FT, Emiko Terazono in Wageningen OCTOBER 15, 2018
By altering the colour of lights in his indoor grow-room, Leo Marcelis can change the smell, taste and even the vitamin content of his tomatoes. For more efficient growth, switch on the red light; to develop shorter plants with higher levels of antioxidants, use more blue; and for a long-stemmed plant with fewer branches, turn on the dark red. “It’s about the balance between the different colours,” says the professor of crop production at Wageningen university in the Netherlands, as he surveys a climate-controlled room with shelves laden with tomato seedlings. “If that slice of tomato has double the amount of vitamin C, then it might help a large portion of the world population that doesn’t get enough.”
Wageningen may not be a household name, but it is at the heart of a new revolution that is starting to have an impact on both the food industry and agricultural production. Alongside University of California, Davis, and Cornell University in the US, it is one of the world’s leading research centres for food technology. Although Wageningen is surrounded by the flat plains that stretch across this corner of northern Europe, it enjoys the nickname “Food Valley” — a nod to the Silicon Valley-style innovation and start-up frenzy that is beginning to take shape in the sector. Some investors believe the food business is about to face disruption of the sort that technology has already visited on hosts of other industries. Tony Fadell, who worked on the first generation of the iPod before starting Nest, the smart thermostat business bought by Google in 2014, compares “big food”, including both the multinational food business and the large agricultural trading groups, to the technology companies of the 1970s. Agricultural production is ripe for the kind of innovation that changed finance in the 1980s, personal and business communications in the 2000s and social life this decade, he says. “All the big agricultural companies are like the mainframe IT companies of the 70s — waiting to be disrupted,” says the American engineer, who is now an investor in start-ups based in Paris. The flurry of interest in agricultural and food technology is the result of several powerful trends. Growing demand for protein, especially from the developing world, is putting pressure on food supply. At the same time, consumer tastes in the western world are shifting from mass-produced brands towards healthier and more unique products. Into that mix comes a burst of scientific innovation, ranging from gene editing, artificial intelligence and digital technology, that is now being applied to food production and crops. As one of the hubs of agricultural research, Wageningen now finds itself trying to adapt to a different world where start-ups and venture capital are eager to make their mark. “Until 10 years ago, agriculture was not sexy enough to talk about it,” says Ernst van den Ende, one of Prof Marcelis’s colleagues. “When I started studying at Wageningen, my classmates, said ‘why you’re going there? It’s only for farmers’. But that’s changed.”
, agricultural technology has started to capture the imagination of investors. Around the globe, money is rushing into new forms of agriculture and food distribution, funding projects ranging from vertical farms and agricultural robots to alternatives to meat. In the five years to 2017, annual global investment in food tech, from farm management systems to robotics and mechanisation, more than tripled to $10bn, according to AgFunder, a venture capital tracker. New technology led to a green revolution in the 1960s, when a focus on higher-yielding strains and new fertilisers drove sharp increases in production in the developing world. Now some observers are hoping that technology can help find ways to feed a global population predicted to hit almost 10bn by 2050 at a time when climate change and environmental pollution are causing land degradation and limiting access to water. How to feed 10bn people The near-$1bn purchase by Monsanto, the seed and farm chemical company, of US-based Climate Corporation in 2013 highlighted the demand for new ways of producing food and helped catalyse interest in the sector. “Entrepreneurs have arrived, big investors have arrived and some big exits have occurred,” says Adam Anders, founder of Anterra Capital, a food and agriculture venture fund that set up in the Netherlands in 2009.
The Netherlands is one of the nations best placed to take advantage of this surge in interest. The country has made food science one of its strategic priorities and boasts one of the world’s most efficient agricultural systems. It is the largest exporter of vegetable seeds and its farmers use a fraction of the water of their counterparts elsewhere. This proficiency in agriculture, combined with a leading trading port at Rotterdam and the fact that Rabobank is one of the biggest lenders to the food industry, has drawn agricultural traders, researchers and food companies to the small European nation. “Massive changes will occur through the combination of technologies and new technological platforms, like combinations of genetics and sensors and AI to monitor the nutritional status of plants, animals and humans,” says Louise Fresco, president of Wageningen university and its research institutes.
One of the main challenges, she says, is the soaring demand for protein products, especially meat, as the populations of developing nations become wealthier. The total amount of meat consumed globally is expected to increase by 76 per cent by 2050, according to a UN Food and Agricultural Organization review. Shifting tastes away from the heavy emphasis on meat and dairy is key, she says, adding: “We obviously need a mix [of different forms of proteins].” This would include plants, fish and insect-based products. “I’m not saying everybody should be vegetarian, but we need a balance,” she adds. In one lab, Atze Jan van der Goot, the university’s professor of sustainable protein technology, holds up what looks like a large slab of salt beef. His team was researching how to make long threads of protein from dairy products when it stumbled on a process to make soy protein into meat-like fibres.
“We believe this technology allows the formation of larger pieces of meat,” Mr van der Goot says, adding that a tender yet flavourful product with the mouthfeel of meat should be ready to come on to the market “a couple of years from now”. His team has paired with a group of eight companies for the €6m project, from the Netherlands-based poultry processing machine manufacturer Meyn, which is backed by Warren Buffett, to Givaudan, the Swiss flavour and fragrance specialist, and consumer goods giant Unilever. In another lab, Rick van de Zedde is working on a robot arm, equipped with an array of sensors to tell when a pepper is ripe and should be picked. “We are looking to see whether we can measure, non-destructively, the quality of fruit and vegetables without squeezing them,” he says. Robotics is one area of technology that is expected to ease the labour shortage some parts of the agricultural sector is facing. Given that fruits and vegetables are not of uniform shape and ripeness, the technological challenges are extensive. On top of the mechanical dexterity and spatial cognition that the machines need to demonstrate, researchers hope that AI can help them learn to pick only the ripe fruit and vegetables.
has drawn a cluster of nearly 200 companies to the 10km radius around Wageningen, from tiny start-ups to established food geneticists such as Keygene, which specialises in improving crops through molecular breeding, to leading food producers such as Kraft Heinz. To help foster those links with the private sector, the university set up a networking group in 2004 called Food Valley NL, which offers help for start-ups and small companies, facilitating links to large corporations, potential advisers or partners as well as helping with legal services. Roger van Hoesel, managing director of Food Valley, says the independent organisation has become an important international draw: groups from around the world, from India, to Lebanon and Japan, have come to see what makes the cluster network tick. “Everyone wants their own Food Valley,” he says. “For us being part of an ecosystem is very important,” says Arjen van Tunen, chief executive of Keygene, founded in 1989. “There is a back-and-forth of information and building a competitive edge with our strategic allies.” Unilever, the consumer goods company behind brands such as Ben & Jerry’s and Marmite, is expected to launch a global food innovation centre on campus, which will bring together its network of food research in Europe. The company plans to open a large part of its labs and facilities to students, other companies and NGOs. Rob Hamer, a Unilever executive who was until recently head of its R&D laboratory in the Netherlands, describes it as “a new way of working”. He says: “If we want to make food production really sustainable, healthy, and safe, we can’t do that alone. We need others to collaborate.” Next to Unilever is the research centre of Dutch dairy co-operative FrieslandCampina. Yili, China’s largest dairy company, has recently expanded its own research centre on the campus. The challenge facing the researchers at Wageningen, who have traditionally brought their innovations to market through collaboration with established companies, is how to engage with the new wave of entrepreneurs. Wageningen is looking to back more small companies that spin off elements of its research. The university — which is in its centenary year and has a long history of working together with seed companies — now has 45 business development officers, liaising between labs and companies. “Wageningen has a role to transfer scientific findings into innovation, fostering entrepreneurship,” says Ms Fresco. Last year she launched a value creation unit to place a greater emphasis on bringing Wageningen’s research and innovation to market.
Sebastiaan Berendse, who joined the university early last year as the new division’s director, says Wageningen will continue to work with large companies and consortiums, but believes early stage technologies may not sit well with the risk-averse nature of big organisations. Corporate cost-cutting drives generally eat into R&D budgets. “Large corporates are not always the best, fastest route to impact and innovation. Radical innovations and novel technologies can also entail high risk in development time, money and success rate,” he says. Among the division’s roles is to coach and mentor those who are looking to spin off their technologies, organising student incubators and working with the university’s teaching staff to create an entrepreneurship education programme.
