At Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo, everything is about healthy food. Here, innovators from SMEs, startups, scientists and students work together on innovations in the field of healthy nutrition, cultivation, alternative raw materials and nutritional resources. “No wonder,” said Saskia Goetluck, CEO Brightland Campus Greenport Venlo, during the Healthy Nutrition Conference. “Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo is located in a region where the agrifood business is one of the most productive, sustainable and profitable in theworld.”
Greenport Venlo has both the ambition and potential to occupy a top position as a center for agro-food business and agri-logistics. The agro-food business in Northern and Central Limburg is one of the most productive, sustainable and profitable in the world. “The region is the Netherlands’ second largest horticultural area, said Goetluck. “On the campsite, the strength of the region is bundled, strengthened and further expanded by the development of state of the art facilities for business development, fundamental and applied research, education and meeting.”
Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo is contributing to solving global problems in the field of food safety, food security, and healthy, tasty food. Goetluck explains: “Within these three program lines, we are engaged in a vast array of subjects, such as variety development (focusing on taste and health), purchasing and eating behavior, upgrading agricultural land, new processing techniques, in-company logistics, active ingredients in food, greenhouse structures and vertical farming, sustainability, earning models and marketing and services, transport flows and agrarian raw materials for non-food applications.”
The campus brings together regional companies and institutes for education, applied research and valorisation, such as Fontys Venlo, HAS University of Applied Sciences and Maastricht University (Venlo University College). These institutes produce a lot of basic and scientific knowledge, but no products, said Freddy Troost, Associate professor Food Innovation and Health, Maastricht University Campus Venlo. “In Venlo, we have a different mission, we want to produce real concepts, foods and products.”
The research campus Venlo will focus on two main topics: Healthy Eating and Food Innovation (HEFI) and the Food Claims Center. “Within Health Food Innovation, it is our mission to develop real food products with proven health benefits, said Troost. “We will look at gut health, elderly nutrition, agro-food, food processing innovation, clinical nutrition, functional foods for obese and diabetics, and lastly, we can facilitate groundbreaking food innovation concepts by assessing health benefits.” The biggest challenge will be to translate the proof of concept into real food innovations. “But we can do it,” said Troost. “A group of our students developed PopPeas, a guilt-free savory snack boosting your protein, calcium and vitamin D intake, while having an incredible taste and crunchy bite.” This innovation is the winner of the national Ecotrophelia contest 2017.
The Food Claims Center Venlo is divided into three areas of expertise, research, education and consultancy. “We want to study the interaction of nutrition and food law,” said Alie de Boer, Researcher and teacher, Maastricht University, Campus Venlo. “What are the effects and implications of European food legislation or what happens when you combine foods and pharmaceutical products?” As the campus provides accommodation for growing companies, it is important for them to know what you can put on your packaging and how to deal with all the claims. “We can help these companies with conducting research for authorization dossiers,” de Boer continuous. “It is important to how the active ingredients need to be defined and characterized and how you should study the effect of the ingredient.”
The development of the Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo is improving the climate for companies located in the region. “Within 7 months all the labs will be finished, and then we are up and running,” said Troost. With excellent road, rail and water connections, Greenport Venlo is the junction connecting the main ports of Rotterdam, Antwerp and North Rhine-Westphalia, and thanks to an industrial park of approximately 5,400 hectares, it is also an ideal place to locate a business. The presence of good educational facilities and applied research forms the foundation for the continued development of high-level economic activity. This synergy provides education with permanent stimuli from the business practice, thus better enabling it to respond to educational issues. This benefits both business and education.