Frédérique Vidal, the French Minister of Higher Education and Research, awarded the Stars of Europe (“Les Étoiles de l’Europe”) trophy to teams from the Agri Sud-Ouest Innovation competitiveness cluster for its European program DIVA.
How the DIVA program worksLeveraging a cascading funding mechanism implemented by the European Commission, the consortium led by Agri Sud-Ouest Innovation received a budget envelope of 3.5 million euros, which was used to provide financial assistance and support services for innovation covering a wide range of projects. The DIVA program helped bring European tools and funding to SMEs and startups seeking to innovate in agriculture and agri-food fields, as well as those involved with the environment and forestry.
Agri Sud-Ouest Innovation was able to guide its European partners – of which one of the leaders is Digital 113, the Occitanie regional cluster of digital companies – to build real momentum on a national and European scale and thus generate strong interest in the DIVA program.
- One of the project’s first phases involved defining a framework for innovation with future candidates to detail the stakes for those sectors, along with people’s needs, and the functionality they hope to obtain with new digital tools.
- After that phase, two calls-for-projects were launched successively by the consortium to support maturation for proofs-of-concept, innovative digital service demonstrations, and internationalization.
Over half the supported initiatives were evaluated after one year by consortium members as showing particularly strong promise, with 20% considered as having high innovation potential. It is estimated that for every euro granted in subsidies, over 3 euros were invested subsequently.
Of the 400 applications received by the consortium, 134 projects involving 180 SMEs and startups in 9 European countries ended up being selected. Each selected project was awarded funding ranging from 10,000 euros to 60,000 euros, for a total of 2.7 million euros. The program led to the creation of 124 new products and services; 59 recipients generated intellectual property, including 10 patent filings.
The projects supported by the DIVA program notably include digital solutions that seek to reduce the use of pesticides and optimize the use of fertilizer. Some initiatives also focus on improving logistics in local supply chains in order to reduce food waste. Other projects focused on fostering sharing information and experience among farmers and stakeholders in the agri-food sector through dedicated social networks.
Yet another asset for Med Vallée dynamics!