New Fermentation Lab in Foodvalley Region will accelerate the protein transition 

To provide more organisations with the opportunity to experiment with fermentation, a new and innovative Fermentation Lab will be established at Smaakpark, a hub for sustainable food initiatives in Ede. Fermentation is essential for making plant-based products tastier, processing food waste streams and extending the shelf life of food products. This makes it an important part of the plans to accelerate the transition to plant-based proteins and a circular economy. 

Fermentation Lab as part of the Foodvalley Regional Deal and Shared Facility Finder 

The bulk of the Fermentation Lab’s funding is provided by the Foodvalley ‘Regional Deal’. The lab will be about 110 square metres, not counting a greenhouse complex and fishponds, and will participate in the Shared Facility Finder (SFF). This is a joint initiative of Foodvalley NL and Wageningen University & Research (WUR) that encourages businesses, entrepreneurs and institutions to use each other’s facilities. Interested parties can find the Fermentation Lab and book its facilities through the SSF. 

“Research facilities are often not used for 100%,” says Petra Roubos of Foodvalley NL. “Sharing these facilities is a sustainable way to invest in the circular economy together. The best thing about it is that it brings people from different backgrounds together to share their knowledge, resulting in innovative and practical ideas.” 

Initiator Smaakpark Ede attracting new participants 

Smaakpark Ede is the initiator, owner and user of the Fermentation Lab and has been experimenting with fermentation for several years. “Foodvalley NL noticed our work and pointed us to a grant to develop the idea further,” says Christian Weij, director of Smaakpark. “With the help of the Shared Facilities funding provided by the Foodvalley Regional Deal, we can now build a completely new lab and provide more businesses and researchers with access to it.” Several organisations have already signed up to use the lab, including Aeres University of Applied Sciences and WUR. 

The lab is a big step forward for the protein transition. By sharing the lab, the costs for entrepreneurs can be kept to realistic proportions, making it an ideal initiative for small and young businesses. They can use the lab to experiment and further develop products that will eventually find their way to consumers. This is one of the core activities of Foodvalley NL, says Roubos. “We want to keep expanding the sustainable food ecosystem. We know what is needed for a successful grant application and the users of the facilities know what innovations the market is looking for. We need to find and connect with each other to achieve the transition to sustainability, and the support provided by the Regional Deal has facilitated this.” 

More information 

The Shared Facility Finder (SFF) is a platform where organisations can share research and innovation facilities. A map displays which facilities are currently available. The platform also provides support and funding to users who want to create new facilities or provide access to facilities that are currently not accessible to other users. Some 350 sites currently participate in the Shared Facility Finder. 

Interested in using or sharing innovation facilities? More information

Download full press release (Dutch)

Protein transition in Gelderland a promising new sustainable industry

According to a monitor developed by The Protein Community and the province of Gelderland, the sector involved in the protein transition has shown above average growth over the past five years. The monitor is intended to provide insight into the economic impact of the protein transition at the national level. 

The protein transition: a sustainable sector on the rise

The protein transition involves restoring the balance in the production and consumption of animal and plant protein (less animal, more plant). Because of the benefits for the climate, natural resources and public health, the transition is high on the government’s agenda. A sector is developing to support this transition that aims to make sustainable protein ingredients, products and technologies available to consumers and the industry. However, there is little data available about the current and future economic value of this sector. The Protein Community (TPC) was founded in 2017 by Foodvalley NL, the provinces of Gelderland and Overijssel and Oost NL. The recent celebrations to mark TPC’s fifth anniversary were a good opportunity to gain more insight into this new sector.

Above-average growth in Gelderland

The growth in employment opportunities, the number of businesses and the economic value of the transition were analysed in a pilot project for the province of Gelderland. The analysis was based on TPC’s database of Dutch businesses active in the protein transition, as well as the results of the annual Provincial Employment Survey. The results showed above-average growth for Gelderland: the number of jobs in the identified group of 66 businesses grew from 1,730 in 2017 to 1,920 in 2021, an increase of 11.2%. By comparison, the growth of employment opportunities in all sectors during the same period was 6.9%. Also notable is the added value of protein businesses, at well above €100 million. In Gelderland, the total number of businesses operating in this sector increased by 70% over the past five years to 75 companies in 2021.

