About the project
Connecting advisers to boost interactive innovation in agriculture and forestry – i2connect project aims to fuel the competencies of advisors who will support and facilitate interactive innovation processes. The strategy in i2connect is to use the existing advisor networks and the experiences of success to create a broader network and momentum of change enabling a new culture of bottom-up led innovation support. This resource of over 40,000 advisors are critical to support agriculture and forestry on the ground and must be influenced in this project to support innovation with emphasis on EIP-Agri 2020.
An inventory will be made where best practices throughout Europe will be analyzed in an interactive way to guide the development of approaches and tools.
A pool of trainers will be trained to work with these materials in training to better coach advisors. Attention will also be given to the ‘enabling environment’: ways in which managers of advisory services, research actors, policy makers and others can create conditions that are conducive for interactive innovation processes. The project will support learning through courses in the main European languages. Training courses will include a period of moderated peer coaching on the job for advisors. Some advisors may join cross visit teams for studying interesting cases abroad. These activities feed into a professional network with many local branches, supported by the project through a moderated online platform for mutual coaching and sharing experiences on themes that emerge.
i2connect brings together 42 organizations, most of them directly involved in stimulating innovation in rural areas and food systems in all corners of Europe, especially in CEE countries. The major European farm and forestry advisory services are partners. They are committed to contribute to a continuous learning and improvement of advisory support making better use of the opportunities that the EIP-Agri program has created for bridging the gap between research and practice.
Interactive innovation emphasizes cooperation among various actors, the sharing of knowledge and effective intermediation between actors along the value chains and at different territorial levels. Key for interactive innovation is that existing (sometimes tacit) knowledge is included whereby end-users and practitioners are not only involved as study objects but their entrepreneurial skills and practical knowledge are used for developing the solution or opportunity, thereby creating co-ownership.
A prerequisite for interactive innovation is a multi-actor approach involving all the relevant actors along the entire project; from the participation in the planning of work and experiments, their execution, up until the dissemination of results and possible demonstration phase. The relevant actors are those that share a complex problem, which requires new knowledge and practice and include actors from different societal sectors such as researchers, entrepreneurs, educators, government workers, NGO representatives as well as farmers/farmer groups, advisors, enterprises, etc.
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The project’s overall objective is to “Empower advisors as well as their organizations to engage and support farmers and foresters in interactive innovation processes”.
To reach this overarching goal, our three specific objectives are:
The project activities are organized in seven work packages:
i2connect addresses the full range of challenges faced by innovation advisors. Its well-tailored activities will provide interested professionals and their organizational and institutional environments with skills, competencies, concepts and approaches. In particular, it is the ambition that i2connect will specifically enable actors:
- To connect diverse AKIS actor groups and stakeholders with different professional backgrounds around a challenge or problem and to engage with them in a cooperative working process;
- To perceive farmers’ needs and interests for change and innovation and to respond to their views with a partnership attitude and supportive services so as to recognize potential innovations;
- To provide a range of different innovation support services to clients in a targeted and situation-specific way
- To diagnose the respective AKIS in order to bridge practice and research meaningfully;
To practice networking and peer-to-peer learning so that long-lasting living networks are created and maintained beyond the project’s scope and duration.