Within the implementation of Pazardzhik Action Plan a positive impact of improved links and collaboration between different actors in the quadriple helix for spurring discussions and bringing improvement to regional development planning policy in the agrifood sector. Such collaboration proved to be more stable and sustainable when institutionalized based on existing Regional Development Council’s mandate. Moreover, reports drawn and recommendations extracted as a result of such institutionalized collaboration will be disseminated via established interinstitutional channels thus, potentially influencing policy working groups decisions in future updates of agri-food digitalization policies.
The implementation of second action specifically demonstrated how small-scale demonstrations of innovative technological solutions can help overcome small farmers’ hesitancy in investing in digital technologies and relevant digital skills. Additionally, adding integrated support through small-scale funding and agro-consultancy, can help overcome skepticism among small farmers.
In policy instruments impact terms, the REGIONS 4FOOD project Phase 1 helped mobilise regional stakeholders to collaborate and work for agri-food digitization. As planned in the project this is to lead to upgraded 2014-2020 Regional Development Strategy of Pazardzhik Region, namely Priority 3: Improve the competitiveness of agricultural production, by adding Specific Action: 3.2 "Improving the digitalization of the economy of Pazardzhik Region“ (encourage digitalisation; integration&coordination of sectoral policies; simplification of procedures; interoperability and open data; ecosystem of innovation and links) and Specific Action 3.3. " Sustainable development of agriculture based on local resources“ (building partnerships; demonstration of innovative technological solutions). Such updates will additionally lead to new programming period suggestions to the new 2020-2027 Integrated Territorial Strategy for Development of the South Central Region and upgraded regional specialization incorporated into the 2020-2027 National Innovation Smart Specialization Strategy.