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‘Short Supply Chain 2.0 - Local and Digital’ enters second phase

The first phase has just been concluded and the second has already started: the partners in the ‘Short Supply Chain 2.0 - Local and Digital’ initiative are steaming ahead with, for example, 2 final-year projects from students from Geo Media & Design and Business Management in Agriculture & Food.

Shared services platform

HAS University of Applied Sciences, Geodan, ZLTO and Food!Up Brabant (Province of North Brabant) started the initiative in 2017, to support entrepreneurs in the short supply chain by successfully developing and getting the most out of their online market position. Central to this, is the development of a shared services platform, where the entrepreneurs can collectively launch their products on the market, for example. The platform can also offer them an advantage with respect to services for online and offline marketing, data, ICT and logistics.

Online Food Brabant

“Information technology and data offer farmers new opportunities to connect with other parties in the supply chain and with customers. They can also test ideas and design smart logistics plans.” This is what it says on the Onlinefoodbrabant.nl project website. “Datafication of the food supply chain can lead to new added-value propositions for farmers, as well as innovative distribution models, new demand- based and shorter sales supply chains. It can also help change consumer buying behaviour.” The shared services platform that is to be developed is actually an online testing ground, a concrete way of experimenting with these ideas.

Governance Challenge

A platform like this also generates a lot of questions. The most important questions are about the business model, the entrepreneurs’ positions and the ownership of the data. To generate ideas, in March the people behind the initiative held a Governance Challenge. During this enthusiastic gathering in the ‘In de Roos’ bar in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, around 20 experts helped participants address issues such as: What’s the value position of the platform? What will be the income model? What are the ambitions? In other words: What’s the development strategy?

“I want return to knowing who drinks my milk”

A important incentive for entrepreneurs to join the initiative is the connection with their consumer: “For the Dutch farmer, the global market is sometimes closer than the local market in the village,” one dairy farmer pointed out. “That might be alright for many farmers, but not for me. I want to return to knowing who drinks my milk.” In the current food supply chain, driven by trade and large volumes, entrepreneurs are losing their grip on their product identity and brand values. In addition, they also often have to put up with small margins. And the consumer doesn’t know who’s behind the product anymore either. A joint platform can provide a solution to this dilemma.

Data-driven solution

It’s important that entrepreneurs realise that the data is the connecting factor and, therefore, where the money is. “Where supply and demand are brought together, the data regarding those transactions represents a huge added value,” is the message from data experts. “Ownership of that data is therefore a crucial. Even if you don’t know exactly what the added value will be, you do know that you want have a say in it.”

Community of Practise

The project group started the development of the platform in May 2018. Linked to this is a ‘Community of Practise’, a knowledge platform where entrepreneurs, researchers and students can share and discuss their knowledge and experience in fields such as logistics, online and offline marketing, ICT and data governance. There are also 6 students carrying out research in 2 final-year projects. One group is focussing on generating insight into the geographical supply potential of short supply chain entrepreneurs and the logistical requirements involved. The other group of students is focussing on new business models related to the concept of the shared services platform.


The ‘Short Supply Chain 2.0 - Local and Digital’ project plays an important role in the Location Intelligence chair of Professor Theo Thewessen. The chair is carrying research into the effect of datafication on the food supply chain, among other things. “The use or collecting of data in the agrifood supply chain will increase explosively – we’re calling this ‘datafication’ of the supply chain,” explains professor Theo Thewessen. “Datafication applies to the entire supply chain: from producer, via processor and distribution, to the consumer.”

Internet of Food

He continues: “This data (which is mainly in the Cloud) forms a foundation for new connections and transparency in the agrifood supply chain, creating space for new concepts, new purchase and distribution models (short supply chains, online, e-commerce), other consumer behaviour and possibly another relation to our food.” Another datafication project in which the chair has a pioneering role, is the development of an Open Datalab Agrifood . ‘Short Supply Chain 2.0 - Local and Digital’ will also get a place in this Datalab.

More information?

To find out more (in Dutch), visit onlinefoodbrabant.nl