Interview with
Work Package 5 Leader 

Edwin Hecker

Ecosystem building and communications

What is, in your opinion, the most important legacy of IoF2020?

From my perspective, the most important legacy of IoF2020 is the support we tried to bring to all European farmers. In the past 4 years we built an ecosystem throughout the whole agri-food chain. In different sectors we showed the experiences of 33 Use Cases. The story of these Use Cases is collected in the Use Cases Catalogue. This catalogue will be the legacy of IoF2020 and will be part of the Innovation Portal of SmartAgrihubs in 2021. In IoF2020, not only are we working on innovative and business-proof solutions applicable to farms, we also do our best to involve all the stakeholders in the agri-food chain which have an interest in these technologies. 

Looking back on your participation to IoF2020, what were some of the challenges that your work package encountered?

In our work package, we ensure that the IoF2020 project achievements are seen and disseminated to relevant stakeholders. We strive to make IoF2020 the most performing and easy to reach project with a unique identity, for different kind of stakeholders. When I think about the 4 years that have passed, all the products we developed, the events we attended and the ones we organized, all the contacts we have made in the Agri-food world, my first impression is that it was really intense and rewarding. Since I have to point out an aspect that was particularly challenging, I would like to stress the necessity of keeping ourselves up to date. With more than 140 partners, 72 products and solutions developed over 4 years and more than 170 dissemination and demonstration events, it is sometimes hard to be aware of everything that happens in IoF2020! But I think we did a good job in sharing the most important developments.

What would be your recommendations to young farmers who are hesitating to join such projects/use such technologies?  

The hardest part of joining a European project is without a doubt the elaboration of the application. The benefits of joining a project such as IoF2020 truly illustrates that the result of a collaboration is much more than the sum of its parts. Being part of this network brings many advantages that could be beneficial for young farmers. You can receive advice and support from experts in their fields, network with your peers from different countries and be much more visible thanks to the large scale of the project. More interestingly you have the opportunity to be an actor of the development of solutions that will forge tomorrow’s agriculture! You can voice your concerns and suggests upgrades that will be beneficial for the whole agri-food chain right during its development stage, before it is implemented. Joining a project such as IoF2020 really empowers you to take an active role in the digitalization of agriculture at EU level. From farmer to consumer!