Major shifts in world economy, society and technology will cause dramatic changes in Dutch horticulture and in the attitude of the government towards research. The horticulture industry will change from a production-driven to a customer-driven strategy while developing market-oriented product chains. More than ever, knowledge becomes a critical factor in competition. In contrast with the past, the horticulture industry will protect knowledge to increase its profitability. The government will choose to focus on basic sciences, leaving applied research mainly to the industry. This is a major shift since the government used to be responsible for most research. Complete institutional research programmes are no longer state-financed; instead, a system of financing research programmes by competitive bids is being developed. The government is also restructuring the infrastructure of agricultural research. Breakthroughs in science and technology will have strong effects on how the industry will develop. The more important ones are described. In the future, research institutes will act in a competitive environment with great uncertainties. The knowledge market used to be dominated by governments, but will be dominated by internationally active private enterprises. Both management and researchers will take more customer-oriented attitudes. Research institutes will need to develop strategies to survive under these circumstances. Some possibilities are discussed. It is concluded that horticultural research will change. Instead of focusing on plant production, it will include many more disciplines and multi-disciplinary collaboration in agreement to the information flow in product chains. The horticulture industry will have to decide whether separate horticultural stations for applied research should remain and what kind of work must be done in the future.


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