Despite the continued generation of knowledge through scientific projects, research results are often insufficiently exploited and taken up in agricultural practice, and innovative ideas and methods from practice are not captured and spread. National and sectoral agricultural knowledge and innovation systems (AKISs) are insufficiently connected to fully meet this challenge. In view of fostering economically viable and sustainable agriculture and forestry, it is essential to close the research and innovation divide and to act at EU level. More cooperation is needed between researchers, advisors, farmers/foresters and other actors in the supply chain to stimulate knowledge exchange so as to optimise resource use and smooth the transition to a knowledge-driven agriculture. Thematic networks are a key element in the implementation of the EIP Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability (EIP-AGRI) with a view to fostering cross-border knowledge exchange and they may enable links being established with and between the EIP-AGRI Operational Groups supported under rural development programmes.
The activities of thematic networks include summarising, sharing and presenting, in a language easily understandable for agricultural/forestry practitioners, existing best practices and research results that are near to be put into practice, but not sufficiently known by practitioners. To this end, the networks shall involve a wide range of actors covering both science and agricultural/forestry practice on the specific themes, e.g. scientists, farmers/farmers' groups, advisory services. Also EIP Operational Groups and interactive innovation groups operating in the context of the EIP-AGRI, enterprises or supply chain actors should be involved if relevant for the chosen theme. The specific themes of the networks, which may be chosen 'bottom-up', should contribute to a more competitive and sustainable agriculture and forestry. They must focus on the most urgent needs of specific agricultural or forestry production sectors, or on important or promising cross-sectoral issues, including where primary production needs to improve its linkages to the supply chain. A comprehensive description of the state of the art on the chosen theme should explain the added value of the proposal, the relevance of the theme and how it avoids duplication with existing or completed projects and networks. The resulting easily accessible end-user material should be substantial in number and feed into the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) 'Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability' for broad dissemination to agricultural/forestry practitioners. In the exceptional event that minor testing of specific solutions would be needed, a maximum of 20% of the project budget may be used for this purpose. Proposals should fall under the concept of the 'multi-actor approach'[[See definition of the 'multi-actor approach' in the introduction to this Work Programme part.]].
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 2 million per network would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
This action should contribute to the successful deployment of the vast reservoir of existing scientific and practical knowledge on the chosen theme, and improve knowledge exchange between scientists and practitioners on agricultural and forestry practices. Impact can be measured on the basis of: