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What is a co-innovation approach and what does it mean in practice?

Part of Irrigation Insight's approach is to focus on the relationships between stakeholders united by a shared desire for change

Co-innovation is a collaborative approach to tackling complex problems. It requires an awareness of the wider operating context, an understanding of the problem and its impacts as well as a focus on relationships between stakeholders united by a shared desire for change.

An awareness of all stakeholders who have an interest or role
Many people have the potential to influence the rate and direction of change. They may be on farms, in agri-business, within industry bodies or government agencies, banks or business or among the wider public, including consumers and lobbyists. Knowing who these interested parties are, what their stance is and how they relate to each other with respect to the problem, provides the basis to start working together in pursuit of a shared goal. 

Working together to define and solve problems

By adopting an approach that involves key stakeholders in addressing a complex problem, we can potentially generate a better response together.  People who are involved in the Irrigation Insight programme include farmers, researchers, central and local government and industry organisations.

A focus on the whole system
Understanding why the problem exists, what influences the problem and where good points to intervene might be is critical for success.  This requires a range of different types of knowledge so that a rounded understanding of the situation can be developed and described.  Armed with these different types of knowledge, and a holistic systems perspective on irrigation, our joint responses will have better fit for users and help to tackle the problem at hand.  

Awareness of the wider system in which the problem exists
Few problems exist in a vacuum. Outside factors can potentially open new opportunities and close others.  Identifying and understanding what these outside influences are and how they may affect the project goals is necessary to keep the research output and solutions relevant as the work progresses.  For example, in Irrigation Insight we are alert to changes in relevant regional and national policies, technological developments and on farm issues, such as disease outbreaks and biosecurity concerns.   

Irrigation Insight’s co-innovation approach includes:

  • research partnerships with industry and industry groups
  • strong on-going relationships with the Cust Water User group and an evolving understanding of their decision-making needs, practices and preferences
  • regular contact with key government agencies
  • an awareness of the history of irrigation in the region and how it is currently viewed by key individuals and groups with an interest or management responsibility regarding irrigation.

About the author

NIWA Environmental Social Scientist

About Irrigation Insight

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