ART-ER, Emilia Romagna co-lead region
In these hard days, for Europe, for Italy and for my region, we have touched the importance of the agri-food sector. Italy industrialized after World War II (so did Emilia Romagna) and never looked back. But the virus has reordered society and economies, showing a shortage of seasonal workers in agriculture (the most part of them locked in their home countries), while affecting Italians who worked in retail, entertainment, fashion and other industries: we have noticed more than ever the value of a sector that is essential to feed a paralyzed continent.
Extreme events can reveal weaknesses as well as strengths, and often, after the shock, new needs are emerging and there is a thirst for innovations to address them.
Participation in the Traceability and Big Data Platform (Agri-food) arises precisely from the consideration that only a system that knows how to create the right conditions for innovation can be shock-responsive, can adapt to change and new needs, and therefore create value for all the players in the system. The main condition is precisely the collaboration with other European regions to support innovation in the agri-food sector, and digitization, in all its forms, will be one of the key drivers.
Think for a while of the scenarios that this pandemic has opened: the need for security and trust, even higher attention to health, new ways of consumption (think for a while at the exponential growth of home delivery), and an increasingly co-creative role played by consumers. These new needs cannot be addressed without the possibilities offered by digital innovation, from farm to fork.
This is a priority for Emilia Romagna, and for all partners involved.