"Horticulture is already a sector with a high degree of technology. But there are certainly further steps to be taken in this area, including drones and robotics," says Bas Vollebregt, Alderman for Economics in Delft.
Bas Vollebregt has been Alderman for Economy, Culture, Land Development and Real Estate since 2018 - on behalf of the STIP party (Students Technology in Politics). This made him automatically a member of the Greenport Greenboard, and he is a leader within the Greenport for the theme Knowledge & Innovation.
That was not the first encounter with horticulture for the former student of Technical Public Administration, since part of his family lives in the Westland and works in the sector. Nevertheless Vollebregt was surprised by what he saw in horticulture. "Horticulture is a sector with a high degree of technology, while it still has the image of being dominated by manual labor. But horticulture can take even more steps in the application of technology."
Why is this necessary?
"There are enormous opportunities for things like drones, picking robots and other innovations. In fact, we need that transition in order to remain internationally competitive. That is important for the entire region."
What role can the Greenport play in this?
"First of all, it's about connecting entrepreneurs, knowledge institutions and governments. They need to find each other. That's why the field labs in our region are so important, such as the recently opened Robohouse. In field labs, entrepreneurs are stimulated to start using new technologies. In doing so, they will of course receive help from the field labs in figuring out how the technology can be applied."
But field labs do not automatically provide innovation.
"They need more notoriety for sure. We have to show that they can really mean something. In addition, there are innovation programs via the MRDH, among others. They support interested business owners."
Innovation also benefits from talent. Do enough students choose horticulture?
"It's a big challenge to train the right people for a job in horticulture. A job in horticulture is a huge opportunity for professionally motivated students, so we need to encourage them even more to opt for horticulture."
Source: Greenport West-Holland