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Silva, F.T.D.; Baierle, I.C.; Correa, R.G.D.F.; Sellitto, M.A.; Peres, F.A.P.; Kipper, L.M. Open Innovation in the transition to Agriculture 4.0. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 05 December 2023).
Silva FTD, Baierle IC, Correa RGDF, Sellitto MA, Peres FAP, Kipper LM. Open Innovation in the transition to Agriculture 4.0. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed December 05, 2023.
Silva, Francisco Tardelli Da, Ismael Cristofer Baierle, Ricardo Gonçalves De Faria Correa, Miguel Afonso Sellitto, Fernanda Araujo Pimentel Peres, Liane Mahlmann Kipper. "Open Innovation in the transition to Agriculture 4.0" Encyclopedia, (accessed December 05, 2023).
Silva, F.T.D., Baierle, I.C., Correa, R.G.D.F., Sellitto, M.A., Peres, F.A.P., & Kipper, L.M.(2023, June 02). Open Innovation in the transition to Agriculture 4.0. In Encyclopedia.
Silva, Francisco Tardelli Da, et al. "Open Innovation in the transition to Agriculture 4.0." Encyclopedia. Web. 02 June, 2023.
Open Innovation in the transition to Agriculture 4.0

Industry 4.0 digital technologies in agribusiness will enable traditional farming systems to migrate to Agriculture 4.0. Open innovation emerges as an enabler for implementing these technologies and increased sector competitiveness.

Agriculture 4.0 agroindustry open innovation Industry 4.0

1. Background

Industrial revolutions usually include adopting new technologies that impact economic sectors, such as industries and services [1]. The main consequences of such adoptions are increased efficiency and productivity in economic activities. The associated technological changes usually convey to industries innovative transformations that result in the emergence of new technical and economic paradigms [2][3]. Innovation processes usually rely on cost-focused actions supported by opportunities for open innovation [4]. Open innovation includes business models and service innovation and aims to access, leverage, and absorb knowledge beyond the organizational boundary [5][6]. The fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, presents such features [3]. Industry 4.0 develops new structural and corporate aspects relying on digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), cloud computing, computer vision (CV), autonomous robots (AR), Big Data, cybersecurity, augmented reality, and horizontal and vertical integrations of systems and software [7][8][9]. Several productive sectors, including agribusiness, already employ such technologies [10].
As for developing markets, the Brazilian agribusiness sector accounts for more than 26% of the gross domestic product (GDP) [11]. In recent years, the sector benefited from open innovation initiatives, mainly embracing crop and harvest productivity, loss reductions along the entire value chain, sustainability concerns [12], machine manufacturers [13], and logistics operators [14]. Even if the sector still depends on several artisanal processes [15], recent studies point to essential opportunities regarding efficiency in operations and resource-saving innovations [16][17]. An essential requirement for enhancing the economic results in modern agribusiness is disseminating open innovation findings. Open innovation implies adopting new technologies to boost agribusiness productivity, strongly contributing to affording future food requirements for an increasing global population [14]. Besides minimizing costs and losses, technological innovations supported by advanced electronics and information systems can help improve food quality and safety, reducing inequality in food availability, mainly in developing economies [18]. In short, Industry 4.0 technologies can trigger a massive migration process from traditional rural activity to the so-called Agriculture 4.0 [19]. Agribusiness can increase results by managing strategy, innovation, operations, and other competitive priorities [20]. Other studies consider the impact of innovation initiatives in other competitive criteria, such as cost, quality, and dependability, not only in enhancing business throughput [21][22]. Implementing open innovation through Industry 4.0 digital technologies should boost the migration from the traditional system to Agriculture 4.0, which may, even in the short term, expand the sector’s competitiveness.

2. Industry 4.0 and Digital Technologies

Digital technologies can drive economic and social development by including mechanisms from digital transformation processes already implemented in other industries, such as the automotive [23]. Digital transformation processes are continuous and dynamic and depend on digital strategies to achieve and maintain a proactive relationship between emerging technologies with the industrial processes and society [24]. Such an imbricated scenario develops upon Industry 4.0, which brings significant advances to the industry through disruptive applications of the digital technology [25]. Industry 4.0 primarily employs digital technologies, providing more efficient operations and supporting decision-making processes [26]. Usual implementations of Industry 4.0 comprise sixteen leading technologies, as presented in Table 1 [19].
Table 1. Industry 4.0 Digital Technologies.

3. Agriculture 4.0

In the past, the now-called Agriculture 1.0 era employed simple tools and animal traction, requiring manual labor and achieving low productivity. After industrial development, agriculture activities introduced new production strategies [45], such as Agriculture 2.0, which employed machinery and chemicals, increasing crop productivity and efficiency [46]. The development of the first computer programs created alternatives to improve production and agro-industrial systems [45]. One of them was the global positioning system (GPS), used until today to assist in satellite management, establishing the so-called Agriculture 3.0 era [43]. With the emergence of Industry 4.0, digital technologies came into agriculture, marking a new technological frontier [47] and incorporating open innovation into agribusiness, giving rise to the so-called Agriculture 4.0 era. Agriculture 4.0, or precision agriculture, is a logical development of existing food production systems [48], employing remote sensing strategies and embedded technologies to manage and control the overall systemic performance [49].
Agriculture 4.0 employs the Internet of Things and Big Data tools to manage agribusiness, relating precision farming solutions (sensors, artificial intelligence, robots, drones) with Smart Farming, which uses tools, such as management software, analytics, and cloud system, in the search for the development of agricultural processes and techniques [50]. Digital technologies optimize the use of inputs, reduce labor costs, improve the quality of products and services, reduce environmental impacts, and collect a large volume of data to support decision-making processes [51]. In short, Agriculture 4.0 poses challenges in moving from experience-based agriculture to the so-called smart agriculture. Innovative solutions and open innovation actions were essential in the transition to Agriculture 4.0 [52][53].

4. Open Innovation and Agriculture 4.0

Open innovation is a methodological concept for developing environments with technological characteristics, encompassing the possibility of inserting new procedures and processes as new technologies enter the market. When applied, open innovation usually conveys economic local development [54] by transformative changes that influence the business [55]. Open innovation local systems typically rely on the interaction between innovation and technology [55], with the primary role of transfer of knowledge transferences and innovation diffusion. Open innovation is a distributed process involving knowledge flows within and across organizational boundaries [56].
Open innovation requires access to knowledge, depending on information flows, which can occur in two directions, from outside to inside and from inside to outside a company [53]. The outside inflow refers to adopting innovative processes from external systems. The inside outflow allows information generated within organizations to be used by other players, such as proprietary technologies and royalty payments [57]. Open innovation facilitates access to external partners, experiences, and knowledge, allowing, at the same time, to replace obsolete processes, improve existing systems, and avoid losses [58].
Adopting innovative processes to boost competitiveness in agriculture requires industrialization and digital technologies [14] provided by open innovation initiatives [59]. More competitiveness is essential to achieve higher productivity and increase the global food offer [60][61]. In this perspective, many companies and governments estimulate technological development to improve agriculture efficiency, aiming at rapid industrialization and innovation implementations in the agribusiness [62]. Business companies achieve several benefits from using digital technologies to minimize errors and ensure a higher quality of products [63]. The increase in competitiveness also gains prominence, especially with automation, since it can lead to increased productivity and, at the same time, reduce costs [60][64].


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