European Innovation Partnership and agricultural innovation networks


Anna Vagnozzi (CREA PB), Valentina Cristiana Materia (Wageningen Univeristy)

Silvia Coderoni, Roberto Esposti, Franco Sotte (Università Politecnica delle Marche)


Knowledge development and innovation diffusion represent two of the priorities that the European Commission (EC) has set for the programming period 2014-2020, having an important positive effect on firms’ competitiveness and on the improvement of life conditions.

Knowledge development and innovation diffusion play for example a crucial role within the (European) Common Agricultural Policy as instruments adopted to give an acceleration to the main goal of achieving a resource efficient and competitive agricultural and forestry sector working in harmony with the essential natural resources on which it depends (EC, 2014; European Parliament, 2017).

The EU Regulation on support for rural development (No 1305/2013) establishes in fact - and provides funding for - the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) for Agricultural productivity and sustainability . The EIP-AGRI has the following aims:

  • To promote a resource efficient, economically viable, productive,
    competitive, low emission, climate friendly and resilient agricultural
    and forestry sector;
  • To help delivering a steady and sustainable supply of food, feed and biomaterials;
  • To improve processes to preserve the environment, to adapt to climate change and to mitigate it.

Furthermore, the EIP-AGRI aims at the recognition of the farms’ needs and the better diffusion of the innovations by means of building bridges between cutting-edge research knowledge and technology and farmers, forest managers, rural communities, businesses, NGOs and advisory services. Two are the tools to realize these objectives: networks involving different actors operating in the innovation supply chain at European and national level, and the Operational Groups, namely local partnerships aiming at finding a solution to the specific problems the farms are facing by means of appropriate innovations targeted to their needs (Vagnozzi, 2015).

The approach recommended by the European Commission to achieve these aims is therefore highly interactive, based on the ability of researcher, farmers, advisors and other interested parties to work together for a shared aim.

In addition to the specific policies for the agricultural sector, the Union Research and Innovation Policy “Horizon 2020” provides plenty of opportunities for advanced (agricultural) knowledge and for EIP interactive innovation groups, presenting calls for projects that require the collaboration between researchers, farmers, advisors to produce and to diffuse innovation within the Union (e.g. multi-actor project and thematic networks).  

The EIP-AGRI does signify a major change in how agricultural innovation and knowledge management is organized both at EU level and in most Member States (EC, 2016). Given the fact that it has only recently begun to be implemented though, scarce evidence of the success of - or barriers to - its implementation is currently collected, if not fragmented.

Within this track session, we encourage therefore researchers (and/or policy makers) to submit research papers reporting on the first results of implementation of these policy actions at EU and national, local level, and on  the effectiveness of some methodological aspects that the European Commission has stressed across the different policy areas.

In the context of the 2018 WICaNeM conference on chain and network management, the following research areas are therefore of special interest for this track on the implementation of the EIP AGRI:

  • :
    do the actors currently involved prove to possess the ability to
    efficiently apply the interactive approach proposed by the EC and to
    achieve the aim of innovation co-creation and diffusion? what
    experiences can be collected at EU, national and local level? what are
    the main drivers and the main barriers for the actors to operate?
  • :
    what is the role played by ICT? Does it trigger or hamper interactive
    approaches among different actors? Are there examples of effective usage
    of ICT for the co-creation and sharing of knowledge or does tradition
    still exert a role?
  • to the Horizon
    2020 in general and participation of the Operational Groups in their
    specific projects: is there concrete evidence of efficient support in
    terms of resources provided, monitoring and expected outcomes?
  • not only the advisors, but also of
    the researchers, with reference to the new topics highlighted by the EC,
    such as circular economy, social agriculture, green chemistry,
    resiliency of agricultural and forestry sector etc.;
  • for innovation and of innovations.


  • European Commission 2014, Guidelines on Programming for Innovation
    and the Implementation of the EIP for Agricultural Productivity and
    Sustainability, Directorate H. Sustainability and Quality of Agriculture
    and Rural Development;
  • European Commission, 2016, Evaluation study of the implementation of
    the European Innovation Partnership for Agricultural Productivity and
    Sustainability, Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural
  • European Parliament (2017), EIP initiative assessment, in “Policy
    Support for Productivity vs. Sustainability in EU Agriculture: Towards
    Viable Farming and Green Growth”, Policy Department B: Structural and
    Cohesion Policies, European Union;
  • Vagnozzi, A. (2015), Policies for innovations in the new Rural Development Programs (RDP): the Italian regional experience, in Rivista di Economia Agraria, vol. 70, n. 3, pp. 345-356, Firenze University Press, 2015