From March 4 to March 6, the kick-off event of SmartAgriHubs took place in Prague, the Czech Republic. This EU project (with over 160 partners) will give the agri-food sector a substantial digital boost over the next four years under the (project)coordination of Wageningen Economic Research. More than 200 experts and professionals from all European countries came together to get inspired, share common challenges, attend interactive workshops and most importantly, to enlarge their network.
The event involved high-level speakers including senior officials from the European Commission who emphasized the European scale of this project. Internet of Things expert Wilhelmina Jewell Sparks, CEO and founder of BitHouse, gave an inspiring speech on the importance of education and innovation.
Creating synergies together
On 6 March, we welcomed our colleagues from IOF2020, another project coordinated by Wageningen Economic Research.
No fewer than 300 partners and attendees from both projects spent the whole day creating synergies, sharing common problems, solutions and establishing links between them in order to make sure the European agriculture and food sector will be more sustainable and future-proof.
Companies working together on innovative digital applications in the AgriFood sector presented more than sixty cases. In groups, organized by sector, theme or region, the participating companies made a huge leap in the reuse of already developed components. Think of a weather station or an associated irrigation pump, a device that records the location of cows, an acoustic instrument that detects coughing and sneezing piglets in the pigsty etc. etc. All these applications are connected to the internet and linked to the smartphone of the farmer or horticulturist. The participants were particularly enthusiastic about the cases. "This way we don't have to keep reinventing the wheel and that is exactly what this project is all about". The day also involved a visit to a dairy farm near Prague, which has deployed various IoT innovations.
This was followed by two days of workshops, presentations and lectures for the IOF2020 partners, aimed at speeding up the use of the Internet of Things on farms. There was also plenty of room for discussion and knowledge sharing. Thanks to all the enthusiastic attendees, it was a valuable conference full of networking opportunities, collaboration and fun moments!
Tom Tynan (cabinet Phil Hogan, DG-AGRI): "People vote with their feet. The size of the gathering says it all".
Andrea Halmos (Coordinator DIH, DG Connect): "The SmartAgriHub Kick-off meeting was a very impressive organisation, with very interesting sessions and presentations. We believe that the SmartAgriHub model of strong regional (financial) commitment in the open calls could be an interesting model to learn from and would therefore be grateful to hear about your experience in this regards."