General ILVO and TRANSfarm (KU Leuven) commit to close collaboration on innovative agricultural research


Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO) in Merelbeke and TRANSfarm, KU Leuven's pilot center for circular bioeconomy in Lovenjoel, recognize each other as preferential partners for future scientific agricultural research. Both research institutions will intensively inform each other on current and future research areas and look for common ground. The cooperation is purely scientific in content: they each bring in their expertise, know-how and infrastructure but organizationally they remain strictly separated. ILVO and TRANSfarm signed a "Memorandum of Understanding" on July 13, 2023, an agreement in which the outlines of future cooperation are set out.

Both research institutions highly value sustainable agriculture and a circular approach. Both ILVO and KU Leuven indicate that the transition to sustainable agriculture has already begun. Well-founded scientific research is needed to promote and accelerate this process.

Groepsfoto ILVO KULeuven

KU Leuven

As a university research institution, KU Leuven specializes in fundamental research. With the recent opening of TRANSfarm in Bierbeek, KU Leuven aims to scale up innovations and lab expertise in agriculture-oriented research and bring it into practice faster. The site includes a food lab, a state-of-the-art poultry and piglet research platform, an aquatic unit and some 70 hectares of research fields.

"By collaborating with ILVO, we can each leverage our strengths to the fullest and, where necessary, combine them in joint future projects. TRANSfarm supports researchers to scale up innovations in bioeconomy and biotechnology. The step from lab to practice is not so obvious, but a rapid flow of research results to the market and society is indispensable. ILVO has a lot of experience in that area that we want to learn from."

- Wouter Merckx, director TRANSfarm KU Leuven.


ILVO occupies a unique position in the research landscape. ILVO's research is positioned between the fundamental research of the universities and the solution-oriented approach of the various specialized practical research centers. Like the universities, ILVO conducts scientific and independent research. With the various practical research centers, ILVO shares the pursuit of applicable, practice-oriented solutions and innovations. ILVO's main task is to contribute to making agriculture, fisheries and the agri-food sector more sustainable. The Flemish knowledge center has about 240 ha of regular agricultural trial fields and 50 ha of agroecological plots, about 90 buildings on 10 different sites and more than 730 employees. Working together with farmers, trade associations and companies in the agri-food industry, among others, ILVO also conducts co-creative research through the 6 Living Labs.

Joris Relaes, ILVO Administrator General: "Collaboration is an inseparable part of the ILVO DNA. We are honored that we can further build up knowledge with KU Leuven, among others, and put it at the service of the agricultural sector. At ILVO, we are continuously searching for resilient and efficient food systems that are sustainable and healthy. The challenges facing the agricultural sector require a comprehensive approach. Research will point in this direction where solutions can be found. The more intensively we can cooperate with other researchers, the better and faster those solutions will become visible."

Contact KU Leuven: Wouter Merckx, - Spokesperson KU Leuven


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Björn Possé

Research coordinator