The construction of the Fruit Tech Campus in Geldermalsen is in full swing. "This is where the classrooms will be, this is where the sorting line with robot will be and this is where, from the Control Tower, you will be able to look out over the orchard with all the different varieties that will be planted here," says Lisanne van Haarlem, coordinator of Innocation, during a tour of the new campus. No, there is no question of a spelling error. Innocation combines innovation and education, two spearheads of the Fruit Tech Campus that come together here. In cooperation with the business community and the region, the Fruit Tech Campus develops activities that stimulate innovation in the region.
The educational program is compiled by a unique collaboration between Yuverta and Aires together with the business community. Last year, the Fruit Tech Campus kicked off with a course on pruning and fertigation. "We knew that there was a demand for this, because we had been told this by the business community, but we had not expected quite so much interest. In addition to professional growers, we also received requests from municipalities and institutions with disabled people who maintain green spaces. We are open to that too, but we do indicate that the course is aimed at professional cultivation," says Lisanne. "The good thing is that many young growers also know how to find us. For the fertigation course, for example, we had 68 registrations. We never expected that."
"We want to become the epicenter of Dutch fruit growing and hope to welcome many international students and visitors. The necessary events are already planned. Just as people think of the World Horti Center when they think of greenhouses, they immediately think of the Fruit Tech Campus when they think of fruit. The Fruit Tech Campus is the central point for innovation and education in the fields of fruit, technology, and data," says Lisanne.
"Together with our partners, we offer a platform for the entire fruit chain. It is not without reason that parties such as FruitMasters, Vogelaar Vredehof, Greefa, Van Kempen Koudetechniek, Euro Pool System, VDU Uitzendbureau, Abemec, AgruniekRijnvallei Plant, Rabobank, Proeftuin Randwijk and Nekovri have joined as regional partners. Imported fruit is also given a place in the training offer, for instance the De Groot fresh group recently became a regional partner. Interested companies in any form of support and/or participation can contact us to discuss the possibilities of a partnership."
Currently, the construction of the Fruit Tech Campus is in full swing. The intention is to move the office to the new premises this summer and to start the new courses next school year. Among other things, the accelerated courses in Cultivation & Tech and Mechatronics are on the program. "But we see that many new ideas are generated by all the activities. Many companies face the same challenges, for example in the field of personnel management and attracting new employees. We can get to work on that here. We are also starting a training course in HR and absenteeism guidance for managers," says Lisanne.
"We are setting up the Fruit Tech Campus as an innovative learning and working center where education, region, and business meet. The Innocation Hub will be used by the education sector for practical lessons and to learn how to conduct research. Companies can use the facilities for research, demos, meetings, etcetera. The business community has promised a number of existing facilities, such as a workshop, storage cells, and packing station, in order to accelerate the renewal of education. These Techlabs will be made suitable and accessible for students and guidance to make a hybrid learning environment a reality. In this inspiring environment, we hope to make many people enthusiastic about fruit farming, with the higher goal of guaranteeing the position of Dutch fruit farming for the longer term."