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What is a competence centre and its role in agricultural innovation

The role of viticulture in the European territory has been identified and highlighted for centuries. Many economies in Europe depend on the sector, the total area of vineyards grown in the EU in 2015 amounted to 32 million acres, representing 1.8 % of the total utilised agricultural area.

(photo credit: Jaime Casap, Unsplash)

However, climate change and unlimited human activity are putting the sector at risk as they are posing multiple challenges: long dry periods, lack of water, new plant diseases, and water stress challenges. The competitiveness of viticulture in Europe needs to be secured and new technologies can be a promising solution. Drones present an opportunity to help the sector maintain its competitiveness and viability. To ensure that the professionals involved in viticulture can fully exploit the potential of drone technologies, awareness, and competences are keywords for success. This can be ensured through an innovation network development for the use of drones in viticulture.

Competence centers can be the wheel for drone diffusion in viticulture. The European Commission (EC) defines a competence centre as a specialized and collaborative entity dedicated to fostering excellence, innovation, and knowledge-sharing within a specific field or industry. These centres act as focal points for research, expertise, and skill development, bringing together various stakeholders, including businesses, academia, and public institutions. Through strategic partnerships and the pooling of resources, competence centres play a pivotal role in promoting cutting-edge research, technology transfer, and the dissemination of best practices across the European Union. By nurturing talent, facilitating cross-sectoral cooperation, and addressing societal challenges, these centres actively contribute to Europe's competitiveness and sustainable growth in the global landscape.

Each successful Competence Centre has a set of core features that enable the efficient and effective operation of a Centre and are therefore important principles when considering the economic rationale for funding centres. It is usually associated with excellence, training, knowledge transfer, interdisciplinarity, standardisation, and a collaborative approach of different institutions or departments. The flexibility of the Competence Centre model allows it to be adapted to the needs of industrial and academic partners.

In the agriculture sector, Competence Centers can bring together farmers, researchers, policymakers, and industry experts to enhance the efficiency of agricultural innovation and ensure that cutting-edge research reaches the end users. The deployment of drones in viticulture can empower farmers to make more proactive and timely decisions, boost their productivity, and confront the impacts of climate change on their competitiveness and production.

(Photo credit: Andrea Cairone, Unsplash)

Competence Centre in SmartVitiNet

SmartVitiNet is an innovative project that aims to scale up, pilot, and bring to the market a holistic phytosanitary and plant protection system based on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, new observational platforms, and new ready-to-use sensors. The project also aims to establish a Competence Center for Precision Viticulture. The proposed research will enable synergies between members of the quadruple helix, utilizing their complementary knowledge, experiences and infrastructure in the specific area to achieve innovative results. The sustainability of the undertaking will be ensured thanks to the establishment of the Competence Centre for Precision Viticulture, which aims to upskill sector professionals, create expert networks, facilitate permanent flows of knowledge transfer between academia, innovative SMEs, viticulture professionals, and regional authorities to increase sector competitiveness while enacting EU environmental policies, reducing sector health impact and risks of food pollution.


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