Technology transfer as a driver of innovative entrepreneurship in agriculture and the agri-food industry

15-16 July 2015 | Chania, Crete, Greece | Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania


The conference focuses on technology transfer enhancing innovation and entrepreneurship in the agri-food sector and subsequent impact in the supply chain. Technology transfer can involve formal transaction of innovative products and processes or informal exchange of ideas between the aforementioned stakeholders.

Of particular interest to the conference are the challenges that stakeholders within the agri-food sector face and the interactions between them; these actors are namely the Government, Universities and public of private Research Institutes, Consumers, and Private Sector (primary producers, input suppliers, food processing firms).

The challenges that these stakeholders face and how they may protect and appropriate benefits from their investments are the overall themes of the conference.

The conference will also examine ways policy makers can cope with these challenges to enhance industry competitiveness and social welfare and device ways to trigger moving from institutional tactical fragmentation to strategic technological integration of the agribusiness value adding.

The conference’s geographical focus is Europe; however experiences from developing or developed countries are welcome to better inform the aforementioned challenges.


Innovation and entrepreneurship in the agri-food sector are two of the most important dimensions of creating and adding value in the supply chain. In a period where Europe has been plaguedby a long-lastingeconomic crisis, several governments have turned to the agri-food sector to stimulate growth. Innovation and entrepreneurship have been at the forefront of this effort and actors within the supply chain (e.g. producers, firms, cooperatives) have used them as means to enhance the quality of their products or services, offer new ones and increase their overall productivity.

However, innovation and entrepreneurship come with several challenges, which include: uncertainty over the outcome of research and development, challenges in theprotection and appropriation of the innovative product or service, early-stagefinancing,and demand uncertainty. The bureaucratic burden that certain institutions (for instance, government funding agencies and Intellectual Property Offices) undertake, or the lack of key institutions (for instance institutions that may incentivize venture capital or technology transfer)may worsen these inherent obstacles forcing entire agri-food industries to remain stale despite the endowments they may possess.

These challenges have been recognized by policy makers and possible solutions have been sought within the new Horizon 2020 Programme through a series of support and innovation actions. Coordination between different policies, namely agricultural, environmental, energy and technology policies is a crucial issue. Further, scholars have also examined the above issues identifying key problems that need to be addressed or proposing solutions.

Agribusiness research on the role and significance of organizational innovations of various forms has been growing exponentially in the last twenty-five years.  Among such innovations are innovative forms of collective entrepreneurship in food supply chains, clusters of agribusiness firms and innovation-enabling institutions (e.g., start-ups, research centers and universities), and various ‘peculiar’ forms of hybrid organizations. While in the past, economists and other social scientists thought that such organizational innovations represent but a minority, today it is well established that in many agribusiness industries they are the principal way of organizing economic activities in the most efficient manner.


The seminar’s objective is to bring together scholars and practitionersthat will examine and/or tackle issues and challenges related to innovation and entrepreneurshipthat center on the successful commercialization of innovative products, processes and services.

Empirical and methodological papers are invited. Empirical papers may include, but are not limited to: statistical and econometric analysis with micro- or macro-level data that will shed light on key relationships in innovation and entrepreneurship (e.g. the role of financing in early stages of innovative activities, the role of Intellectual Property, such as Geographical Indications, on agricultural productivity and exports), survey data analyses, experimental approaches that will tackle a specific problem such as detecting consumer behavior. Methodological and/or theoretical papers may frame key policy or management problems where further investigation is warranted both from a scientific and policy perspective.

In addition to academic papers, the seminar will consider contributions from policy evaluations or agendas, literature reviews that will identify future key areas of research and meta-analyses that can frame the current state of the art. Selected papers presented at the seminar will be published in a Journal’s special issue (Journal of Knowledge Economy, Journal on Chain and Network Science and Journal of Technology Transfer ) or in an edited multi-author book (we are in contact with the Edward Elgar, Series on Science, Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship and Springer, Technology, Innovation And Knowledge Management Book Series).