After being launched in February, the first conference of “The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (EIP) on Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability – Priorities and Delivery Mechanisms” took place on 19 November. Over the last years it has become increasingly evident that a new approach to agricultural
innovation and research is needed if the European farming is to meet the challenge of producing under new constraints of resource availability and in line with multiple environmental and societal requirements. To this end, the EIP on agriculture was launched from within the EU Innovation Union initiative in order to meet the objectives of the Europe2020 strategy.
It is believed that innovation is essencial to boost the competitiveness of European agriculture, which is crucial if we are to unlock the full economic and social potential of our rural areas. To that end, in February the European Commission proposed a new Innovation Partnership in the area of “sustainable agricultural productivity”.
According to the European Commission, the EIP will provide a new approach by creating working interface between agriculture, bio-economy, science, advisors, environmental groups, consumers, and other stakeholders at EU, national and regional level. It will help to ”bring innovative research results faster from science to practice, to encourage the sharing of knowledge and experience, and to ensure a systematic feedback about needs from practice to the scientific community”. In order to improve quality of life and position Europe as a global leader, the Commission champions a enhanced innovation effort across the public and private sector of agriculture and food production.
The conference of 19 November, was the very first one on this subject and it gathered various stakeholders like European and national farmers’ organisations; representatives of EU Member States; delegates of the Standing Committee on Agricultural Research (SCAR); representatives of national advisory bodies; researchers and academics; environmental NGOs; Civil Society organisation; and representatives of on-going initiatives within the research framework.
The outcome of the conference will feed into the work of the Steering Board for the EIP. However, ”the focus is predominantly on increased agricultural productivity, business-oriented, with little consideration to true societal challenges.”