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Abstract

Knowledge and innovation are keywords in a context of resource scarcity and sustainable intensification of agriculture. But in order to fully use the knowledge potential and to transform research results into innovative practices, there is a need for an adequate configuration of the agricultural knowledge and innovation system (AKIS). This configuration should be considered in relation to its own specific context and history. This paper focuses on the particular situation of ornamental plant production in Vlaanderen (Flanders), Belgium. In practice, we see that innovations in this sector are not limited to individual companies, but that new collective structures are put in place. The sector’s geographical clustering within the province of Oost-Vlaanderen is hereby an important facilitating factor. The new AKIS constructions have their own logic and objectives, but illustrate the need for further development of interlinkages between AKIS subsystems. The four examples of networking initiatives focus upon the production practices of ornamental plant production companies (VMS), alignment of research (Technopool Sierteelt), knowledge transfer and interaction between research and primary production (Sietinet) and, finally, co-creation of new varieties between research and the growers (BEST-select and Azanova). The results show that such initiatives can indeed contribute positively to the functioning of the AKIS. A partial approach, which looks at specific interactions instead of the AKIS as a whole, is thereby a more practical starting point than an integrated or overarching strategy.

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