Agricultural Innovation Systems (AIS)

What is an innovation system and what does it do?manwithstalks

An innovation system is about people, the knowledge, technology, infrastructure and cultures they have created or learned, who they work with, and what new ideas they are experimenting with.

The approach represents a major change in the way that the production of knowledge is viewed, and thus supported. It shifts attention away from research and the supply of science and technology, towards the whole process of innovation, in which research is only one element.

Innovation is essentially the result of an interactive process between many actors. For our work, those are farmers, extension workers, researchers, seed companies, government officials, and many others. Individual organizations rarely possess all the knowledge necessary for the whole process of innovation.

An innovation system is therefore a network of organizations within an economic system that are directly involved in the creation, diffusion and use of scientific and technological knowledge, as well as the organizations responsible for the coordination and support of these processes.

Based on Dosi G. ‘The Nature of the Innovative Process’. In: Soete L. Technical Change and Economic Theory (Pinter Publishers, London, 1988, p222).

It does not follow a linear path that begins with research, moves through the processes of development, design and engineering, and production, and ends with the successful introduction of new products and processes. Rather, it tends to involve continuous feedback loops between the different stages.

The actors we are engaged with focus on bringing new products, new processes, new policies, and new forms of organization into economic use. In their attempts to bring about change in agriculture, these multiple stakeholders are all part of what may be seen as agricultural innovation systems (AIS).

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