European Innovation Partnership – supporting innovation in agriculture and forestry in Wales

On Thursday 28 January, the Deputy Minister for Farming and Food, Rebecca Evans attended the National Plant Phenomics Centre at Aberystwyth University’s Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) in Gogerddan to officially launch the European Innovation Partnership for Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability within Wales (EIP Wales).  EIP Wales, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and Welsh Government, will be supported by the Farming Connect Knowledge Exchange Hub, which is hosted by IBERS.

“Developed by the EU in 2012, EIP-Agri is now a key component in strengthening research and innovation in agriculture throughout Europe.  Its role is to pool expertise and resources by bringing groups of people from different practical and scientific backgrounds together to tackle specific challenges, and trial new approaches which will be of value to others in the agricultural or forestry industry.  I am particularly delighted that this service is now available in Wales,” said the Deputy Minister.

Professor Mike Gooding, Director of IBERS, referred to the synergy between the aims of EIP Wales and the Farming Connect Knowledge Exchange Hub which is an exciting new knowledge transfer initiative which will assist the Welsh agricultural and forestry industries to modernise by implementing new ideas and technologies.

“We want to hear from farmers and foresters who have an idea for addressing a specific issue or challenge, or a new approach they would like to trial or test,” said Professor Gooding.

Farming Connect’s Knowledge Exchange Hub will be the first point of contact for farmers and foresters in Wales who are interested in carrying out a project to trial a new idea or technology through EIP Wales.  Funding will be available to facilitate the formation of groups, which will be known as Operational Groups.  The Knowledge Exchange Hub will provide guidance on what research has already been conducted and what the latest thinking is, so that Operational Groups can benefit from existing knowledge as they develop their own solutions.  ‘Innovation Brokers’ are available to support and facilitate the development of Operational Group projects and guide them through the application process in order to apply for funding from Welsh Government to deliver their project.

Professor Jamie Newbold, Director of the Advanced Training Partnership at IBERS, who accompanied the Deputy Minister and senior officials from Welsh Government on a tour of the National Plant Phenomics Centre, explained how the hub, integrated with innovation brokerage and linked into the Farming Connect Knowledge Transfer programme, has the potential to provide significant benefits for the industry in Wales.

“This new collaboration between Farming Connect and Aberystwyth University’s IBERS will strengthen links between farmers and foresters and research scientists.

“EIP Wales projects, together with the work carried out through the Knowledge Exchange Hub, which will provide academic input to Farming Connect’s new demonstration site network, will promote the trialling of the latest research and technologies on farm and woodland enterprises leading to a stronger and more competitive industry in the years to come,” said Professor Newbold.

For further information on EIP Wales, and for details of the first application window to apply for funding, visit www.gov.wales/farmingconnect