Launch of student research programme on sustainable food production in Zuid-Holland
Thanks to intensive cooperation between knowledge institutions, businesses and government bodies, the Netherlands is a key breeding ground for innovations in horticulture, both nationally and internationally. The Westland area is one of the cornerstones of the government’s Top Sector in Horticulture & Propagation Materials (H&PM). This field also holds great opportunities for the universities of Leiden, Delft and Rotterdam thanks to its wide range of scientific issues and numerous jobs for current and future students. This calls for structural cooperation between the sector and the universities.
The first step towards that was taken on 1 October 2018 with the signing of a declaration of intent on collaboration between the H&PM Top Sector and the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for Sustainability. The H&PM Top Sector initiates, organises and funds public and private research in the area of knowledge and innovation. The Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for Sustainability is a strategic alliance of three universities focusing on the circular economy.
The two organisations intend to collaborate on research programmes for Master's students at the three universities based on the theme of ‘Sustainable Food Production’, one of the greatest challenges of our time. The agreement was signed on 1 October 2018 at the provincial government building in The Hague during the Circular Economy Research Symposium organised by the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for Sustainability.
Loek Hermans, figurehead for the H&PM Top Sector: "The collaboration between the Top Sector and the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for Sustainability will help ensure that students from Leiden University, TU Delft and Erasmus University Rotterdam can join us in making the horticulture cluster in Zuid-Holland even more innovative and sustainable. Master's students are supporting SMEs on innovation issues, which will lead to the results of their research being distributed widely within the sector. This will be of benefit to both businesses and students."
Despite the proximity of the horticulture sector in Zuid-Holland, it is still relatively unfamiliar to university students in Leiden, Delft and Rotterdam. Faced with the emergence of digitisation and globalisation, and with issues around sustainability, health and food security, the horticulture sector is eager to forge links with scientific knowledge and employees. Creating opportunities for graduates focusing on the green sector is therefore a good step forward. The research programmes on the subject of horticulture are clustered in the Greenport Hub, one of the Centre for Sustainability’s knowledge and innovation hubs.
Prof. Arnold Tukker, scientific director at the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for Sustainability: "Climate change is reducing the amount of fertile land available for food production. At the same time, the world’s population is increasing. Students will work on questions including the following. How can we sustainably produce sufficient food with the right nutrients while using less land? How can we ensure that material and energy flows become circular? What business models should be used? Although we are studying this in Zuid-Holland, the solutions can be applied worldwide."
Students, researchers, businesses and government collaborate in a hub
At the Circular Economy Research Symposium organised by the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for Sustainability, more than 150 participants had the opportunity to become acquainted with the centre’s four hubs. A hub is a group of students and researchers from the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus universities and external parties, such as businesses and local municipalities, which commission the research. Participants can sign up for the hubs each year. Each hub can accommodate six students, two from each university. These are the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for Sustainability hubs:
• The Inclusive City Hub focuses on the issue of how to design for the well-being of residents of Rotterdam and The Hague and involve them in the city’s circular economy. Read more >
• The Resilient City Hub focuses on environmental issues, including traffic, energy, construction materials and waste in the city. Read more >
• The Greenport Hub is all about horticulture, nutrition and other green issues, especially in the Westland area. Read more >
• The Circular Industries Hub is exploring how to make industry in Zuid-Holland circular. Read more >