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Last update: May 2021

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AgriLink2020 Living Lab training

AgriLink2020, Living Lab Training in Leuven
The first training meeting of Work Package 3 on Living Labs for innovation support services, was organized in Leuven, Belgium, between 26th and 27th of February 2018.

More than 20 participants from 6 different European countries gathered to train and develop the work of these specific AgriLink2020 Work Package 3 activities. Agrilink2020, as a project that inquires the current relationship between advisory services and innovation in 13 EU member states, develop Work Package 3, aiming to test some advisory options on the ground during the lifespan of the project. Each country sent a team (one facilitator and one monitor) and the training was dedicated to work with different tools and methods that could help them run these labs and to have a clear plan for the first months. The aim was to have a training by experienced partners and design of the co-creation process for each lab, developed based on needs articulated during previous skype-sessions.

Each of the countries organizing the Living labs, Belgium & Netherlands (joint Living Lab), Italy, Latvia, Norway, Spain and Romania, have different approach on the theme of the Living Lab, representing the six attempts to be carried out in Work Package 3 in AgriLink2020 project. In a Living Lab, researchers, farmers and advisors and other actors will work together develop and test new tools and services for better connecting research and practice, and learn about co-design methods for linking research and practice. These approaches will emphasise ICT and decision-support tools which can be used remotely (e.g. ‘virtual’ demonstration, mobile phone apps). The role of farmers moves from being a subject of a final test into contributing to the co-creation, experimentation and evaluation of new services. A Living Lab integrates farmer-centred research and interactive innovation within Innovation Areas and an identified Focus Region. Also, an important aspect is making sure the solution is relevant for farmers and developed-driven by farmer’s needs.

In the AgriLink2020 project, this working method should be used to strengthen innovations in agriculture, including the involvement of counselling. For example, for Ruralis in Norway, it is Landbruk21Trøndelag, which contributes to a growth-shift work in which living laboratories are to be used. The goal is to achieve an increased crop level through growth change and hopefully better agronomy. The special thing is that one should seek to get a crop rotation across farms. This is especially relevant where there is a large degree of monocultures. The work is now in the start-up phase of the region Innherred in Norway. More about this here.

Also, in Romania, Highclere Consulting focus on the big need for reliable information coming from farmers’ side: from agronomic to marketing. Against a background of a weak and fragmented system of advisory services, this Living Lab aims to create a new framework for communication with rules and procedures to promote and steer stakeholders’ interaction and open dialogue. Emphasis is placed on the representation of small & medium sized farmers that currently have little voice at the negotiation table. Peer-to-peer advisory methods will be explored with a focus of using relevant ICT to help reach as many farmers as possible.

In the next meetings, an iterative process will take place to share experiences from all labs, identification of successes and bottlenecks, resulting in tailor made approaches and progress for each lab. In the later meetings, people with expertise in other experimental AKIS-initiatives will be invited to bring in new inspiration/cases and reflect on their own approach.