long-term strategy for EU agricultural research and innovation are available here.

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15 February 2016

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