Adapt and innovate to meet challenges
To respond to the many challenges of the agricultural sector, farmers must constantly adapt and innovate. A range of actors and means are mobilized to work with and for them in the development of operational solutions and training.
A French system recognized at the European level and beyond
The French system of applied agricultural research has specificities that have no equivalent in most other European countries and have been recognized for their efficiency:
- synergy of actions of different stakeholders with varied and complementary contributions
- multiplicity of funding levers that support all needs, from initial training to the most advanced innovation (Figure 1)
- close and coordinated interactions between all these actors and resources through networking structures supported or under the aegis of the ministry in charge of agriculture (for example, Mixed Technological Networks, Mixed Technological Units, “living labs”, etc.), local authorities (regional research and innovation networks), or actors in the agricultural sectors themselves (network of agricultural technical institutes in particular).
Figure 1 : Diagram representation of the ecosystem of agronomic knowledge and innovation in France according to the analysis grid developed by the AKIS (Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation System) working group of the Standing Committee on Agricultural Research of the European Commission. Source: Ministry in charge of agriculture (2014)
Agricultural technical institutes and their partners: a diversity of players at the service of innovation
The transitions and changes in practices are the result of the combined efforts of a multitude of players with diverse professions, roles and skills. Their actions and interactions ensure a cross-fertilization between :
- fundamental, targeted or applied research, development, technical and higher education actors, farmers themselves ;
- biotechnical, social, economic or digital disciplines.
The Agricultural Technical Institutes are one type of actor in this agricultural innovation ecosystem. Their organization according to the logic of agricultural sectors gives them a very operational vision of the challenges of economic, social and environmental competitiveness of farm businesses. Nevertheless, they regularly work in inter-sector partnerships within the Acta network or in partnership projects and systems. Focused on applied research and support for professionals, their work is supported by various public, interprofessional and private funding sources, in particular the CasDar. They are also strongly supported by European research funds thanks to their unique role of catalysts of innovation which is particularly sought after by their French partners.
Tools for partnerships between research institutes and research teams
Mixed Technological Networks (RMT) and Mixed Technological Units (UMT) are scientific and technical partnership tools created and supported by the Ministry of Agriculture. They are coordinated by Acta and French Agricultural Chambers for the agricultural sector and Actia for the agri-food sector.
The purpose of RMTs is to promote collaboration between teams from research, education, agricultural technical training and agricultural development on topics with high socio-economic and environmental stakes. UMTs promote synergies between researchers and engineers through the specificities of their functioning: same location and management, co-construction of the scientific program with a national vocation, pooling of technical and human resources, and mixed and complementary skills.
RMTs and UMTs are the result of calls for proposals.
Mixed Technology Networks
Without legal personality, a RMT is made up of at least :
- three qualified technical institutes or agricultural chambers
- one agricultural technical education institution
- a higher education institution or a public research organization;
- other organizations with agricultural and rural development missions may also be members of a RMT, such as national agricultural and rural organizations (ONVAR) or companies.
Mixed Technology Units
Without legal personality, a UMT is composed of at least :
- a qualified technical institute ;
- a public research organization or a higher education institution.