What is the basic idea?
By Emīls Ķīlis,
Baltic Study Center
We have to create a living lab as part of the AgriLink project. This being an instance of open innovation, stakeholders were involved from the very beginning. Consequently, the specific idea for the living lab in Latvia was collaboratively articulated.
Firstly, local experts suggested that fragmentation of the market and internal competition should be borne in mind when designing tools that would allow agricultural advisers to assist local producers. Given that the community is small, any innovation can create a disruption and can have unintended consequences. This has to be taken into account, and affected parties should be contacted and involved to insure wide support.
Secondly, it was acknowledged that current knowledge-dissemination and advisory mechanisms sometimes fail to achieve their goals. Various different methods of instruction and knowledge-dissemination are currently available that allow farmers and producers to acquire the requisite knowledge. However, many farmers either are not willing or do not have enough time to engage with the materials, and there is no systematically organised repository or tool which would make it clear to farmers what kind of advice is available from the various knowledge organisations and services.
Thirdly, a new tool was proposed that would allow farmers and producers to easily and efficiently navigate the advisory system and identify areas where assistance is required and find out where they can obtain it. Local experts suggested that there might be a misalignment between farmers’ needs and the available advisory tools. In particular, marketing, branding and distribution are areas where assistance is required, but there is currently a shortage or relevant courses or materials.
This online tool was eventually proposed as the core item to be discussed and elaborated in the living lab. However, even though there is an idea that can be refined in further meetings with local experts and interested parties, the collaborative nature of the project suggests that the outcome is presently uncertain. Much will hinge on whether advisers and advisory organisations will be willing to work together in the confidence that all the parties involved will benefit.