The Europe 2020 Strategy, aiming at a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, underlines the key role of innovation for the economic development and transformation of the European Union. All the European policies must implement innovation in their actions, such as Common Agricultural Policy and Rural Development Policy. The innovation promoted is based on a concept of innovation quite different from the past. Innovation is not the same of research, it is the result of interactions between heterogeneous actors and it is not only technological innovation, because today innovation could be social innovation. Moving from these new features of the concept of innovation, the paper deals with the analysis of social innovation in the context of rural development, where it «may be referred to when identifying society’s need for more sustainable production methods, the necessity for collaboration and social learning, and the scope of change needed for revitalising (rural) society» (Bock, 2012). Regulation n. 1305/2013 seems to predict all three interpretations. In particular, the article explores the provisions of art. 35 that fosters cooperation between players in the food sector and forestry paths those make (collective) innovation, analyzing the different tools (districts, clusters, networks, network contract) that Member States can use to make interactive innovation. .
Keywords: Innovation, Networks, Network Contract, Rural Development