The particularities of ITAs, including ground truthing, are a perfect answer to the European Commission’s concerns to further disseminate research results to end users.
- Diversity of ITA missions in EU projects: Producer of knowledge and orientation of scientific and technical activities in many fields such as IPM, livestock production, agroforestry and innovation processes
- Diagnosis, monitoring, testing, modelling and assessment, benchmarkingTransfer and dissemination of results to the scientific community and end users (advisers, farmers, economic actors) through various communication supports, training sessions, meetings etc.
European and international involvement of ITAs serves different purposes:
- Scientific (sharing, co-constructing and producing operational knowledge)
- Providing knowledge for regulatory issues, whose impact determines operators’ daily work activities
- Economic and commercial, aiming to increase the industry’s competitiveness
- Expertise for public authorities
The proven added value of ITAs in European research and development
Research Programmes (FP7-KBBE):
On cross-cutting and cross-sector issues, ACTA’s network is organised to ensure that several Agricultural Technical Institutes are represented as a single partner.
- PURE (Pesticide Use and Reduction in Europe - FP7 KBBE 2010): This project aims to provide practical solutions for Integrated Pest Management to reduce dependence on pesticides in major European crops. ACTA coordinates the activity of three ITAs (IFV, ARVALIS and CETIOM, involved in testing, experimentation, design-assessment and demonstration activities) and is responsible for the dissemination Work Package.
- CANTOGETHER (Crops and Animals Together - FP7 KBBE 2011): This project aims to implement a systemic approach for animal and plant production at farm and landscape scales. The added-value of the six Agricultural Technical Institutes (ACTA, IDELE, ITAB, IFIP, ARVALIS and CETIOM) within this project is based on their capacity to provide a field dimension directly linked to farmers' concerns, from field and farm experimentation to modelling and dissemination of operational results to the scientific community and end users.
Environnement (LIFE) :
- TOPPS (Life - 2009): Within this project, coordinated by ARVALIS, project partners and stakeholders developed Best Management Practices to reduce water contamination from spray drift and run-off from fields. Training and demonstration material and diagnosis and evaluation tools have been developed for farmers and advisers in several European countries.
Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP):
ITAs have dual status as research organisations (NPRO - Non Profit Research Organisations) and businesses (Small and Medium Enterprises) as defined by the European Commission.
- WINENVIRONNEMENT (CIP - 2009): IFV coordinates this project, bringing together nine partners from four EU countries, which aims to conduct demonstrations of processes and innovative methodologies to reduce environmental impacts and optimise the use of natural resources in the vine and wine sector.
The European Commission, via the ERDF, targets balanced regional development in territories, while ITAs have regional offices in major production areas giving them a presence in the various French territories.
GREEN DAIRY (Interreg Atlantic Area III B - 2003): The French Livestock Institute (IDELE) coordinated this RTD project on dairy systems and the environment covering 11 regions of five countries bordering the Atlantic. Based on a network of researchers, technicians and farmers around experimental and demonstration farms, it provides information on nitrogen flows and losses in dairy systems for scientists, farmers and their advisers, as well as for policy makers.
One of the skills and missions of ITAs is the training of rural advisers and end users through the dissemination of methodologies.
- E-VITICLIMATE: IFV coordinates a Leonardo project, comprising six partners, which offers an interactive information platform (e-learning) on climate change impacts and viticultural adaptations for wine technicians. IFV was also in charge of the pedagogic contents and its methodology, and the production of training modules, tests and validation.
The expertise of ITAs can enlighten European decision-making and assess its consequences and impacts.
- ALCASDE (DG Sanco – 2008): This project, in which the pork (IFIP) and livestock (IDELE) institutes participated, aimed to develop high-welfare production systems, in particular reducing the poor welfare implications of the castration of pigs and the de-horning of cattle.
ITA participation in EU networks:
ITAs participate in formal networks for several reasons: visibility and recognition through different channels such as conferences, networking, lobbying, science sharing, exchanges and comparison of information, methods and results.
ITAs participate as experts in working groups, and have a role in the governance, the facilitation and/or the organisation of these groups:
- The European Technology Platform 'Forest-Wood-Paper' (IDF)
- CEN, the European Committee for Standardization (Arvalis)
- IFOAM, International Foundation for Organic Agriculture Movements (ITAB)
- ENDURE, European Research Group for IPM (ACTA)
- EUFRIN, European Fruit Research Institute Network (CTIFL)
- ITEIPMAI participates in a European informal network which handles the approval of chemical products for minor uses in plant protection.
Prospects and activities for the next programming period
One of the seven flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 strategy, the Innovation Union aims to stimulate and accelerate innovation in Europe, while eliminating the barriers that prevent innovative ideas from reaching the market. The objectives and activities of France's ITAs meet the aims of this drive, comprising an integrated innovation strategy based on a broad concept of innovation encompassing the private, public and third sectors and ensuring that innovative ideas are translated into new goods and services that create growth and jobs.
Innovation brokers and intermediary actors at the interface between research and end users, such as ITAs, will have a larger role to play in the implementation of the European Innovation Partnership 'Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability' (EIP-AGRI). As innovation brokers, ITAs will act as mediators in any aspect of the innovation processes between two or more parties and will help stakeholders to find advice, funding and support for the innovation outcomes of such collaborations.
ITAs will strengthen their proactive role in these key future developments and aim to tackle both scales of the EIP policy, on the one hand within 'multi-actor projects' and 'thematic networks' at the cross-border level under Horizon 2020, and within 'operational groups' at the regional scale under Rural Development and ERDF policies on the other.
To reach these objectives, ITAs are engaged in preparatory works for the EIP 'Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability', in close cooperation with DG Agriculture and other relevant European partners.