Wageningen Research invests in her knowledge base through the development of a theoretical framework to understand social innovation (SI) linked to agriculture, forestry and rural development (rural development in its various dimensions and contexts, relationships to innovation more widely, its dynamics and the scope for operationalization). Important for SIMRA is co-construction from stakeholders (e.g. through The Social Innovation Think Tank (SITT)) and the selection of relevant case studies on e.g. bio-energy and consumer-producer partnerships in agri-food. Wageningen Research will arrive at a working classification of the SIs observable in marginalised rural areas (MRA) and, by exploring case studies in pilot sites and selected policy processes, will expose SI enhancing features and practices, social needs and new social relationships and collaborations.
A Dutch case study will be analysed on bonding ties among farmers in the case of care farming and allow to apply knowledge of Wageningen Research in different areas. The Netherlands will benefit from the development of new patterns of cooperation, co-construction and collaborative learning between scientists, policy makers and practitioners (innovators, entrepreneurs, SMEs, local institutions, and NGOs, farmers, forest owners, agro-food industries, consumer-producer associations etc.).
Using a multi-level and multi-actor/trans-disciplinary approach to SI, SIMRA will co-construct findings to support the needs of society and policy and practice communities to help unfold the territorial capital and unlock the growth potential of rural areas. SIMRA will benefit from a Europe- and Mediterranean-wide network of partners scientifically excellent, complemented by SMEs, rural animateurs, social entrepreneurs and enterprises, and wider stakeholders.
The majority of the 26 project partners are either public body, non-profit organisation, or international organisations. A minority are SME: (1) Socio-Economic, Environmental and Development Services (SEEDS-int., Non-profit SME, Lebanon); (2) Foreco Technologies S.L. (FORECO, SME, Spain); (3) Rural Development Company (SME, UK); (4) CETIP network ltd, based in several CEE countries (CETIP, SME, Czech Republic); (5) ÖAR Regionalberatung GmbH (OAR, SME, Austria). Via the SITT and the case studies several agricultural and forestry firms will be involved.