Expertise & research centre in Innovative Entrepreneurship in Rural Areas

The ERC Innovative Entrepreneurship in Rural Areas is a joint initiative between the Province of North Brabant and HAS University of Applied Sciences. The goal is to combine knowledge about commercial opportunities from nature and the countryside, and to combine the different ideas in practice. The ERC is aimed at contributing to the broadening of the value and use of the natural environment, while maintaining, or ideally increasing biodiversity. Professors are Daan Jochem Groot and Erwin van Woudenberg from Nature Squared.

Upscaling environmentally friendly agricultural systems

The ERC contributes to the upscaling of environmentally friendly agricultural systems. It also offers new, additional combinations of agriculture and nature. This enables nature and the countryside to play a more prominent role in the circular economy, the Biobased economy, sustainable energy, the agrifood supply chain, health care and public health, whereby the ERC works to provide practical applications.

Connecting the economy and ecology

Nature and the economy are often put on opposite sides of the equation. This can be seen in the sectorial division between agriculture and nature. Daan Jochem Groot and Erwin van Woudenberg believe that nature is the foundation for everything, also for our economic system. That’s why they are constantly searching for a connection between the economy and ecology. This means that they work together with farmers to find ways to support the natural environment and to help farmers earn a better living. This may involve operational management but also in the marketing of agricultural products. The ERC Innovative Enterprise with Nature is aimed at creating new revenue models for the natural environment, both inside and outside of the nature network.

North Brabant as an example

It is the translation of innovative ideas and scientific insights into practical research that can really make the difference in the quality and experience of the natural environment in North Brabant. The professors expect to develop examples wherein the value of the natural environment in North Brabant increases and, at the same time, farmers are able to earn a better living, whilst reducing dependence on governmental subsidies. North Brabant will serve as an example for the Netherlands and the European Union. This requires the concrete projects to be put into practice in North Brabant within 4 years’ time.