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Youri Timmermans wins the Frans van Leijden Award 2021!

Today, HAS University of Applied Sciences proudly presented the very first Frans van Leijden Award to Youri Timmermans, a student of Business Administration and Agri-food Business at HAS University of Applied Sciences in Venlo.

Youri devised a solution to limit emissions of plant protection products, and wants to make it available worldwide. The award was presented to him today, one and a half years after the death of Frans van Leijden in tribute to him. The special ceremony in the studio in Villa Flora in Venlo was broadcast online via the GROW livestream.


Hester Schilt and the duo Ben Flikweert and Miles Bühlmann were also nominated for the award, in addition to Youri Timmermans. Every one of these four students is bursting with talent and entrepreneurship, and all four deserve a place on the podium with their amazing initiatives. However, Youri got the most votes from the public, and he also convinced the jury that he was a worthy winner of the first Frans van Leijden Award.

The courage to be a pioneer

‘It isn’t easy to please everyone in this industry. There are lots of different stakeholders with a wide range of different interests to deal with. If someone still has the courage to make that difference, then they deserve our wholehearted support!’ the jury said in its explanation. ‘Youri has shown that he, just like Frans van Leijden, has the courage to be a pioneer, show entrepreneurship, and work hard to make his vision blossom into reality.’

The Frans van Leijden Award

The award itself is a living work of art, designed by Esther Hoogendijk. The starting point for the design was 'robustness, vulnerability, and growth'. Esther managed to incorporate these characteristics into the award by using seeds from pioneering varieties, such as poppy and swamp ragwort. With water and light, the award can grow and bloom.

Promoting circular agriculture

Youri Timmermans grew up on the family farm. While applying plant protection products and cleaning machinery, he noticed there were considerable emissions of plant protection products. Youri devised a solution for this issue. Youri: ‘We developed a technique that purifies water to tap water quality. This purified water can be reused in agriculture. With this method, we promote circular agriculture, protect the environment, and provide the healthiest food.’ 

Business expansion

In addition to the award, Youri received a cheque for €1,000. Youri: ‘I want to go beyond merely using this technology on the family farm; I want to make it available worldwide.’ Youri is setting up a website to help publicise his innovation, and hopes to further develop this website and his marketing with the cash prize so that he can expand his business.

Presentation during GROW

The very first Frans van Leijden Award was presented in the Villa Flora studio in Venlo at the end of the GROW event. In addition to the nominees, those present included Yvonne Kerstens (the wife of Frans), Cas and Hannah van Leijden (their children), Dick Pouwels (former chair of the Executive Board of HAS University of Applied Sciences), and Esther Vennekens (university lecturer and co-starter of HAS University of Applied Sciences in Venlo). We were able to share this special moment together, while respecting the COVID-19 measures currently in place.

More about the Frans van Leijden Award

Would you like to know more about the Frans van Leijden Award, or watch the videos of the nominees one more time? All the info about the nominees and the Frans van Leijden Award itself can be found on the Frans van Leijden Award information page