DIHs: the one-stop-shop for digitalising agriculture

On 1-2 June 2017, the Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI) organized a seminar on the place of Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) in agriculture. 150 delegates from 24 EU member states met in Kilkenny (Ireland) to share experiences, discuss needs and underline priority actions for developing new regional platforms for innovation in agriculture. 

The seminar was held under the auspices of the European Innovation Partnership on agriculture (EIP Agri). The EIP Agri was set up in 2012 in view of streamlining European innovation activities in agriculture and maximizing synergies between EU funding streams such as Horizon 2020 or CAP Rural Development Programmes. Broken down in 25 thematic groups (e.g. on ICT-enabled farming, dairy production or protein crops), the EIP Agri is one of the leading platforms for exploring how to put competitiveness and productivity in agriculture in line with sustainability.

The pivotal role of Digital Innovation Hubs for mainstreaming ICTs in agriculture.

Set up around local physical technology infrastructures, Digitial Innovation Hubs (DIHs) are one-stop-shops providing businesses with services, knowledge and technology to help them experiment with and make the most of digital innovations. DIHs also act as platforms for connecting investors with suppliers and users of digital technologies along the agricultural value chain.

Recognizing that agriculture is lagging behind other economic sectors when it comes to the deployment of these hubs, the European Commission is unlocking €500 million from the Horizon 2020 budget to expand agricultural DIHs coverage in Europe. Participants in the EIP-AGRI Seminar on Digital Innovation Hubs for agriculture underlined the following priority actions:

  • Identify already existing initiatives as basis for developing DIHs in regional contexts.
  • Mainstream social and environmental concerns within the DIH ecosystem.
  • Reflect on the impact of ICT-enabled farming on jobs, services, privacy and security.
  • Bring together start-ups, incubators and accelerators around dedicated activities.
  • Encourage agri-businesses to reflect seriously upon the risks and opportunities arising from digitalisation in agriculture.
  • Bolster cooperation between DIHs across Europe.
  • Link regional/national DIHs in a wide European Network in order to share facilities, bridge missing skills, boost knowledge transfer, and draft joint tools and services

Click here for a complete overview of the seminar's participants inputs on Digital innovation hubs and agriculture.

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