Behind the scenes: WP1 investigating innovation

As we saw in our previous blog post, in WP1 our partner organisations are busy mapping the status and trends of forest-based research in Europe.

In Task 1.2 led by BOKU, partners are also investigating innovation in European forestry and the forest-based sector. They are aiming to provide an overview of innovation activities, as well as looking at the trends and dynamics – for example innovation types, state of development and factors affecting innovation development.

  • A literature review of innovation-related scientific papers is under way to discover the research gaps and needs, and key lessons learned.
  • They have begun to analyse the CORDIS database of EU projects and will also analyse patents (ESPACENET).
  • Surveys and expert interviews will also take place.

In the CORDIS database analysis, we are exploring how EU research projects have targeted innovations in forestry and the forest-based sector since 2007. What are the trends in innovation, and what significant developments have occurred across the different EU funding periods?

We found 614 innovation-related projects in the CORDIS database. Our preliminary results show that FP7 had a strong focus on innovation in forest products, which was continued in Horizon 2020. However H2020 also saw a noticeable increase in projects relating to social aspects of forests and forest policy. So far, Horizon Europe has a more balanced distribution.

We can also dive further into the topic and sub-topic areas across all 614 projects. For example, we can see that forest products is the most prominent category, with a strong focus on wood products, followed by technologies and planning. This might reflect the economic importance of timber products in comparison to other aspects of forestry.

Management and social policy elements also receive significant attention, implying an integrated approach to forestry that encompasses economic, social and management considerations.

We can also look at types of innovation – whether it relates to a product, process, marketing or organisational innovation, for example. Our results show most projects related to process and product innovations.

What do we do next with this information? Our next step is to complement it with expert interviews with selected innovators and key experts, to uncover all the factors affecting innovation activities. We’ll also conduct surveys with partners, governments and interest organisations to uncover the role of all the supporting and impeding factors in data collection.

In parallel there’s also an ongoing investigation of funding and governance structures (Task 1.3) – more on this in a future blog post!

Featured image: Riccardo Annandale on Unsplash