The conference Agriculture Driven by Innovation was held at the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center Tehnopolis

31.03.2023

Yesterday, the Conference Agriculture Driven by Innovation was held in the premises of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center Tehnopolis.

The conference was organized as part of the FILA Plus project, which represents the capitalization of the achieved results of the previously implemented FILA project, co-financed by the INTERREG IPA Cross-Border Cooperation Program Italy – Albania – Montenegro 2014 – 2020. The leading partner in the project is the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute from Bari, while in addition to IEC Tehnopolis, the project partners are the Development Fund of Albania and the Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism of Montenegro.

The main goal of the conference was to strengthen the connection between relevant actors from the agri-food sector by exchanging knowledge about innovative technologies, approaches and challenges in the field of smart agriculture, not only at the national, but also at the regional and international level.

The conference was opened by Mr. Djordjije Malovic, executive director of IEC Tehnopolis, who welcomed the participants and emphasized the importance of the conference in order to connect with relevant institutions in order to exchange knowledge in the field of innovative agriculture and to launch further initiatives in this area, and emphasized the importance of the previously implemented FILA project.

Mrs. Marijeta Barjaktarovic Lanzardi, Acting General Director for Innovation and Technological Development in the Ministry of Science and Technological Development of Montenegro, emphasized the role and importance of the line ministry when it comes to the development of innovations and the fact that the Ministry of Science and Technological Development of Montenegro is the coordinating body for S3 Smart Specialization Strategy of Montenegro.

In front of the Ministry of European Affairs, Mr. Bojan Vujovic, Acting General Director of the Directorate for European Funds, addressed the audience, where he highlighted the fact that the aforementioned ministry currently coordinates 10 different programs of European territorial cooperation, one of which is the INTERREG IPA cross-border cooperation program Italy-Albania – Montenegro, the current IPA South Adriatic, through which the FILA Plus project was co-financed. He emphasized the importance of the mentioned project, the previously implemented cooperation, as well as the importance of the development of innovations in the field of agricultural production.

Ms. Olivera Vukajlovic, General Director of the Directorate for the Improvement of Competitiveness within the Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism of Montenegro as one of the partners in the FILA Plus project, highlighted the role of the mentioned ministry as the policy holder of micro, small and medium enterprises, and the fact that they coordinate the large number of support programs aimed at their further development, among other things, when it comes to the development of innovative and digitized solutions.

Mr. Nemanja Vukovic, President of the Niksic Municipal Assembly, emphasized the importance of implementing the FILA Plus project, and the importance of developing innovations for sustainable agriculture, the importance of finding innovative solutions for the purpose of food production, reducing the negative impact on the environment and providing affordable and healthy food.

Except for representative of the Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism of Montenegro, representatives of partner institutions from Italy and Albania also addressed the audience. In front of the leading partner institution on the FILA Plus project, the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute from Bari, Mr. Francesco Notarangelo addressed the attendees, while in front of the Development Fund of Albania, Mr. YIIi Take addressed the attendees, emphasizing the importance of the project and the successful cooperation during the implementation of project activities in order to develop innovations in the agricultural and food sector.

After the introductory presentations, the first keynote lecture was held by the representative of the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute from Bari, Mr. Francesco Notarangelo. During the lecture, Mr. Notarangelo referred to the FILA project, and the FILA Model, which is an innovative model based on the EIP AGRI approach to strengthen the transfer of knowledge in the agri-food sector in the region of Pula, Albania and Montenegro. Special focus during the lecture was on the presentation of the Living Labs concept, as well as on the importance and role of technology transfer for the development of innovations in the field of agriculture.

Associate Professor at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, University of Belgrade, Mr. Ivan Zlatanovic, held a keynote lecture on the topic of using innovative technologies to reduce agricultural waste, highlighting the importance of various technologies, the application of which would enable a significant reduction of agricultural waste and contribute to environmental protection. environment and sustainable management of natural resources.

In the second part of the conference, the first panel session followed, on the topic of Smart and sustainable agriculture. Representatives of various institutions from Montenegro, Serbia and Italy took part in the mentioned panel session, namely:

  • Mrs. Aleksandra Martinovic, director of the FoodHub Center of Excellence, as well as dean of the Faculty of Food Technology, Food Safety and Ecology, University of Donja Gorica, Montenegro;
  • Mr. Momir Alvirovic, founder of the Agrodron team and the Association for unmanned systems in the economy, Serbia;
  • Mr. Oskar Marko, assistant director for innovation and cooperation with the economy within the BioSense Institute, Serbia;
  • Mr. Vito di Cagno, Project Manager within the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute from Bari, Italy.

During the panel session, speakers discussed the concept of smart and sustainable agriculture, as well as possibilities and recommendations for further improvement. Mrs. Martinovic specifically referred to the importance of digitization of agriculture, IOT solutions and the like. Mr. Alvirovic emphasized the importance and application of drones in agriculture, with special reference to crop protection, bearing in mind the fact that thanks to the use of drones, the use of pesticides in agriculture has been reduced by as much as 50%. During the panel session, Mr. Marko specifically referred to the importance and use of artificial intelligence in agriculture, as well as the importance of data processing. He also emphasized the importance of the digital platform Agrosens, which was created with the aim of providing support to farmers and agricultural companies in monitoring the condition of crops and planning agricultural activities, and which represents an important step in the digitization of agriculture and increasing the efficiency and competitiveness of agricultural producers.

