Window on Innovation n.1

Window on Innovation n.1
Versione italiana

The Window on Innovation originates from the collaboration between Agriregionieuropa and the European Innovation Partnership “Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability” (Eip-Agri) Service Point. Published in Italian and English, the Window shows a double content: scientific and informative.
The aim is to create a virtual bridge linking Italy and Europe in order to trace and analyze the evolution of policy measures in the field of innovation and the implementation of the Eip-Agri. At the same time, the Window on Innovation is designed to provide a systematic update on events, opportunities for collaboration and ongoing efforts to realize the operational objectives set out in the new programming for rural development and research.

With this service, Agriregionieuropa aims at connecting with and offering its facilities to all the existent similar initiatives promoting innovation in agriculture, in the agro-food field and in rural areas. In particular, Agriregionieuropa set the conditions for the new forming Operational Groups (OG) to inform and spread their activities: the Communities of Practice approach will be used for this purpose. Instructions for the OG on how to collaborate will be provided directly by the editors.
This first edition of the Window on Innovation defines the overall picture in which Innovation moves and reports about the first news.


The concept of European Innovation Partnership (Eip) as a new way to foster innovation is introduced for the first time in 2010 by the European Commission’s Communication “Innovation Union” [pdf], one of the flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth [pdf]. The Eip mission is to build a bridge between science and the application of innovative approaches in practice. Therefore, it encourages all forms of cooperation in order to achieve synergies in Europe and contribute to the objectives of growth and development.
The European Innovation Partnership “Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability” (Eip-Agri) is a new approach to promote innovation in the European agriculture and forestry and is one of the main operational tools for the 2014-2020 programming period. Launched in 2013, the Eip-Agri makes use of the opportunities provided by different policy fields, in particular the Common Agricultural Policy (Cap) and Union Research and Innovation Policy. Its added value lies in its potential to focus existing policies towards innovation, and its nature of a dynamic platform linking science and practice through concrete projects and networking activities [pdf]. The success of the Eip-Agri is based on the collaboration and interaction between the actors involved (researchers, consultants, enterprises, farmers, stakeholders) in order to share ideas and experiences, develop innovative solutions to concrete problems and disseminate search results ready for use. Actions in this context will be realized by means of Operational Groups (OG) that will constitute themselves around topics of interest and act through cluster initiatives and pilot and demonstration projects. Financial support for the OG will be provided through the rural development plans (Rdp). Specific funds must then be reserved for this purpose through dedicated measures, firstly, cooperation (Art. 35 of the EU Regulation n. 1305/2013 on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for rural Development [pdf]).
Networking, building partnerships, knowledge transferring and a bottom-up approach are therefore the guiding principles for action in the field of innovation for the new programming phase. They are transversal to both the rural development and the research policies. In order to set the conditions for these principles to be actively pursued, the European Commission’s Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG Agri) established in April 2013, the Eip-Agri Service Point. Based in Brussels, it acts as a catalyst enhancing communication and cooperation between all the innovation actors working at EU, national and regional level. The Eip-Agri Service Point takes the relevant actors a step further by collecting the needs from practice for further research and by offering them a platform to share their knowledge (link).

News flash from Europe

Operational Groups

From February to May 2014, DG Agri has organized a series of workshops focused on practical aspects related to the establishment of Operational Groups under the rural development programs. The topics discussed in several occasions touched among others the following ones: key principles of the practical implementation of the partnership, creation and composition of Operational Groups, exchanging and sharing knowledge and experiences, identifying potential innovation multipliers, Eip promotion and strengthening the connections between the actors involved.
The currently running workshop are:

  • 27/02/2014, Lisbon: link. Participants from: Greece, Portugal, Spain, Cyprus and Malta;
  • 25-26/03/2014, Ljubljana: link. Participants from: Slovenia, Austria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary;
  • 02-03/04/2014, Tallinn: link. Participants from: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland;
  • 06-07/05/2014, Prague: link. Participants from: Czech Republic, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Ireland, Bulgaria and Slovakia.
  • 21-22/05/2014, Paris: link. Participants from: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Romania.

Focus Group

Eip-Agri Focus Groups are temporary groups of selected experts focusing on a specific subject while sharing knowledge and experience (link). Five focus groups are currently running. They are composed of 20 experts from different European countries selected after applying to an open call for expression on interest, published by the DG Agriculture and Rural Development. At least three evaluators score independently their relevant expertise, motivation and professional capacity in the dedicated theme. Each year the Service Point can arrange up to a maximum of seven new Focus Group.
The currently running Focus Groups are:

  • Focus group: Organic farming (optimizing arable yields), link
  • Focus group: Protein crops, link
  • Focus group: Antibiotics in Pig Production, link
  • Focus group: Genetic Resources - cooperation models, link
  • Soil organic matter content in Mediterranean regions, link
  • Integrated pest management (Ipm): focus on Brassica species, link

New call for experts will be announced in early July, since Eip-Agri is setting up three new Focus Groups on the following themes: 

  • Optimising crop production profitability through ecological focus areas
  • Alternative/innovative supply chains
  • Integrated Pest Management practices for soil disease suppression.

From the beginning of July until September, 9,  it will be possible to apply on this link.
Limited to specific issues where a Focus Group could be the right tool to address innovation, it is possible to propose a new topic on the following link.

Good practices

The Eip-Agri Service Point’s website reports some experience and good practices already implemented in Europe as collaboration format between research and practice. They represent good examples for the Operational Groups:

  • “Estonian potatoes and automatic weather stations: beating the late blight disease”: link
  • “Innovative multi-actor project recovers vine growing area in Galicia, Spain”: link
  • “Flora in your French cheese? Operational Groups: The FloracQ Project”: link
  • “British Hop innovation lab helps growers to keep up with changing demand”: link

News flash from Italy

Rural Development Programmes

  • The Italian Regions are still in the process of preparation of their Rdp. The process of defining strategies for the implementation of the Eip-Agri is ongoing. The debate is still open.
  • The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mipaaf) will present in Rome on July, 10, the National Plan for Research and Innovation in Agriculture. It represents the outcome of consultations started in 2012 aimed at the definition of the focus areas for the new programming period. The program of the event is available on the following link.