Meeting with Maryem Cherni, Head of the AllianceAgriAvenir Chair, Dr. in Business Strategy and Innovation, member of the INTERACT research unit, at the Institut Polytechnique UniLaSalle, Beauvais site.

What is your core business?

The AllianceAgriAvenir Chair is the new teaching and training chair (initial and continuing) at UniLaSalle Polytechnic School. It is supported by the INTERACT research unit “Territorial Innovation Agriculture & Agro-industry Knowledge and Technology” (UP 2018.C102), whose central theme is the socio-technical transformation of the agricultural world towards sustainability by taking into account its integration into territories and sectors.

While falling within this theme, the challenge of the new chair is to place family entrepreneurship at the heart of the reflection on the sustainability of agricultural and agri-food companies through their sustainable growth and their inclusion in innovative and resilient territories.

Accompanied by Crédit Agricole Normandie Seine, and supported by the Chambre régionale d’agriculture de Normandie and the Valorial cluster, the AllianceAgriAvenir chair is intended to be a space for collaboration and project creation in order to support family business communities in the agricultural and agri-food sectors, and to contribute to the sustainability of this entrepreneurial model over generations. Three thematic axes now structure this chair: transmission/recovery, innovation, and territory.

The Chair has three main activities, which are:

  • action research through which we aim to develop new knowledge and recommendations on the success of family entrepreneurship in agriculture and agri-food
  • the transfer of knowledge to different audiences, students and professionals
  • the dissemination and sharing of good practices through the events that we wish to set up.

Anything on your news?

Two important events will mark the year 2020.

First, the inauguration of the Chair on January 17, 2020. In the programme of this day and in order to give the starting signal to our work and reflections, we wish to set up a seminar on “The brakes and levers of transmission/resumption in agriculture”. This seminar will be attended by notaries, lawyers, consultants, farmers, young “potential buyers” and associations. The final objective is to understand the key success factors of a project to transfer or take over agricultural holdings, within or outside the family.

And also the start of a doctoral thesis on the theme of “The sustainability of family agricultural and agri-food entrepreneurship: What contributions do collaborative innovations make? “, which will be co-supervised by Loic Sauvée, HDR in Management Sciences, and myself.

Why do you join Valorial?

Since we are part of a research-action logic that aims to bring out new knowledge while remaining in contact with the field and companies, the partnership between the school (the Chair) and the Valorial cluster is essential.
This partnership takes various forms and will result in various actions, which are in line with the themes of the Chair, and which will benefit Valorial’s members.

What is your vision of innovation?

Innovation is a key dimension of the sustainability of the family farm or agri-food business. Increasingly collaborative and territorialized, we consider innovation as a system that requires mobilizing different types of resources and integrating a wide variety of actors, from the farmer to the consumer, including all actors in the intermediate agri-food chain and public authorities.

What innovations are most likely to guarantee the sustainability of the family agricultural and agri-food company, but also respect for environmental issues?

To answer this question, we first want to approach innovation from the perspective of new agricultural practices from an input limitation and climate change perspective. In addition to agricultural practices, innovation is also organisational and concerns market relations and the emergence of new marketing and producer-consumer relations (short circuits, food platforms, etc.).

Digital technology also plays an important role in our thinking. We would like to work on the effects of the new food platforms on agriculture, and the place of family entrepreneurship in these platforms.


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Maryem Cherni - UniLaSalle
Teacher-researcher in Strategy & Innovation - AllianceAgriAvenir Chair

+33 (0)3 44 06 75 40