In the continuation of the conference, a keynote lecture was held by Mrs. Marijeta Barjaktarovic Lanzardi related to the S3 Strategy of Smart Specialization of Montenegro, with a special focus on Sustainable Agriculture and the food value chain as one of the four priorities within the Strategy. During the lecture, Mrs. Barjaktarovic Lanzardi emphasized the importance of sustainable agriculture, the structure of institutions dealing with the implementation of the S3 Strategy, among which is the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center Tehnopolis.

The mentioned keynote lecture was an introduction to the second panel session on the topic Challenges in the implementation of innovations in agriculture, in which representatives of relevant institutions from Montenegro took part, as well as representatives of two startup companies from Montenegro that develop innovative solutions in the field of smart agriculture, and that:

  • Ms. Milijana Aleksic, manager of Biotechnology Laboratory BioLab Tehnopolis;
  • Mrs. Bojana Femic Radosavovic, Executive Director of the Innovation Fund of Montenegro;
  • Mr. Nedjeljko Latinovic, full professor in the field of plant protection at the Biotechnical Faculty of the University of Montenegro and director of the Center for Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Studies at the University of Montenegro;
  • Mr. Obrad Drakulovic, founder of the startup company E&T Healthy Bee;
  • Mr. Bogdan Maksimovic, founder of the startup company Fish Feeder,

while the panel session was moderated by Mrs. Barjaktarovic Lanzardi.

During the panel session, the participants presented the activities they implement in the field of innovative agriculture, with a special focus on challenges during the implementation of innovations. Mrs. Aleksic presented the support system provided by the Biotechnology Laboratory BioLab Tehnopolis when it comes to innovative processes in agriculture, and some of the key challenges when it comes to their implementation, where the presence of the traditional way of thinking of farmers, and insufficient information about the possibilities offered to them through the application of certain innovations. Mrs. Femic Radosavovic referred to the activities of the Innovation Fund in order to support the development of innovations not only in the agricultural sector, but also in many others. Insufficiently developed communication with different target groups was cited as one of the key external challenges, while insufficient number of employees was cited as one of the internal challenges, considering the scope of support they provide to the interested public. The representative of the academic community, Mr. Latinovic from the Biotechnical Faculty of the University of Montenegro, referred to the projects that were implemented in the previous period, with a special focus on the initiatives with the Electrical Engineering Faculty of the University of Montenegro in the form of creating a platform intended for agricultural producers in order to obtain precise forecasts related to for the occurrence of plant diseases. Mr. Latinovic particularly pointed out that the Biotechnical Faculty’s previous activities in this area resulted in the application of two patents, one of which is national, while the other is in the registration procedure at the European level.

Representatives of two startup companies, Mr. Drakulovic and Mr. Maksimovic, in addition to presenting their innovative solutions, cited the lack of financial support and insufficient cooperation with scientific institutions as a key challenge when developing solutions.

The key challenges in the implementation of innovations in agriculture are insufficiently developed communication between all involved parties, the lack of activities aimed at building capacities in order to use modern technologies in the best possible way, the lack of sufficient financial support, while one of the key challenges is interdisciplinarity and the need for scientific research as the basis for further development.

During the last part of the conference, a keynote lecture was held on the topic Digitization of agritourism offer as a form of diversification of agriculture by Mrs. Andjela Djokic, the founder of FitCamp Montenegro, as an introduction to the panel session on the same topic through the presentation of examples of best practices from the area of Montenegro and the Republic of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

During the keynote lecture, Mrs. Djokic referred to the activities of Fitcamp Montenegro, the activities they implement, and the benefits of digitizing their business.

After the presentation of Fitcamp Montenegro, a panel session followed, in which, in addition to Mrs. Djokic, the following took part:

  • Mrs. Aleksandra Kuratko Pani, manager of the Croatian Association of Rural Tourism;
  • Mr. Samir Ibisevic, executive director of the non-governmental organization Balkantina from Bosnia and Herzegovina;
  • Mrs. Kristina Tomovic, co-owner and general manager at GuessTool D.O.O.;
  • Mr. Zeljko Djukic, president of the NGO Multimedia Montenegro and Sjever.me;
  • Mrs. Gordana Stevovic, member of the management board of the Rural.me organization.

During the panel session, the participants presented the activities they implement in the field of rural tourism, as well as the benefits when it comes to digitizing their business. They also talked about the experiences and challenges they encountered during the development of their business. Mrs. Kuratko Pani particularly emphasized the fact that with the emergence of the COVID-19 virus, the development of agritourism in the Republic of Croatia has significantly improved, and emphasized the importance of the successful business of each member within the association. Mr. Samir Ibisevic highlighted the enormous success they achieved by implementing the project, which resulted in the development of a complete database of interested parties for the provision of various services in the field of rural tourism. Mrs. Kristina Tomovic referred to the advantages of the Guestool application, as well as the possibilities that the application provides to all users in the form of finding various contents offered by rural households. During the panel session, Mr. Zeljko Djukic mentioned as one of the key problems the lack of providers of certain services that would greatly facilitate the business of all actors in the field of rural tourism. Mrs. Gordana Stevovic also referred to the key challenges within her business in the form of the fact that Montenegro is mostly a foreign market and that it is necessary to create all the necessary conditions in order to extend the duration of the tourist season throughout the year.

At the end of the conference, all participants agreed that a lot has already been done when it comes to the application of innovative technologies in the agricultural sector, but that there is still a lot of room for improvement. As pointed out, the key factor is the improvement of the cooperation of all actors in this area, that is, the synergistic action of agricultural producers, the business and academic community, and that a multidisciplinary approach is necessary for further development.

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