NWO funds research on collaboration within circular agriculture missions

A photo of vegetables
Photo: Martina Janochová/Pixabay

Under the call 'Collaboration in mission-driven innovation', NWO has committed funding for a four-year research project on one of the most complex challenges of our time: the transition to circular agriculture.

Like many other contemporary societal challenges, closing value chains in agriculture and horticulture requires new forms of cooperation between all organisations involved; both when it comes to finding new business models and designing appropriate policy frameworks. The aim of the REWIRE project is to develop, from an ecosystem perspective, practically applicable methods that support such collaborative activities, paying special attention to coordination issues between (supra-)national governments, regional governments, and the various organisations 'in the field'.

A broad consortium of researchers and societal partners

The project is being executed by a broad consortium led by researchers from the Mission-oriented Innovation Policy Observatory (MIPO), part of the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development at Utrecht University. Other research and education partners include Eindhoven University of Technology, Wageningen University & Research, The Hague University of Applied Sciences, HAS Green Academy, and Lentiz MBO Oostland.

An important role is also played by social partners such as provinces (Overijssel, Noord-Brabant, Zuid-Holland) and municipalities (Waddinxveen), agro-intermediaries (Foodvalley NL, Greenport West-Holland, Greenport Noord-Holland Noord), regional development agencies and knowledge organisations (OostNL, LIB, BrabantKennis), various types of private parties (including TOP BV, Dialogic, NewForesight) and their representatives (Plantum, Forever Plants). In addition, the project is supported by several ministries and implementing body, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).

Together with stakeholders, the researchers will undertake several mutually reinforcing lines of research on circular agriculture. One work package, for instance, will map existing collaborative structures and then come up with a recommender system that supports network development. Two other work packages focus on the ecosystems of Greenport West-Holland and Foodvalley NL, to determine how parties can innovate together, upgrade their value chains and achieve social impact more effectively. There is also an interlinked work package focusing on governance and the role of policy.

To ensure that lessons learned are validated and applied, the project has modules for training students and professionals and a 'Collective Learning Platform'. Here, already connected partners, but also other interested parties, can connect with each other and start working on innovation in multi-level ecosystems themselves.

More information on the awarded projects in the NWO call can be found here: Collaboration in mission-driven innovation’ KIC call awards three projects