Accelerating the Protein Transition: Transition Pathways for Plant Proteins in Hauts-de-France and the East Netherlands
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The growing demand for proteins for human consumption worldwide makes significant contributions to environmental and health problems. This challenge drives innovation efforts globally to devise and promote plant-based alternatives to meat products. The Technological Innovation System (TIS) is a well-established approach to analyse the development and diffusion of sustainable technologies. Innovation studies also emphasise the role of the regional context to explain how certain firms develop a competitive advantage in a globalised economy, and why innovations diffuse unevenly across regions. In this research, the innovation systems for plant proteins in two European regions with proclaimed ambitions to support the protein transition, namely the East Netherlands and the Hauts-de-France. To that effect, the TIS was complemented with regional context elements from the Regional Innovation System (RIS) theory was used. Findings identify key barriers for each innovation system, based on their development stage. In East Netherlands, innovation is undermined by the lack of common objectives and vision to develop plant proteins across the value chain, and by a lack of resources to increase production capabilities. In Hauts-de-France, the entrepreneurial activities and development of knowledge need to be stimulated, in particular in food technology. Common issues pertain to the fragmented value chain, specific knowledge gaps on novel sources of protein, and understanding how to better engage with consumers. Based on these findings, recommendations are drawn to overcome systemic barriers in East Netherlands and identify areas of collaboration with the Hauts-de-France to further accelerate the protein transition.