“The building blocks are there in the sense that the accelerators have arrived and the funds have arrived. The large corporates are present,” says Mr Anders. “But we’re not at the final finish line. The race has just started.”
By: John van Ruth, Councillor Advisory Board DutchSA
A summary of the key note speech John van Ruth delivered at the third DutchSA Innovation Series Event on 13 September 2018
Problem we are trying to solve
Ambassador Erica Schouten attended the Dutch Remembrance Ceremony for the fallen of WWII. In her speech, the Ambassador addressed this year’s theme for the 4 May commemoration: resistance. The Governor of South Australia, His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le A.O. also spoke at the ceremony.
During her visit to South Australia, the Ambassador furthermore paid a visit to the University of Adelaide. Waite Research Institute Campus is a research, education and commercialisation precinct for agricultural science and a great location to exchange views on agri & food matters. The Ambassador also visited the Tonsley Innovation District where leading-edge research and education institutions, established businesses and start-ups, business incubators and accelerators as well as the wider community connect and collaborate. The Ambassador met with the Hon. David Ridgway, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment in South Australia, to discuss possibilities for cooperation in agri/horti culture and food innovation. Working together for a more sustainable future!
While in Adelaide the Ambassador also made time to meet with the new DutchSA board, which was highly appreciated. DutchSA expresses its gratitude for the ongoing close relationship with the embassy and consulate of The Netherlands in Australia. This is of great value for bridging business opportunities and fresh ideas between Australia and The Netherlands!
By Adam Kiolle
All of Europe has been talking about it but Australian companies have been largely unaware of it: the ever-nearing entry into force of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on 25 May 2018. The GDPR is a new European Union-wide law aimed at protecting individuals' rights in relation to the processing of their personal data that will impose extra obligations on most businesses that deal with people's personal information. While Australia may sometimes feel a long way from the EU, Australian businesses should be aware that even Australian companies are not beyond the GDPR's reach. This articles outlines the top 6 things that Australian companies should be aware of in relation to GDPR compliance.
The GDPR can apply to Australian businesses
Companies based outside the EU - even as far away as Australia - can also fall within the scope of the GDPR. This will be the case if the Australian company offers goods or services to individuals residing in the EU. For example, if your company regularly ships goods to customers in the Netherlands or anywhere else in the EU (e.g. through a webshop), there is a good chance that you will be processing personal data in a manner that will bring your company within the scope of the GDPR. The same will apply to Australian businesses supplying services (e.g. professional services or cloud-based solutions) to individuals based in the EU. The fact that your business does not have any physical presence in the European Union is irrelevant.
A second category of non-EU businesses to which the GDPR applies are companies that "monitor the behaviour" of people within the EU. This category is aimed primarily at social networks based outside of the EU that allow users inside the EU to make use of their services, however it is likely to apply more broadly to many other types of business, in particular app and software developers whose software gathers user data and is available to users in the EU.
Even Australian businesses processing data on behalf of EU business customers should beware. The GDPR's regime of joint and several liability means that individuals whose data has been compromised as a result of an unauthorised disclosure or breach can choose to take recourse directly against the EU business or the Australian data processor.
The GDPR's extraterritorial reach will mean that many Australian businesses - even those without a physical presence in Europe - may find themselves subject to its requirements without being aware of it.
Unlike Australian privacy laws, the GDPR can apply to businesses of all sizes
Australian privacy law is considerably more lenient than the existing EU data protection regulations. A large number of businesses are exempt from the key Australian data protection law, the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and the Australian Privacy Principles provided for in the Act, which only apply to businesses with a turnover of more than $3 million. By contrast, the new GDPR (and the EU data protection directive that went before it) can apply to businesses of any size where they process personal data by "automated means" or in an organised fashion, with only few exceptions.
This means that it is possible that some Australian businesses may be subject to the GDPR even if they are not subject to the equivalent Australian legislation.
The GDPR is stricter than Australian privacy laws
The definition of "personal data" under the GDPR is somewhat broader than the definition of "personal information" under the Australian Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and the levels of protection provided for under the GDPR go much further than those under Australian regulations.
