The first DANUBIONET Open Innovation Event gathered 13 experts from 6 countries of the Danube Region, with the aim to jointly elaborate on the approaches to promote the use of sewage sludge based products in agriculture.
17 October 2016, Budapest
The first DANUBIONET Open Innovation Event was held on 6th of October 2016 in Budapest, as a side event of the 2016 ERDN conference. The event, organized by PANNON Pro Innovations Ltd. and the Central European Initiative in the framework of the Danube-Inco.Net project, gathered 13 experts from 6 countries of the Danube Region, with the aim to jointly elaborate on the approaches to promote the use of sewage sludge based products in agriculture.
In her opening speech, Ms Anikó Juhász, General Director of the Research Institute of Agricultural Economics and also host of the event, emphasized the need for a specific regional approach in the Danube Region. The Bioeast initiative, brought to life by the institute, aims to catalyse bioeconomy development in the Danube Region by showing that regional approach and excellence are complementary measures. “While there is significant knowledge in the region, we need to learn how to sell it and manage innovation”, she added. She concluded that the timing is perfect as the scoping paper for the next three years programing for H2020 calls is out, and hence encouraged participants to develop new ideas and cooperation possibilities.
The topic of the discussion has been put forward by DOW Agrosciences, a multinational company that has been active in agriculture since 1952 and the company’s innovation performance has been awarded several times with the Green Chemistry Awards in the USA. The “challenge owner”, as the entity seeking for solutions is called in open innovation events, asked participants to contribute with original ideas to improving public perception and end-user acceptance of sewage sludge based compost in agriculture. This type of material, which is rich in nutrients and, particularly, nitrogen, has multiple benefits in terms of soil preservation, cost reduction and productivity, yet is loaded with preconceptions, doubts and concerns. The open innovation workshop therefore facilitated the elaboration of possible solutions to overcome end-users’ reluctance and apprehension by focusing on the economic and environmental benefits of nutrient recycling.
Learning from the results of the Danubionet capacity building survey, filled by 95 stakeholders, the experts developed their ideas along the specific factors of societal perception and awareness, available standards and labelling, as well as sound business models. This interactive process was facilitated by Be-novative Hungary and Demola Budapest. As a first step, participants joined the virtual ideation and brainstorming at a cloud-based platform of Be-novative where they shared their ideas and thoughts anonymously on the question „How to use the communication and marketing tools to convince buyers about the safety and compliance of sewage sludge based product?”. This session yielded 81 automatically evaluated ideas in only 20 minutes to overcome this challenge including a variety of solutions from communication to test fields and education.
Based on those ideas, the participants continued the work in teams in order to mix the ideas, and find synergies and possible collaborations with the aim of create project ideas convincing enough for the challenge owner and mature enough to make a project proposal out of them. The tool used here was building a 3D prototype based on the method of Demola Budapest. These prototypes acted as tangible representations of abstract or complex thoughts, and therefore it is easy to connect them. In the concluding discussion a proposal was drawn up as a result of the creative work that contributed to find the complementary activities of the participants. András Sándorfy, DOW Agrosciences, stated that the event was a great platform to learn new, valuable and interesting approaches and it was a pleasure to be part of it
With the lead of PANNON Pro Innovations Ltd. and Central European Initiative the proposal will be further developed in order to implement the idea and to create the circular economy of nutrient recycling.