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Home » Focus, Netherlands

Food Valley-Where Food Ideas Grow

Submitted by on 12 Jul 2012 – 12:33

Roger van HoeselBy Roger van Hoesel, Managing Director Food Valley

Knowledge, business sense, co-operation and innovation are critical success factors in the agri-food business. The network organization Food Valley brings these factors together. Its aim is to unlock the limitless innovative power of the Dutch and European agri-food sector. By promoting business-centred R&D, Food Valley combines business acumen with entrepreneurship and research. New questions lead to new answers and applications. Competitiveness is boosted. Our multidisciplinary network facilitates matchmaking and the creation of innovative projects.

Food Valley is not just the name of a network organization. In the Netherlands, Food Valley represents a dynamic concentration of research organizations, agri-food and technology companies; Food Valley. This successful cluster initiative was spearheaded by Wageningen University and Research Centre (WUR), one of the world’s leading agri-food faculties. Today, Food Valley is home to multinationals and to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), including start-ups, engaged in various sectors and knowledge domains.

One of Food Valley’s core objectives as a network organization is to activate and pool the collective strengths of its participants through pan-European business and innovation networks. Working together often results in synergies. A number of partners are actively engaged in this cluster, including the Food Valley Society and the European Food Alliance. Notable initiatives include Food2Market and NetGrow. Details of each are provided below.

The Food Valley Society is a growing and vital innovation network of food and feed companies, suppliers to the food industry, and public and private research institutes committed to Food Valley. It currently has around 120 members, including high-profile names such as H.J. Heinz, Kikkoman Foods Europe, Mead Johnson Nutrition, NIZO food research, Nutreco Holding, Royal FrieslandCampina, Royal DSM, Syngenta Seeds and TNO. The ease with which members can contact one another is the key to a healthy business climate. Large and small companies meet and co-operate in projects in an inspiring and effective manner.

The European Food Alliance works with the latest technologies and with top experts from all over Europe, testing and launching innovative ideas, products and ingredients at European level. Nine successful clusters have joined forces in the European Food Alliance to offer agri-food companies the best service and network contacts from all over Europe in order to attain innovation and growth at an accelerated rate. “In recent years, we have seen a considerable increase in the number of companies approaching us through clusters from other European countries”, says Van Hoesel, Managing Director of Food Valley. “At the same time, we are increasingly being commissioned by Dutch companies to collaborate with other European food clusters. Intensifying collaboration and opening up networks feels like a logical step in consolidating the position of the European agri-food sector.”

Food2Market is the ideal outlet for entrepreneurs looking for information on markets, trends, technological knowledge, distributors and networks in Belgium, Germany or the Netherlands. Food2Market is a co-operative venture of five organizations that seek to mobilize innovation in the agri-food and food and beverage industry in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.

The NetGrow project aims to enhance the innovativeness and business performance of food SMEs through an improved management of network learning and strategic network behaviour. NetGrow bundles the capacities of research institutions and SME organizations from different countries. SMEs from all over Europe are invited to take part in the development of an innovation toolbox that can be tailored to each company’s needs.