It has been a terrific smorgasbord of projects as we have gone into 2016. The Research and Development for Profit projects have commenced and, as well as evaluating the ‘Stimulating the Private Sector’ project being lead by Dairy Australia, I also have the opportunity for input via the Expert Panel on the ‘Extension and Adoption for Australian Farmers and Fishers’ project lead by RIRDC. So good to see the effort and resources being put into understanding and supporting contemporary extension! What stood out with these federally funded projects was the requirement for a monitoring and evaluation plan as the first milestone! And this practice is becoming more common place for projects funded by some of the Rural Development Corporations! Extra funds are being allocated specifically for evaluation – so it becomes an integral part of project management and not an ‘add on’.
Speaking of R&D 4 Profit projects, I have been fortunate to be involved in early discussions and a workshop lead by MLA looking at the potential to use a co-innovation approach to look at the long term management of recurring drought. There was a high level of interest of progressing this approach to this issue and developing a proposal for the next round of funding.
In New Zealand, I participated in a ‘writeshop’, where all of the researchers involved in the Primary Innovation (Co-innovation) Project were facilitated to develop joint papers – aimed at conferences and/or journals. It was an excellent collaborative experience with some great outcomes. I was part of a team writing a paper for the upcoming IFSA conference on the “Nine principles of co-innovation” based on a survey undertaken of the experience of innovation project teams. While in NZ, I was also a part of the initial team meeting for a project led by Scion, called “Weaving the Korowai of Papatuanuku – Adaptive governance and supported environmental decision making” – a holistic project looking at catchment rehabilitation and community capacity building. There is a very strong focus on relationships and this was the focus of our first meeting.
So 2016 has started with a good deal of interest and energy and, for a while, greener pastures over here in the UK.