Particularly high levels of protection apply to certain special categories of sensitive data (such as biometric information or data related to things such as a person's health, ethnicity or religious affiliation).
This means that even if your company is already compliant with the Australian privacy regulatory regime, it is possibly that you may still need to make some changes to make your company GDPR compliant.
The penalties for non-compliance with the GDPR are hefty
The GDPR provides for massive penalities for non-compliance, with maximum fines of the higher of EUR 20 million (approx. AUD 30 million) or 4% of worldwide annual revenue applicable for certain breaches. Compared to this, the maximum penalty under the Australian Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) of AUD 420,000 for serious or repeated interferences with privacy pales into insignificance.
While it is expected that these penalities will not be handed out lightly and that regulators are likely to be relatively lenient in the early stages of implementation of the new regulations (this is certainly the position that has been expressed in relation to the Dutch regulator the Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens) and while there are some questions around how likely it is that European regulators will - at least initially - be proactively investigating non-EU entities, the existence of penalties of this magnitude should give any businesses falling under the GDPR (including Australian companies) pause for thought.
Compliance does not have to be a huge burden
There are a number of simple steps that Australian companies can take to GDPR-proof themselves. Often, all that will be necessary is a slight adjustment of existing measures and documentation such as company privacy statements.
As a first step, Australian companies dealing with customers in the EU should find out whether their activities expose them to the GDPR. If it appears that they do fall within the scope of the GDPR, they should undertake a review of their privacy statements, data processing agreements and organisational and security measures to identify any concrete measures that need to be taken to ensure that they are GDPR-proof, ideally before its entry into force on 25 May 2018, or otherwise as soon as possible.
GDPR-compliance can be an asset
Finally, it is important to note that while the GDPR does present certain regulatory and compliance burdens, it can also offer companies opportunities.
GDPR-compliance as a selling point: GDPR-compliance can be an asset for some companies, especially businesses dealing with personal information as a key part of their business model who can spruik their GDPR-compliance as a kind of seal of approval that is good for their reputation and adds value to their proposition.
Reposted with permission; original publication by AB in NL: https://www.australian-business-netherlands.info/single-post/2018/05/01/Australian-companies-and-the-EU-General-Data-Protection-Regulation-GDPR
DutchSA is honoured and proud to announce that Professor Anton Middelberg, the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences at The University of Adelaide, has joined the advisory board of DutchSA. See Our Board for a complete overview of our (advisory) board members. We look forward to Anton's guidance for our contributions to the South Australian innovation and commercialisation agenda and our relationship with the Dutch consulate and embassy.
Prior to becoming the Engineering lead of the University of Adelaide, Anton was Pro Vice Chancellor (Research and International) and Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) at The University of Queensland. He has been a Fulbright Fellow at UC Berkeley, taught at the University of Cambridge and was appointed as a Fellow of the Cambridge-MIT Institute, focused on research and its commercialisation.
Professor Middelberg is an internationally-recognised research and thought leader in chemical and biomolecular engineering. His research is fundamental but directed toward significant problems including in the health and advanced bio-manufacturing sectors.
In 2003 he returned to Australia as an ARC Federation Fellow and then as the Queensland Premier’s Fellow. During these Fellowships he researched, patented and ultimately licensed new technologies in the vaccine and bio-nanotechnology sectors.
The impact of Professor Middelberg’s research has been recognised by Fellowship of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and through award of the Brodie and Shedden-Uhde Medals of IEAust. In 2006, he won the TechConnect Prize in Boston for new technology having the highest potential, in the category of Physical Sciences, for market impact.
Our friends at Business SA have asked us to share their Export Ready Program with our DutchSA members. So here we go!
Business SA has developed this program for South Australian businesses who are new to export, or those who are already exporting and want to take a more strategic approach!
You may be eligible for this program if you have a South Australian Business (ABN) turning over at least $150,000 and in business for 2 years.
The program comprises of six full-day workshop sessions followed by individual mentoring sessions with the BusinessSA Export Adviser. You will receive professional export advice and support and will be equipped with practical information and useful tools to help you achieve success in your export endeavours.
What you will get out of the program is the ability to apply a strategic approach to export, armed with plans, tools and advice that will lessen the risks associated with export and increase your chance of success in global markets.
