Window on Innovation n.2

Window on Innovation n.2
Versione italiana

No news in terms of Operational Groups in Europe and in Italy yet. Agriregionieuropa however sets the conditions for the new forming 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.


Nothing new in terms of national decisions for interventions on innovation in the 2014-2020 Rural Development policy domain. The Member States (MS) are still involved in the submission of their Rural Development Plans (Rdp) to the European Commission (EC). Time is still needed before they receive an official approval or a request for amendments [link]. To support this process, the EC has produced in the last months a number of delegated and implementing acts for a uniform application of European legislation emanated from the European Parliament and the Council (including the Reg. 1305/2013 for the RD) [link]. With specific reference to innovation, in order to provide guidance to the national Managing Authorities (MA), the EC has updated the Guidelines on programming for innovation and the implementation of the Eip-Agri (July 2014) [pdf]. This document has been restructured to make it more readable. The text has been completed and detailed on some critical points. It currently presents: (1) a more comprehensive definition of innovation; (2) a special section dedicated to the Operational Groups (OGs) that details in particular: the role of the beneficiaries; specific guidelines regarding the application for funding for setting-up and for the operations of the OGs; indications for the setting-up and management of cross-border OGs, both in the purely geographical sense of inter-regional (as in the case of regionalised countries) or inter-national groups (therefore, inside or outside the rural development area) and in the sense of cross-border themes for which each region will support, in addition to its own programs, also coordination actions with OGs in other regions; indications about format for the dissemination of the results of OGs; (4) a new section on networking activities of the Eip-Agri with a sub-section for the specific activities carried out by focus groups; (5) additional options for supporting innovation support services, innovation brokering and the use of networks for the development of OGs; (6) further details on the criteria for selection of projects and the organization of the OG calls; finally, (7) the synergy with other policies, such as Horizon 2020 and the Structural Funds, is further emphasized.
However, meanwhile the EC approved on 29 October the Partnership Agreement with Italy, setting the strategy for the use of the European structural and investment funds. €42 billion are made totally available, €31 billion for the cohesion policy, €10.4 billion for rural development and €537 million for the maritime policy and fishery. Thanks to the national co-financing, €20.8 billion will be available in the rural development framework and €1 billion for fishery. The strategy aims to promote the competitiveness of the sector through innovation and attention to a sustainable, young, environmentally friendly and custodian of the land agriculture. Resources for the development of rural areas are also available through attention to ultra-wide band. For the competitiveness of the agricultural sector 44.3% of the resources will be available, 40.7% for the protection of environmental resources, 12.2% for the development of rural areas, and 2.8% for technical assistance, to be used to improve the administrative ability in the management of funds. The adoption of the Partnership Agreement speeds up the conclusion of the negotiations for the Rdp and the resources availability to potential beneficiaries.

Flash news from Europe

The 8th European Organic Congress on Implementing Innovative Ecological Solutions for Farmers and Rural Communities has been held in Bari (Italy) on 10-12 September 2014 [link]. Organic farming is prioritised in the Eip-Agri, however the sector faces for the coming years the prospect of significant changes in terms of regulation. The conference focused on how to make Europe more organic and how to drive innovation towards sustainable food production. Opportunities for innovation and current innovation experiences in Europe in the field were then discussed by experts. At the following [link] it is possible to download the speakers’ presentations and congress material.
Since September 2014, the Eip-Agri service point website has changed: the possibility to interact and share content, and to find information using keywords (e.g. about project partners, funding opportunities, opportunities for knowledge exchange, events, etc.) makes the website even more user-friendly [link].

Operational Groups

DG Agri is organising a two half days seminar (18-19 November, Brussels) dedicated to practical approaches for launching effective Eip-Agri Operational Groups with the RDP 2014-2020 funding. The seminar will focus upon two key issues: (1) How to organise an effective call for OG projects (incl. legal framework and guidelines for OGs and networking); (2) How to organise EIP networking at national and regional level with effective links to innovation support services (Iss) and advisory services with a focus on innovation [link].
Other events organized in the context of the Eip-Agri can be viewed at the following [link].

Focus Group

Thirteen focus groups (FG) are currently active in Europe. The last call for experts ended in September.

FG already concluded:

FG in progress:

  • Animal husbandry and Reduction of antibiotic use in the pig sector [link]: This Focus Group has held both of its meetings, its recommendations report will be published in October;
  • Genetic Resources - Cooperation models [link]: this FG has held both of its meetings, its recommendations report will be published shortly;
  • Profitability of permanent grassland [link]: this FG is still running, it will hold its second meeting in November;
  • Mainstreaming precision farming [link]: This Focus Group is still running, it will hold its second meeting in November;
  • Soil organic matter content in Mediterranean regions [link]: this FG is still running, it has held its second meeting in September;
  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM) - Focus on Brassica species [link]: this FG has held both of its meetings, its recommendations report will be published in December;
  • Fertiliser efficiency - Focus on horticulture in open field [link]: This FG is still running, the second meeting will be held in October;
  • High Nature Value (HNV) - Farming profitability [link]: this FG is still running, it will hold its second meeting in October.

