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Our transition in 2021 and what we are aiming for


5 January 2022

I look back on a memorable 2021 for Foodvalley NL and our game changing partners. It was our first full year in our new role as independent platform for innovation and transition of the global food system, and it turned out to be a dynamic year.  A year in which we further defined our added value in the transition arena, tuned our roles and tasks and validated old and started new partnerships towards a sustainable food system. And we had some interesting successes!

“Our task is, throughout and beyond the chain, to bring the right parties together and support and accelerate those innovations that have the most impact. We collaborate with a multitude of partners, from multinationals, to ngo’s and knowledge institutes on interventions that accelerate the transition towards a sustainable food systemWe provide coaching and mentoring to entrepreneurs, routes to funding, and access to testing facilities.  We set the agenda, guide and connect.’

Listening to our partners

Just before the summer we asked Motivation to conduct a survey amongst our partners, also those in adjacent fields (energy, tech, investors) on how they view us and whether our added value was clear and appealing to them. And the answers were clear: our proposition was indeed what they were looking for. However, our partners were also longing for more clarity on what we actually (now) do at Foodvalley and more specifically what Foodvalley could do for them. So, in essence, we were asked to share more on how we work, together with others, and how our contributions help our partners to innovate. This to also inspire those around us.

So, you will be seeing and hearing a lot more from us.  

Working in and on a transition

As CEO of an organisation in transition, working with organisations in and on a transition, in a world in transition, it is evident that there are no clear guidelines nor handbooks on what to do next. We do however follow a clear set of best practices of ecosystem innovation based upon my previous and current experience on how to build unlikely alliances to advance change, build upon the extensive and specific knowledge of the team and learnings from others in this field, all this backed by sound research.

And with that mix, we cook up our own way of working.

I will elaborate on this in following blogs. It’s an exciting route, and it is starting to pay off.

What we accomplished in 2021

From leading the national Green Deal on protein-rich crops, to launching the global position paper (with 55 authors, from 57 organisations) on personalised nutrition and the start of the Fastlane programme for a-series financing, there are ample successes we can jointly celebrate:

Starting a personalised nutrition community; a true x-sectoral innovation breeding spot with 60+ retail, health insurance, hospitality, and consumer tech companies, from 15 countries, exploring joint business opportunities and innovation.

Over 55 pilot testing facilities (next to 300 research facilities) are now being offered by organisations through our Shared Facility Finder for others to use, a significant increase since last year, which shows a change in attitude towards shared and open innovation.

We also continue to arrange funding for the development of new high-tech testing facilities to solve what is missing in the innovation ecosystem, one example being the automated insect breeding system in the Insect Experience Centre with funding from the Regio Deal Foodvalley.

We launched a first and second Food Boost challenge jointly with 30+ partners, in which youngsters design and implement concepts for better eating habits.

We submitted a large proposal for the Dutch growth fund for future proof Foodsystems jointly with tens of partner organisations in order to assure further investments in innovative future proof breeding methods, alternative proteins and increased consumer awareness, just to name a few routes.

So what is in store for 2022?

I will continue to take you on our journey, sometimes by diving into a topic from one of the innovation fields, by further elaborating on our way of working and how we approach change, by sharing our struggles and challenges, by having talks with our partners about their journey towards a more sustainable food system and by peaking ahead of what the future might and potentially could hold.

I want to conclude with a warm thank you to our Foodvalley partners around the world who we get to work with every day. I especially want to thank the province of Gelderland for their vision for change and generous support.

Wishing you all an inspiring, tasty and successful year. In good health!

Marjolein Brasz