The EIP-AGRI is part of EU’s growth strategy for this decade

In a changing world, the EU’s economy needs innovation to become smarter, more sustainable and more inclusive.  Along with its growth strategy EU 2020, the EU has launched the Innovation union, an initiative aimed to help all EU countries to provide their citizens with a more competitive economy, more and better jobs and a better quality of life.

EIPs - a new approach to innovation

Five European Innovation Partnerships have been launched in the context of the Innovation Union. European Innovation Partnerships are a new approach to research and innovation. EIPs help to pool expertise and resources by bringing together public and private sectors at EU, national and regional levels, combining supply and demand side measures. All EIPs focus on societal benefits and fast modernisation. They support the cooperation between research and innovation partners so that they are able to achieve better and faster results compared to existing approaches.

An EIP for more productive and sustainable agriculture and forestry

The European Innovation Partnership for Agricultural productivity and Sustainability (EIP-AGRI) was launched by the European Commission in 2012. It aims to foster a competitive and sustainable agriculture and forestry sector that "achieves more from less". It contributes to ensuring a steady supply of food, feed and biomaterials, and to the sustainable management of the essential natural resources on which farming and forestry depend, working in harmony with the environment. To achieve this aim, the EIP-AGRI brings together innovation actors (farmers, advisors, researchers, businesses, NGOs, etc) and helps to build bridges between research and practice.

The EIP-AGRI speeds up innovation through an interactive approach

The innovation model under the EIP-AGRI goes beyond speeding up the transfer from laboratory to practice (referred to as the "linear innovation model"). The EIP-AGRI adheres to the "interactive innovation model" which brings together specific actors (e.g. farmers, advisors, researchers, businesses, etc) to work together in multi-actor projects to find a solution for a specific issue or developing a concrete opportunity. In these so-called Operational Groups, new insights and ideas will generate and existing tacit knowledge will be built into focused solutions that are quicker put into practice. Such an approach will stimulate innovation from all sides and will also help to target the research agenda.

Innovation may take various forms - it does not happen overnight

Innovation under the EIP-AGRI may be technological, non-technological, organisational or social, and based on new or traditional practices. A new idea can be a new product, practice, service, production process or a new way of organising things, etc. Such a new idea turns into an innovation only if it is widely adopted and proves its usefulness in practice. One can only determine afterwards whether a new idea has led to a real innovation.

Choosing the right partners - ensuring practical output

In short, innovation is: "an idea put into practice with success". Therefore it is important to have practitioners involved, not as a study-object, but in view of using their entrepreneurial skills and practical knowledge for developing the solution or opportunity and creating co-ownership.

Innovation does not just happen by accident or because what is produced is novel to its environment. It is key to build in elements that help the new idea to become a success. Innovation project groups should therefore be composed of those key actors that are in the best position to realise the project's goals, to share implementation experiences and to disseminate the outcomes broadly. The Operational Group approach makes the best use of different types of knowledge (practical, scientific, technical, organisational, etc) in an interactive way.

Orienting the EIP-AGRI

A high-level steering board has kicked off the EIP-AGRI by providing strategic orientations for its implementation.

Coordinating agricultural research across the European Research Area, the Standing Committee for Agricultural Research, which consists of representatives from Member States and Candidate and Associated Countries, has engaged in assisting the EIP through the development of innovative Horizon 2020 instruments. It is providing advice via a dedicated working group on Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems (AKIS).