Newsletter #1

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INNO-4-AGRIFOOD newsletter inno4agrifood.eu

Join the KATANA competition!

Are you interested in innovative technologies in the agri-food domain? Are you a start-up or SME operating across the agri-food value chain, ICT sector or raising emerging technologies? If so, you can join the KATANA competition and benefit from the financing and services offered by one of the most innovative European accelerators!

Competition for individuals, start-ups and SMEs

You can join the competition by uploading a 2-minute video pitch to present your ideas (Dec 1st 2016 till Feb 28th 1017). Participants must evaluate each other in March 2017, which determines the 100 winners of this first phase. The 100 winners will receive training and a grant to cover costs. In April 2017, these winners should team-up with other companies who work in a different part of the agri-food value chain and/or in another country.

First edition of the INNO-4-AGRIFOOD Newsletter

Welcome to the first edition of the INNO-4-AGRIFOOD Newsletter. The INNO-4-AGRIFOOD project is set on fostering and stimulating online collaboration for innovation amongst the more than 11 million SMEs active within the European Agri-food ecosystem.

To this end, INNO-4-AGRIFOOD will provide a new generation of value added innovation support services aimed at empowering agri-food SMEs to create and capture value from online collaboration and realize new partnerships across sectoral and national borders. At the same time, the project will deliver a suite of ICT tools to support and optimize the delivery of its novel innovation support services, leveraging synergies with the many existing online platforms that host smaller or larger parts of the Agri-food ecosystem. Moreover, INNO-4-AGRIFOOD will deliver a series of easy-to-follow and flexible e-training courses, with the aim of enhancing the capacity of European innovation intermediaries and support networks (such as the Enterprise Europe Network) to support online collaboration for innovation within the Agri-food ecosystem.

The co-creation process

The innovation support services of INNO-4-AGRIFOOD will be co-created, demonstrated and validated in real-life contexts with the active involvement of agri-food SMEs and their innovation intermediaries, aimed to generate outcomes fitted to their needs. In fact, during the first six months of the project, representatives of diverse stakeholder groups (such as agri-food SMEs, technology providers, innovation intermediaries, academics, etc.) have already substantially contributed in the co-creation of well-tailored services by INNO-4-AGRIFOOD. Experience and lessons learnt during the entire project will be diffused across Europe to fuel the replication of its results and thus enable SMEs in other European sectors to tap into and capitalize on the full potential of online collaboration for innovation as well.

Visit the INNO-4AGRIFOOD website for more information and please feel free to circulate this newsletter.

INNO-4-AGRIFOOD Co-creation Workshop: Innovation support services and ICT tools

The INNO-4-AGRIFOOD Co-Creation Workshop was organized and held in September 2016, with the aim to actively involve agri-food stakeholders in the co-design process of the services, tools and e-training offer of the project and through a series of co-creation activities, to pave the way for their demand-driven development. The co-creation methodology implemented during the workshop was carefully designed to support the 21 participants to yield novel, creative concepts and ideas, based on the given context, objectives and questions. The main part of the workshop included 2 parallel co-creation sessions, dedicated to the innovation support services and tools as well as the e-training approaches and topics, respectively.

The outcomes of these parallel sessions are discussed in the two reports, one for the support service (D3.1) and one for the e-training approaches (D2.1)

Analysis of the agri-food value chain

An analysis of the agri-food value chain was conducted with the principal aim to identify and conclude on value chain areas which stand to benefit the most from the outcomes of INNO-4-AGRIFOOD. The analysis was based on a review of available recent Strategic Research and Innovation Agendas (SRIAs) produced by European-wide and national initiatives. The conclusions of the report indicated that there is a largely underexploited potential of online collaboration for innovation as well as a need for more active SME support in this respect. Indeed, there are many challenges for which SMEs in the agri-food value chain need to collaborate with potential technology/knowledge providers and the potential of online collaboration to enhance their innovation capacity is evident. European innovation intermediates and support networks, such as the Enterprise Europe Network, as well as clusters of SMEs and other key stakeholders, including National Food Technology Platforms and ETPs, have a key role to play towards taping into this potential.

The complete report can be downloaded here.

Agri-food SME Profiling and Needs Analysis Report

An interview-based survey was conducted to unveil and conclude on different profiles of agri-food SMEs in terms of innovation support needs and level of readiness to participate in and capitalise on online collaboration for innovation. Based on a detailed analysis of the valuable quantitative and qualitative data that were provided by the interviewees and deep reflection on the findings 2 distinct SME profiles emerged, namely (i) Core Agri-food SMEs and (ii) Supporting Industries SMEs.

Core Agri-food SMEs

Core Agri-food SMEs encompass farmers and primary producers of various agricultural outputs (e.g. arable crops and open field vegetables growers, vineyard farmers, etc.), food processors (e.g. processors of fruits and vegetables, meat processors, functional food producers, etc.) as well as logistics and sales companies (e.g. distribution companies, food warehousing providers, relevant wholesale and retail chains, etc.). Barriers they appear to encounter in the process of integrating online collaboration for innovation into their business practices include limited resources, a mind-set not open to collaborating and adopting (innovative) solutions from the external environment, lack of awareness on innovation platforms tailored to their needs and sector, communication difficulties implied by language differences as well as relatively limited ICT skills.

Supporting Industries SMEs

Supporting Industries SMEs include technology and innovation providers which cooperate with agri-food SMEs (e.g. agricultural machinery producers, ICT-based application and software providers, etc.). They constitute an enabling part of the agri-food SME community, providing them with the opportunity to reinforce their competitiveness, innovate and develop their business. SMEs of this type are characterised by a relatively higher level of readiness to engage in online collaboration for innovation than Core Agri-food SMEs. Barriers they may encounter towards this end encompass lack of awareness on suitable online platforms that can facilitate the formation of online collaborations for innovation with Core Agri-food SMEs and difficulties in terms of effectively understanding the business needs and challenges of their potential partners and by extension how to address them in the most appropriate way. Along these lines, specialised innovation support can enable SMEs of the Supporting Industries group to not only identify but also to better utilise suitable online platforms in which Core Agri-food SMEs participate and present their needs, allowing for the formation of active partnerships and demand-driven innovation projects.

The complete report can be downloaded here.

Skills Mapping and Training Needs Analysis Report

A skills gap analysis was conducted to assess European innovation intermediaries´ skills gaps and training needs related to the effective delivery of online collaboration for innovation support services to agri-food SMEs. Some of the key findings of the analysis are the following:

  • The average expertise of innovation intermediaries varies greatly among and within different skill areas.
  • The current level of innovation management skills demonstrate the greatest improvement potential.
  • A significant improvement potential was identified with respect to agri-food industry knowledge, which was rated during the interviews as the most important skill area.
  • On average, innovation intermediaries demonstrate a medium performance in terms of support skills and collaboration skills, indicating comparably lower training needs.
  • The average level of relevant soft skills amongst innovation intermediaries appears to be comparably advanced.
  • On a skill level, the biggest improvement potential exists with respect to agri-food industry characteristics, agri-food networks, agri-food regulations and standards, technologies, Intellectual Property issues, and all skills associated with providing innovation management support services.
  • The innovation intermediaries surveyed are comparably heterogeneous with respect to their levels of skills assessed, which points towards opportunities for modularized training courses.
The complete report can be downloaded here.
Inno4agrifood This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement N° 681482.
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