The EU FP7 project SOLINSA aimed to identify barriers to the development of Learning and Innovation Networks for sustainable agriculture (LINSA). The project explored how policy instruments, financial arrangements, research, education and advisory services might support LINSA's in cost-efficient and effective ways.
THE CONCEPT OF LINSA
LINSA are networks of producers, customers, experts, NGOs, SMEs, local administrations, as well as official researchers and extensionists that are mutually engaged with common goals for sustainable agriculture and rural development – cooperating, sharing resources and co-producing new knowledge by creating conditions for communication.
In the SOLINSA project, researchers collaborated with 17 networks all across Europe using a transdisciplinary method based on participation. These interactions enabled to characterise LINSA and to revise the concept of LINSA. In addition 7 Show Case LINSA were studied to complement and enhance this analysis.
AKS and LINSA
Agricultural Knowledge Systems (AKS) refer to formal organizations active in agricultural and rural research, advisory services, and education. It does not only imply the public organizations, but also private and non-profit organisations. They are very often public funded.
The specific context of AKS in eight countries in Europe has been studied in order to identify possible resistance and collaboration of the AKS towards the emergence and development of LINSA. The interactions between the AKS and 17 LINSA, which collaborated with the SOLINSA project, were also studied. The interactions between LINSA and AKS are challenging for both sides!
To boost innovation and transition towards sustainable development, there is a will to support LINSA in an appropriate manner. In addition to existing support, there is a need for specific competences, which have been carefully identified and described as “transition partnership”. Transition partners can help LINSA to define LINSA objectives, to innovate, to find support from different sources, to build a LINSA governance structure and operation. Transition partnership comes along with several tasks and functions. A transition partner can take up the role as facilitator, participatory researcher, as boundary person, as expert, lecturer or trainer, as intermediary person, or in the context of the European Innovation Partnership as innovation broker.
At the end of the SOLINSA project, a training course for transition partners has been designed and tested. Recommendations have also been formulated for transition partners, referring to training, networking, cross-sectoral activities and a more intensive practice-research collaboration. The approach particularly becomes to be evident in the context of the European Innovation Partnership.
Based on the analysis of the AKS in eight countries, the interaction with 17 LINSA and the review of existing policies supporting innovation as well as two policy workshops that took place during the final conference, policy recommendations have been formulated. The aim is to improve the support offered to LINSA but also the policy context. Specific recommendations are proposed for the European Innovation Partnership.
For more information about the project visit project's website: http://www.solinsa.org/home/