More information

Foodvalley NL proud partner LIKEAPRO

Foodvalley NL is proud partner of the €14M EU funded IA project LIKEAPRO, focusing on shifting promising alternative proteins and products from niche to mainstream. LIKEAPRO will make alternative proteins more available, accessible, and acceptable to all population groups and everywhere.

To achieve this, representatives of growers, producers, chefs, retailers, consumers and researchers will work together in a consortium from many disciplines across industries and fields of experience. In the process, practical solutions will be designed in collaboration with consumers. This will happen within 11 living labs and in 4 real-world environments.

Foodvalley NL is responsible for involving the Food Actor Network – processors, ingredient suppliers and retailers.  With a powerful partner network from the TPC community (over 120 participants), we have mobilisation power to make alternative proteins successful. Furthermore, we are engaging related initiatives to team up.

Do you know alternative proteins initiatives with mainstreams potential. Let us know!

Curious what we do to connect the protein frontrunners? Watch this the video of last year’s The Protein Community


Questions? Get in Touch

Jeroen Willemsen, Innovation Lead Protein Shift (left)
Leo Koning, Community Manager The Protein Cluster (right)

Meet The Protein Community and partners on FFF Expo

On 22 and 23 November 2022, The Protein Community will attend The Free From Food Expo in RAI Amsterdam.

Together with partners Biobite, GreenFood50, Lekker Lupine and Phycom we will present the Big 5! Vegaburger with local ingredients from The Netherlands.

You can taste this delicious Burger on our booth F17 and talk with the partners and with The Protein Community, powered by Foodvalley NL

On 22 November on 12.30 p.m., Leo Koning, Community manager of The Protein Community, will give his Keynote-presentation “Reduce time to market for Plant Based Protein Innovations”.

If you want to visit the FFF Expo for free, you can register here

Tuesday 13 December 2022, 09.00 – 10.30 CET| Foodvalley Partners only.

We have a specially selected programme with inspirational pitches and some surprising insights on Protein Shift, Food and Health and Circular Agrifood. The event programme has been composed for and by Foodvalley partners. You will have the opportunity to interact directly with the speakers. See the full programme below.

The event is free of charge for our partners and will take place online. Click on the button to register.


Hosted by Marjolein Brasz, CEO Foodvalley NL

  • Accelerators for innovation!
    Pieter Lorwa, sr. business associate Gwynt
  • Sustainable, innovative and personalized medical food – vital change in patient care
    Aldwin Vriesema, Vice President of Global Sales Dutch Medical Food
  • Data-driven preventive lifestyle coaching
    Tommie Koppens, founder & CEO FitSurance
  • Future sensors & digital twins – what’s in it for me?
    Nicole Koenderink, Researcher Wageningen University & Research
  • Effect of Kori-tofu on the level of cholesterol
    Interview with Kinoshita, CEO Asahimatsu Foods and Tom van Loenhout, Cardiologist Ziekenhuis De Gelderse Vallei

Natural engineering with insects

Do you ever feel like you are missing something? Just because you see the world at your own eye level. From your own biotope, or bubble. The street you live in, your sports club and, of course, your social media. For me, that is the time to break loose and start zooming. Zooming out and looking holistically is natural in my role at Foodvalley. However, zooming in on the detail teaches me surprising things: natural engineering!

In this blog I will address our second innovation field: Circular Agrifood. It is about shortening supply lines, more economical use of raw materials and no waste. In short, the fascinating journey of this focus area; to refind the balance in the way we produce and consume our food. And zooming in, insects are an insane source of inspiration to tackle the huge challenge of food waste.

Circular Agrifood: the power of natural solutions…

The Netherlands is known for its engineers. And they are renowned for solving that other big issue: global warming and impending rising water. For Circular Agrifood, we also need engineers. But not those from a technical university. We need the practically trained, on and under our soil: the insects.

So, lets zoom in for a moment. Squat down, through your knees, take a shovel and grab a clod of soil. All bugs… And what are they doing there? They loosen the earth, make corridors, eat leftover material, turn it into fertile food for others. You see it happening before your eyes, fascinating. Upcycling in its purest form!

Therefore -working in the field of Circular Agrifood- we are also so fascinated by those trillions of little mini engineers. They were here long before we -humans- arrived. They had mined the field, literally and figuratively without producing waste and with short supply lines. We can learn so much from them!

