The effectiveness of the policy and support environment for local food production competitiveness, innovation and growth
Prof Barry Quinn, Ms Lynsey McKitterick, Dr Adele Dunn and Prof Rodney McAdam (Ulster University)
This presentation focuses on the effectiveness of policy for SME (small and medium enterprises) innovation in the food chain. Specifically it provides evidence-based recommendations for policy-makers arising from research into the effectiveness of the policy and support environment in fostering innovation, competitiveness and growth among small and micro-sized food producers. A competitive local food production sector contributes to the fabric of the rural economy and leads to greater transparency and traceability in the supply chain. The findings and recommendations for policy arise from the EU funded INTERREG IVC LOCFOOD (Local Food as an Engine for Local Business) project which consists of 13 partners across 9 EU regions. The research indicates relatively high levels of innovation among food small/micro food producers, but a lack of involvement in support programmes, particularly collaborative programmes. The evidence suggests that these enterprises are engaging with introductory levels of support, but indicates various barriers to engagement, such as a lack of understanding of available support and lack of critical networking capabilities. Policy implications include the need for government and support agencies to engage more with these businesses to communicate available support, to provide more specialist support, and to formulate a strategy for collaborative networks.