The latest progress on Defining the Data Economy for Food Systems

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What is the Data Economy for Food Systems (DE4FS)? This is the fundamental question that needs to be answered in order to develop a common language and make a fair and safe DE4FS a reality.

Let’s find out how INRAE and partners – WR, WU, TSE, and VUB – have been undertaking the challenging task of defining the DE4FS.

Step 1 – Unstructured Literature Review: The first step was to conduct a set of unstructured literature reviews using the following two keywords that make up the Data Economy for Food Systems: 1. Data Economy, 2. Food Systems.

What did they find?

Data Economy: While the UN’s definition of the data economy appears quite simple and straightforward: “the production, distribution and consumption of digital data” , it was acknowledged that economic theory cannot explain the phenomenon of the data economy. Indeed, supply and demand do not determine the price of data, which is often indeterminate or implicit yet creates enormous values. Instead, the idea of a data ecosystem was proposed, with data on every aspect of the world and spread across a range of intelligence systems.

Data Economy as a data ecosystem generating value

Food System: Defining food systems is also not so straightforward as they exist at different scales (global, regional, national and local) and embrace a huge range of actors and their interlinked value-added activities. Not only that, but food systems have system boundaries built about various sub-systems and linkages while also being connected to adjacent systems.

Food Systems as ecosystems generating value

Step 2 – Scientific Literature review: Based upon these findings, two scientific literature reviews were conducted using the two common words found in both working definitions of data economy and food systems: 1. Value, 2. Ecosystem.

Economic Theory- A Quick look
Good-dominant logic (GDL): centered on tangible goods or products, where services are merely add on.

Service-dominant logic (SDL): focus on service (without s) as a process, so doing something (rather than making), for another party or the application of competencies, knowledge and skills for the benefit of another party (individual, firm, digital system, family, government, nature, society…)

The idea behind this approach being that Intangible assets lead to tangible products.

Curent Status

Diving Deeper

The team also took a closer look at this idea from two different perspectives:
a) An ecosystem overview: This perspective looks at the connection between participants/actors, resources integration, value provisions, institutional arrangement/governance and other service ecosystems centered around value co-creation

b) A layered perspective: In contrast, the layered perspective looks at the value created by layers that surround the service- for-service exchanges, including society, nature and institutions as well as those contributing to the service-for service exchanges (meso-micro-macro).

Where to go from here

This is going to be the main focus of the next phase of the project which will also include.

● A questionnaire at Synergy Days in Thessaloniki, Greece, to find out how meaningful the vocabulary is, not only for the partners and use cases but also for other stakeholders and partners of other projects.

● Systematic literature review of the Data Economy, Food Systems, Service ecosystem and value creation related to digitalization and agrifood activities to provide more scientific understanding to the different components of the framework.

● Working groups to develop further every specific aspect of the framework, while continuing the validation process based on real-life cases.

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