Typology of Knowledge & Innovation Governance Options for Fostering Mission-oriented Innovation – Milestone 13


Creation of typology of K&I governance options for fostering mission-oriented innovation 

FOSTER research is designed around the need for a new vision for a Knowledge and Innovation (K&I) governance structure for Europe’s food system. FOSTER is a collaboration of scientists with change driven initiatives (CDIs), innovation advisors, living labs and advocacy groups. We aim to develop an evidence-based blueprint for a future knowledge and innovation system (KIS), with a working title “FOKIS”, Food System Knowledge and Innovation System, that can effectively accelerate the transition processes towards sustainable food systems across all EU member states. The design of FOKIS is envisaged to go beyond the status quo by establishing linkages around specific groups of food system actors underrepresented in the AKIS agricultural knowledge and innovation system: in FOSTER, we specifically look at transition networks of change agents, including food professionals, food democracy and citizen initiatives, vulnerable communities, with their linkages to knowledge actors (scientists, innovation advisors) and policy makers from domains related to food systems. The intended impact is to embed these change agents better in the European Research Area for food systems and foster collaboration between networks of science and practitioners.  

Three types of data have been compiled for developing the K&I governance typology, linked to FOKIS:  

  • Review of recent EU-funded research and innovations projects relevant to the topic. 
  • Review of peer-reviewed literature on sustainable food systems, with specific attention to: citizen science, transition and system transformation, and related governance challenges.
  • Review of relevant policies at European level that address K&I on food systems transition.  

In brief, the review of EU Horizon projects, from the last 4 years, included Fit4Food2030, DITOs, SUSFANS, SISCODE, MoRRI, FoodShift2030, Food Trails, ALL-READY, NEFERTITI, CASA, GENDER STI, NewHoRRIzon and SUSINCHAIN, indicating the following main traits to achieve effective governance in the K&I: Food system transformation, Living labs, Network creation for EU food system actors, and Closing the science-practice-policy gap.

The literature review was conducted to understand the current academic debates regarding the governance of food system transformations. From a total of 101 articles, a final list of 36 key articles were selected, highlighting the power dynamics on food systems governance and policy; transdisciplinary work on the interfaces of science, policy and practice; discussing normative principles related to food systems transformation and understanding transformation pathways in the food system.

The policy review was conducted to identify directly and indirectly relevant EU-level policies that address K&I regarding food system transformation, at the international level, the Sustainable Development Goals, at EU level, the European Green Deal, the policy departments in the European Commission, Funding, Educational programs and other EU mechanisms. 

These sets of data together have informed the definition of a set of seven governance principles for mission-oriented innovation on food system transition. The following principles are proposed:

  • Multi-actor governance: recognizing the important role of multiple actors in governance and discussing the (potential) roles of various stakeholders in a variety of food system-related governance arrangements.
  • Knowledge and innovation policy: understanding of the policy landscape and its influence on the food systems and activities of CDIs.
  • Multi-level food system governance and policy: coordination and interaction of decision-making processes at different levels of scale; alignment and coordination of arrangements on different levels of scale.
  • Food democracy: rights of citizens to participate in food-related decision making; ensuring that transition processes are fair, equitable, sustainable and constructive.
  • Role of different types of knowledge: transdisciplinarity and the importance of other knowledge types beyond academia, the role of citizen science; crossing science-policy-practice divides.
  • Responsible Research and Innovation: aligning science with the values of society; connecting the relationship between K&I and society: public engagement, open access, gender equality, ethics, etc.
  • Transformation pathways: strategies or actions that can be taken to move towards a more sustainable food system; leverage points for systemic change and scaling of innovations.

This has led to the formulation of an ambitious agenda for action research in FOSTER WP4, centred around the following research question: how well do the principles for K&I governance provide practical guidance for innovation actors to make headway on four dimensions of societal uptake required for successful food systems transformation: the technological, legal, economic, and socio-cultural dimensions. Engagement with the CDIs through workshops has provided valuable input for co-designing the concepts and the strategies for empirical research.  These principles will be basis of the upcoming work, during task 4.2, with discussion with the CDIs on governance options and knowledge through a series of workshops and meetings. 

Please find below the Complete Milestone document, with a full description of the work conducted.