Wageningen UR is the focal point of the strong Dutch knowledge base in agribusiness. Traditionally, there has been a strong connection between Dutch agriculture and knowledge development; Dutch farmers and horticulturists continually review their practices using state-of-the-art technology, and this in turn allows knowledge development to stay at the top of the wave.
The Netherlands, a small country, is the second or third exporter of agricultural commodities in the world. It is leading in areas like seed potatoes, flowers and bulbs, avenue trees, and embryos (cows, horses). It has a tradition of using cutting-edge technologies in its agricultural business, with Wageningen UR at the centre of these activities.
Strong corporate interest
The prospects of the biobased economy have alerted Wageningen UR at an early stage, as a consequence of which already three professoriates have been established in this relatively new field. Their goal is the complete use of all elements in the crop, at the highest value possible. In doing so, as a rule the environmental and economic perspectives converge. This allows for a strong corporate interest in research conducted in Wageningen UR. Public-private partnerships have been erected in research areas like carbohydrates, biosolar cells, and biorefinery, and a new competence centre in proteins is being set up.
The quality of Wageningen UR is reflected in its international orientation. Says Rudy Rabbinge, an experienced and internationally well-respected agricultural scientist: ‘Wageningen UR’s strength is shown by its international orientation. It recruits students and PhD’s from more than 180 nationalities. It has established an intense cooperation with major agricultural countries like China, Indonesia, Brazil and South-Africa. And, quite special, its professors have sabbaticals every six or seven years, in which they go abroad in order to broaden their views en strengthen contacts with their colleagues elsewhere.’ In the strive for a biobased economy, Wageningen UR is among the strongholds of the Netherlands.