Insects and practical solutions for healthy sustainable food…

For us, upcycling is to reuse food waste as much as possible. Not just the food we throw away, but also the waste flows from potato peelings or coffee grounds. Many of these leftovers can still be very well reused for humans and animals. And if that no longer works, we have our own ecosystem engineers: the insects! Because apart from being rich in healthy proteins, they provide healthy soil. Look at this great website from Ask Nature (Biomimicry Institute) and search for insects. Saskia van den Muijsenberg of BiomimicryNL will show some of these amazing wonders of nature for food innovation.

And of course, they are full of proteins. For more inspiration on developing the insects for the food sector, I would like to refer you to our partners NGN. They are a frontrunner and working as a social enterprise in the Netherlands and African countries. Their goal is to reach an economy that “works for everyone”- one which is circular and environmental conscious, inclusive and free of poverty. Developing Insects farms is an important way of contributing.

These and other examples are reflected in the insect scan developed from our engagement in Enterprise Singapore. A great example of the core of what we do at Foodvalley: Preparing the groundwork for a major innovation of which we don’t yet know how to apply in our daily meals. Our preliminary work consists of bringing people and knowledge together – cross border and from an independent role. In doing so, we build an infrastructure on which a lot of entrepreneurs, retailers and researchers can move forward: Making new products, finding markets, organising chains more intelligently.



…And for the way we pave the road for gamechangers

Thus, at Foodvalley we are a little bit like insects. We are ecosystem engineers as well. We pave the way for gamechangers. Build fertile ground for new initiatives. Establish new connections. The business of details – zooming in- is equally important to framing the bigger picture.

Zooming in requires attention, time, curiosity, a deep willingness to understand. I often find it hard in my daily work when my calendar dictates my life. That is why I regularly retreat into nature. For a walk, a long weekend, or like this summer in Slovenia. Engage all my senses, make space for detail, for observation, amazement. And then suddenly – I see the bigger picture again in coherence of all details.

Often simpler, more logical, and more fitting that the frantic attempts we made earlier based on abstract theoretical models. And most importantly, I see the first steps. Is that not strange, just by zooming in!

Thus, zooming result in first steps, and without a first step there is no journey… What will be your first step to zoom in? I can always recommend a retreat into nature. And then, when you come home refreshed, look in the insect scan at the wonderful world and innovation potential of insects.

Next time I will be talking about another fascinating journey – the journey of personal nutrition.


By the way, when you are interested in those little insects…and how they are part of the food transition, check in on the 24th of November, for the workshop at our offices in Wageningen’.



Insects are an important mean to upcycle sidestreams of agrifood industry and even food waste towards a valuable source for food. As Foodvalley NL we want to contribute to the transition towards for circular agrifood systems, and amongst others realize this by stimulating a professional and scaled market for insect based food concepts (burgers, shakes, protein bars. Etc). We spoke to various partners in the supply chain, and we do see a great potential for an initiative with various parties in the supply chain who bundle efforts and ambitions. With this initiative, we work towards new collaborations that result in bringing new product and market concepts from edible insects successfully to the plate of the consumer in the Northwest Europe market.

The 24 November, we will have a kick-off for this initiative, and we invite interested parties who are working on the market for edible insects and especially various interested in the foodservice and retail sector. The aim of the workshop is to gather parties who believe in the power of collaboration for getting insects onto the plate of NW European consumers. During the workshop, we will mainly work towards insights into what is needed to get new value chains off the ground that contribute to the sale and/or further product development of insect products. We also want to zoom in on the obstacles that B2C companies now face to include insects in their assortment, and the opportunities they see for possibly giving space to this in their assortments and/or product development. After the workshop Foodvalley NL will follow-up with those parties who have the ambition to take an active role in this initiative.

Congrats to all listed in the Food100 2022! 

On August 31, the list Food100 has been published. Foodvalley NL is proud partner, third year in row. Once again featuring 50 up-and-coming talents under 35 and 50 established food changers over 35.

By connecting generations, the Food100 creates a list of people who together can make an even bigger impact and set an example for many. 

Foodvalley NL stimulates and guides food changers for their innovations on their challenging journey to sustainable and healthy food for ten billion people worldwide​ in 2050.

