2018 was in many ways a special year for the HAS Food Experience, the event where fourth year students present innovative projects. The 10th edition was held on 29-30 January, it was the first time the event lasted 2 days instead of 1, the first time there were over 1,500 visitors and the HAS Food Experience app was launched. To cap it all, the HAS Food Experience was in the top 3 during the European finals of the EEPA (European Enterprise Promotion Awards), an international award for initiatives encouraging entrepreneurship, held on 20 November 2018. The 11th edition of the HAS Food Experience was held on 4-5 February 2019.
Organised by HAS University of Applied Sciences itself
What is special, is that HAS organises the event itself. Lecturer Mary van Hoek-Hendriks has been behind the project for the past few years. “Organising the event ourselves has added value because it creates an extremely broad support base. Together with our students and colleagues, we raise the event to a higher level every year. The foundation for developing our students’ talents is educational quality and this is clear to see at the HAS Food Experience.” Before Mary joined HAS University of Applied Sciences, she worked in business. “Back then I developed food concepts and brought them to the market. Now I contribute to the development and launching of students on the market.”
Providing optimum education for students
HAS University of Applied Sciences and the graduates it produces have a clear influence on the food sector. The concepts students develop show the current state of the sector and what is needed to make it futureproof. “As HAS University of Applied Sciences, we want to be in the forefront of the food sector. This ensures optimum education for our students and gives them maximum opportunities for developing their talents,” says Mary. “You can see this in the projects at the HAS Food Experience: all the research and concepts on show spring from the intrinsic motivation of the students, based on their personal vision of the challenges in the world of food.”
Sponsors are actively involved
Another special aspect of the HAS Food Experience is the sponsorship structure. Sponsors not only contribute financially, but are physically involved in the event, for example, by giving advice beforehand, providing food trucks at the event itself or participating in the programme. This has helped extend the event into two days: on the evening before the event, sponsors get an exclusive look at the students’ concepts. “The event would never have grown so large without the help of sponsors,” says Mary. “We have often been collaborating with our sponsors for years; reason for them to support HAS University of Applied Sciences and the HAS Food Experience. Even alumni remain strongly involved.”
The concepts with the greatest impact
To mark the 10th edition, a special award was given for the concept with the greatest impact in the 10 years of HAS Food Experience. This was awarded to Michael Luesink’s Boon Food Concepts. Michael wants to revive the popularity of eating beans in the Netherlands and his products can now be found in supermarkets nationwide. Mary believes “That last aspect might be the most important side effect of the HAS Food Experience: allowing students to present their innovative concepts to companies may make access to the market possible for some. HAS University of Applied Sciences actively promotes this type of entrepreneurship.” It was a neck-and neck race between the 7 initiatives shortlisted for the award. HAS University of Applied Sciences Board of Trustees eventually selected the winner based on results and motivation.
Launching products on the market
Various graduates who participated in the 10th edition are now busy preparing for a market launch, with several students appearing on the Dutch TV food programme ‘De Nieuwe Lekkerbek’ in the summer of 2018. In addition, Nora Ridder (Yeasterday), Maud Kennis (The Breakfast Chef) and Luuk van der Rijt (Pearl Cocktailparels) are carrying out pioneering work together with Mary and a couple of students in the graduation project ‘The Food Incubator’, preparing their concepts for market launch. “To me, this project is the ultimate way to combine the development and marketing of both concepts and students,” says Mary.