Vertical Farming in the Netherlands

Towards a Circular Food System: A Business Ecosystem Perspective

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Abstract

The world’s current food system is unsustainable and considering the increasing human population, there is a demand for innovations in the circular food production. Simultaneously, food security be­ comes a topic of interest as greenhouse gasses cause more extreme weather conditions. Vertical farming potentially plays a vital role in the food system of the future. With its year-round production, clean facilities and urban farming principles, vertical farms proliferate themselves as circular and sus­tainable providers of food security.

This study aims to find the enabling and constraining factors that influence commercial success of a Dutch vertical farming start­up. It does so in an exploratory setting and from a business ecosystem perspective, which a six dimensional empirical framework (6C­ Framework) analyses. A thorough actor search, technological analysis and in­depth case­study provide data for the anal­ysis. The case­study investigates a start­up business ecosystem and delivers most in-depth knowledge on a Dutch vertical farming business ecosystem.

A first finding is the overall good relationship and trust in combination with a shared vision towards a global sustainable food system. The second finding is the lack of co­-creation due to limited resources and the birth stage of the sector, which hampers a dominant design and optimal efficiency. In addition, there is secrecy among vertical farms about knowledge and design. This hampers the creation of a fore­ front in vertical farming that could educate society and take a lead in innovation. A last finding focuses on the new value creation from vertical farms around branding that may provide a sustainable business model.