FG just started:

  • Ipm practices for soil-borne diseases suppression in vegetables and arable crops [link]: this FG has just been started, the first meeting will be held December (2-3) in Alicante;
  • Optimising profitability of crop production through Ecological Focus Areas [link]: this FG has just started, it will hold its first meeting in December (10-11) in Monaco;
  • Innovative Short Food Supply Chain management First meeting [link]: this FG has just started, it will hold its first meeting in December (10-11).

Horizon 2020

The Eip-Agri organized on 21 November in Brussels the Info day: Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 2 calls for proposals 2015 - Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research and the Bio-economy.
The info day in Brussels aims at providing first-hand information on the coming call for proposals under Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 2, covering three calls for proposals under which projects can apply for funding:

  • food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry;
  • marine and maritime and inland water research;
  • bio-economy.

The provisional program is available at this [link].
Participation in the Info Day is free of charge but registration is compulsory.
You can register until 17 November 2014 via the following [link].
In order to inform users about the research opportunities provided by Horizon 2020, in September 2014 the Eip-Agri Service Point has published a brochure containing all the information about funding opportunities under Horizon 2020 - Calls 2015. At this [link] it is possible to download the pdf.

News from Italy

Research and Innovation: program for 2014-2020

  • July 2014: presented in Rome the National Strategic Plan on Research and Innovation in agriculture [draft in Italian, pdf]. The Ministry for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mipaaf) started in 2012 a process for the establishment of a national strategy for research and innovation (R&I) in collaboration with the regions, and the presentation event has been an opportunity to open a public debate before the adoption of the strategy proposed. The document provides the framework for actions to be taken and opportunity to be seized in the agricultural, food and forestry R&I domain.
  • October 2014: In order to rationalize the agri-food research sector, to support technological spin-offs and rationalize and contain public expenditure, the Stability Law 2015 [in Italian, pdf] formalizes the incorporation of the National Institute of Agricultural Economics (Inea) in the Council for Research and Experimentation in Agriculture (Cra), which shall be referred to as the Agency for research, experimentation in agriculture and the agricultural economics analysis.

Rural development

  • July 2014: the National Programme for Rural Development [in Italian, pdf] and the National Programme for Rural Network [pdf] for the 2014-2020 programming period have been submitted to the EC for the approval.
  • October 2014: available online through the National Rural Network website the Partnership Agreement (updated to September 2014) submitted to the EC and approved on October 29th, at the end of the formal negotiations. This document is a tool for national planning of structural funds and European investment (including the Eafrd for Rural Development) assigned to Italy for the 2014-2020 programming.
  • Strengthening research, development and technological innovation” is the first Objective Theme (OT1) detailed in the Partnership Agreement. In order to meet it, appropriate actions are needed to affect the structural and cultural weaknesses of the country. According to the 2014 Innovation Union Scoreboard (IUS), Italy ranks first in terms of R&I performance among the moderate innovators, namely those countries whose performance is between 50 and 90 per cent of the EU average.
  • In 2010, the Italian expenditure for R&D in the agri-food sector has represented 4 per cent of the total expenditure for R&D. Companies have invested a share of around 41 per cent of the total R&D expenditure in the sector. 98 per cent of this expenditure, with an upward trend since 2005, is currently mainly done by the food industry, confirming the structural difficulties farms have to directly realize research activities (e.g., fragmentation, small dimension of firms, neglected role for the agricultural regional development agencies, the only link between R&I supply and demand for farms). The low investment in agri-food research from the private sector (1.6 per cent of total business investment on R&D), combined with a decreasing trend of public expenditure on research, highlights the need to promote a revival of the research system in the agri-food sector, and to promote a closer relationship between research facilities and the private sector [in Italian, pdf].
  • With regard to the strategic guidelines for R&I in the agricultural, agro-industrial and forestry sector, the priorities identified in the document relate to the: 1) improvement of the environmental sustainability of production processes (e.g. production techniques with low impact and more efficient use of inputs - water, nutrients and pesticides) and quality of agriculture and food production; 2) adjustment of production processes to climate change, soil protection and prevention of natural hazards; 3) production of technological and organizational solutions to help enhancing the sustainable profitability of production processes; 4) production and adaptation of varieties to meet higher quality and safety standards for consumers; 5) improvement of energy efficiency of production processes by reducing energy consumption and improving technologies and methods for the production of renewable bioenergy from residues and waste of the production process [in Italian, pdf].
  • The development and adoption of innovations will be implemented through the Eip-Agri operational groups. Given the novelty of these tools, the Partnership Agreement emphasizes the importance of establishing a governance based on consultations between the Ministry (Mipaaf) and the regions in the planning phase of operations, in synergy with the other planned research activities. Mipaaf will agree with the regions the guidelines on OGs setting-up procedures (e.g. selection criteria, characteristics of partnerships, animation activities, monitoring, national and international links between OGs). In addition, the R&I objectives will also be pursued through an active cooperation between OGs belonging to different regions and countries. Finally, it is highlighted the need to promote research in agriculture and in the agro-industry especially when this is functional to improving the quality of the innovation adoption, in synergy with other funds and policies (e.g. cohesion policy, research policy, Cap).