Thanks to a subsidy from the Department of State Development the total cost to participate in the Export Ready Program has been significantly reduced to only $1600.
If you want to know more about the Export Ready Program please contact Business SA Export Ready team on (08) 8300 0098 or via email@example.com
by Edwin Roman
I grew up in a country that has implemented systems thinking in government as early as the 11th century, when democratic waterboards where instituted to manage the dikes that keep the Dutch low lands (polders) dry. In this collaborative and democratic system there was no place for power politics, because lack of agreement would surely get everybody drowned. Today 50% of The Netherlands consists of polders, which is reclaimed land below sea level. As a result the Polder Model of fact based, collaborative policy making, has become deeply ingrained in Dutch society and institutions. This very culturally embedded systems thinking approach turned out to become a key enabler for creating one of the most competitive economies in the world: The Netherlands climbed to #4, according to the World Economic Forum (weform.org). An interesting example can be found here: Delving into the dutch way.
Having been in South Australia for over 6 years I couldn't help noticing how deeply divided and ineffective policy making can be at all levels. The tragedy of Australian politics being immature and at times hysterical, is that this leaves us with a political system that is deeply averse to finding win-win situations and collaboration across political view points. It does not surprise me that Australia's economy performs nowhere near its full potential, at place 22 out of 31 countries in the global competitiveness report. The World Economic Form states that:
"Australia needs to improve its innovation and business sophistication in order to rise up the ranking"
I think better innovation and business sophistication requires a multi partisan cultural change, where we learn to trust each other, even when we do not always agree on everything. A great way of building trust is finding common ground in successes and role models and celebrate them (without claiming them). The good news is that there are many great initiatives under way in South Australia, that with sufficient sense of purpose and focus can transform our economy.
The Dutch Chamber of Commerce started the "Innovation Series" events to highlight those initiatives that remind us of our cultural values of trust and collaboration, that can transform South Australia into the best place for innovation and new business. Our last event with Flavia Tata Nardini (Fleet Space) and Suhit Anantula (Business Models Inc) left a big impression in this regard, and a positive feeling that anything is possible! (see previous-event).
Our next Innovation Series event will be held in Tonsley, Australia’s fist pure play high tech innovation district. Created with government resources to cluster like minded high tech companies, and transcend their individual competitive needs to a much greater purpose: the capability to collaborate, co-create and commercialise world class products and solutions on a global scale.
The topic of the DutchSA event will be appropriately: the Triple Helix of Government, Universities and Business working hand in hand to develop our economic ecosystem. We illustrate this with a tour of the Tonsley innovation district facilities, including a visit to Sage Automation (from startup to international high tech power house), and presentations about:
For more information and registration go to Next Event.
This event is made possible by:
Message from Adelaide Festival Corporation
Adelaide Festival is fast-approaching and we have a couple of world-class Dutch theatre productions programmed among our 48 events (over 17 days) that we thought you might like to know about.
The theatre centrepiece of the Festival is Kings of War (watch the Trailer) from Toneelgroep Amsterdam and directed by Ivo van Hove. This show is in Dutch with English surtitles and it promises to be a thrilling a captivating tale of power and corruption told through the fusion of five of Shakespeare's plays. The Adelaide Festival Corporation is delighted to extend a 20% discount offer to DutchSA members to see this show. To unlock the offer, enter the promo code DUTCHFRIENDS at the point of purchase.
Book Tickets here.
You may also like the incredibly moving and innovative Festival show from Rotterdam theatre company Hotel Modern called The Great War.
If you have any questions or need more information, please don't hesitate to get in touch with the Festival organisers.
The main aims of the basic 8-week Dutch language course are to:
We are proud to announce that Frank Weits has been appointed as the new honorary consul for the Kingdom of The Netherlands for South Australia and The Northern Territory.
To focus on his new role Frank will step down as the president of DutchSA. His role as president of DutchSA will be taken over by Erik van Zanten, who in turn will be succeeded as vice president by Edwin Roman. Frank will remain closely involved with DutchSA via the advisory board, in which he will be joined by DutchSA founder Roland Lever and the retiring honorary consul Willem Ouwens.