Jonathan Teoh, Entrepreneurship at Foodvalley NL: “Let's create a world-class entrepreneurial ecosystem”

Whether facilitating access to financial resources or managerial skills, supporting entrepreneurs on their way to the top is the aim of Jonathan Teoh, Manager Entrepreneurship at Foodvalley NL. “Entrepreneurship is about agility, delighting customers, lifelong learning and the ability and humility to continuously reflect on your ideas and decisions.”

Why is entrepreneurship crucial in the transition to a sustainable food system?

“Entrepreneurs are uniquely equipped to translate innovations and knowledge into the products and services that will revolutionize the food system. By bringing to market innovations with a strong focus on what customers and consumers seek, they generate new economic value via sustainable solutions. Imagine startups who are transforming the waste 'business' by converting residue streams into high-quality ingredients: for example making spent brewer’s grain into raw material for bread. Or tech companies developing artificial intelligence applications that guide consumers in making healthier lifestyle choices.

As a founder of the Doppio Espresso chain, I bring real-world knowledge and experience to the Foodvalley ecosystem. I know, as well as anyone, how to walk the road from idea to profitable business and how to scale. In my ten years as an entrepreneur, I have always looked for people with the right mix of talents to run our franchise branches: what personal characteristics and skills should they have and what knowledge and expertise will they need to acquire? And will they be able to?

My Entrepreneurship role at Foodvalley NL is similar, but with a global remit. We search the world for innovative ideas, talented entrepreneurs and promising startups and scaleups, and facilitate them in the business processes that are crucial to success. Connecting them with partners who provide access to the right markets, helping them find the financial and human resources they'll need on their journey and, by using the resources of the Foodvalley ecosystem, to help them grow as businesses and as people. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither is a successful company. We can help entrepreneurs to discover how they can build their own ‘Rome’.”

Why is Foodvalley NL involved?

“In recent years we have built a strong ecosystem in agrifood, with innovative entrepreneurs, promising startups and scaleups and respected multinationals, knowledge institutes, governments, NGOs and more. When contacting companies via LinkedIn, e-mail or phone, for an introductory meeting, I notice that just mentioning the name Foodvalley NL opens doors, and many entrepreneurs really want to be part of our ecosystem. Around the world, people are becoming aware of the urgency need to transition to a sustainable food system, and that collaborations, large, small, at 'home' and spanning the globe, are the best way forward. This situation provides an excellent breeding ground for an independent organization like Foodvalley NL, bringing together entrepreneurs with different backgrounds but with shared ambitions. And connecting them to all the support and possibilities the Foodvalley ecosystem has to offer.”

What are you going to do?

“We will follow three strategic paths:

  1. Finding promising and innovative ventures to join the Foodvalley ecosystem. We will do this via advanced online searching, innovation analyses and by collaborating with other organizations that stimulate entrepreneurship. Recently we became a partner of Brave New Food, an open-innovation challenge platform that connects innovators in the food industry. Through them we will identify talented entrepreneurs that can impact the transition of the food system. Later, we will organize our own challenges based on the innovations needed to accelerate the food transition.
  2. Creating a world-class community for entrepreneurial support.
    In addition to our current startup and scaleup programs we will offer services and initiate engagement in the ecosystem, via a soon-to-be-established Foodvalley Platform. Together with StartLife and ScaleUpFood we set up a joint scouting team to identify the most promising ventures that could impact the food transition. We are also optimizing the current startup and accelerator programs, ensuring they line up perfectly with our key areas and objectives. Together with Wageningen University & Research and Rabobank, we are the major sponsors of F&A Next, a high-profile event for agrifood investors, startups and scaleups in Europe. Furthermore we aim to establish a Foodvalley Entrepreneurship Academy giving thousands of ambitious and promising entrepreneurs access to knowledge about starting, building and scaling an innovative agrifood venture.
  3. Organizing customized support for the most promising and innovative ventures, to expedite their growth and maturation. This new Foodvalley service, which we aim to launch in the second half of 2021, will be a fast lane for a selection of the most promising agrifood companies, giving them preferential access to tailor-made support and resources.”

With whom would you like to work?

“The Netherlands is entrepreneurial by heart and can play an important role in leading the global food transition. I especially want to reach out to those entrepreneurs who have successfully built companies and invite them to dedicate their time, energy and resources to become role models for new generations of entrepreneurs, especially in food & agriculture. I would be especially delighted if we can connect entrepreneurial role models from domains other than food & agri to the challenges, talent and innovations that make up the Foodvalley ecosystem.

It’s always easier to show others what lies on the other side of the hill if you’ve travelled there yourself. By combining the wisdom of these role models, the available funds and investors, our cutting edge innovation infrastructure, and the support of all the players in the Foodvalley ecosystem, we can truly shape the future of food together.”

Want to know more?

Please contact Jonathan Teoh, jonathan.teoh@foodvalley.nl

In this interview series, eight members of the Foodvalley NL team share their ideas, ambitions and latest milestones in the transition to a sustainable global food system. Read the previously published interviews of Edith Schippers, Chairman Foodvalley NL, Marjolein Brasz, Managing Director Foodvalley NL, Judith van der Horst, Innovation Lead Food & Health, Huiberdien Sweeris, Human Capital and Jeroen Wouters, Global Ecosystem Development. More interviews to come in the next coming weeks.

About Foodvalley NL
Shaping the future of food together: building and strengthening the Foodvalley ecosystem so that we can realize the transition to a sustainable global food system. That is Foodvalley NL’s mission. In this interview series, eight members of the Foodvalley NL team share their ideas, ambitions and latest milestones.

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