About this good practice
Innovation is essential to promote a sector that is efficient from the point of view of the resources used, productive and with a low level of emissions, which guarantees a sustainable development of rural areas and the increase of competitiveness and diversification of the sector. Innovation in the agri-food and forestry sector is one of the priorities of the catalan government. One of the objectives of the Rural Development Program (PDR) of Catalonia 14-22 was to estimulate innovation and the knowledge transfer in the agri-food and forestry sector. To respond to these objectives, the Department of Climate Action, Food & Rural Agenda had made available, to the agrifood sector, grants for cooperation for innovation through the creation of operational groups (OG) of the European Association for Innovation (AEI) in the field of agricultural productivity and sustainability and the implementation of innovative pilot projects by these groups.
This instrument is intended to bring together multiple actors such as farmers, researchers, advisors, businesses, environmental groups, etc to advance innovation in the agricultural and forestry sectors. The members of an OG commit working together and actively to solve a specific problem or to take advantage of a specific opportunity, and the involvement of a research, technology centre or university is mandatory.
The first call was launched in 2015, 6 calls have been launched, total budget 30 € M, 293 projects funded, 783 beneficiaries.
The measure has had a budget of 30 million euros for the Rural Development Program 2014-2022 and is co-financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). It has a budget of 15 M euros for the period 23-27
A team of 10 people is involved in the management of the instrument
Evidence of success
These grants have been very well received by the agri-food and forestry sector, which has participated very actively in the submission of projects. More than 700 enterprises have used the measure and 300 innovation projects have been funded. These numbers demonstrate the good response to the calls for projects, showing that the sector is genuinely interested in solving specific problems, based on collaborative work between different entities.
Potential for learning or transfer
As a result of a first collaboration between the Catalan agri-food and forestry businesses and research and tech centres, synergies and complicities have emerged, and long-lasting collaboration linkages have been established that can make new possible experiences, continuing this path of innovation and continuous improvement.
OG have an obligation to disseminate substantial results that can be of use to others, creating knowledge which is freely available for everyone to use.
The aim is to create a rural environment which will progress towards a green and digital transition, which is accessible to everyone with innovation, knowledge and its transfer. From our experience we can conclude that: “Bottom-up” projects facilitate sector involvement and empowerment, it is important give support during the preparation and during the execution of projects, it is important to focus on dissemination with a view to capitalizing on results.