Guest speaker to the conference, the Honourable Senator Terry Mercer shared his perspectives and insights as deputy chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry. His remarks were a helpful reminder of the need to regularly engage policy decision-makers about AIC’s work in agricultural research.
AIC2016’s keynote speaker Dr. Sandra Schillo from the Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa, helped frame the three key conference themes. She invited the audience to rethink the channels in which innovation comes to market, or gets into the hands of research end-users – producers, researchers, funders, extension agents, industry, consumers and the public.
New bi-directional channels constitute a dynamic working innovation system that offers increased opportunities for two-way engagement of end-users in the innovation process.
Dr. Schillo also reflected on the importance, and abundance, of stakeholders across the entire continuum of innovation – from earliest inception of the research project to final dissemination of findings. This innovation system approach allows for a better understanding of the role and value of the many actors driving agricultural R&D today who may not have been traditionally viewed as playing a role including farmers, processors, retailers, consumers and input suppliers.
She demonstrated the complexity of agricultural innovation and the need to accept this complexity by taking a systemic analytical approach and customizing diverse knowledge mobilization strategies for different circumstances and areas.
The agricultural sector can no longer ignore the benefits arising from the business end of innovation. Research collaboration and partnerships provide greater opportunity for dissemination by bringing research to market. Knowledgeable and informed decision-making based on solid understanding and careful management of intellectual property should guide the exploitation and dissemination of research results.