Network formation in the urban agriculture innovation-ecosystem, comparing the ZFarming niche in Denmark and the Netherlands
Ginkel, M. van
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Due to the problematic and inefficient organization of the current industrial food system, a transition towards sustainable food economies is being realized, particularly via the emerging urban farming (ZFarming) niche. Network formation is an important aspect of niche nurturing in the context of strategic niche management (SNM), and this research provides a new understanding of this process. First, the networking formation process in the ZFarming niche is unpacked. The research presents an integrated framework, introducing specific stakeholder roles and activities for network actors in the ZFarming niche. Second, quantitative and qualitative empirical data has been collected by interviewing a range of stakeholders in the Danish and Dutch ZFarming ecosystems, providing insights in certain trends regarding network formation in these two niches. It can be concluded that the ZFarming niche actors in the leadership, expert and entrepreneurial roles are fundamental in network formation. Especially the emergence of meta-actors, often facilitated by municipalities, is characterising the niche. These network actors create digital platforms for online information environments and mapping initiatives to facilitate geographical linkages in the Netherlands, and physical innovation hubs resulting in spatial clustering in Denmark. Both approaches stimulate knowledge exchange and new collaborative relationships among network actors. They also attract new entrepreneurs to the ecosystem whom are experimenting with novel business models, combining several roles. Consequently, network formation in the Danish and Dutch ZFarming niches is characterised by overlapping roles and intertwinedness.