Four leading strawberry growers in the southeast of the Netherlands have joined forces. Under the banner of Innoveins, an ecosystem where innovations at the intersection of plant and technology are realized, they are going to work together with other interested parties in the coming months to establish their joint R & D company. The Strawberry Innovation Cluster will focus primarily on research and development in the field of plant health and resilience as well as lighted cultivation in combination with taste and content substances.
During the meeting of the Strawberry Innovation Cluster on Monday 17 December, Erik Stappers and Koen van der Wallen (Signify) and Jeroen Rondeel (Blue Engineering) among others, presented their vision on innovation. Many of their new products and services originate from the world of high-tech, but have enormous potential in the application for fruit and vegetable cultivation. Marcel Dings, initiator of the Strawberry Innovation Cluster: "The developments in the field of high-tech follow each other in rapid succession. However, these innovations are only really relevant to us when they are tailor-made and therefore have added value for the cultivation company. An LED lamp or a sensor network in itself is interesting for a technician, but for us these are purely means that enable lighted cultivation or measuring plant health. The initiators of the Strawberry Innovation Cluster therefore like to get in touch with other growers who also want to benefit from the new possibilities of innovation at the intersection of plants and technology."
Own R & D company within the Innoveins ecosystem
The four initiators, strawberry growers Marcel Dings, Rob van Enckevort, Dave Linssen and Michiel Penninx, intend, together with other interested growers, to set up their own innovation cluster in mid-2019. In that way they choose to place their joint needs in the field of research and development in their own R & D company; an external innovation department of their companies where new products and services in the field of lighted cultivation and plant health and resilience will be further developed and made ready for the market. The growers are also the intended shareholders and therefore owner of the R & D company.
Three so-called customer clusters are now active within the Innoveins ecosystem. In addition to the Strawberry Innovation Cluster, the Cucumber Cluster and Blueberry Innovators were established earlier this year. In the field of technical know-how, the AgroData cluster (aimed at big data applications for the greenhouse horticulture and soft fruit sector), Innoveins Seed Solutions (focused on seed technology research) and GLITCH (focusing on low-carbon innovations for greenhouse horticulture) also play an important role within the Innoveins ecosystem.
The first innovation activities of the Strawberry Innovation Cluster are expected to start in the second half of 2019. Co-creation is central to all development programs of the Strawberry Innovation Cluster; collaboration between growers, technicians and researchers must ensure that innovative products and services not only 'do what they have to do', but also can actually be implemented at the cultivation company in a commercially attractive manner. "That's why we as Strawberry Innovation Cluster like to get in touch with growers, high-tech companies and educational and knowledge institutions with the same ambition."