Practice-led innovation supported by science and market-driven actors in the laying hen and other livestock sectors
HORIZON 2020 ISIB-02-2014 project, Grant no. 652638
The Hennovation ptoject aimed to explore the potential value of multi-actor practice-led innovation networks within the laying hen industry in 5 countries. During the 32-month project the team facilitated 19 networks including farmers, processors, veterinarians, technical advisors, market representatives and researchers. The networks worked collaboratively to find solutions for important husbandry challenges. The project encouraged a move away from the traditional model of science providing solutions for practice towards a more partnership approach where expertise from science and practice were valued more equally. Facilitators supported the networks through 6 critical steps: problem identification, generation of ideas, planning, small scale trials, implementation and sharing with others. In addition to helping source relevant technical information, the project also provided some financial support for prototype and testing costs.
The project has demonstrated that this practice-led approach can be a major stimulus for innovation with several networks generating novel ideas and testing them in their commercial context. The complexity and the novelty of the innovations is significant, especially considering concurrent outbreaks of Avian Influenza and relatively limited timescale. The farmers and processors involved in the project were often very enthusiastic committing significant time to the group’s activities. Working with social scientists during the project, we have concluded that successful multi-actor, practice-led innovation networks depend upon the following key factors : active participation from relevant actors, professional facilitation, moderate resource support and access to relevant expertise.
Given the enthusiasm and engagement shown from innovation network participants, the project team and advisory board recommend that the agricultural research community and funding agencies should place greater value on Hennovation style practice-led innovation networks alongside technology and advisor focused initiatives. We, therefore, encourage government, industry and other organisations to work collaboratively to realise the potential of this approach, particularly focussing on the critical role of the professional facilitator.
The final project report is available here