How could a European country, one of the smallest even by European standard, produce the biggest quantities of some of the world’s food products?
One of the key factors is Food Valley. This initiative was established to encourage innovation in the Dutch agri-food cluster through connection and collaboration between multiple stakeholders. Food Valley is the Netherland’s primary agri-food ecosystem that facilitates cooperation between companies, knowledge institutions, education sector, and the government. Foodvalley is often characterised as the golden triangle in food innovation. By ensuring the connection and collaboration, Food Valley facilitates the optimal use of the Dutch knowledge infrastructure and food expertise. The ecosystem covers multiple fields of innovation, such as protein shift, circular agriculture, food and health, and smart and digital technology.
Located in Wageningen, Food Valley works closely with the Wageningen University and Research as well as business network. The network forms a community of 200 agri-food knowledge suppliers and companies. The Valley hosts multiple activities involving its members. Below is a list of activities of the Food Valley.
- Develop programmes on topics such as food wastage, energy and water-reduction, new protein sources, and productivity increase with industry and trading companies.
- Support food and health product development, targeted for specific groups, by partnering with businesses and knowledge institutions
- Provide training modules on internationalisation, ensure market research based on specific sectors for companies, facilitate international trading missions, and host collective trade fair attendance
- Integrate different sorts of support for new collaboration
- Unlock the potential of integration between businesses, knowledge distributors, and other related parties
- Promote Food Valley NL
The collaboration under Food Valley has allowed countless innovation to grow in Wageningen. In one innovation case, a Wageningen professor, Atze Jan van der Goot, attempts to make long threads of protein from dairy based on soy protein. This is a €6m innovation is a result of collaboration with Meyn (a Dutch poultry processing machine manufacturer backed by Warren Buffet), Givaudan (a Swiss company specialising on flavour and fragrance), and Unilever (a consumer goods giant).
Food Valley has contributed not only in supporting agri-food experts and giant companies, but also in supporting and funding various companies at different stages of development. The Food Valley ecosystem provides accelerator programmes for companies based on their stages of development. StartLife Accelerate is a programme for early-stage food and agri-tech start-ups. The latest data shows that this programme has supported and funded over 300 companies. The next stage is Food Valley Accelerator, which supports late-stage start-ups ready to scale. The programme for the highest-stage companies is ScaleUpFood. This programme allows agri-food companies with serious market targets and tangible scaling opportunities to receive an executive masterclass with industry experts.
In conclusion, Food Valley has indeed become a supportive and collaborative ecosystem for agri-food innovation. This has allowed numerous innovations to grow in the Netherlands, making this tiny country a global leader in agri-food innovation.