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A celebration of innovation and diversity at GROW 2019 in Venlo

GROW is a meeting ground for education and the labour market in the agrifood sector. The ‘Local Hieros’ concept from HAS University of Applied Sciences students received the Foodmanship award.

On Thursday 23 May, top students from Limburg presented their innovative ideas for agrifood products and concepts to potential employers and other stakeholders during the first edition of GROW. At the event, which was held in Villa Flora at the Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo, around 100 students from the agrifood sector presented a total of 40 concepts and ideas. The presentations took place in a market setting, which meant that the 500 visitors had the opportunity to talk to the students and to one another. Forty-two students From HAS University of Applied Sciences presented 20 projects.

Great diversity

The projects were divided into two groups: student initiatives and food concepts. Ideas ranged from using drones to diagnose illnesses in crops, to research into the image of farmers in society; from an oat-based drink, to encouraging the use of local products in chef teaching programmes; from research into short supply chains, to mushroom bread. There’s definitely no lack of diversity in the sector. There were even international projects to impress visitors. These included a pilot farm in Azerbaijan, comparing agricultural companies in Almeria, Spain and in the Netherlands to one another, and an educational food concept for pregnant women in Congo informing them about the importance of iron during pregnancy.

Winning projects

The students not only had the chance to share their projects and ideas with representatives from the sector, the best products and concepts were rewarded with various prizes. The winning ideas were chosen by a panel of judges, consisting of entrepreneurs, leading innovators and buyers from the food service and retail sectors in the south of the Netherlands. The students with the best idea will be invited to join a top entrepreneur from the agrifood sector for a day. The winning ideas were:

•    Oat It: a plant-based quark of oats, which is a good alternative for animal or soy-based quark.
•    Local Hieros: a short supply chain concept based on telling the story of the farmer in order to create more support.
•    True Pricing: research into the interests, prerequisites and willingness in the purchasing policy of in-company catering providers to maintain a ‘True Price’.
•    Kipster rooster snacks: setting up a rooster meat line of snacks from Kipster at Kwalitaria, to minimise food waste.

Local Hieros

Local Hieros is a concept from HAS University of Applied Sciences students on the study programmes Food Innovation, Business Management in Agriculture & Food and International Food & Agribusiness. Their short chain concept is specifically aimed at the north of Limburg and gives the farmer plenty of opportunities to tell their story. Joris Bruns, Stefan Hermans and Martine van der Meijden want to bring farmers off the farm and give them a chance to tell their story directly to the consumer, to increase transparency. The consumer can enjoy local and fresh produce and knows exactly where it came from. The students developed the concept on behalf of Innovatief Platteland and LIOF.

Public choice award

There was also a public choice award for the best food concept presented at GROW. Visitors were invited to vote for their winning idea, which will be sold in the Villa Flora restaurant for a number of weeks. The winner was Oat It, the plant-based quark, which had already won an award earlier in the day.

Meeting point

GROW is an initiative by the Province of Limburg, LIOF, LLTB and Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo together with HAS University of Applied Sciences, Fontys, Citaverde College, Maastricht University and Zuyd University of Applied Sciences. The parties wanted the event to encourage contacts between students and entrepreneurs, education and the labour market. GROW will be an annual event.