Viewpoints

Agrisource: Europe’s first open innovation platform for climate-smart agriculture

agrisource

Climate-KIC-supported Agrisource—launched just last month—is a tool that empowers stakeholders to implement climate-smart agricultural practices across the supply chain. Here, we interview Agrisource’s lead developer, Marc Nougier of INRA.

What’s the problem you’re trying to solve with your product/service?

“Agrisource should try to solve the lack of communication and transparency that complicates all relations between the players of agriculture. Sharing experience, facilitating access to knowledge, and enabling a neutral environment for collaboration is a true need for agricultural value chains players, from the lab to the field, and back.”

How does your business turn this problem into an opportunity?

“We’ve seized the opportunity of offering a new service to farmers and players of agriculture. In the context of deep climate changes, the need is stronger than ever before. We now hope that this network will make a difference: Emergency has always been a true engine to gathering forces, facing challenges together.”

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What are some other problem spaces in the agricultural industry?

“We offer a service that’s completely online. To fill all the needs for advice, knowledge, and network, a direct physical action on the ground would be needed. For now, we hope to create a fertile virtual environment for new communities, on local, regional, national scales. Then, the next step should be to encourage those communities through events, trainings, and field actions. There’s also a need for better life-cycle evaluations for the value chains, we hope Agrisource will also help with that in some way.”

What’s your business model?

“So far, the Open Innovation Platform is as ‘open’ as can be, which means it’s completely free. We hope it stays like this for as long as possible: Such an ambitious target as the one displayed by our project can only be reached with a true opening of the information. Then, we might add premium services in the future, like climate services or professional collaborative spaces, but even for this, we’ll push as hard as we can to offer the largest possibilities to the largest community.”

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How can network hubs accelerate innovation?

“Innovation is built on experience sharing. In agriculture particularly, one can observe that agricultural systems evolve by collaboration: A farmer will pick a tool from his neighbour, adapt it to his farm, then pass it to the next farmer. Innovation spreads through formal or informal networks, and appears with most efficiency where information and knowledge are shared. That’s the role of network hubs.”

What might cross-sectoral transformation look like?

“How about a great audience room? Let’s picture an assembly of actors, with a balanced influence of each value chain player in the defining of strategies facing climate change. Let’s picture a situation where those players decide to share the risks of changing food systems. This is what the transformation will look like if knowledge and community prevail. Fingers crossed!”

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How might Agrisource transform food supply chains?

“Agrisource will introduce new rooms for discussion between actors. With a better display on what they do, each player, from farmers to food processing industries, should be more confident on what they can achieve together, where their interests meet. Accounting for projects, public-private partnerships, and local initiatives, should also bring some food for thought to all researchers, businesses, advisors, and governments as to what can be achieved in terms of adaptation to climate change.”

What kind of impact might it have on carbon emissions throughout the supply chain?

“Agrisource may help on sharing best practices on the field. This means we would contribute in reducing on-farm GHG emissions. Agrisource will also help spreading and discussing strategies to adapt climate change, which is a crucial challenge for food producing.”

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What’s next for your team?

“The platform is still young and launching. There’s a lot to do to make it completely intuitive and efficient, and we’ll work on that. Our team from the INRA, the CIRAD, and the startup eKoal faces the challenges of now spreading the use of Agrisource by all kinds of users. For this, we can count on a few networks, among which is the Climate-KIC’s CSA Booster. We expect our European partners to be the first to contribute, they are part of that adventure!”

What’s your climate action message to the world?

“Join us! Agrisource is a powerful opportunity for creating synergies. We now need users to subscribe, contribute, bring their input… and their feedback on things that we can improve. Agrisource is still under development, with new functionalities coming in the next few months: Claim your share of that project so that we can build it as pertinent as can be for facing climate challenges together.”

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