"First set up an independent foundation"

When the budgets from the province of Gelderland and the municipality of Ede were finally confirmed at the end of March, a new chapter for the World Food Center Experience began. To create a strong Experience, something else must first be built: a strong organization. This new organization for the World Food Center Experience will take the form of an independent foundation and Marcel Goossens has been hired from 1 April as Director / Quarter Maker to set up the new organization. Marcel comes from Project organization P2 and specializes in complex, food-related projects.

What does a Quartermaster do?

“The realization of a project like the World Food Center always has different phases. The first exploratory and inventory phases are mainly about preparation, testing and creating support, both in the form of a partner network and in the area of financing. A team from WFCD, the municipality of Ede and the province of Gelderland worked intensively on this. Now that this phase has been completed, a new organization must be built that focuses on the World Food Center Experience. I am now the Quartermaster, the one who must take the first steps to realize this organization. "

“That starts with the establishment of the independent foundation. Very important because we work with a lot of public funds. For this, statutes and a notarial legal structure must be drawn up. At the same time, we have drawn up profile sketches for the board members of the foundation and are actively looking for them. Then you have to think about which people will need more in the organization and which spaces and resources you need. Finally, the regional deal with the government also plays a role in the background, about which there will be more clarity this summer, and in which we are also actively participating. After the summer we will continue to work on concept development and connecting both an architect and an operator. All things that a quartermaster is concerned with. These steps require a great deal of precision and are accompanied by careful tendering processes because so much community money is involved. "

"While we put our new house in order, we must also continue to ensure that the network that has already been built around WFC - with the various agri-food companies, the WUR, the NGOs and the educational institutions - remains fully in order"

Lines come together

“The reason that I am so excited to be able to do this for the WFC Experience is that a number of lines come together for me here. I have been working at P2 for 18 years on constantly changing projects. That means setting up a new organization over and over again, sometimes as an internal project team but more often as a fully independent organization, as is the case here with the WFC Experience. ”

“My second line is that - after graduating in Wageningen - I have been working in food all my career. Often in complex projects at both companies and government organizations. ”

“The third line is that of the experiences. I worked on the Tony Chocolonely Experience and was responsible for the realization of the current Heineken Experience. In the latter, I also worked closely with BRC, the company that also laid down the master plan for the WFC Experience here. ”

Food is hot!

“I think there is a great need for WFC Experience and what it will offer. Even when I was still studying in Wageningen, I was surprised that so few people knew how important, large and innovative the food sector is in the Netherlands. With the WUR we also have the absolute world top in the field of knowledge and education. In recent years, interest in food has exploded. We now have 24-hour cooking channels on TV and almost always a top-ten book with some cookbooks in it. Food is hot. And with that the discussion about it, because there are many opinions and few absolute truths, it seems. The WFC Experience is an ideal platform for telling a nuanced and multi-faceted food story. ”

“A lot is already happening around food, but as a WFC Experience you can certainly add something by allowing people to really experience something in a new and spectacular way and thereby creating awareness. By allowing NGOs to speak and highlighting potential points for discussion from multiple sides, you create clear added value. Nowadays these kinds of debates often take place in Amsterdam, but there is no reason why that is not possible here. "

Make the Experience visible

“Since the first cautious steps in planning around the World Food Center in 2011, a great deal of thorough work has already been done. So I can continue to build on everything that is already there. My starting point consists of 4 building blocks: the Master Plan, the Business Case, the calculation of visitor numbers by LDP and the Memorandum of Starting Points. We can continue that well. ”

“I would now like to take up the further realization of the master plan as quickly as possible, because I know from experience that the more concrete you make things, the more discussion you get. You can tell a lot with artist impressions, but only when you start construction does it really become clear to people what will or will not be and how visible certain things are. That was no different with the Heineken Experience. In general, everyone agrees, but as soon as it is realized in practice, the discussion only begins. And then you as an organization must be prepared and equipped for that. I expect to be a long way after the summer! ”

FICO Eataly: mainly differences with WFC

With some regularity the World Food Center is compared with FICO Eataly World in Bologna. FICO also labels itself as an AgriFood Park where the entire food chain and production of food products are visualized for a general public. High time, therefore, as WFCD, together with BRC, to see for yourself how it is filled in here, and how the park revolves, 10 months after the opening.

On 30 August we visited FICO with a team of six people (including the two BRC developers). Here we also spoke extensively with the CEO, Tiziana Primori.

First impression:
The complex is large. The buildings but also the parking lot, which seems to be no more than 15% filled. Upon entering, that impression is confirmed: it is big but also very quiet. For a quick lunch we could effortlessly go to one of the 25 restaurants, all with a different specialty, and all of them operated by different parties.

At reception you can get more information, plus a map and an overview of any activities and presentations. Because of the direct view through to the rest of the building it looks a bit cluttered and unclear. In order to see as much as possible in a short period of time, it is actually necessary to book a guided tour.

The theme of FICO is to show and experience traditional Italian food, high quality, and to show how this is made. This results in a design that can best be described as a large shopping mall, with a number of additional activities. Everything is focused on selling food. Both to take home and to eat there.

There is no entrance fee, so all sales must come from the shops and catering industry. Five educational theme pavilions (small) can be visited for a few extra euros. The themes are small and not very attractive from the outside to go inside. The theme pavilions are actually the only elements that in terms of information transfer and education come in the direction of the WFC.