“The nomination as Food Hero is an important recognition of my work. You feel part of a network. People know how to get in contact and the title creates more awareness.” – Eva Koffeman, Food Hero 2021

And we are happy to see a great number of our partners in de Food100 list:  

We wish all the nominees a great journey towards the spotlight on November 25th when the Food Heroes will be announced. 


Food100 is powered by:

Why using a shared facility can be good for your business?

Take for example Dutch pilot run facility AlgaePARC. This facility works with SMEs to develop new technologies that can accelerate progress towards a green, circular economy. For the past ten years AlgaePARC located at Wageningen Campus has served as a shared facility of technology development for microalgae production and biorefinery. Two companies – FUMI and Algreen – have so far been founded based on research carried out at AlgaePARC. Three other SMEs are currently using AlgaePARC’s facilities.

The EU recognises the importance of microalgae in achieving a transition to a green and circular economy, and its REACT-EU programme recently awarded AlgaePARC funding which will enable SMEs to further develop their innovative technologies at this shared facility.

Maria Barbosa, director AlgaePARC explains: ‘AlgaePARC 2.0 will be able to offer access to new screening systems that can select algae strains more quickly, and the facility will also develop a biorefinery unit capable of isolating functional ingredients as well as biomass. Production and testing capacity will also be expanded at the laboratory, pilot and demonstration levels, and innovative sensors will be introduced to enhance product quality’.

The funding application process was supported by the Bioprocess Engineering chair group and Shared Facility Finder.

Sharing facilities, just look at AlgaePARC and the businesses that benefit from its use, is a proven method to make innovation facilities available and cost-effective for both users and facility providers.

Petra Roubos, Manager of Shared Research Facilities at Wageningen and Research and Lead Shared Facilities at Foodvalley NL says: ‘Demand for these facilities is growing, so AlgaePARC needs to make new investments and increase its capacity to host SMEs and start-ups. Roubos emphasises that these organisations are able to accelerate the roll-out of their innovations due to the additional space to test and develop new technologies for microalgae production, biorefinery and product development’.

Roubos continues: ‘Investing large sums into the development phase is a high-risk activity and it is difficult for individual businesses to secure that kind of funding, by sharing facilities businesses get support they need’.

Shared Facility Finder helps businesses and institutes to find the best research equipment, scale up and production, development and testing facilities. When it comes to a new facility Shared Facility Finder advises funding options to help purchase a new facility. Shared Facility Finder is an initiative by Foodvalley NL and Wageningen University and Research. Together we encourage businesses and institutes to use or share facilities.

Shared Facility Finder for free advice

We are happy to help you to:

  • find the best facility for your need
  • include your facility in our range of shared facilities
  • explore the funding options and/or find potential partners to jointly invest in new facility?

Please contact us via or visit Shared Facility Finder.

Free shared facility advice

Please contact us via +31 317 48 79 91 or via email:

Meet Karolien Niederer, our new team member

My name is Karolien Niederer and I joined the Foodvalley NL team on August 1 as Lead Communication. I live in Utrecht since 2001 together with my husband Huib and our son Toon who will start at Leiden University this September. And of course there is our dog Po, a 6 year old Labrador (eat, swim, sleep…).

What Karolien adds to the Foodvalley NL Team?

Although Food is relatively new to me, I’m looking forward to find my way in the Food ecosystem. I am passionate about co-creating and involving stakeholders. Always in search for a common language and understanding of how we value and do things. Furthermore, I would describe myself as a colleague who is open to alternative ideas and who likes to achieve things as a team. Thus, solving the paradox of complex challenges and execution in do-able solutions together. I like to work with the bits and pieces already available around us and together turn them into something special for our partners and colleagues.

My background is in communication, marketing strategy and (social) innovation. Mostly working in a project- or program context for a broad range of service organisations (consulting, temp work, facilities, engineering, banking, network…). I have a broad network that might just offers you an unusual suspect for the topic you are working on.

How Karolien contributes to a sustainable food system at home?

Thanks to my grandparents who were convinced self-supporting hobby farmers, I know the taste of real fresh vegetables and fruit. I myself fail rather miserably in growing anything in our city-garden. Except for a tiny forest of seedlings of the trees from our neighbours. However, I will keep trying!

What can you wake her up for in the middle of the night?

Looking at the new full (preferably the big red) moon, the stars and the smell of freshly mowed grass.

Questions? Get in touch


Karolien Niederer
Team Lead Communication



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