The Knowledge Cluster Approach to Innovation

The Knowledge Cluster

Below you will be able to read about the key idea behind BOFIN’s involvement in various projects. Knowledge has value.

What is a ‘Knowledge Cluster’?

Many research projects have been successful in engaging a small group of farmers who have often been highly involved in the research, usually carrying out their own on-farm trials. The knowledge and understanding engendered rarely reaches beyond this group, however.

The BOFIN model is to create a ‘Knowledge Cluster’ that acts as a comms channel and opens up a tiered approach to how farmers are engaged.

As you can see in the diagram, the knowledge cluster is split into different key players:

– The Project Partners

– The Cluster Members

– The Innovation Community

The Cluster Members

These are farmers and innovators who are actively interested and opt in to be involved in the project and who help shape it. This will form the core group through which communications will flow. The Knowledge Cluster includes (but is not limited to) those farmers who are project partners (see below). Most of the members of the Knowledge Cluster are volunteers and put in their time and input for free. In return they receive insight; methods and protocols to conduct proxy measurements of their own, verified to a standard above what is commercially available; privileged and assisted access to the project outcomes and how it relates to them.

The Knowledge Cluster is a community, with its own identity, offering members a sense of belonging, connections to like-minded individuals and a protected space to share their specialist thoughts and for these to be valued. This will be a valuable source of feedback for project outcomes, ensuring these retain a market focus. Members will be encouraged (but not obliged) to attend webinars, events and to contribute to discussions on social media and the Knowledge Cluster platform. Part of the project may be to establish protocols for additional simple on-farm trials Knowledge Cluster Members can carry out themselves to crowd-source data that complements the core activities.

The Project Partners

This includes the small group of farmers who will carry out on-farm evaluations. The group also includes all of the key personnel from the project team, some of whom will be directly overseeing and administering the farm evaluations. The farmers will be selected/recruited through discussions with the project team personnel and through direct mail. These farmers will be paid to carry out the on-farm testing and to play a leading role in discussion and dissemination. They will commit time and resource to the project, will be expected to carry out work to a high standard and have good communication skills. BOFIN pays these farmers as contractors.

The Project Partners will also be involved in comms activities, through case study articles, press interviews, presentations at events and at webinars. They will proactively deliver updates on social media and through the Knowledge Cluster platform. Project Partners have actual and deemed administration rights and authority on all platforms through which the project is communicated – they should prompt discussion in forums and respond to contributions, for example.

The Innovation Community

This is the wider farming and scientific community who are engaged through social media, articles in the farming press and activity at relevant events. This audience would include industry stakeholders, such as fertiliser and machinery manufacturers, agrochemical companies, Agritech start-ups. The farmers within this community will be the ones most receptive to new ideas and open to change and includes (but is not limited to) the early adopters.