Canadian Field Crop Research Alliance

Host and facilitate the national field crop research forum

New strategy and research priorities to advance field crops across the country were being developed by the Canadian Field Crop Research Alliance (CFCRA), an organization that brings together producer groups and industry partners to coordinate research funding. The research strategy and priorities would support soybean, corn, wheat, barley, and oat innovations. CFCRA previously hosted an in-person summit to identify research priorities to prepare for new government cost-sharing programs, like the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

In-person meetings weren’t an option due to the ongoing pandemic, so CFCRA engaged the Synthesis team to host and facilitate a virtual event. The team created a new online workspace and virtual event that brought together more than 80 people from across the country. A customized online workspace was available to participants three weeks ahead of the event, allowing them to watch research progress videos by CFCRA lead researchers, review and share feedback on a proposed CFCRA research strategy and interact in online discussions about crop-specific priorities.

A two-day virtual event followed the online workspace where Synthesis facilitated the event, organizing speakers about research collaboration and innovation, moderating panel discussions and breakout rooms. The team also provided CFCRA with a summary report of the event and its outcomes.

The new virtual event was a success. Attendance was higher than the previous in-person research forum. The online workspace allowed for all participants to take their time reviewing background information and presentations and engage in conversations even though they were not able to attend the actual event. Travel restrictions did not prevent attendance, since everyone could log in online and all discussions and conversations were documented within the workspace for future reference. This event elevated research and industry engagement, resulting in the development of a new, focused research strategy for the innovation, growth and success of Canadian field crops.