The Future of Agricultural Science and Innovation (Regional Dialogues Fredericton)
March 15, 2011
Fredericton, New Brunswick
Since March 2010, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's (AAFC) Research Branch, has undertaken a series of regional workshops across the country. These regional workshops have been developed to support discussions on optimizing innovation capacity among the various actors of the innovation system and obtain a common understanding of the need to collectively develop a national agricultural science, technology and innovation system in order to seize future opportunities.
- Reflection on recent developments and promising innovations; from federal and provincial perspectives;
- Identifying opportunities for different types of innovation targeted for this region;
- To introduce a new platform for building regional dialogue and collaboration - Regional Research Users Meetings (RRUMs).
- Exchange and learning
The Fredericton workshop, held on March 15, 2011, at the Delta Fredericton, New Brunswick, included over 35 participants from the private sector, academia, agri-food and agri-based products sectors, producers, producer associations, the New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries as well as some AAFC representatives.
The meeting began with AAFC and the New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries providing perspective on the agricultural innovation system, while painting a portrait of the opportunities ahead in New Brunswick. The presentations set the stage for small group discussions, which allowed participants to reflect on key change drivers that may affect innovation, opportunities ahead and the different types of innovation that exist. Participants were then asked to discuss the following questions:
- In your work, where do you see the best examples of, or opportunities for, innovation?
- What would it take to turn the emerging ideas you identified into viable products and/or new markets?
- What would be required of ourselves to bring these innovation to fruition?
These questions raised interest in the group and many relevant ideas were suggested for optimizing innovation. The group dialogue provided excellent insight and discussion. Participants discussed the need for regional research and regionally focused innovation. It was suggested that there is an opportunity for industry, provinces and other stakeholders to partner at the local level to help commercialize research. This place-based approach to innovation could be facilitated by having a clear understanding of each stakeholder's respective roles and responsibilities and what each can bring to the system.
Workshop participants identified the need to simplify program administration and improve feedback mechanisms which could facilitate an agile, responsive and resilient innovation system.
Also, participants discussed the need for improved communication and dissemination of information. They expressed a strong interest in continuing a sustained dialogue between AAFC and stakeholders, as well as improving mediums for the promotion of science. Discussions included: opening more dialogue at the grass-roots level (farmer and small business owners), including non-traditional stakeholders and increasing the use of innovative communication vehicles. Participants also suggested that AAFC and stakeholders should promote existing agricultural products with a focus on their novel applications.
Workshop participants were excited to learn more about where they might fit into the innovation system. In general, meeting participants felt that there was a significant opportunity for industry to take a more robust role in research investment in order to build a more competitive research and development landscape for the Canadian agricultural sector.
This workshop was successful in its objective of bringing together representatives from government, industry, academia and other stakeholders to identify opportunities for innovation and science and allow exchange and learning. The input received will be incorporated with other gathered information and will be taken into consideration in the development of future science and innovation initiatives.