The Dutch greenhouse horticulture industry is characterized by world leadership in high-tech innovation. The dynamics of this playing field are innovation in production systems and automation, reduction in energy consumption and sharing limited space. However, international competitive advantage of the industry is under pressure and sustainable... growth of individual enterprises is no longer a certainty. The sector’s ambition is to innovate better and grow faster than the competition in the rest of the world. Realizing this ambition requires strengthening the knowledge base, stimulating entrepreneurship, innovation (not just technological, but especially business process innovation). It also requires educating and professionalizing people. However, knowledge transfer in this industry is often fragmented and innovation through horizontal and vertical collaboration throughout the value chain is limited. This paper focuses on the question: how can the grower and the supplier in the greenhouse horticulture chain gain competitive advantage through radical product and process innovation. The challenge lies in time- to-market, in customer relationship, in developing new product/market combinations and in innovative entrepreneurship. In this paper an innovation and entrepreneurial educational and research programme is introduced. The programme aims at strengthening multidisciplinary collaboration between enterprise, education and research. Using best practice examples, the paper illustrates how companies can realize growth and improve the innovative capacity of the organization as well as the individual by linking economic and social sustainability. The paper continues to show how participants of the program develop competencies by means of going through a learning cycle of single-loop, double-loop and triple loop learning: reduction of mistakes, change towards new concepts and improvement of the ability to learn. Finally, the paper illustrates the importance of combining enterprise, education and research in regional networks, with examples from the greenhouse horticulture sector. These networks generate economic growth and international competitiveness by acting as business accelerators.
The role of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) is unquestionable in the European economies, while financial opportunities are still inadequate for them. The more than 20 million SMEs play a significant role in European economic growth, innovation and job creation. According to the latest EC Annual Report , SMEs are accounting for 99% of all no...n-financial enterprises, employing 88.8 million people and generating almost EUR 3.7 tn in added value for our economy. Despite the fact that there is plenty of EU funding available for these SMEs, for certain reasons these funds hardly reach them. But we have to see that the EU supports SMEs by various way, e.g. by grants, regulatory changes, financial instrument, direct funds. On the other hand, SMEs and decision makers realised that the environmental sustainability has to be attached to the economic growth, therefore more and more tools are available for these enterprises. Over the last few years, public institutions, the market, the financial community and non-governmental associations have explicitly demanded that firms improve their environmental performance. One of the greatest opportunities might lay in the Climate- and Energy Strategy till 2030 as 20% of the EU budget is allocated to climate-related actions, however the easy access to finance is still a key question. Does the EU recognise the actual difficulties? Is there a systemic reason behind the absorption problems? Is the EU creating a more businessfriendly environment for SMEs, facilitating access to finance, stimulates the green and sustainable growth and improving access to new markets? The paper analyses the current European situation of the SMEs and the effectiveness of some new tools, which are specially targeting SMEs.
JEL classification: Q18