Dutch growers and researchers have bounced back from the cancellation of joint financing via the Product Board for Horticulture and the formation of a ‘Club of 100’ continues to grow with around 40 supply companies now closely involved in strategic research into greenhouse horticulture at Wageningen University.
Wageningen needed to adapt following the loss of central funding and developed a model, based on that used by many gyms and sports clubs, to allow the supply industry to become more involved in research. Each participant signs a two-year commitment agreement for a contribution of €15,000 a year. “The companies can spend half of these funds on their own research issues. The other half allows them have their say about the direction of our strategic applied research”, says Sjaak Bakker, manager of Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture. “Additionally they are on top of the latest innovations and benefit from the ‘chemistry’ that develops within the network at the half-yearly meetings. Companies that would normally be competitors now meet in a very different environment, and it is having surprising results.”
“It is heart-warming to see how many people believe in the importance of research”, comments team leader Jan-Willem de Vries. “Some have even volunteered to act as ambassador. It has really energised us.”