In order to transfer knowledge to the industry the main activities organized by Institute of Agricultural Resources and Economics Priekuļi Research Center (AREI) are field days for farmers and seminars. Participation in fairs and events related to industry, Researchers’ nights and other public events promote developments of AREI as well. Several collaboration projects on technologies commercialization are ongoing.
AREI is a member of Vidzeme high added value and healthy food cluster that promotes collaboration among food sector SME’s, academic and public organizations. The most important product in relation to commercialization are varieties of various field crops released by AREI. Varieties are protected (patented) and Institute receives Royalty payments from seed producers using protected varieties.
AREI had breeding program for Triticale – a crop with unrealised potential for food production. The scientists of the Institute worked hard to promote triticale as a crop that has high nutritional value and is potentially beneficial for human health. The interest from entrepreneur was met, however, they were not interested to invest in research. During one of the exhibitions the person particularly interested in production of innovative and healthy products from local crops was met.
The cooperation between the Institute and an entrepreneur was started basing on self-financing as there were no public funds available at that moment. Researchers from the Faculty of Food Technology of Latvian University of Agriculture (LUA) were involved in cooperation in order to investigate the best processing technologies for muesli containing triticale. Company Felici, Ltd. was established and production of alternative kind of muesli was started. The brand “Muesli Graci” was launched.
In 2010 when State Research programme on utilization of local resources was started, the Institute received a grant to continue the research on nutritional quality of the local cereal varieties. Later Felici, Ltd. was involved in the project.
The outcome of this cooperation was selection of best varieties of triticale for food production. On 2015-2016 international project financed by Norway grants “Innovative approach to hulless spring cereals and triticale use from health perspective” was implemented. One of the main stakeholders of the project was Felici, Ltd.
Evidence of success
The crop with previously unrealized potential has been introduced in healthy food production. The entrepreneur still continues to expand range of production and market share. One of the main goals of Felici, Ltd. – to create the story behind the product – has been reached, as the nutritional quality of the muesli has been scientifically proven. On 2014 Felici, Ltd. received Innovation Award.
• Few funds supporting cooperation between the scientific institutions and entrepreneur were available so far. Today more funding is available. However, generally the share of co-financing in projects supporting cooperation between the scientific institutions and the private entrepreneurs is too high for conditions of Latvia.
• There is a need for further development of the science parks and clusters in Latvia, it will help both parties to meet and discuss the issues.
• The mediator between the scientists and the entrepreneurs would be helpful and useful.
• The time scale of many projects is too short for investigations connected with agricultural trials.
Potential for learning or transfer
The key success factor is two parties (the scientists and the entrepreneurs) who are really interested in success of the cooperation. The scientists have to be interested in transfer of their research results and the entrepreneurs must be interested to invest into research and to commercialize new findings and knowledge.
Cooperation and transfer projects in Latvia are relatively new phenomena in comparison with the old Europe. We still have to learn a lot, to accumulate the experience. Both involved parties need to attend workshops and other events with the aim to acquire more knowledge and understanding.
Institute of Agricultural Resources and Economics
Priekuļi Research Centre
Zinātnes street 2, Priekuļi, Priekuļu parish
E-mail: [email protected]