‘ The SME sector will lose influence on the innovation agenda.'
One of the tasks of the product boards is to fund targeted research in agriculture and horticulture. For this reason, they are also involved in the Agrifood and Horticulture top sectors which are currently being developed. The horticultural product board funds research in the Horticulture top sector to the tune of 30 million, while the other product boards contribute projects worth about 21 million to the Agriculture top sector.
Product boards primarily fund applied research at the small and medium enterprise end of the market. If this comes to an end, farmers and market gardeners will hardly have any say anymore in the innovation agenda in the top sectors, says policy officer Frank Bakema of Wageningen UR. He does think a new organization might be created for collective research. One that is based on voluntary participation, not on compulsory assignments. But it will take time to create such an organization, and it certainly won't be in place by 1 March, when the top sector plans are to be presented.