Dreamers, cross-thinkers, daredevils and doers. The World Food Center in Ede is bursting with enthusiasts who work diligently and passionately on an idea, creation, development or innovation. In this section we speak to special personalities who make this area what it is.
Sophie van Briemen (28) connects, enriches and surprises young food professionals with the GEN • F network
“I am from Rotterdam and live in Den Bosch, but I prefer to learn and work in this area. I first discovered this region in 2015, while studying Management, Economics & Consumer Studies at Wageningen University. At that time I was already surprised by all initiatives around food and innovation in Ede and Wageningen. This place continues to attract me, so much is happening. It's great that since last year, as the face of the youth network GEN • F, I have been able to provide other young food professionals with a good dose of inspiration. ”
Live from Studio GEN • F “By young food pros, for young food pros. That is the power of GEN • F. Normally we see each other regularly during company visits or during cool meet-ups. But that is a bit different in times of corona… That is why I am here today! Tomorrow I will present the first broadcast of GEN • F Live together with my colleague Jim Korteweg. In less than five days, we have realized a studio in the Mauritskazerne together with colleagues from communication agency Shoot My Food, inspiration platform Food Inspiration and network organization Foodservice Network. ”
Dare to be Yourself “We will discuss the future of the food sector together with inspiring speakers from within and outside the industry and our own members at the studio table. Because of course everyone sees and hears all kinds of news in these times. But what exactly happens in our sector? You not only learn from the world around you, but we also learn from each other. What are other young marketing, F&B sales or HR managers struggling with? How do they deal with the challenges and where do they see opportunities? I hope GEN • F encourages peers to make themselves heard earlier. When you are just starting your career it can sometimes be quite difficult to go against someone with twenty years more experience. Especially now that you may no longer be sure of your job. However, my advice is: don't wait too long to share your opinion and ideas. Dare to be yourself, which will ultimately only benefit your manager. ”
Crisis and millennials “Our focus is on young professionals. But the broadcast of Studio GEN • F can also be interesting for their managers. It nicely maps out what such a crisis does to millennials. What do they lie awake about, what are their needs and how do they deal with a period of uncertainty? Despite the uncertainties, I think that such a crisis also brings a lot of peace. When everything comes to a standstill you ask yourself: should I always be everywhere? Secretly it was also nice to have a rest. Especially if you know that everyone is obliged to sit at home. I hope that the less fully planned agenda will remain, so we will have more room for spontaneity. ”
Regio Foodvalley has recently added a new addition to start-ups. Roots Innovation Hub is a real breeding ground for innovative ideas and passionate entrepreneurs who want to take their concepts further. A meeting with Ernst Breel of Rival Foods shows that the first innovators have already settled. Breel started the new company together with Birgit Bekkers to further develop and commercialize relevant research that Bekkers had started at Wageningen University outside the university walls.
Rival Foods has only been around for six months, but it seems to be on a very interesting track: that of structuring vegetable proteins according to a new process called shear cell technology. This gives vegetable proteins a firm muscle-like structure and bite and the properties of meat. Apart from the value of this process, its timing is also perfect, as meat substitutes and plant-based diets are in the spotlight these days. "Actually, Birgit and I are part of the lament that those meat substitutes are far from being what they should be," Breel begins. “They are often affe products with a taste, smell and color. Opening the suit and heating it up is really all you can do with it. Beautiful culinary products that you can prepare in different ways are still missing. We want to change that. ”
Bite is the new taste and it is therefore gratifying to note that with the developed procedure vegetable products get a firm texture and also react exactly the same to preparation as meat. It has already been proven experimentally how well that worked. “We have had several chefs work with our meat substitutes. They cut, baked, roasted, cooked and marinated, but didn't notice any difference with real meat. They were therefore enthusiastic. ”
Ideal nursery for startups
Breel is also enthusiastic about the possibilities that working in the recently opened start-up location 'Roots' offers him as an entrepreneur. And he is not alone, because there are more startups located in his immediate vicinity. “I just spoke to a few companies that will move into our sister building opposite tomorrow. There is already an interesting company there that is developing cultivation systems with plants. ” The interest there is does not surprise him. "It is ideal for startups that cannot afford to conclude long lease contracts, so it is ideal that affordable business space can be occupied here under flexible conditions." As far as Breel is concerned, there is also synergy, because according to him all startups can learn something from each other. “Questions about contracts, how you deal with employees or how you tackle certain administrative issues, every startup has to do with it. Only then can you exchange a lot of knowledge. ”
“It is also nice that, in the middle of the Foodvalley, there are all kinds of companies with whom we can work and that our lines with Wageningen have remained short. In this way we can link up with all kinds of scientific developments. ” Moreover, Breel is already noticing that the location also makes him internationally visible as an entrepreneur. “For example, we received financing from a foreign party that only noticed us because we were able to present our business case in the larger context of Wageningen and the Foodvalley.”