The eco-system is aiming at producing innovative bio-reactive animal breeding products and beverages for human consumption from non commercial by-products.
Since 2006 the antibiotic growth promoters in animal breeding have been completely banned as feed additives in the EU because they are suspected of contributing in increasing resistance of human pathogens. The animal breeders are searching for natural additives to substitute the chemical antibiotics. Recent investigations have shown significant antimicrobial effects of several aromatic and pharmaceutical plants. In Western Macedonia, a large variety of aromatic and pharmaceutical plants are cultivated systematically (saffron, oregano, siderites, etc)• from the total production around 62% to 65% is discarded even though its bio-reactive value is similar if not equal to that used commercially.
The Hellenic Agricultural Organization (HAO) DIMITER , is the main National Agricultural Research Foundation which is in charge of research for technological improvement and development in agricultural, forest, fish production; veterinary and food production. The HAO-DIMITER in order to satisfy the addressed need of animal breeders has started up an eco-system consisting of two industries activated on producing, processing, packaging and selling spices, scented plants, herbs, beverages, and animal breeding products (Bagatzounis Markos & Sons S.A., Greek Feed Industries (EL.VI.Z)) and two University Labs (Nutrition Lab of AUTH, Lab of Pharmacognosy and Chemistry of Natural products NKUA) in order to produce and test animal breeding products and eventually commercialize these products.
The start-up of the ecosystem is financed from the Operational Programme Competitiveness, Entrepreneurship and Innovation with totally 400.000€ for 3 years. Also 9 researchers were occupied (designing and testing products) and around 6 employs from the industries in the production process.
Evidence of success
The eco-system connects scientific research and market needs and its final outputs are innovative animal breeding products of high value which are certified and licensed for commercial distribution and until now at least three animal breeding farms are buying the product. After the success on this product the eco-system expanded its activities and beverages for human consumption. The eco-system decided to continue the co-operation in order to produce more similar innovative products.
The main difficulties were encountered at its start up. Lack of financial sources, lack of trust among the companies and bureaucracy were finally overcome as an experienced research institute took over the co-ordination of the eco-system and finding the necessary finance.
Potential for learning or transfer
This eco-system can be considered successful as it has many benefits such as enhancing research and innovation capacity, improving resource efficiency, increase in job opportunities (employment). The key factors for the success of the ecosystem were the experienced co-ordinator, the active participation and commitment of the members of the eco-system, the similar organisation cultures of the firms, the adequate initial funding, the similar organisation cultures of firms, the expertise and high skills of existing employees within firms. All the above features show that the eco-system can be easily transferred to other regions/ countries, even to similar kind of processes and products.
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