Innovation Facilitation Event at the RAU

17 Jul 2019

On behalf of the Farmer-led Innovation Network (FLIN), the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) and the Innovative Farmers organised an event at the University’s Rural Innovation Centre, Harnhill, to explore best practice in facilitating farmer innovation. Developed by FLIN, the event was open to its members and others involved in this growing field.

The aim of the day was not only to examine and share best practice in facilitating farmer-led innovation but to garner examples and identify the skills and competencies required to effect it.

The event was introduced by RAU’s Professor Tom MacMillan (Elizabeth Creak Chair in Rural Policy and Strategy). Lisa Williams van Dijk (Head of Knowledge Exchange and Research Support, RAU) and Julie Ingram (Reader in Sustainable Agri-environmental Systems, CCRI) spoke briefly about the current understanding of facilitating innovation in agriculture. The floor was then given to group discussions and feedback sessions on how to do it well and how to gauge whether facilitation has been effective. This gave participants the opportunity to share their experiences and inform these discussions, enabling the FLIN and its members to formulate the next steps and agree an action plan for the network.

Helen Aldis (Development Manager, Innovative Farmers at Soil Association) said, “The event provided a valuable opportunity for FLIN members to come together and share first hand their experiences facilitating farmer-led innovation. The network covers a wide range of programmes and while there are many similarities between us there was also much to learn. For me, it has also been extremely helpful to inform our own systems, processes and skills needs to effectively deliver the Innovative Farmers programme.”

The Farmer-Led Initiative Network (FLIN) was created in October 2018. It is a community of practice that aims to:

  • promote farmer-centred innovation and research in the UK
  • boost its effective uptake and implementation throughout UK farming, and thereby
  • increase the impact of these kinds of initiatives across agriculture