After a very challenging season, which indeed seems to be far from an end, and during which project partners - just like almost all organizations all over the world - have faced unexpected changes in their daily activities and had to rethink most of their work due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the time has come for Regions 4Food project to switch from the Study visits phase to the Peer review one.

Talking about methodologies, REGIONS 4FOOD has a well-defined approach that included a number of stages, from an initial phase that involved stakeholders groups and foresaw the identification of needs, barriers, relational capital and good practice and the creation of a catalogue of data and technologies in the agri-food sector, to the exchange of experiences and practice sharing, where the results of the mapping works have been shared within the partnership in the interregional seminars organised back-to-back the steering committee meetings.

Study visits

Good practice sharing has been implemented through the study visits, where both the project partners and their stakeholders took part. Partners had previously identified those practices that were the most interesting for them in terms of their capacity to improve the policy instrument addressed.

In the preparation of the Regional Action plans, partners included the lessons learnt from previous stages, the interregional activities, and learning at all levels. Stakeholder groups also met to analyse the findings of previous work and contribute to the preparation of the draft Action Plan.

Peer review

Now, partners are in the middle of the Peer-review phase: the overall objective of this phase is that the partner owner of the good practice inspiring the actions of other partner’s Action Plan draft evaluates it taking into consideration the partner's context on innovation strategies.

This is a very important process involving partners and key stakeholders: after the partner owner of the inspiring good practice has received the draft Action plan from another partner with a request for reviewing the whole document or just a part of it, there is some initial exchange of suggestions and view.

Key stakeholders are then involved by the peer in the review process and in the end a meeting takes place between partners so as to assess the document and, when needed, discuss how it could be improved in order to obtain the final objective: improving the partner’s policy instrument tackled by the project. For the time being, 19 out of 29 meetings took place. Finally, the peers drafted a review report with suggestions in view of improving the Action Plan draft reviewed, and these can be later discussed with the stakeholders and considered in the drafting of the final Action Plan.

Towards the Action Plans

The last step of the methodology will consist in the submission of the 7 Action Plans to the Interregional Europe Joint Secretariat at the end of Phase I (31st May 2021)