Outside the mall, in the outdoor area next to it, you can also see the different Italian farm animals, plus plots of arable farming, horticulture, vineyards, citrus trees etc. In that respect the total is quite complete.

In the conversation with the CEO it became clear that:
Biggest attractions are: the animals and the (shopping) bicycles specially developed for FICO. These bikes can be rented by visitors to cycle through a large building.

The tour - for us as a group against payment of 80 euro pp - is one of the most (commercially) successful parts of FICO.
The participating companies, a mix of very large and corporates and very small and craft companies are positive about FICO, but have to make their own profit from sales. The expected 6 million visitors seems very ambitious to us, and this year they come out at around 2.8 million.
Companies operate on an independent operating basis and the organization takes a percentage of the proceeds. In total, around 350 employees are active at all times in FICO.

It is not an attraction with a central storyline. It is clear that both owners, Eataly and Coop, both retail companies, have laid down a new retail concept. No more and no less. Very nice to visit once, but we are not sure if many people will return to it soon.

The educational programs and demonstrations do attract people, but many of the spaces we saw before were not in use. It is 90% shopping and up to 10% entertainment and education.

In short: an instructive visit, but FICO Eataly can only be compared with the WFC Experience in the chosen vision and mission as well as in the implementation.

A small impression:

First review Masterplan Experience

Master plan phase 1
On 31 May the current state of affairs regarding the master plan was presented by BRC to the various stakeholders. For BRC it was somewhat unusual to present progress to such a large group (40 people) at this stage of development - at only one third of the process. This says something about the complexity and breadth of the WFC-Experience, but also about the enthusiasm in the different sections of the stakeholders: the various authorities, the business community, research institutes, education, healthcare institutions and the Advisory Council, for this occasion expanded with a four students (from several universities) who from now on will also give their view on the developments.
Brad Shelton began his presentation by following the current - and based on the previous rounds - more rigorous principles with regard to the Inspiration, Opportunity, Audience, Objectives, and the overarching theme: We feed each other.

In order to connect the visitors effectively and permanently with the theme of nutrition in all its facets, the visitor attraction of the World Food Center makes use of six concrete strategies:

  • Take visitors on a profound emotional journey;
  • Transfer knowledge on the basis of emotional involvement and enthusiasm;
  • Make the whole food chain 'human. Make visible what everything means to people and how people are involved;
  • Ensure maximum transparency and invite discussion and dialogue.
  • Make sure that technology serves the story
  • Interweave the five thematic lines through the experience:
    - Consumer knowledge
    - The pleasant, enjoyable and social aspects of food
    - What the food chain looks like for some of the most important ingredients
    - Personal health and dietary influence on the body and well-being
    - Innovation

Entice, Enter, Engage, Exit
Then each visit is built up and divided into a number of steps: Entice (seduced, make curious), Enter (the entry and introduction to the WFC), Engage (enter the interaction, connect), and Exit (the completion and perpetuation) of the emotional bond with the WFC and the message).

It is these steps for which BRC has devised a whole series of possible attractions, subjects, moments and experiences, each with their most suitable form, in order to achieve maximum effect. All while maintaining the set objectives, the balance between form and content and taking into account the various target groups and the central messages. These ideas were quickly presented by Brad.

The reaction to the presented ideas, both from the concept team and from the Advisory Board and the other people present, was absolutely positive. BRC has succeeded in processing the input of the past sessions and the Charrette in a way that actually does justice to the wishes and to the interests of the various stakeholders.

For example, there is a lot of appreciation for the space that is now being offered to transparency and discussion, in which the controversies are not avoided but also appointed. The chosen form, several 'Town Halls' (discussion rooms and platforms) set up and arranged specifically for each subject were assessed as very valuable.

It was clear, however, that all suggested attractions and activities with each other were probably a lot of the good. Bob Rogers, the founder of BRC, said that impact and effect are not so much in the size of the attraction and the length of time involved, but that shorter impactful attractions can have added value. That is why the central theater show has also been deliberately kept short. Also during the meeting with the Advisory Council it emerged that a total visit duration of 2 ½ hours is preferable to a longer one. On the other hand, by adding various other (business) related attractions directly around the WFC and on the Plaza, the total visit time of the visitors can indeed be higher.

There was also agreement about the choice for sufficient human interactions. The WFC Experience does not become too dependent on technology. And just human input can provide a stronger emotional bond.
One of the suggestions from the group to BRC was to work emphatically with varied themes and temporary exhibitions, for example around seasons or around country themes.

From the presentation it was mainly taken into account that the educational and content part is very strong. The question was therefore asked whether we should not ignore the 'fun' aspect and the foodies too much. BRC indicated that this would be more explicit in the next version.
Brad noticed at the end of all discussions that the plan already contained so many subjects, activities and attractions that at least 25% should be canceled to reach the budget. Unfortunately, most of the reactions consisted more of suggestions to add things than to leave things out ... "We will have to kill some of our darlings, I'm afraid," Brad responded.

The final conclusion was: the development of the master plan is well on track. Both in terms of pace and interpretation and ideas. The attendees now have the time to think a little longer about the proposed matters and to make their reactions known in writing. BRC then goes on to the next battle, with the next feedback at the end of August.

The master plan phase 1: The rough flipover from April is now translated into a beautiful visitor route: