All posts by Flora Vogelzang

“The program encouraged me to be more ambitious”

StartLife Accelerate Program makes promising Food & Agtech startups ready for investors

Beginning this week about a hundred people attended the StartLife Graduation Day, where eight Food & Agtech startups showed their achievements. The Accelerate Program prepares startups to successfully enter the agri-food market. All startups that took part in the program are currently closing key partnerships, launching customers and raising investments.

“The financial and business coaching in the program was very helpful, as well as the guidance of the experts,” says Edgar Suarez, founder of FUMI Ingredients, which has developed an affordable and healthy alternative for egg-white, based on microalgae. “Our product is very sustainable. There is no land or animal use involved and it brings about a 95 percent reduction of CO2-emissions”, Suarez explains. Edgar founded FUMI ingredients right after graduating from his PhD-study at Wageningen University & Research in March 2019.

Learn from market feedback

“Our protein can be whipped into foam, bind ingredients and stabilize gels and emulsions such as mayonnaise,” Suarez says. The next step would be to build a larger factory to produce higher volumes of the ingredient. Suarez: “The program encouraged me to be more ambitious.” Thanks to the partner network of StartLife, FUMI Ingredients connected to large agri-food corporations such as Unilever and Givaudan. Collaboration with these partners provided clear product and market feedback that prepared the startup for a faster market entrance.

Customers’ point of view

Valeriy Mitko, founder of PEF Technologies, is also positive about the involvement of experts from the industry. “Due to the coaching we were able to identify the market and structure our ideas according to a customers’ point of view,” Mitko says. He worked as a PhD reseacher at the University of Twente and in 2018 he founded PEF Technologies, which he runs with his wife Yulia. Mitko developed a “nanosecond pulsed electric field” technology for the preservation of dairy products by inactivating microorganisms. It is a non-thermal alternative for pasteurization. “Our technique reduces the energy use and maintenance costs a lot,” Mitko explains. The program helped him to improve the business plan and strategy. “Dairy is a broad field and we decided to focus on cheese producing enterprises. I have found a way to make our technology affordable for small and medium sized cheese producers. Now several cheesemakers are interested,” says Mitko.

Access to funding

“We help startups to professionalize and refine their business plans and organization to such a level that they are ready to deal with potential customers and investors,” explains Thomas van den Boezem, Program Director at StartLife. The program is designed in two-week sprints during which StartLife coaches, university experts and serial entrepreneurs help the startups to validate the main assumptions in their business plan. Also there is a fulltime week on ‘investor readiness’ with guest lectures by leading venture capital investors in the industry, to support the startups to raise funding for their plans.

“From last year’s cohort, five out of nine startups managed to raise seed funding within six months after completing the program” Van den Boezem says.

The new StartLife Accelerate Program starts this September. Startups that are interested in participating, can apply until 1 August 2019.

The participants of the latest edition of the StartLife Accelerate Program (spring cohort 2019):

  • Clevabit: Using sensors and data analytics to help livestock farmers monitor and improve the health of their animals.
  • TasteIndex: Digitization of taste to help catering and retail organizations better deliver products matching consumer preferences.
  • Thelial: Developing a natural nutraceutical to help people reduce acid reflux symptoms and improve oesophagus health.
  • PreMal: A novel trap to catch mosquitos in tropical regions and prevent malaria.
  • PEF Technologies: Nano-second Pulsed Electric Field technology to provide a better alternative to pasteurization for preservation of dairy products and beer
  • SAIA Agrobotics: Developing a robotics system for greenhouses to help growers harvest and deleaf crops.
  • FUMI Ingredients: Developing novel protein ingredients, including egg-white protein replacer, from micro-organisms, for the food industry
  • WAM: Developing predictive harvest forecasting service for the businesses.

About StartLife:

StartLife is co-founded by WUR and empowers founders to build and grow Food & Agtech startups with lasting impact. Since 2011, StartLife has built, supported and funded 300+ startups, propelling breakthrough technologies in the domains of food & agriculture and creating lasting impact.”

More information:

Thomas van den Boezem, Program Director at StartLife, at or: +31 (0)6-38298801

StartLife and five other prominent Dutch university-linked Incubators commit to Fundsup

The six most important Dutch university incubators, including StartLife, will collaborate with Fundsup, a platform that brings startups into contact with investors. The other incubators are YES!Delft, Bright Move in Eindhoven, Novel-T from Twente, the Amsterdam ACE Incubator and UtrechtInc.

Fundsup is a platform that brings startups into contact with investors. With the partnership, StartLife’s startups can come into contact with a suitable investor faster and they can they can expand their investor network.

4-bullets Factsheet

  • What’s new? The incubators of all six major Dutch universities will collaborate with Fundsup: YES!Delft, Bright Move (Eindhoven), Novel-T (Twente), Startlife (Wageningen), ACE Incubator (UvA, VU, HvA, Amsterdam UMC) and UtrechtInc.
  • Why? To make it easier for their early-stage startups to come into contact with smart capital.
  • Because? Entrepreneurs spend a lot of time (and money) on finding suitable investors who, in addition to capital, also bring in their network and knowledge. This has an inhibiting effect on innovation in the Netherlands.
  • The result? More suitable investment opportunities for individual early-stage investors + more smart capital for startups = more innovation in the Netherlands + more efficient use of public funds.

Build up a Relevant Investor Network

By using Fundsup, it becomes much easier for startup founders to build up a relevant investor network. Fundsup also offers them insights into the traction their company receives from investors. Incubator startups are also given a badge for recognition, making it instantly clear to investors that these startups are connected to an incubator and which one.

Arjen Strijker, founder of Fundsup, is pleased with all these new collaborations: “The fact that we have connected almost all university incubators in such a short period of time confirms once again that Fundsup fulfills an enormous need in the world of early-stage financing”.

For incubators it’s indeed a great challenge to build up and maintain an informal investor network for their startups. The choice for a partnership with Fundsup is therefore a logical one. The platform efficiently creates valuable connections between screened startups and verified investors, thereby facilitating high quality deal flow.

Social Impact

The collaborations between Fundsup and these six incubators also generate a valuable social impact. The fact that the market for early-stage investments has so far been opaque and highly inefficient, which slowed down innovation in The Netherlands. By collaborating with incubators, Fundsup facilitates interregional and international improved access to high quality risk capital.

“This so-called smart capital makes more private money and — above all — expertise available. Which is so much needed amongst early-stage startups. The Dutch government, which has so far financed 60% to 70% of all early-stage startups in The Netherlands with relatively ‘dumb’ capital in a fairly arbitrary manner, can now deploy our taxpayers’ money in a much more supportive manner, alongside real smart capital” says Strijker. By definition, this will lead to more innovation.

Jan Meiling, Managing Director StartLife, about the partnership with Fundsup: “StartLife has supervised 300+ food & agri startups. Attracting venture capital and linking with informal investors has proven to be a time-consuming process. With Fundsup we give our startups access to an online platform where supply and demand come together.”

About Fundsup

Fundsup is a matchmaking platform that facilitates meaningful connections between entrepreneurs and early-stage investors. Entrepreneurs in need of capital create an extensive company profile that they can publish after screening by Fundsup or a Fundsup partner. In this way, they can efficiently and effectively bring their company to the attention of a rapidly growing network of investors that are right for them.

In turn, investors on Fundsup can find interesting new startups more easily and anonymously. They simply indicate their investment criteria by means of filters. When a new deal opportunity that meets their criteria is published, they receive a push notification in the Fundsup app (iOS and Android). If the investor is indeed interested, then it is possible to contact the entrepreneur directly via a chat function.

Currently, 380+ Dutch investors already use Fundsup. Roughly 80% of them are informal investors and 20% are VCs, government funds and Regional Development Agencies. More than 2,500 registered startups are using Fundsup today.

For more information on Fundsup see:

For more information on the collaboration of StartLife and Fundsup: contact Loet Rammelsberg, Startlife Program Manager, at

Insects, seaweed wraps and socks made from old fishing nets on the shelves at Lidl

Supermarket chain presents futuristic sustainable products from June 27, during the ‘FutureGoods’ week

Amsterdam, June 18 2019 – Insects, granola with mealworm powder, seaweed wraps, socks made from recycled fishing nets and ‘rescue food’. Supermarket chain Lidl organizes the ‘FutureGoods’ week from June 27, in collaboration with incubator StartLife. During this week special, sustainable and innovative products made by young, local startups and suppliers are available at all, over 400, Lidl branches in the Netherlands.

Looking for innovative, healthy or sustainable ideas, the supermarket chain made an appeal last summer to pitch ‘FutureGoods’. People responded in a massive way. An organization-wide jury chose 12 suppliers who will get shelf space at Lidl. Furthermore, the chosen startups and suppliers have received guidance and support from Lidl and StartLife, to grow further towards large-scale production.

“The consumer chooses more and more vegetable-based or sustainable products. With the FutureGoods week, Lidl makes these innovative products accessible for a large audience. Additionally, we offer local suppliers the opportunity to present their unique concept on the shelves of all Lidl branches”, says Erik van den Hoogen, senior purchasing manager at Lidl Nederland.

The participating entrepreneurs and products are:

  • Star Sock – Socks made from organic cotton and recycled fishing nets
  • Zzinga – A sustainable drink with low alcohol content. A new version of honey wine that helps protect the bee population
  • Gigi Gelato – Gigi’s ice cream is 100% vegan, made with fruits and vegetables
  • Krusli – Cruesli made of residual food, also known as ‘rescue food’, for a sustainable breakfast
  • Seamore – Made it their mission to introduce the world to eating seaweed through seaweed wraps
  • Little Hero – Founded in 2019 with the ambitious mission to make everyone acquainted with superfoods and has introduced edible insects as a healthy and sustainable source of nutrients
  • Farmer&Foodie – Strives to have the foodprint as low as possible for her carrot and tomato burgers
  • Bijt – The grow kits of Bijt make it easy to grow your own biological sprouts at home
  • Arenshof – His recipe for potato bread made it to the finals of the TV show ‘De Nieuwe Lekkerbek’
  • Gro – Makes croquettes and ‘bitterballen’, among other things, from the tasty, versatile and oyster mushroom, which they cultivate circularly
  • Food2smile – The founder is nutrition consultant and has worked for many years against obesity. As an alternative for candy and chips, she developed sugar free snacks such as Popped Soja Chips and Sugar-Free Candies
  • Banabar – The first biological fruit-and-nut bar based on dried bananas on the Dutch market

For more information:

About Lidl

Lidl is one of the largest supermarket chains in the Netherlands with more than 400 branches. Under the slogan ‘the highest quality for the lowest price’, Lidl offers a wide assortment of food and non-food commodities.

About StartLife

StartLife, founded by Wageningen University & Research and OostNL, supports food and agri startups to develop into leading companies. The world food problem asks for radical changes in the food and agriculture sectors. StartLife believes that startups, because of their innovative abilities, are the driving force behind a more sustainable world. StartLife has been working with startups for more than 10 years. In the last six years, they have supported almost 300 startups that develop technological innovations in the field of food and agriculture.

StartLife’s mission is to foster entrepreneurship in the food and agri sector and to support entrepreneurs and their teams in transforming innovative ideas into businesses with a worldwide impact.

For more information, visit

Givaudan fosters entrepreneurship and innovation in the food sector through partnership with StartLife

Press Release

Givaudan, the world’s leading flavour and fragrance company, announced today a new partnership with StartLife, the leading food and agritech incubator in Europe. This is the latest example of Givaudan’s strategy to enable the development of real-world applications for disruptive ideas and breakthrough technologies to deliver superior and sustainable solutions for the food industry.

StartLife, which is based on the campus of Wageningen University & Research – the leading agriculture and food technology university in the Netherlands – will be Givaudan’s innovation and scouting partner. The organisation will support Givaudan to further expand its innovation ecosystem by acting as a connector and early start-up innovation enabler with Dutch-based food entrepreneurs.

Givaudan’s Head of Science & Technology, Flavours, Fabio Campanile, said: “Givaudan’s Front End Innovation Ecosystem is constantly evolving as new ‘hot spots’ of activity emerge. The Netherlands and Wageningen is clearly an emerging place for foodtech, and this is where we want to build mutually beneficial collaborations.

“Our partnership with StartLife forms part of our wider commitment to address global food challenges through collaboration and innovation. We are engaging with top universities with strong research capabilities and with the ability to commercialise intellectual property. Partnering with StartLife enables us to engage with the reseach and emerging start-up mentality on the Wageningen campus, which is becoming a centre of co-innovation for The Netherlands. We offer them technological and scale up know-how and market access facilities which can only boost their chance of success.”

StartLife’s mission is to foster entrepreneurship in Food and Agtech by supporting entrepreneurs and their teams as they build their business ideas into global enterprises with a lasting impact.

Jan Meiling, Managing Director of StartLife said: “We currently work with over 300 start-up enterprises and believe they are the propelling force behind the food and agtech innovations required to meet global food demand in the future. Our partnership with Givaudan will provide start-ups with access to a wealth of food science knowledge and expertise to help them navigate challenges in their product development journeys.”

About Givaudan

Givaudan is the global leader in the creation of flavours and fragrances. In close collaboration with food, beverage, consumer product and fragrance partners, Givaudan develops tastes and scents that delight consumers the world over. With a passion to understand consumers’ preferences and a relentless drive to innovate, Givaudan is at the forefront of creating flavours and fragrances that ‘engage your senses’. The Company achieved sales of CHF 5.5 billion in 2018. Headquartered in Switzerland with local presence in over 145 locations, the Company has almost 13,600 employees worldwide. Givaudan invites you to discover more at

About Givaudan Flavours

Givaudan’s comprehensive knowledge of local flavours, extensive global footprint and strategic insights enable close partnerships with customers wherever they may be. With a customised approach to product creation, the Flavour Division is a powerhouse of knowledge, innovation and creativity equipped to surprise customers and consumers with fresh, unique ideas and solutions. Givaudan creates lasting flavour and taste experiences that touch emotions across key segments including beverages, sweet goods, savoury and snacks; regardless of product category Givaudan’s passion is to make food and beverage products taste delicious. We invite you to ‘engage your senses’ and learn more about Flavours at

About StartLife

StartLife believes that start-ups are the propelling force behind the food and agtech innovations required to meet future global food demand. StartLife fosters entrepreneurship in food and agtech and supports entrepreneurs in translating innovative business ideas into global enterprises. StartLife collaborates closely with Wageningen University & Research and other knowledge institutes, corporates, government organisations and investors. Since 2011 it has built, supported and funded 300+ start-ups, in bringing breakthrough technologies, to market. Discover more at

For further information, please contact

Aleksandra Mrsa, Givaudan Communications Manager

T +41 4482 42328


Caroline Bijkerk, StartLife Manager Community

+31 6 22831196E

World-Agri Tech Innovation Summit & Future Food-Tech

Meet StartLife and 10 Dutch Food & Agtech champion startups in San Francisco!

StartLife is organising a startup mission to San Francisco, inviting 10 prominent Dutch Food & Agtech startups to one of the most relevant podia in the world.  

We are presenting the selected startup companies supported by Startlife, as part of the food Valley ecosystem and we have teamed up with the FoodValley organisation to not only promote the startups but also the startup ecosystem that is thriving in the Netherlands.

Press release Foodvalley NL, StartLife and Wageningen University & Research
Wageningen, The Netherlands, 11 February 2019

Startups from ‘the tiny country that feeds the world’ present innovations in San Francisco, 19-22 March

At World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit and Future Food-Tech

AgroCares, Solynta, Pectcof and MilkWays are among the startup companies from the Netherlands that show their innovations in March at technology and investment summits in de US. These Dutch Startup champions are excellent examples of what is described by National Geographic as ‘the tiny country that feeds the world’.

Pectcof developed the technology to transform the industrial side stream of coffee pulp biomass into high valuable bio compounds such as food ingredients. The coffee cherry biomass (skin and flesh) is used as raw material, and with the use of their patented extraction process Pectof transforms the biomass into valuable compounds. The first product launch will be Dutch Gum. This food ingredient has shown to be substantially more effective in stabilizing emulsions for beverages compared to gum arabic. Pectcof will present their technology at the Future Food-Tech Summit.


In 2017, National Geographic dedicated a story on the Netherlands as an ‘agricultural giant’. The headline said: ‘This tiny country feeds the world.’ According to the magazine, the Netherlands show what the future of farming and food could look like.

The Netherlands are the second-largest exporter of food and agricultural products in the world. Thanks to the mild climate, but primarily thanks to the high tech agfood ecosystem, called Foodvalley. Companies collaborate with knowledge providers, educational institutions and governments to accelerate innovation, which continuously results in world class innovative agricultural and food-related solutions.

An example of cooperation in the ecosystem is the collaboration between Foodvalley NL, StartLife and Wageningen University & Research to enable 10 startup companies to show their high tech innovations at the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit and the Future Food-Tech in San Francisco. It provides these startups with the opportunity to meet investors and business partners enabling them to grow and bring their solutions to markets worldwide.

At the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit

Solynta is a breeding and biotechnology company which develops and applies new breeding technologies to convert potatoes into a hybrid crop, with potential to unlock billions of dollars in farmgate revenue. New potato varieties offer better characteristics for consumers, processors and farmers while having lower environmental impact.

AgroCares is a global Agtech company that delivers cutting edge data solutions to measure nutrients and other key parameters in soil (SoilCares), in feed (FeedCares) and in leaf (LeafCares), which ultimately lead to sustainable yield and production increase.

AgOS is a platform which leverages Supply Chain Finance and Blockchain technology to facilitate novel approaches to managing and financing food supply chains. The platform allows users to reduce costs, mitigate risks and promote transparency and value creation throughout the chain.

Serket is a software company that helps farmers to monitor and trace their livestock individually and automatically. It uses a readily-available technology also used in other industries to monitor animal health and food safety concerns such as overuse of antibiotics and high mortality rate.

EagleSensing is specialized in aerial data acquisition and analysis through machine learning. The company has developed proprietary software to extract actionable intelligence from aerial photographs and GPS data. The products not only assist in precision agriculture but are used in a range of industries.

Connecterra has built an Artificial Intelligence named Ida, a farmers’ assistant that runs a dairy farm 30% more efficiently than a human farmer. Ida learns the behaviour of farmers and dairy cows while providing guidance on how to run a better farm.

At the Future Food-Tech

MilkWays has developed a cutting edge technology for intercontinental transport of large volumes of fresh milk. Pure fresh milk can be preserved up to 45 days without any deviation of taste. MilkWays is already discussing the solution with parties in China, SE Asia and the Middle East.

Kipster builds animal and environmentally friendly poultry farms. The revolutionary farms are designed around the instincts and needs of the chickens. The farms are energy positive and the eggs are the word’s first carbon neutral farm eggs.

NutriLeads develops crop-derived food ingredients with clinically proven health benefits for specific patient and consumer groups. The most advanced ingredient, Xtramune™, is a unique proprietary carrot-derived fiber that supports immune function and increases resistance to respiratory infections.


The events take place on four consecutive days in the Hilton Union Square in San Francisco. World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit is on the 19th and 20th of March 2019, the Future Food-Tech on the 21st and 22nd of March.

Get connected

Would you like to get connected to one of the startups, Foodvalley NL, StartLife, or Wageningen University & Research? Please contact Jolanda Wels,

Follow us via: Twitter | Linkedin

Collaboration Klasmann-Deilmann and Agtech-startup Sigrow

Substrate producer Klasmann-Deilmann and Agtech-startup Sigrow benefit customers’ outcome

Corporate StartLife partner Klasmann-Deilmann and StartLife startup Sigrow successfully collaborate in commercial horticulture. Their co-operation resulting in innovative insights and benefits for greenhouse growers – and new clients.

Agtech startup Sigrow is working together with greenhouse growers to provide more insights in their growing environment. At one of these growers, they found out that the humidity level of the substrate used was not optimal. Therefore, Javier Lomas from Sigrow invited an expert from substrate producer Klasmann-Deilmann to look into the situation. Sjors Beijer, member of Klasmann-Deilmann’s incubator prompt could propose an improved substrate recipe. With the sensors of Sigrow they were able to measure and show that the growing performance in the adjusted recipe yielded better results.

Currently Klasmann-Deilmann is using Sigrow sensors also at other growers. “Our customers have decided to acquire their own set of Sigrow sensors for future needs as well. The real-time insight in most relevant root zone parameters enables growers to directly improve their cultivation practices too,” says Sjors Beijer. Klasmann-Deilmann and Sigrow are not only working together to boost their customers’ outcome, they aim to develop even more beneficial agtech innovations for greenhouses. “The support we give our customers can now turn from reactive to real-time and even to pro-active”, says Sjors Beijer.

For more information about this collaboration go to:


Klasmann-Deilmann is the leading corporate group in the international substrate industry, with sales and production companies in Europe, Asia and America. On every continent, the company’s growing media provide a vital basis for the growth of fruit, vegetables, edible fungi, ornamental plants, trees and shrubs.

Sigrow is a young and dynamic company that aims at simplifying agriculture by means of Internet of Things technologies. Sigrow developed a unique solution that enables growers to measure and act upon the most fundamental climate and soil factors for growing plants.

StartLife empowers founders to build and grow Food & Agtech startups with lasting impact. Since 2011, StartLife has built, supported and funded 250+ startups, propelling breakthrough technologies in the domains of food & agriculture and creating lasting impact.

Money Meets Ideas

Money Meets Ideas – StartLife

On the 30th of January 2019 Rabobank, KplusV and StartLife are organizing a special AgriFoodTech edition of Money Meets Ideas at StartLife in Wageningen. During this event we invite five AgriFoodTech entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas for informal investors.

About Money Meets Ideas
Money Meets Ideas is an informal investing platform established by Rabobank and KplusV. Money Meets Ideas gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to attract venture capital from informal investors during events. Young innovative start-ups can pitch their ideas and raise capital, ranging from EUR 100.000 to EUR 1.5 million.

During the Money Meets Ideas sessions, entrepreneurs are connected to informal investors who are banking at Rabobank Wealth Management. Besides venture capital, the investors possess the necessary knowledge and expertise to help your company.

Signing up
To sign up for this event, please send your pitch deck to The selection round closes on the 14th of January next. KplusV will manage the selection procedure by screening your application and contacting you. Five entrepreneurs will be selected to pitch their proposition. Please make sure your pitch deck contains the following aspects: your expertise, competitors, market size, business model, launching customers, invested money so far, financials and capital request.

For more information please contact Caroline Bijkerk, Manager Community StartLife: or visit

Press Release: Hudson River Biotechnology

HRB logo HD_2526x1785

Hudson River Biotechnology and Gen-X deliver Proof of Concept for SuRE technology in plants

Wageningen, 30 October 2018 – Two Netherlands-based start-ups take major technological step in precision plant breeding, by showing that the SuRE technology can be successfully applied to the tomato genome, delivering a new genetic target identification platform for use in agricultural crops.

SuRE, ‘Survey of Regulatory Elements’, is a highly novel platform technology that allows unbiased genome-wide identification of gene regulatory elements that can serve as targets for mutagenesis. Through SuRE, we can identify unique and proprietary (patentable) targets that we can modify to yield new traits. SuRE outperforms competing technologies by a wide margin and has valuable agricultural applications, such as the identification of novel, unique and sophisticated targets for molecular plant breeding through targeted mutagenesis approaches.

The technology is patent pending and was invented by Gen-X’s founder and published in the journal Nature Biotechnology, in 2017. HRB has partnered with Gen-X to translate the SuRE platform technology from validated pharmaceutical applications to new agricultural applications. These include the identification of novel, unique and sophisticated targets for molecular plant breeding through targeted mutagenesis approaches (TILLING and other gene-editing methods like CRISPR), as well as of novel, strong endogenous promoters to drive cis- and transgene expression.

Proof of Concept for SuRE in plants

With SuRE, a plasmid library is constructed, consisting of random genomic fragments inserted upstream of unique 20-bp barcodes. The library is transfected into protoplasts, and barcode expression is quantified by high-throughput sequencing. Over 50-fold genome coverage can be reached, allowing robust mapping of autonomous promoter and enhancer activity to a genome.

In a project supported by Syngenta, Vegetable Seeds from BASF (Nunhems Netherlands), HZPC Research BV and Genetwister, HRB and Gen-X were able to show that the SuRE platform technology can be successfully applied to the tomato genome. The figure above shows that the SuRE library vector can be used to assay transcriptional regulation in tomato, and that when tomato genomic DNA is analyzed, a clear peak pattern is observed, representing gene regulatory elements.


“We are excited about achieving this major technical milestone. The combination of theproprietary SuRE and CRISPR technology platforms offers a powerful and unique way for plant breeders to improve crop yields and enable more sustainable food production” says Rudi Ariaans, CEO and co-founder of HRB.

For more information, please contact:
Hudson River Biotechnology B.V.
Rudi Ariaans
Tel: +31.6.8011.4388

Hudson River Biotechnology is a highly innovative agricultural biotech
company located in Wageningen (Netherlands) focused on improving crop
productivity and quality, addressing the world’s increasing demand for food
and natural ingredients. We do this by genetically optimizing crops to
increase yields, improve disease resistance & nutritional value.

Gen-X is a biotechnology company located in Amsterdam that provides
functional genome annotation on an unprecedented scale using the SuRE
technology ( We enable the identification of relevant
regulatory DNA elements and provide functional annotation of non-coding
sequence variants.

Nine promising food & agri startups join the new StartLife Accelerate program

StartLife Accelerate supports promising food & agri startups as they develop their product, business model and team. For the first time, nine startups join together in one cohort. For three months they can learn and work together to validate their business with potential customers and pitch to investors. As of September 17th, the ten startups will participate in this new StartLife Accelerate program which takes place on Wageningen Campus.


StartLife offers a unique curriculum to the cohort that includes tailored support and trainings from StartLife coaches and leading experts from the industry. Entrepreneurs, coaches and partners work together to ensure a sustainable success of the businesses. After three months the startups are ready to pitch for the StartLife Review Board who can award funding. The program offers trainings on market validation, team development, financial modelling and more. In the last ten years StartLife has learned that these are crucial elements for startups to be succesful.

Thomas van den Boezem, program director StartLife: “This is the first time StartLife invites multiple startups to join together in a program. We have experienced there is tremendous value in working with a cohort of multiple startups, who can exchange knowledge, experience and network with each other during the program”


To maximize the value of the program, StartLife works with many partners that offer specific expertise. These partners include BDO, Rabobank, Wageningen University & Research, OostNL, SHIFT Invest and HighTechXL. A great network of mentors will be available for the intensive support of the starters. The startups Plant Meat Makers and Agri Gripping participating in the program originate from the Wageningen University & Research. The cohort further exists of the startups Burgs Foods, Sponsh, Eden Advanced Technologies, GreenCovery, Bird’s AI, beterschappen, and zero foodwaste.

Agri Gripping, Vine Weevil control using a trap system

Beterschappen, Personalized meal solutions for kidney patients


BirdsAI, AI-based land monitoring and visualization

Burgsfoods, Cricket-based burgers


Eden Advanced Technologies, Automated aeroponics farming systems


Greencovery Upcycling technology for waste water streams

Sponsh, Smart cotton that produces water from air

ZERO FoodWaste, Automated food waste registration

And Plant Meat Makers, Next-generation plant-based meat analogues


Collaboration with Lidl: sell your product at Lidl supermarkets

Lidl is organizing a so-called theme week with innovative consumer products. They are looking for suppliers and startups that can deliver those new, healthy, and/or very sustainable food and non-food products. StartLife is working together with Lidl to select startups for this week and we agreed that a minimum of 15 products will be products from StartLife starters. 

Register here before 9 September to join the program

For years now, Lidl has been organising theme weeks to promote Italian, French, or Spanish products, to name just a few. In the spring of 2019, the chain will introduce a new theme. “We want to keep surprising our clients, this time with products that are very sustainable or highly innovative. To help us, we’re looking for producers and startups that we can help and guide towards production,” says Braun. “The idea is to sell the products during the theme week, which is unique. Should a theme week product be very popular, we will of course consider adding it to our core product range,” Braun continues.


For this project, Lidl is collaborating with StartLife, which helps the supermarket chain to select the startups. StartLife is the leading European Food & Agtech incubator. Marloes Groenewegen, Director of Operations at StartLife: “With this project Lidl can really help startups, precisely because a regular purchasing order is issued long before goods have to be delivered. This pushes startups to speed up and can help them launch their products

The total number of products to be sold during the theme week is also as yet unknown. “A good theme week ordinarily has between 30 and 50 products, but it’s still early days to put an exact number on it,” Braun emphasises. However, a minimum of 15 of these products will be products from StartLife startups. These startups will be selected through a separate selection session.


Contact Thijmen van Loon for more information

Collaboration with Lidl: organises innovative pitching event

Supermarket chain Lidl is looking for suppliers and startups that create innovative products for Lidl to sell in 2019. During the new theme week, Lidl will present a number of products that are new, healthy and/or very sustainable.

Suppliers and startups can register until 16 September, after which they will be invited for a selection day. “Those who are invited to the selection day are asked to pitch their product and, for example, tell the jury how they came up with the idea,” says Christine Braun from Lidl Netherlands.

For years now, Lidl has been organising theme weeks to promote Italian, French, or Spanish products, to name just a few. In the spring of 2019, the chain will introduce a new theme. “We want to keep surprising our clients, this time with products that are very sustainable or highly innovative. To help us, we’re looking for producers and startups that we can help and guide towards production,” says Braun. “The idea is to sell the products during the theme week, which is unique. Should a theme week product be very popular, we will of course consider adding it to our core product range,” Braun continues.


For this project, Lidl is collaborating with StartLife, which helps the supermarket chain to select the startups. StartLife is the leading European Food & Agtech incubator. Marloes Groenewegen, Director of Operations at StartLife: “With this project Lidl can really help startups, precisely because a regular purchasing order is issued long before goods have to be delivered. This pushes startups to speed up and can help them launch their products

Depending on the number of applications, Lidl will decide how many startups are to be invited to the selection day. The number of products to be sold during the theme week is also as yet unknown. “A good theme week ordinarily has between 30 and 50 products, but it’s still early days to put an exact number on it,” Braun emphasises.



New partner StartLife: PHW Group! PHW Group invests in young F&A talent


StartLife: PHW Group invests in young talent and innovative food as well as agricultural solutions

Rechterfeld / Wageningen, June 2018. At the beginning of this year, the PHW Group entered into a strategic partnership with the Israeli start-up SuperMeat, which specialises in the production of meat from cell cultures. This was followed by the announcement, which was made several weeks ago, that the family-run company from Lower Saxony has entered into a distribution partnership with the California-based company, Beyond Meat. Today the PHW Group has announced that it is joining into a corporate partnership with StartLife and will continue its trend of promoting start-ups and innovative ideas, as well as providing strategic and cooperative support to young entrepreneurs. StartLife is the leading Food & Agtech incubator in Europe, supporting start-ups with its programmes, wide network, and early stage support. The company was co-founded by Wageningen University & Research and has sponsored and signed up more than 200 start-ups over the past five years alone. “The high level and sheer excellence of the ideas that talented young people want to bring to market has made a great impression on me personally. Which is why we have deliberately decided to financially support StartLife. Furthermore, we will use our experience and network to advise young entrepreneurs and act as mentors in the poultry sector. At the same time, we as a family business will benefit from the innovative power of the start-ups by gaining an early insight into what business ideas are becoming more relevant,” explains Peter Wesjohann, CEO of the PHW Group.

The StartLife community consists of high-potential start-ups that bring innovative ideas to life in the food and agriculture sector. A good example of food technology is the development and cultivation of potato varieties that require fewer pesticides. This makes it possible to grow potatoes almost anywhere in the world as the varieties can be adapted to the local climate. But start-ups are also important in robotics, for example the development of a harvesting robot for the automated harvesting of fragile crops such as asparagus.

“The challenges of tomorrow’s global food supply require a radical approach to innovation in food and agriculture today. StartLife believes that thanks to their strength in innovation, start-ups are the driving force behind the food and agricultural innovations that are needed to meet future global food needs,” Jan Meiling, Managing Director of StartLife.

StartLife is the leading Food & Agtech incubator in Europe, supporting start-ups with its programmes, wide network, and early stage support. StartLife was co-founded by Wageningen University & Research. More information can be found here:

PHW Group
The PHW Group, based in Rechterfeld in Lower Saxony, employs 6,772 people and has a total turnover of around 2.48 billion euros producing and marketing high-quality poultry specialities such as chicken, turkey and duck under the Wiesenhof brand. Other areas of business include animal nutrition and animal health, as well as human nutrition and human health in a group of more than 35 independent companies. More information can be found here:

Additional information:
Engel & Zimmermann AG
Management Consultancy for Communication
Maria Große Böckmann
Schloss Fußberg, Am Schlosspark 15, 82131 Gauting
Phone: 0049(0)89/89 35 633, Fax: 0049(0)89/89 39 84 29

Startups and Startife at the World Wide Wageningen Alumni Day, lots of fun!

More than 1500 alumni enjoyed the great demo’s and tastes of Startups Saturday 23rd of June on Wageningen Campus.

With the theme Sustainable Food & Nutrition, startups showed themselves to the audience.
Umameat’s, Mendelt Tillema:

“I got a lot more out of it than I ever dreamed off”

Also Burgs Foods and Botanic Bites prepared their food live at the festival area. In2Care joined the StartLife tent, showing off their great invention in collaboration with Noldus, the Eave Tube, to the international alumni, who off course were very curious about their product.

No Fairytailes and Seamore presented their food products by using One for the Road at the Food truck Festival.




StartLife trained young entrepreneurs at the Masterclass in Greece

Heraklion, June 12, 2018
Press Release: Masterclass on Agri-Entrepreneurship

The annual Agri-Food Masterclass on Entrepreneurship, the intensive Masterclass on entrepreneurship in the agri-food sector, took place this year in Heraklion, Crete, June 6-8, 2018. Teams/start-ups with activities in the fields of agri-food and agro/bio-technology participated at the Masterclass. The Masterclass is initiated and supported by the Netherlands Embassy in Athens and the Wageningen-based organization StartLife. This year the co-organizers are the Foundation for Research & Technology-Hellas (FORTH), the Science & Technology Park of Crete (STEP-C), the Technological Educational Institute of Crete (TEI of Crete) with the support of the Region of Crete, the Chamber of Heraklion and the Pancreta Bank.  The first price was won by Manos Lerakis and Elena Digenaki, from AVOEL, a company producing, upon scientific research, fresh products, all made from fresh avocado pulp. See more at The winning team will have the opportunity to participate in the incubation program of Start Life at Wageningen Campus for 4-6 weeks with individual mentoring, support and seminars!

The 3-day Masterclass supported Cretan start-ups work on their business propositions, develop entrepreneurial competences, optimize their business idea, network and explore the business possibilities of the European and world market. The Masterclass was delivered by StartLife, the leading Dutch incubator for food & agri startups. StartLife, in the past 6 years has supported more than 200 start-ups, is part of the Food Valley region, and located on the campus of Wageningen University & Research, a leading academic institution worldwide in the field of food, agriculture and life sciences. The company  Tropos Branding Co  trained the selected start-ups in communication skills – vital for setting up a business.

The event is an initiative and held with the kind support of the Netherlands Embassy in Athens, as part of its aim to support youth entrepreneurship in the agri-food sector, but also share Dutch knowledge and expertise to enable young entrepreneurs strengthen the start-up eco-system in Greece, see Incubator Orange Grove.

“Greece has the potential to become a much larger vegetable producer for Europe and beyond”, says the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Greece, Caspar Veldkamp. “But you need a boost in innovation and entrepreneurship to get there. We have the expertise available for such a boost and are happy to share our knowledge”, says the Ambassador. “There is much talent in Greece. I believe it is important to nurture such talent, which will boost the Greek economy and create business partners for Europe’s and Greece’s future. The Agri-Food Masterclass is called into life to give talent a boost and promote entrepreneurship. We want to support the regional networks by engaging them in more entrepreneurial thinking. I believe there is still a lot to do further improve”.

Additional information is available on the Masterclass website or give us a call: +30 210 725 4932.

Agri Food masterclass greece crete

F&A Next 2018 Rocked!

We did it! With all of you visiting Wageningen Campus last May, we made F&A Next the place to be. F&A Next makes it possible to be in the same room with some of today’s food & agtech rock stars. More than 550 visitors packed the seats across two days to follow and participate in presentations and panel discussions about robotics, transforming food tech, protein alternatives, and agtech and more. F&A startups, investors and experts took the stage and networked with the crowd.

For more impressions, quotes and backgrounds, read more on the F&A website.

startups investors corporates F&A Next event WUR

Edwin Bark: “Startup should test, learn and go fast” | Mentor Story

Edwin Bark recently became mentor of Hacklent, a startup from StartLife’s community. Currently Managing Director Tivall Europe, the Vegetarian Meal Solutions division of the Nestlé Group, Edwin is a senior executive who gained experience in the personal care, consumer healthcare and Food&Agri industry. He has worked extensively in the fields of Marketing, Sales and General Management and is passionate about Brands in the FMCG industry. As an investor, Edwin is involved in startups in marketing & advertising tech ( and acts as a board advisor to private equity as well.

Through his most recent roles in Food&Agri, as well as in Consumer healthcare, Edwin developed a strong interest in health and sustainability topics. While investigating the possibilities to build an eco-system of innovation around Nestlé’s Tivall Europe, he got involved in StartLife and became very enthusiastic about the StartLife program and the opportunity to share his experience with young entrepreneurs. He recently became a mentor for Hacklent and also started conversations with Van Holland Zalm.

Hacklent’s unique proposition as a shakeable meal for E-sporters, based on all-natural ingredients (freeze-dried vegetables and fruits) with the possibility to personalize and match the Recommended Daily Intake, is clearly related to Edwin’s experience in the Nutritional Supplements industry. The match proved excellent. Edwin was able to give Jordi Bekker, founder of Hacklent, feedback in the field of concept development, go-to-market strategy and branding.

Edwin has seen several startups optimizing and changing their proposition (pivoting) without quick market validation. The advantage of startups (versus big corporates) is their ability to test, learn and go fast, so that’s what they have to do. And this requires focus. Quite often, the entrepreneurs see plenty of opportunities and have difficulties in choosing one of them. Startups should think big and act big, but start small and focused.

Edwin is open to a conversation with other startups from the StartLife network. You can contact Caroline Bijkerk, Manager Community StartLife, if you would like to get in touch with Edwin.

More information about the Mentoring Programme can be read here.

BDO Insight: Is the Agri and Food sector ready for the new privacy law; ‘AVG’?

Due to the increasing media attention for data leaks and internet fraud, people realize more than ever where their data is stored. The safety of IT systems is also in the spotlights. In the Netherlands, the privacy rules are laid down in the “Algemene Verordening Gegevensbescherming” (AVG). This European law (originally the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)) will be formally effective as of May 25, 2018. Julien Spronck, senior manager cybersecurity, and Meryem Sabotic-Deniz, senior Manager Audit & Assurance of BDO, advise companies (lots of them being agri and food companies) how they can prepare themselves. “Companies didn’t focus on implementing the privacy legislation internally and now there is a lot of catching up to do. That demands action!”

With four weeks to go before the AVG, the advisers notice, some companies are getting nervous. “Companies now know that the AVG is coming, that the rules are fairly strict and that there will be no extension after 25 May,” Meryem says. “The situation can vary a lot per company and the terminology is difficult to understand for many companies. We get a lot of questions about how we can make this regulation practical, so that companies can apply it. That is why we have made a six-step plan to get started. Questions that come up for discussion are: What sensitive information do you have as a company? What are your risks for the organization, etc. ”

Quick Scan

“We often start by making a quick scan of our clients, because it makes a difference whether it consists of five or five thousand FTEs and whether the company is active internationally or only in the Netherlands”, Julien continues. “It’s hard to judge how strict the law is going to be in the end, perhaps it will not be as strict as expected. And the question is not how big the fines will be in case of a violation, but that you as a company can demonstrate that you deal with privacy-sensitive information in a decent manner (privacy policy). Because every organization works with personal data, it affects everyone. A privacy policy does not require you to think of complicated things, but you have to have on paper who you are, what you do and what rights people have. Or you have to explain what you need privacy information for and why you do or do not store it. ”

“Management boards are sometimes inclined to delegate matters such as the AVG to the accountant, for example, but that is not the intention and not according to the law,” Meryem warns. “Of course, a director or chairman of the board of directors does not have to find out everything himself. However, he or she ultimately bears the responsibility. There is a management liability attached to the AVG for a good reason.”

Data quality is an issue

In the agri and food sector the data quality in particular is a hot issue. “Because of the tight margins, companies want to realize chain optimization, for which a lot of data is collected through multiple tools. There is a lot of registration in the chain, but the security and knowledge around it is often not so good, so it is important to prevent data leaks”, Meryem continues. “Often these things are in the hands of external system administrators, but that is no excuse. Even if you outsource it, you have the responsibility to ensure that it is in order, and sometimes things such as removing backups for software vendors still require a lot of work.”

“Our clients also have difficulty with the legal aspects: a processor document is seen as a heavy legal document and you have to set it up carefully. That’s is why we always advise our clients to make clear requirements together, which both parties have to comply with. That is much better than agreeing nothing and ending up in a discussion who is guilty,” says Julien. He sees the AVG as a good step for privacy. “I am very positive about at least 80% of the legislation, it means that companies in the chain make good agreements about privacy issues and I also see commitment in the chain to tackle this properly. For example, applying for a visa for colleagues who go abroad and making a copy of the passport without permission from the staff member concerned. The AVG now produces documents where the concerned colleague can give his/her consent to use this information.”

“In addition, the AVG is not a set law and strongly depends on the specific characteristics of the organization. You cannot simply copy a template from another company, but the AVG forces you to look carefully at your own situation. In my view it is more an obligation to commit than a result obligation. By mapping your own data and privacy policy you can make a risk analysis that is relevant or not relevant to your organization. And the golden rule here is: just use your common sense! If you record the agreements and are transparent about it, which does requires a lot of work, then you’re already good on your way!”

More information

BDO will be happy to help you take steps to implement the AVG. Contact Julien Spronck ( or Meryem Deniz ( for more information or drop by at our open consultation period.

We have an open consultation period on Wednesdays, from 9:00 o’clock to 12:30 o’clock at Plus Ultra and from 13:00 o’clock to 17:00 o’clock at StartHub. An appointment on any other day is possible as well. Just send an e-mail to to make an appointment.

We look forward to meeting you at our office in Plus Ultra Wageningen or StartHub Wageningen.

‘Great vibe’ at the StartLife Community Day

We had a great afternoon with many of you at the StartLife Community Day. Get an impression via these pictures. Thank you so much for your positive energy, great talks and good stories!

As the StartLife team, we are really dedicated to expand our community and make it bigger and stronger. The StartLife Community Day will be held twice a year, with different themes and topics.

With the feedback we received, we will make sure that next time you will make even better connections, in a “great and inspiring ambiance” and “gain valuable contacts and do business” as well!

Again, thank you for being part of our StartLife community and in the meantime we hope to see you at F&A Next!

Jan Meiling, Managing Director StartLife

In case, you would like to send us your input about the event. Please, send us an email.

Unilever R&D signs Partnership Agreement with StartLife Wageningen

Supporting young entrepreneurs with innovative ideas

Startups are not hindered by any status quo and have a radical focus to serve a customer need. Yet often startups need a corporate partner to scale their solutions quicker or to be successful at all. And especially early stage startups need guidance in developing their ideas into proof of concepts and minimum viable products. Unilever R&D is going to help these startups by offering its expertise and facilities to these startups.

StartLife is excited that Unilever R&D is now part of the StartLife community. Moreover with the construction of the new Unilever Foods Innovation Centre on Wageningen Campus, Unilever R&D will be able to offer its knowledge, network and facilities to startups and thereby contributing to a strong foods innovation ecosystem in Wageningen. Together the organizations will support entrepreneurs and their teams as they build their innovative business ideas into global enterprises with a lasting impact.

The official contract signing ceremony on April 13th was performed by Isabelle Esser, Executive Vice President, Research & Development, Foods at Unilever R&D and
Jan Meiling, Managing Director of StartLife. She states: “As part of the Agri-Food Innovation Ecosystem in Wageningen we are able to multiply the impact of our own resources and capabilities with those of the wide variety of external partners that are present here. The input and creativity of startups in the StartLife community will result in creating the innovative power that we need to remain frontrunners in sustainable foods”.

Managing Director Jan Meiling comments on the partnership with: “This is brilliant news for the startup entrepreneurs in our portfolio, they now being able to liaise on a structural bases with a leading multinational food company, on ‘Starbucks distance’!

StartLife is the leading Food & Agtech incubator in Europe, supporting startups with its programs, community and early stage funding schemes. StartLife has been co-founded by Wageningen University & Research

Hudson River Biotechnology raises seed investment round

Press release

Wageningen-based CRISPR start-up accelerates growth

Hudson River Biotechnology (HRB) has raised a strategic investment round, fully funding its current business plan and bringing in a team of experienced investors and entrepreneurs.

Wageningen, 21 March 2018 – HRB is a young and highly innovative agricultural biotech company located in Wageningen (Netherlands). HRB applies novel breeding techniques such as CRISPR to develop new plant traits, and has exclusive access to a novel genetic target identification platform, called SuRE (licensed from Amsterdam-based partner company Gen-X). Their internal R&D pipeline is focused on developing innovative, new traits for plants that are used to produce high-value compounds for the pharma, cosmetics and food industries. In addition, HRB offers their molecular breeding and target identification expertise as an end-to-end service solution for accelerating breeding efforts to plant breeders, seed companies and natural ingredient producers of all sizes. Combined, these efforts ultimately contribute to solving global food challenges such as the need for improved nutritional value or reduced pesticide use.

HRB_plant and scientist

Founded in 2015, HRB combines the business acumen and market knowledge of Rudi Ariaans with the scientific expertise in genetics and consulting experience of Dr. Ferdinand Los. HRB remains one of the few independent players in the agricultural industry – no shares are owned by seed companies – and targets the multi billion-euro agtech market.

“The combination of the proprietary SuRE and CRISPR technology platforms offers a powerful and unique way to improve crop yields and enable more sustainable food production. Both technologies are easy to integrate into existing breeding programs and the targeted approach significantly reduces the time, and therefore costs, needed to develop innovative traits” says Rudi Ariaans, CEO and co-founder of HRB.

Ferdinand Los, CSO and HRB co-founder adds, “SuRE is unique in that it can provide gene regulatory sites in a genome-wide fashion, allowing us to modify gene expression levels via CRISPR—turning the “volume button” of the genes, rather than shutting them off completely. This is highly desirable, as completely removing genes, the more common way CRISPR is used, can often be damaging to the plant. Also, this approach can allow us to increase gene activity without resorting to transgenic methods”.

“We are excited to bring on board such an experienced investor group that has a proven track record of successfully scaling up technology companies” says Ariaans. HRB will use the investment to significantly accelerate growth, by growing the team and expanding R&D activities. The agricultural industry is changing rapidly; being able to offer both a target identification and target transformation service will ensure a leading position for HRB in the fast moving CRISPR environment. “With this new investment, we will create a world-class agtech innovation factory”.

For more information, please contact:

Hudson River Biotechnology B.V.
Rudi Ariaans
Tel: +31.6.8011.4388

How to impress an investor & invest in a startup

On the 28th of February, 4 startups were given the opportunity to pitch in front of a group of private investors at ‘How2Finance’. At the event mentors and business angels from the network of StartLife and OostNL, shared information and learned about startup investment. StartLife and OostNL offered the startups a training from pitch coach Frank Smallegange, to prepare themselves well.

Cut the story board

‘Frank was able to rearrange my pitch without changing my own style’, says Sean Patrick Asiimwe, founder of Green Banana. His startup develops pasta made from green bananas and beans. Sean already had several trainings to improve his pitch, but Frank did surprise him in a positive way. ‘It’s always a challenge to be concise and at the same time provided your audience with the information that they’re specifically interested in. I learned that I could cut down a lot because raising some questions is a good thing.’ With the practical tips from Frank, Sean was able to enjoy his pitch even more: ‘The result of the training was a shorter story. Therefore, I didn’t have to worry so much about running out of time. Although we didn’t pay attention on things like posture or tone of voice, it improved automatically by feeling more comfortable’.

greenbanana gabana pasta sean patrick asiimwe frank smallegange pitch training how2Finance
Frank Smallegange coaching Seam Patrick Asiimwe, founder of GreenBanana

Engaging the audience

Paul-Adrien Genet, co-founder of AgOS, also had a pitch training. His startup had developed a supply chain platform for agricultural businesses. Block chain is a quite technical topic but Frank had sufficient high-tech insight to give relevant feedback. Paul-Adrien had another training previously in which he learned about ‘storytelling’, but investors were a new type of audience for him. ‘With this training, I could select the right information for my investors-pitch. It was really a good experience’, says Paul-Adrien.

Pitfalls in pitching

StartLife choose Frank to arrange these trainings for his enthusiasm and expertise. He has been a pitch trainer for several years now, has a technological background in chemistry and IT and he coaches many startups based at tech accelerators, like HighTechXL, the accelerator in Eindhoven. Franks started coaching as a hobby, but it got a bit out of hand. So, he followed courses all over the world and ended up at Philips, TNO, DSM and tech startup accelerators, as a trainer.

‘Basically a good pitch doesn’t defer much from a pitch based on methods that can be found on internet. But a perfect pitch is always unique. A good pitch will automatically lead to the right Q&A, which is of major importance in a pitch’, says Frank. He always wants to see the passionate person that is pitching, not someone in ‘presentation mode’. According to Frank pitfalls in a pitch are: a) not taking enough time to explain the problem you are solving, b) talking to much about features of a product/service and c) not having a clear ask at the end of your pitch. For a good pitch you should make your audience feel the urgency of the problem you are solving and then show them that your company can solve this in a unique way.

Impressing investors at the event

On Thursday the 28th of February Green Banana, AgOS, Vallei vis and Livestock Robotics pitched in front of investors that just had a refresher course at ‘How2Finance’. Sean Patrick applied the lessons he learned from the pitch training; he skipped large parts of his pitch and focussed on his key points. He was surprised about the result: ‘the audience didn’t realise I had skipped some slides. Actually, it resulted in good questions and thus in great interaction with the investors’.

Also Harm Luisman, co-founder of Vallei vis reacts positive on the event. Harm had a training from Frank as well. ‘Frank helped us to restructure our pitch. The questions and the relatively small group (45 people) led to a good connection with the audience’, says Harm. His company Vallei vis is establishing a fish farm running on waste water stream. Harm: ‘As a result of the event we have made two concrete appointments!’

Christiaan Koolloos, one of the mentors of StartLife startups, left the event with a smile on his face: ‘It was a perfect mix of sharing information and meeting new people’. At the event, Christiaan met private and more established investors: ‘the group was small enough to approach relevant persons and the time-management at the event was great.’

Read more about

The StartLife Mentoring Programme

Investing in our startups

Valuable connections at the Career Day

On the 6th of February the annual ‘Career Day’ took place; a day organised by Wageningen University & Research to link (graduated) students to companies active in the agri & food sector. We received more than 40 job and internship vacancies. Many bright graduates were connected to companies thanks to our startups!

Startup BurgsFoods at the Career Day

“Being present at the Career Day made us aware of the quality of students from Wageningen. Moreover, we learned what kind of job we could offer to students, like the extent of flexibility and the terms of employment”, said Sander Peltenburg, co-founder of BurgsFoods. BurgsFoods develops delicious and healthy cricket based food products. Sander and Anne Luz Pijnenburg from BurgsFoods were one of the startups present at the Career Day. They were glad they could get in touch directly with the applicants of their job openings.

Share your job opening

Startups are always welcome to share their (internship) job openings. Just send us an email!

Founder Story Farmertronics | A machine for farmers of the future

StartLife has an enormous network of startups with inspiring founders. These startups are eager to share their experience with other entrepreneurs. This story is about Thieu Berkers, founder of Farmertronics. Farmertronics develops an unmanned, clean tech tractor to work the land, not running on diesel but electrically driven. It is a cross-over between the sectors high-tech, automotive and agriculture.

Country lad with tech skills

Thieu Berkers used to be a hard-core high-tech machine developer at corporates like ASML and BESI in the Netherlands. Though he loved his job, Thieu sometimes missed the connection to his youth: the farm. In his home town his father still used a horse and later on a diesel tractor to work the land, those were the 1960’s. Thieu made the decision to combine his passion for engineering machines and farming as an entrepreneur, in 2012. First, he studied several options like developing a database or applying drones in agriculture. Eventually, developing a ‘riding platform’ or robot seemed the most promising option, because some farmers are in need of a light and fuel saving tractor.

Thieu Berkers, founder of Farmertronics
Thieu Berkers, founder of Farmertronics
A tractor on a battery

Full of courage, Thieu started to develop the robot, called the eTrac, together with two former colleagues. Unfortunately, his friends were less determined to develop a new product, so Thieu had to go on on his own. Defining and building the tractor took much more time than he had expected. It was to be a light autonomous machine running on electricity, which was able to detect and remove weed automatically. The biggest challenge besides funding, was to find a light but powerful battery that would last long enough to drive the eTrac.

Slow motion farming

Now, 5 years later, the development of a first proof of concept was subsidised by Metropool Regio Eindhoven. First the manual mode of the eTrac will be tested. Secondly, vision and GPS-RTK technology will be added for automatic mechanical weed control. This will be tested at a Dutch endive farmer. This farmer is not using chemical weed killers and pesticides; he already controls the weed in a mechanical way but with a heavy and expensive machine connected to a huge tractor. Crossing his field once with this tractor takes him 11 minutes. During these 11 minutes he is just sitting there, doing nothing. At the end of each row he just has to turn his tractor for a next row. In the future he can program the eTrac upfront to control the weed unmanned and automatically with a much lighter robot.

Help from partners

As an advice for other entrepreneurs, Thieu recommends expanding network and choosing the right partners. Thieu is developing his machine together with ACE engineering & consultancy, a company that had just the right expertise. A company in Deurne called M. Aldenzee LMB, will help him build a prototype. At the moment, Thieu is focussing on the functional properties of the eTrac. Thieu coordinates a team of 4 students of the Avans and Fontys Hogeschool. They are a valuable help in business innovation and the technological development.

Thieu met Frans Kampers, his business coach at StartLife, at a high-tech conference in Eindhoven. Frans provided him with advice to strengthen his case and Thieu further increased his network in Wageningen.

Frans Kampers: “given the high costs and poor availability of human labour in agriculture, the future is in autonomous machines that can do the heavy, dirty, monotonous and repetitive tasks. The sector rapidly develops a demand for the solutions like the one Farmertronics is developing.”

BDO Insights: How strong is the innovation power in your company?

How can your start-up be innovative in proposition, processes or business? And how to use the inaction tax incentives?

25 February 2018 Oscar Sijtsma and Niels Krouwel

Many start-up companies set off with an innovative concept. But how do you move from a good idea to a proof of concept and even more demanding; from a proof of concept to a proof of business? Are you using all available innovation boosts?

BDO can help to make this assessment and advise you on how to structure your innovation processes so you can enjoy all the possible benefits.

An explorative mindset

To come up with an innovative idea you need to be creative, visionary and explorative. You need to think out of the box, have an open mind and look at the outside world seeing what opportunities you see and translate those into a new concept, product or service. As a start-up you probably recognize many of these skills in yourself.
To translate the idea to a proof of concept requires many of the same skills. Like: Experimenting, finding ways to make your idea work and to make this idea robust enough to test it in reality. It is important to check from as many perspectives as relevant that your proof of concept survives the experiments and confrontations with reality. Probably you went to all that and you have a proof of concept.

For (larger) companies that exist a long(er) time the shift to exploration is often a difficult one, as they were (or are) successful in exploitation.

How to get from proof of concept to proof of business

The next step is to develop from proof of concept to a proof of business. This requires a very different set of skills. This phase is completely different: other partners, other financing, other governance, another project leader and team members need to be replaced with people with the now required experience and skills.

The concept needs to be marketed in this phase. You have to acquire leads and prospects, or a partner that does this for you. You need to get access to early adopters in the market. But probably you have not yet thought about the users (buyers) for your idea. And also important; how to find them? A better question to consider is how do they find you? This requires that your concept is visible on the right place and on the right way.

Boost your development

And probably you need bigger investments and for that maybe a financial partner or a venture capitalist.

Maybe you need investors to boost this development. Preferably one that brings you relevant commercial skills and access to the right network and prospects. A practical approach is to gather some interested (and interesting) companies around you to do the transition from proof of concept to proof of business together. This co-development has the advantages that your idea is working in or for several companies before you start you marketing. This marketing plan must be targeted at your early adopters to get access to the early majority.

A broad set of skills

This phase requires skills in business development, investment, company development, marketing, networking, negotiation and convincing. A start-up, entrepreneur or management team will need help on these aspects as their mind-set is that of an innovative character.
The control of the phase to proof of business is less explorative and more managerial and project driven. When you are in this situation you can contact us.

Scope and administration of innovation

Innovation is often seen as an R&D like process to develop new concepts, products or services. However, innovation can be seen in a wider perspective including business process innovation, leadership innovation (development), social innovation, commercial innovation, network innovation or financial/investment innovation.

To be successful in whatever area of innovation a company needs a social setting in which people are safe to come up with ideas and experiment. For that it is important that ideas are considered carefully and not labelled as good or wrong. The person that comes with the idea has to feel free and the team that evaluates ideas has to be open minded.

The process to innovate can be structured. This is the case for the process of generating ideas, so it results in more useable options. Also, the administration and development of idea’s can be structured. Just as a sales funnel, the ideas can be administered and enriched with criteria to prioritize and monitor them. Often there are more ideas and concepts than time and budget to develop them further. With a fixed set of relevant criteria, the most promising ideas can be selected. It may be that an idea is very interesting but that the circumstances are not ready to develop it. It would be a waist that the idea is forgotten when the circumstances are right for it. This is applicable for ideas for product development as well as for ideas in the other innovation areas.

How to guide team thinking towards innovative options?

In many companies that we work with we see, at a certain moment a need to either generate new business with new turnover or to be more successful with the current business. But how can you find innovations that fit your company and are likely to be successful in business?COmpetences team BDO innovation

To enable that creative thinking process we use the model of the innovation egg. By using this model, we discover what core competences your company has on technology, product, market and organization. For many companies this is a difficult struggle because things they are used to and see as normal could be a differentiator for their customers of partners. After finding the core (or key) competences the next exercise is to combine them. In the combinations we try to think about what could be useful. There are no right or wrong combinations. It is more a matter of where is this combination useable and for whom. This will develop ideas and these ideas can be ranked on relevant parameters for the company. The ideas with the best score can be developed into concepts.

The BDO innovation scan: how strong is the innovation power in your company?

An innovative company requires a setting in which people are enabled to be creative, open minded and safe to explore. When a ‘traditional company’ (organized to maximize exploitation) wants this innovative setting the transition can be facilitated with social innovation and organized with our evidence based change approach.
To see how strong the innovation power in your company is we can use the innovation scan. This is based on the work of Charles Leadbeater, a contemporary thought leader on innovation, who made the analogy between evolution and innovation. In the evolution of species some became successful and other extinct. What can we learn from that? Which principles that lead to successful evolution can we use to make a company innovative?

In cooperation (or co-development) with Professor Paul Iske we developed the innovation scan to monitors companies on innovation. Professor Iske has a chair at the Maastricht University on Open BDO Innovation scanInnovation and Business Venturing and is founder of the Institute for Brilliant Failures; a knowledge partner of BDO.

The innovation scan is based on the 9 evolution principles that seemed to be applicable to companies.

Based on the scores by the team that undergoes the scan, we get a picture on the innovation wheel. This brings insights to the team on which dimensions they need to develop to be more successful in innovation.

The innovation scan is tested and used in many companies. From this we detected 8 important lessons to consider when developing a company to be more innovative. These are published in the BDO magazine Anders (translation Different) of December 2016.

Tax incentives for innovation

Innovation requires effort and costs. The Dutch government motivates innovation by offering incentives to companies in the Netherlands that have innovative ambitions. Two tax incentives that reduce tax expenses are available for this purpose: the Research & Development Act (Dutch acronym: WBSO) and the innovation box.

Businesses have much to gain from utilizing available tax incentives. Unfortunately, experience shows that many of them do not make use of all the options that are open to them.

Does your company use the innovation tax incentives? Or don’t you know them? If you are unsure, you may want us to check whether you are utilizing every possible benefit (now that the rules and regulations have changed). BDO has specialists in tax incentives. They combine their knowledge with practical experience of your sector to provide tailor-made services. They can perform an initial scan, which is free of charge, to check what benefits are applicable for your company.

We explain some high lights of the Dutch innovation tax incentives under this link page WBSO and innovation box and on a BDO webpage.


You can invoke the WBSO during the research and development stage of your innovation. This entails a reduction in the payroll tax liability for wage and other costs as well as expenditures associated with the research and development work for your innovation. This reduction may run up to 40%.

This can be used for the development of physical products, physical production processes or technically innovative software or software components or for technological and scientific research.

The tax incentive under the WBSO can be invoked for all manner of developments and can take effect at any time during the research and development process. That said, the opting period is always one full calendar month and the application period spans at least three months within a calendar year.

That is why the deadline for the last possible application in a year is 31 August. An application submitted on that date entitles the applicant to a tax incentive under the WBSO from October up to and including December.

Innovation box

The innovation box offers a reduction on the corporate income tax paid on any profit generated from innovations. Subject to meeting the conditions, you will owe no more than 7% corporate income tax on your ‘innovative’ income. With effect of 1 January 2017, a patent or plant variety right alone is no longer sufficient to qualify for the innovation box. To demonstrate that you have self-developed an innovation, qualification under the WBSO is now the decisive criterion. Large businesses with a global revenue of more than 250 million euros over five years or income from innovations of more than 37.5 million euros over five years are required to meet additional criteria, i.e.:

  • a patent or plant variety right (granted or requested);
  • software;
  • authorization for marketing a medicine;
  • a protection certificate from the Netherlands Patent Office;
  • a registered utility model to protect an innovation (not being a design right).

The innovation box can be applied to the years in which the conditions are being met. Contrary to the WBSO, the innovation box can be applied with retroactive effect to all years for which the corporate income tax assessment is not final yet.

More information

BDO will be happy to help you take steps to improve your innovative skills and company environment or to help you towards your proof of business. Our specialists can rely on their expertise and knowledge to advise in your specific situation.

We have an open consultation period on Wednesdays, from 9:00 o’clock to 12:30 o’clock at Plus Ultra and from 13:00 o’clock to 17:00 o’clock at StartHub* in Wageningen.
To make an explorative appointment to talk about your situation or ideas just send an e-mail to Oscar Sijtsma on For tax incentives for innovation you can contact Niels Krouwel on

Register now for our Innovation Workshop: Creating added Value through Change on 12 JuneThis workshop is a joint initiative by BDO, RVO and EP&C.

We look forward to meeting you and consider options and ideas.

*Plus Ultra building; Brondland 12H, Wageningen, StartHub; Vijfde Polder 1, Wageningen

Subsidy for a feasibility project via PNO

Do you want subsidy for a feasibility project? PNO Consultants helps!

The MIT-feasibility subsidy finances a feasibility project for 40% of the eligible costs (maximum 25.000 euro). A feasibility project consists of a feasibility study, or a combination of a feasibility study and experimental development or industrial research.

The purpose of the subsidy ‘Stimulating Innovation of SMEs in region and top sectors (in Dutch: MKB Innovatiestimulering Regio en Topsectoren (MIT))’ is to strengthen the engagement of SMEs in in innovation activities within the top sectors and beyond region borders. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are crucial to innovation and to strengthening the economy. The sectors involved are the following: Horticulture & Agriculture; Chemicals & Energy with cross-cutting theme Biobased; Creative Industry; High Tech Systems & Materials; Life Sciences & Healthcare; Logistics; Water and Agriculture & Food.

Are you interested? For more information you can contact

Software to optimize yields | Founder Story AgriSim

StartLife has an enormous network of startups with inspiring founders. These startups are eager to share their experiences with other entrepreneurs. This story is about Ronald de Bruijn, founder of AgriSim. AgriSim uses big-data, technology and algorithms to optimize farms (agri and livestock), by creating options for better decision-making in farming and land-use. With the tools AgriSim develops, farmers will be able to choose the crops, fruits and/or vegetables that fit them best in terms of physical and economic results. And thus increase cost effectiveness.

Successful traineeship

Ronald de Bruijn studied Economics and Econometrics in Amsterdam. He started his career at (what is now known as) Kappa Packaging; a multinational paper and cardboard company with Dutch roots. Although Ronald was a trainee, he was able to increase the annual revenue of the company with millions of Euros. He managed to reduce the costs of purchases by writing a business plan and setting up a strong international network.

Russian paper factory

The management of Kappa Packaging gave Ronald a second challenge; to establish a paper factory in Russia. Ronald threw himself in the deep end, did a crash course in Russian and moved to Russia. After two years the factory was up and running. Mission accomplished. Afraid of being bored as well as taking over too much of the Russian habits, Ronald decided to start his own company. After changing his non-compete clause at Kappa, Ronald opted for his next challenge at competitor IP (International Paper) as an independent consultant.

Business plans in Turkey

During his consultancy work for IP, Ronald met Roel Pieper, known for his position at Philips and for the famous book the “Broncode”. Together, the two established several companies in Russia, Georgia and, in a later stage, in Turkey. For example the Turkish department of MyJet based on the very light jets of Eclipse Aviation; a company that introduced the concept of “air-taxi”. Later, Ronald also established a web analytics company, Advertisement, that built algorithm software as well as software programs. Ronald’s entrepreneurial activities drew the attention of the Turkish Minister of Agriculture; they asked him to investigate how the crop yields in Turkey could be improved. For this project the Ministry provided Ronald with years of data on all Turkish subsidized crops. It was this moment that Ronald realized the value of it. This big pile of data couldn’t only explain low yields in Turkey, it could also help to predict yields!

European network

From 2015 on, Ronald build the yield predicting tool. He interviewed farmers to create algorithms with his team. Meanwhile he got subsidies, grants and enlarged his European network. In 2017 Ronald applied for an intake at StartLife. “StartLife has great connections with the university, giving me the opportunity to collaborate with agricultural experts and exchange valuable knowledge”, says Ronald.

Hans de Haan, business coach of AgriSim: “Ronald brings a lot of international commercial experience with him, and a team with ICT expertise. AgriSim knows its target market well and has the skills on board to operate it. The team has the capacity to quickly convert ideas into practical applications and thus grow quickly.”

A few months ago Ronald moved back to the Netherlands with his family. Now, Ronald obtained his first launching client in Turkey.

Advice for entrepreneurs

Ronald has over ten years’ experience as an entrepreneur. As an advice for other entrepreneurs he recommends to adapt to the culture with which you’re doing business. For example, Ronald once made the mistake of refusing to drink alcohol at a Russian negotiation meeting. Refusing a drink during a meeting is ‘not done’ in Russia so this resulted in a cancelled deal. Secondly, Ronald really recommends being modest when spending money at early stages of a company’s establishment; be selective in expenses, reserve at least 30% of the budget for marketing and do thorough research on customer’s needs before spending any money.

agrisim founder story big-data, technology and algorithms soft-ware to optimize yields
Ronald de Bruijn ready to take a soil sample

Get in touch with ronald

BDO Insights: Why an effective strategy is necessary to grow further!


You have successfully navigated the first phase of starting your own business, but have now reached a stage where you want to go to the next level and perform better. You need a qualified adviser and coach, who can help you with the growth of your business. Someone who asks positive yet critical questions and assists you with ideas.

We do so by using the BDO Revenue Monitor. The monitor helps you analyse your improvement potential in terms of both quantity and quality. On the basis of nine performance fields it is set out clearly where you can realize profits. The monitor is unique because it makes an estimate of your improvement potential in hard Euros. And you can work with that.

Every month BDO, Premium Partner of StartLife, will introduce one of the nine performance fields to you by asking critical questions, providing you with tips or sharing insights and perspectives with you through cases and interviews.

This time: Strategy!

From Strategy to Resultbdo revenue monitor startups startlife

Doing business successfully often means responding to customer needs and market developments as innovatively as possible. Business models are continuously subject to change and it is therefore important to regularly dwell on your business strategy. Below you will find some questions that will assist you with doing so.

Customer and market orientation
  • Do you have an overview of market opportunities and are you in constant contact with your (potential) customer about his (latent) needs?
  • Does this lead to adjustment of your strategy and does this translate to your business
Organization knowledge
  • Do you have insight into the crucial qualities, risks, attention and improvement points within your company?
  • Do you evaluate this regularly and does this lead to a specific adjustment?
Ambition and growth
  • Are your business objectives clear, realistic and anchored within your organization?
  • Is it also clear which product-market combinations offer the most perspective?

FrieslandCampina on Risk and Strategy

Dutch dairy giant FrieslandCampina is a globally active company. Assessing external risks, identifying potential flashpoints and compiling an effective strategy to tackle them can’t simply be done from the head office in the Netherlands. ‘Think global, act local’ is the dairy multinational’s motto.

What score would Hans Laarakker give FrieslandCampina for converting risks into strategy?

‘An 8. On the whole, we have a good grasp of external risks. We’re striking a good strategic balance between the short and long terms.’

Do you want to know more about the strategy and risks of FrieslandCampina, download the full article here: Scope – FrieslandCampina.

More information

BDO will be happy to help you take steps to improve your strategy or on one of the other 8 performance fields.

We have an open consultation period on Wednesdays, from 9:00 o’clock to 12:30 o’clock at Plus Ultra and from 13:00 o’clock to 17:00 o’clock at StartHub. An appointment on any other day is possible as well. Just send an e-mail to to make an appointment.

We look forward to meeting you at our office in Plus Ultra Wageningen or StartHub Wageningen.

FreshStrips won the Golden KIEM Award

FreshStrips has won the Golden KIEM Award including 25K for product research. With the Golden KIEM, NWO, the top sector Chemistry and InnovationLink, annually award the best chemical start-up. FreshStrips is a new StartLife startup that develops smart-packaging solutions that inform consumers on the quality of food products.

For more information on FreshStrips check their website: 

For the (Dutch) news article check:

Collaboration StartLife startups & Makro results in healthy burger

As part of StartLife’s cooperation with METRO, wholesale specialist Makro helped several food startups to develop their products further and prepare for market introduction. Together with Groentenbrood (bread with vegetables), Botanic Bites (vegan burgers based on vegetables) and  Organic Love (healthy mayonnaise based on vegetables), Makro created a super healthy burger: a tomato or seaweed burger, served on crispy carrot bread with delicious fresh garnish and pumpkin or carrot mayonnaise. The burger can be tried at the Makro Foodcourts now!

Makro shops in the Netherlands, startups can get a stage at the Network Squares. Read more about them (in Dutch) at


The METRO AG is an internationally leading specialist in wholesale and food retail. METRO operates in 35 countries and employs more than 150,000 people around the world. In 2015/16, METRO achieved sales of around €37 billion. The company provides custom solutions to meet the regional and international needs of its wholesale and retail customers. More information is available at


Founder Story BLUE-tec | A breakthrough in waste water treatment

StartLife has an enormous network of startups with inspiring founders. These startups are eager to share their experience with other entrepreneurs. This story is about Lex van Dijk, founder of BLUE-tec. BLUE-tec uses forward osmosis to treat waste water in a sustainable way. The technique is revolutionary in the water treatment industry and has applications in the food industry as well

Valuable waste

Lex van Dijk studied Environmental Technology in Wageningen. During his time in Wageningen he became interested in filtration techniques and methods for extracting valuable compounds from waste (streams). After a few years working as a consultant, Lex felt he wanted to start a business. In 1996, Lex encountered the membrane bioreactor. He discovered that it was a technique with many potential applications that weren’t, until then, used much in general. He decided to establish a company: Triqua. At Triqua, Lex tested and sold techniques to treat waste water, using a membrane bioreactor. After 12 successful years, implementing various new techniques and finding many international partners, Lex sold the company. “Time for something new”, said his ‘entrepreneurial mind’ and so he went.

Waste in a pressure-cooker

In 2008 Lex discovered another filtration technique: thermal hydrolysis, which is hydrolysis but then using a kind of pressure-cooker technique. He raised a new company: Sustec, to treat waste (or sludge) in a sustainable way. Sludge is the 10% waste that is left after waste water is treated by bacteria. Although Sustec’s goal was to reuse and recycle sludge, Lex wasn’t satisfied. Sludge comprises only a small part of the total waste water. Due to the bacterial treatment, most compounds are lost (or “eaten” if you like). “Why isn’t there a way to save more valuable compounds?”, Lex thought. With BLUE-tec he wanted to make a change in the waste water industry.

Success factors

Within a year, BLUE-tec was established and fully operational. Lex didn’t have many problems establishing this third company. StartLife could offer him a soft loan. His advice for other startups : “Don’t be opportunistic in choosing your partners”. Lex thinks it is really important to share the same vision with people you will collaborate for a certain time. “Don’t make this a rational decision. Listen to your gut feeling”.

What Lex’s success factor was? Lex thinks he has gained the right experienced and met the right people during his career. In many cases, people are willing to do business simply because they like you. Not because of scientific evidence. It’s about emotions and a factor of goodwill: “disruptive startups are the most creative and the fastest growing companies that are loved by everyone”. The reason these companies are successful, is the same as the reason they “die” easily: sometimes their story is great, but their business model isn’t fool proof.

Many disruptive startups have small teams. These teams can act much faster, as decisions don’t have to be considered by a large management. Enabling startups to make larger but more risky steps. On the other hand, having a small team can be demanding, because a broad set of skills is needed to run the company. Lacking a competence can mean the end. Besides that, Lex doesn’t believe that entrepreneurship can be learned: “it should be in your nature”.

Breakthrough technique

BLUE-tec uses forward osmosis to treat waste water in a sustainable way. Forward osmosis splits waste water into clean water and sludge. It can greatly concentrate sludge, without spoiling valuable nutrients. This enables users to recycle the “waste” even better. Moreover, waste doesn’t have to be dissolved in water, saving precious water. The technique is not only applicable for waste water treatment, but also in the food industry.  “Many food manufacturers vaporize liquid products to obtain more solid end-products using a lot of energy. At the moment, we help food manufacturers to implement systems using forward osmosis.”, says Lex. “Using forward osmosis to treat waste water, like BLUE-tec, could become a real breakthrough in the industry!”, says Lex, “I will put my heart and guts into this company till I am retired”.

Would you like to know more about BLUE-tec?

Visit the website

Get in touch with BLUE-tec

WUR scientist create value with research results at the ESG Challenge

Project managers and senior scientists of the Environmental Sciences Group (ESG) of Wageningen University & Research (WUR) have formed teams around recent project results in search for further valorization. The goal was to develop proposals for new projects, products, patents, partnerships, grants or startups.

Call for ideas

A call for promising research ideas resulted in the formation of 16 teams, which were invited to submit a proposal for the Valorization Challenge in October. These teams, with people from different chair groups, were  coached by StartLife and ESG program managers to develop their propositions. The submitted proposals were ranked in a selection procedure on October 9th by the program team, consisting of Gitte Schober, Charon Zondervan, Tim Daalderop, Saskia Visser and Tim van Hattum. Proposals were ranked based on three criteria; quality of the proposal, potential of the idea in the market and strategic fit with the ESG strategy. Seven ideas were selected and invited to participate in the Valorization Challenge: Bomenplatform 3.0, WaterApps, Leadership 2 degrees, City Water Bank, Waste Water Connectsus, Cascade and CS4A.

Valorization Challenge

In the lovely surroundings of Wolfheze, the 7 teams were using the Business Model Canvas to develop a proposition based on their own research. In discussions with coaches, through pitching their propositions and integrating all feedback they sharpened their ideas and developed a concrete roadmap for a product or service targeted at an identified customer or European project tender.

esg challenge valorization WUR startup business idea

Expert Jury

The jury consisted of Sebastiaan Berendse (Director Value Creation WUR), Charon Zondervan (Program Coordinator Environmental Sciences Group), Theo Xenakis (Innovation Officer Climate-KIC) and Chris Veerkamp (Innovation Manager Groeifabriek, AGP). The prize for the most promising ‘startup’ idea, made available by Climate-KIC, was won by Bomenplatform 3.0. The prize for the best innovative idea was won by CS4A (Climate Services for Agriculture).


Team Bomenplatform 3.0, represented by Henk Janssen and Onno Roosenschoon, won a free access to the first Climate Launch Path, the accelerator program of Climate-KIC. CS4A, represented by Karianne de Bruin, won a prize worth 15k€, to help them further develop their ideas towards implementation.

Follow up

All teams, who submitted a proposal for the valorization challenge will receive support from ESG and StartLife in the development of their propositions.


In case you’re interested in one of the 7 innovations or the experiences of the team, please contact Saskia Visser:

Interested in a business challenge at your department? Please, contact Gitte Schober:

esg challenge valorization WUR startup business idea C4SA
Team Bomenplatform 3.0
esg challenge valorization Bomenplatform 3.0 WUR startup business idea
Team CS4A

(photocredits: Sven Menschel)

Agri-food Masterclass supported the Greek startup scene

The annual Agri-Food Masterclass on Entrepreneurship took place in Greece from 3-5 November. Eighteen startups participated the 3-day Masterclass. The Masterclass was initiated and supported by the Netherlands Embassy in Athens and the Wageningen-based organization StartLife. The first prize was won by Eleni Gogou, from startup Natural Food Additives. She gets the opportunity to participate in the incubation program of StartLife in Wageningen.

Interested in a business challenge at your department? Please, contact Gitte Schober:

Read more about the Masterclass below.

orange grove patras masterclass greece startlife startup

Press Release

Orange Grove Agri-Food Masterclass Patras 3-5 November 2017

 The annual rotating Agri-Food Masterclass on Entrepreneurship took place this year in Patras, from 3 to 5 November. In total, 18 start-ups with activities in the fields of agri-food, agri- and bio-technology, rural tourism and related services were selected to participate. The Masterclass is initiated and supported by the Netherlands Embassy in Athens and the Wageningen-based organization StartLife. This year the local co-organizers were incubator Orange Grove Patras, Patras Science Park and Aroma Innovation Hub. The 3-day Masterclass aimed to help start-ups work on their business propositions, develop entrepreneurial skills, optimize their business ideas, network and explore the business possibilities within the European and world market. The first prize was won by Eleni Gogou, from start-up Natural Food Additives.

Final pitches

The start-ups participated in an educational program and received training and coaching from Dutch experts from Wageningen University & Research (WUR). On Sunday evening November 5 the start-ups competed against each other in a pitching event, where a winner was selected. The start-ups presented their business models, improved throughout the weekend, to an audience of players in the agri-food scene.

Dutch agri-food incubator

The Masterclass was conducted by StartLife, a leading Dutch organization operative within the field of development of entrepreneurship in the agri-food sector. In the past 6 years, StartLife helped more than 170 start-ups develop innovations. StartLife belongs to the Food Valley region, centered at Wageningen University & Research, one of the most prominent agri-food and nutrition research centers in Europe. The company Tropos Branding Co trained the selected start-ups in communication and media skills – vital for setting up a business.


The event is initiated and supported by the Netherlands Embassy in Athens, as part of its aim to support young entrepreneurship and share Dutch knowledge and expertise to strengthen the start-up ecosystem in Greece. Local co-organizers of the event were: non-profit organization Orange Grove Patras, the new co-working space and incubator in Patras supporting start-ups in Western Greece through 6-month incubation programs; Patras Science Park, an incubator for tech companies, offering hosting and support to over 20 businesses in Western Greece; Aroma Innovation Hub, a joint initiative by Patras Science Park encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship in the agri-food sector and plant-based health products. The Masterclass was furthermore made possible by FrieslandCampina, Athenian Brewery, and Fibair broadband, along with the support of Tentoura Castro, PAXMAN and LAV, and communication sponsors Athens News Agency – Macedonian Press Agency (ANA-MPA), and Ypaithros Chora.

Valuable prizes

The winner Eleni Gogou from start-up Natural Food Additives gets the opportunity to participate in the incubation program of StartLife in Wageningen for 4-6 weeks, where she will follow seminars and receive individual mentoring and support. A free return flight ticket to the Netherlands will be provided by Orange Grove Athens. Last but not least, Natural Food Additives will have the possibility to participate in the pitching event at the 2018 edition of F&A Next – an event where investors and agri-food start-ups meet.

Much potential

“Greece has the potential to become a much larger vegetable producer for Europe and beyond”, says the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Greece, Caspar Veldkamp. “But you need a boost in innovation and entrepreneurship to get there. We have the expertise available for such a boost and are happy to share our knowledge”, says the Ambassador. “There is much talent in Greece. I believe it is important to nurture such talent, which will boost the Greek economy and create business partners for Europe’s and Greece’s future. The Agri-Food Masterclass is called into life to give talent a boost and promote entrepreneurship. I am therefore happy to announce we will organize the Agri-Food Masterclass again next year, this time in Crete.”

More information

Additional information is available on the Masterclass website. Can’t find the information you’re looking for? Email us:, or give us a call: +30 6 94 294 1886. As the Agri-Food Masterclass is an annual and rotating event, the 2018 edition will take place in Crete. We look forward to another educative and fun Masterclass!

orange grove patras masterclass greece startlife startup

Four startups won a collaboration with Makro

As part of cooperation with METRO, Makro invited 4 StartLife startups to their “network-square” in Nieuwegein on the 10th of October.

Groentenbrood, Oatelli, Botanic Bites and Organic Love got the opportunity to present their product (or concept) to a critical food-innovation panel. Their presentations were inspiring, enthusiastic and very tasty. All of them “won” a collaboration!

Groentenbrood (bread with vegetables) and Botanic Bites (vegan burgers based on vegetables) are ready to hit the shelves and Makro will help both to enter the market immediately. Oatelli (pasta based on oats) and Organic Love (healthy mayonnaise based on vegetables) are being helped to develop their products further and prepare for market introduction.

Read more about the network squares (in Dutch):

Are you interested in collaborating with METRO or Makro? Please, let US know!

startlife partner makro startup food
Startups Groentenbrood, Oatelli, Botanic Bites and Organic Love at Makro in front of the jury

Founder Story | Onszaden

StartLife has an enormous network of startups with inspiring founders. These startups want to share their experience with other entrepreneurs. This story is about Sander Onsman founder of Onszaden, a company that sells foreign seeds.

Teacher or entrepreneur

Sander studied biology in Wageningen. He wasn’t an ordinary biology student. Sander was interested in entrepreneurship, teaching and organising events. During his studies he organised the annual Open Days of the university and also  finished a teacher training program. Although finishing his Bachelor didn’t go fast, no time was wasted. “Doing different activities during your study, helps students to make a better choice for their future career”, says Sander, “in the end, I found my mission”.

Hobby project

Before Sander (Onsman) started his studies, he had already registered his company “Onszaden” at the Chamber of Commerce. He wasn’t sure if he would really do something with it, but at least it gave him the opportunity to experiment and build his own web shop. On the website Sander sold exotic seeds. During his study he ran the business and ordered seeds from all over the world. Like that wasn’t challenging enough, he had to collect, repack, send and store all goods in his tiny student house.

Beers and ideas at the cafe

The networking gatherings Sander visited regularly during his study proved valuable. There he met people that liked to discuss their business plans and drink a beer or two. It gave Sander the opportunity to test his ideas about expanding his web shop. The friends at the café discouraged some ideas but gave him confirmation too. Sander: “The drinks at the café were a bit like the Entrepreneurial Drinks at StartHub. Though, they often continued until  much later…”.

Sympathizers at StartHub

Via friends Sander had met at the drinks, he rented a flex-office at StartHub. “Working together in a building with other entrepreneurs was really motivating. Talking with them tuned my ideas”, says Sander. At that time, StartLife awarded Onszaden with a Young Hero Award. Later, Sander received a Student Startup Loan from StartLife to increase his sales and hire employees. When, suddenly, a shop-premises became available at a great spot in the city centre of Wageningen, Sander made the decision to expand his web shop with a physical shop.

Flourishing business

onszaden web shop winkel wageningen bijzondere exotic zaden seeds startlife startup

It seems Sander has found a niche market. His collection of seeds can be found in the shop, on the web, in several magazines and even in an plant encyclopaedia composed by the University of Groningen. Now, a year after the official opening of his shop in Wageningen, sales are still increasing. Sander: “Entrepreneurship suits me well. My ambition? I want to expand the sales and enter the international market. By doing that, Onszaden can become so big, we will be able to really make a difference for small seed farmers abroad.”

Get in touch with Sander Onsman

Go to

Free advice from BDO | walk-in office hours

Getting your business investor ready!

Of all the SME businesses that apply for financing every year almost a third  (29%*) get turned down. The supply of alternative financing models is growing. SME businesses looking for financing for their company can now get extra help from BDO Accountants & Advisers.

Get in touch with our BDO expert Rachel Dibbets

Alternative financing models
BDO not only gives a clear overview of the financing options available from banks, but also of alternative investment models such as venture capital, mezzanine loans, crowd funding and crowd equity. They support entrepreneurs throughout the entire financing process, from the initial plans until the required money is in their bank accounts.

Figures from the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB) show that one fifth of the total investment capital in the SME sector is now supplied by alternative lending models, such as leases, factoring constructions and venture capital companies. “This proportion will only increase,” says Victor Verstappen, Senior Manager at BDO’s SME Financing Solutions.

Suitable investor
BDO has found that it is this growing number of alternative financing tools that makes it more and more difficult for entrepreneurs to see the wood from the trees. They are often aware of other options, but are looking for a reliable partner who knows their businesses’ figures and plans and can convert this knowledge into a well-substantiated application that they can submit to a suitable investor. “That is what we do,” says Verstappen. “Furthermore, it takes us a lot less time to arrange favourable conditions for matters such as guarantees, repayment periods or handling fees. That can sometimes save a company thousands of Euros a year.”

If you have any questions, please contact Rachel Dibbets: +31 (0)318 439300 or

Open walk in:

Wednesday 9-12.30 am: partner room StartLife, Plus Ultra Bronland 12H, Wageningen. Wednesday 13-17 pm: expert room, StartHub Wageningen, Vijfde Polder 1, Wageningen Campus.

Rachel dibbets BDO accountants and consultants startlife startup
Rachel Dibbets, Senior Advisor at BDO






* figures from research company Panteia, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) and De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB)

Free advice from Rabobank | walk-in office hours

StartLife start-ups can get financial advice from the Teckle-team; the innovative side of Rabobank. Joey Borgers, start-up coordinator and member of the Teckle-team at Rabobank Vallei en Rijn, is looking forward to meeting entrepreneurs!

Get in touch with our Rabobank expert Joey

Joey Borgers: “Bringing an innovation to the market successfully requires a good plan and a lot of patience. The Rabobank’s Teckle-team helps starting and experienced entrepreneurs to bring their innovations to market. The financing of innovations, from the pre-seed phase onwards, requires special expertise which we can offer in abundance. We are a sparring partner, consultant and critic all in one and offer you an extensive network. Teckle is as innovative as the innovators we focus on: not afraid to take risks and driven to take on new challenges together with other entrepreneurs. Teckle is considered the innovative side of Rabobank Vallei & Rijn thanks to our ability to sniff out innovations!”

Open walk in:

Wednesday 9-12 am: partner room StartLife, Plus Ultra Bronland 12H, Wageningen.
Wednesday 13-17 pm: StartHub Wageningen, Vijfde Polder 1, Wageningen Campus.

Or make an appointment with Joey:

Joey Borgers start-up startlife agri food partner expert
Joey Borgers, start-up coordinator at Rabobank

New Program Partner PNO Consultants, offers discount on WBSO (R&D tax credit)

Technological development is rewarding!

The WBSO enables you to reduce your R&D costs – not just wage costs, but also other expenses associated with your R&D project, such as the cost of prototypes or research equipment.

Companies who have technically novel projects can apply for WBSO. It is important that the technical novelty of the product or software can be demonstrated, e.g. by providing information on the technical challenges. The WBSO covers part of the wage costs in the form of a reduction in the salaries tax and social insurance contributions for the R&D hours worked or an increase in the income tax allowance of self-employed tax payers.

PNO Consultants can provide advice on WBSO application and offers a discount for StartLife startups.

About PNO Consultants

PNO: ‘’With more than thirty years grant experience and our industry-focused approach, we are convinced that we can offer added value for your business. The specialists from our Life Sciences and Health (LSH) team have repeatedly proven this to get more out of WBSO applications than LSH companies had originally applied for. Another added value we offer is in finding additional grant opportunities (for example European schemes or better opportunities in the innovation box).”news-item-pno

The offer

The offer is for Startlife startups in the Life Sciences & Health sector. The deadline for submitting a WBSO application for 2018 is end of November, so it is time to take action! PNO Consultants offers the first WBSO application for 10% success fee; no cure no pay (instead of 15%). If you are interested in this offer and if you are wondering what funding opportunities are relevant for your activities, please feel free to visit our open walk in or contact us.

Open walk-in

Wednesday 9-12.30 am: partner room StartLife, Plus Ultra Bronland 12H, Wageningen.
Wednesday 13-17 pm: expert room, StartHub Wageningen, Vijfde Polder 1, Wageningen Campus.


Lian van Amerongen
Tel: + 31 (0) 6 29 55 88 26

Ansa Baykus-Fiaz
Tel: +31 (0) 6  13 14 53 09

ansa baykus-fiaz PNO Consultants StartLife partner
Ansa Baykus-Fiaz, Consultant Grants and Innovation

StartLife acceleration program was tailor-made

As one of the three winners of F&A Next, startup NeoFarms won an acceleration program at StartLife. NeoFarms developed a “greenhouse” home device. It is the first highly productive home appliance based on aeroponics; a technique used by NASA which doesn’t require water or soil. At the moment, NeoFarms is working on its first small series which will be released soon.

Dusty professors

In August Jan Krebs, Max Richter and Henrik Jobczyk, founders of NeoFarms came to Wageningen. They expected to meet some (dusty) professors from Wageningen and a routine program. But they were positively surprised to meet relevant investors, IP experts, highly skilled experts in their field and experienced business developers.

Investors and innovation experts

Jan Krebs: “Each person we met during the three-day acceleration program gave us different insights. Investors confirmed our thoughts about further splitting the total amount of money that has to be invested. This will lower the threshold and will make it easier to reach our test-phase. Moreover, they acknowledged our technical applications and recommended that we go-to-market as soon as possible.”

StartLife also connected NeoFarms to Martin Ruiter, expert on technology innovation at Qing. Max: “Martin had a brilliant ‘customer view’. He recommended we develop an all-inclusive service for our product with several modules that potential customers could choose from. Also, he gave us the advice to use a different name for the product itself; NeoFarms might sound a bit ‘spacy’ and obscure. Let’s see what we will come up with!”

Feedback from WUR

Off course, Jan, Max and Henrik did indeed meet some horticulture scientists of the university. But these were experts with some relevant and critical pieces of advice. Max: “Olaf van Kooten told us that the flavour of the vegetables that our product can grow will be better than by using hydroponics. By aeroponics the environmental circumstances, like the amount of water and light, can be imperfect on purpose. This will cause stress in the plants which may sound counter productive but actually improves the taste.”

A new network

Jan Krebs concludes: “Jan Meiling and Thomas van den Boezem from StartLife, accompanied us for three days. They provided relevant feedback on our business model, offered us useful tools and connected us with the right people. Overall it was a well-organized and tailor-made program. We are grateful for the support and we’ll keep connected in the future!”

Get in touch with NeoFarms

‘Algreenies’ embraced by the world of haute-cuisine

StartLife nurtures an enormous network of startups with inspiring founders. These startups want to share their experience with other entrepreneurs. This story is about Algreen, a company that produces fresh ‘underwater’ vegetables.

Undiscovered beauties

Stefano Canziani and Hendrik Staarink met each other by co-incidence at Droevendaal. Hendrik studied in Wageningen and worked as a consultant on waste water quality. Stefano came from Italy and is a biotechnologist who is also specialized in waste water treatment. They discovered they had a common interest in seaweed. According to them, the food production system is missing out an important opportunity; to grow vegetables under the sea.

Seaweed at the attic

At Droevendaal, Hendrik and Stefano had the opportunity to start experimenting. With its home gardens and bungalows, ‘Droef’ as students call it, is a kind of hippie-place in Wageningen. Hendrik and Stefano placed a small pond in the garden to grow some seaweed and microalgae. Their experiments expanded. Next to the garden, Hendrik build an aquarium in his room. And when one of them moved to a bigger place, they even expanded to the attic. Stefano and Hendrik started to realize they had to get serious.

Beach (head) market

In 2014, they met Gitte Schober from StartLife. Gitte arranged an office for Hendrik and Stefano at the lively community of StartHub. She recommended they enter the Climate-KIC acceleration programme. Thanks to the weekly sessions of Climate-KIC, Hendrik and Stefano were able to develop a fully blown business model.

In April 2015, Hendrik and Stefano founded Algreen. Their first beach head market was the ‘juice bar’-segment. The found their first customer by walking around Amsterdam with a sample. To verify the taste of their product, Hendrik and Stefano also visited Rijn-IJssel, a school for professional cooks. A teacher from Rijn-IJssel connected them to Rungis; a high-end wholesaler. The collaboration turned out to be of great value: “Rungis helped us to professionalize our business. For example, the recommended us to develop an all-inclusive package with several seaweeds and algae. Also they helped us with developing an attractive packaging. The collaboration was a real eye-opener for us.”, says Stefano.


In 2016, Algreen received the opportunity to present their product at an haute-cuisine event at the three starred restaurant ‘De Librije’. Their product received a lot of attention when one of the top chefs picked their product for a cooking competition. The dish didn’t won but Hendrik and Stefano got the opportunity to meet the famous Dutch chef Jonnie Boer. The experience made them decide to change their beach head market to specialized cooks and restaurants.

In 2017 Hendrik and Stefano both quit their part-time job as consultants and expanded their business. Now, they produce several seaweeds and microalgae in ponds in the cellar of Radix on Wageningen Campus.

algreen startup startlife algae spirulina fresh underwater vegetables
Left: Stefano, right: Hendrik. Photocredits: Matthias Nieuwland

Help from StartLife

Hans de Haan, Business Coach at StartLife, helped Algreen by connecting them to the right people. Also he taught them to focus. Each species of ‘underwater’ vegetable awaken Hendrik’s and Stefano’s interest, but it is better to improve a few first. After all, it takes years before you have a minimum viable product and it takes even more time to guarantee a constant supply. Their advice for other startups is to talk to your customers. They are the only ones who can confirm your assumptions.

At the moment, Algreen is doing well. They are in contact with several wholesalers, like Metro and they provide ‘sea-vegetables’ to luxury restaurants like ‘The Hunting Lodge’ and ‘Het Koetshuis’. Nevertheless, Hendrik and Stefano sometimes find it hard to keep customers happy. They are technologist, not marketeers after all. Hendrik and Stefano are open to meet seaweed-loving salespeople.

Contact Algreen

Proven practice in agrifood entrepreneurship

Tips & tricks from a ‘soft-lander’

Rocio Torres has the ambition to strengthen entrepreneurial approaches with academic knowledge. As a researcher she works on optimizing business models in the agrifood industry by gathering empirical data. Besides that, as an entrepreneur, she gained knowledge from practice during her exchange period at StartLife.

Rocio is founder of RSC Talent, but also teacher and Phd student at the Business & Communication Sciences departments at the University of Malaga. She investigates which strategies in the agrifood sector are proven practice and thus can be applied by many entrepreneurs. Her findings will be published soon but her work can already be read on ResearchGate.

Rocio took part in the soft landing exchange project between StartLife and RSC Talent (Malaga) which officially started in December 2016. Twice she stayed at StartLife and StartHub Wageningen for several months. Next to her research, she also kept her eyes and ears open and gathered strategies to improve entrepreneurial practices in both Spain and the Netherlands. She experienced the value of participating in an exchange program.

Why it is worth joining an exchange project:
Knowledge transfer

Each hub, but also each business, has its own methods. Off course, for an entrepreneur it is valuable to be aware of these differences. On the other hand, participation in an exchange project makes you aware of the common link between these strategies. This could confirm that the strategy might be “proven”. For example, Rocio discovered that developing a good product or service isn’t all that matters. The personal characteristics of the entrepreneur can really make a make or break a business.


All European countries raise different startups. Exchange projects create international synergies; offer and demand are linked. Entrepreneurs get the opportunity to connect with unexplored markets abroad and introduce new business ideas. For example, Spain isn’t familiar with businesses selling insect-products like they do in the Netherlands. The question that always remains is “Can the new idea conquer the new market?”. If it is a good match, it is possible.

Reality check

Trading and selling abroad can speed up the process of becoming a successful startup. Many startups stay in the developmental phase for a long time and don’t make any profit. When connecting to other countries startups are often forced to develop a (test-)product. This immediately emphasizes the stronger and weaker points of both products or services. So an exchange project can work as a reality check, it answers the question: “Is my business case viable?”.

Personal growth

Interaction with people from another culture expands your scope. You have to get out of your own world, but then it enriches you with new insights. “It enriches your soul”, says Rocio. Besides that, it forces you to change your daily and working rhythm. For example, Rocio had to join the weekly entrepreneurial drinks at StartHub at 5 pm. In Spain she would have been in the middle of her work day at that time. Soon she discovered the value of this networking moment. “It was a moment for reflection with other entrepreneurs. Actually, people that share the same values, give you the most honest feedback possible!”

Currently, Rocio is also working on a softlanding space for startups in Malaga. You can read more about Rocio on Linkedin or at the website of her company RSC Talent. You can also contact her.

Get in touch with Rocio

Startups pitched at Makro network square

As part of cooperation with METRO, Makro invited 5 StartLife startups to their “Network-square” in Nieuwegein on the 17th of July. These startups got the opportunity to present their product (or concept) to a critical food-innovation panel. Bart Verweijen of startup Waterly and Everlyn Liu of EatmeStraws, both received a collaboration agreement with Makro. This implies that Makro will support them actively in the development of their proposition and their way to the market!

Read more about the network squares (in Dutch)

StartLife joins the board of EBN

Jannet de Jong has joined the EBN-board. EBN is the European Business Network comprised of around 140 quality-certified EU|BICs (business and innovation centres) and 100 other organisations that support the development and growth of innovative entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs. EBN is also a community of professionals whose day-to-day work helps these businesses to grow in the most effective, efficient and sustainable way.

Jannet is currently Incubation Manager at StartHub Wageningen. StartHub Wageningen is a student incubator, co-founded by StartLife and Wageningen University & Research. Read more about Jannet.

We are excited to strengthen and broaden the reach of StartLife. Via this network we will be exchanging tools, knowledge and experience all over Europe and further!

Get in touch with Jannet

Read more about EBN

RVO Call | Xplore US contest


Information from RVO:

Xplore US 2017 – Your bridge to the US market

Our contest is your ticket to Boston to explore the US market. Provided you are an SME or Scale-up with an innovative product or service and have what it takes to become successful in the US. Ten winning companies will take part in a ten-day accelerator programme in the US by MIT spin-off kTeams.

Explore. Learn. Scale-up. Join us today

How it works

To enter the contest you fill in an application form, in which you answer questions about your company, your ambition, your product and your US market strategy. If you don’t have a clear strategy yet, you can prepare your submission assisted by RVO’s Starters for International Business (SIB) coaches and/or Dutch Basecamp, who can help you fast-track your US ambition into a US market strategy.

RVO will pre-select the 20 best applications to enter the finals. If you are selected, you will pitch your US market strategy for an independent Jury on the 28th of September. The Jury will select the top-10 SMEs with the best pitches and plans, who will be awarded with participation in a ten-day accelerator programme by kTeams – an MIT spin-off for international companies – in Boston (USA). Why Boston? Because it provides a potentially great entry for innovative SMEs, as a top innovation region in the USA in terms of VC investments, anchored in world class universities like Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard.

The award includes accommodation in Boston and travel from the Netherlands to Boston and back (for one person per company).

Read more

StartHub introduces its new student board

StartHub Wageningen, StartLife’s student incubator, has a new student board! The 2017-2018 board consists of: Thijmen van Loon, Jelle Hofstra, Mick van Eck Dos Santos and Pien van Streun.

The board will be officially starting from September 2017. Meet them at the Entrepreneurial Drinks at StartHub Wageningen on September the 6th!

Thijmen van Loon – Business Developer

Thijmen van Loon starthub student board
Thijmen van Loon

“I am Thijmen, 21 years old and excited to be the chairman of next year’s Starthub board. I am finishing my bachelors in International Land and Water Management and am currently in Tanzania for my internship. I am a social person and always full of ideas. In work I get my energy out of meeting new people and learning about new innovative initiatives. One of the things I want to achieve in my board year is attracting companies and organisations who are looking for bright ideas and innovative startups. With these opportunities I want to motivate students to join the Starthub community. Furthermore I believe Starthub already has a lot to offer students. A positive environment of like-minded people, expert guidance and great facilities. I am enthusiastic to further build on this work and look forward to meet with you and be introduced to the Starthub community.”

Contact Thijmen

Jelle Hofstra – Community Manager

Jelle Hofstra starthub student board
Jelle Hofstra

“I am Jelle, 20 years old, and in the finishing stage of my bachelor, International land- and water management. I am an enthusiastic person who is always open to new ideas and different ways to look at problems. At the moment I am in Brazil conducting research for my thesis, but soon there will be an opportunity to meet all of you!

Next year I will represent StartHub as the new community manager. In this function I hope to help all startups that are currently in our community, and those that will join in the future. For me it is important that there is positive atmosphere that supports everyone in bringing their startups to the next level. I see it as part of my responsibility to keep you satisfied and help you in making contacts when needed. I hope that next year StartHub will grow as a well-known platform among students and becomes representative as the place where sustainable startups in the Netherlands arise.

I am really looking forward to work together with my new board members to bring StartHub to a higher level, and being part of the process of making ideas reality!”

Contact Jelle

Pien van Streun – Brand Manager

pien van streun starthub student board
Pien van Streun

“I am Pien, 20 years old and during the coming year I will fulfil the role of StartHub’s Brand Manager. Currently I am in the third year of my bachelor of Food Technology. This year I did my minor abroad at SGGW – Warsaw University of Life Sciences. I am an entrepreneurial person, who likes to meet new people and learn new things. That is why I can’t wait to work in StartHub’s, positive, solution oriented environment. I think it is a great challenge to be the Brand Manager of StartHub, especially because there is so much potential in the students of Wageningen University. However relatively few student understand what StartHub is and what possibilities are there: that is where I want to come in. With the experience I already have with regards to promotion and maintaining a brand I hope to make StartHub an even more established, well-known brand among the students in Wageningen in order to help as many startups as possible with starting a business. I am looking forward to achieving this next year together with my fellow board members and can’t wait to meet you all!”

contact pien

Mick van Eck Dos Santos – Events Coordinator

mick van eck dos santos starthub student board
Mick van Eck Dos Santos

“I am a third year student of my BSc in Environmental Sciences, with a major in Environmental Technology. I feel uncomfortable with routines and staying too long in the same place. I moved to the Netherlands with the intention of getting immersed in a different culture, to experience a different worldview. Currently finishing an exchange program in California, I decided to take a break from the academic lifestyle and devote my energy to being Events Coordinator for StartHub community.

I aim at promoting a comfortable environment where knowledge, tools and experiences can be shared among creative students and startups from Wageningen. Another priority is to integrate different goals and mutual interests, emphasizing critical components such as innovation, sustainability and learning by doing within the community.  Thus, I expect to foster education by example and help in the development of a viable responsive capacity to real, global issues through sustainable entrepreneurship.

I am looking forward to optimizing the dynamic potential of StartHub as an innovative cradle that connects students to the growing world of (much needed) impact through business. I feel prepared to enrich this unique community with my board-partners and truly motivated to get those events running!”

contact mick

StartHub organizes the Advanced Startup Summer School

From the 20th to the 25th August StartHub Wageningen organizes the Advanced Startup Summer School (ASSS). During this intensive course teams, of 2 to 4 members, will develop their business idea towards investor readiness. The event is part of the Wageningen Summer School. It is targeted at teams of bachelor and master students as well as recent graduates from WUR.

If you would like to know more about the Advanced Startup Summer School, please contact StartHub.

Tools that save money for farmers | Founder Story Zip Drill

StartLife nurtures an enormous network of startups with inspiring founders. These startups want to share their experience with other entrepreneurs. This Founder Story is about Thierry Stokkermans founder of Zip Drill. Zip Drill develops tools for conservation agriculture. Worldwide, conservation agriculture is the first alternative to conventional farming.

Soil-loving product engineer
Thierry studied agriculture in France, his country of birth. After working as a farmer in Australia for a few years, he started studying again. Within five years he finished another bachelor’s in mechanical engineering, a master in product engineering and a master in advanced technology management. During his study, he learned how to transfer “proof-of-concept” innovations into valuable technological products. Thierry had always been an entrepreneur. When he was 23, he invented a skateboard, but unfortunately he couldn’t beat the competing companies. After he had worked a few years in the field of agricultural machinery, Thierry developed interest in conservation agriculture.

Different farming system
In the Netherlands all agriculture is conventional farming, known for its use of manure and land tillage. A less well-known farming technique in the Netherlands is conservation agriculture. Conservation agriculture mimics nature. It has 3 important features: 1) soil covering, 2) avoiding tillage, and 3) biodiversity. It is practised on a worldwide scale on 125 million hectares (ha), which is 9% of the farmable cropped land (Friedrich et al., 2012). In comparison, organic farming is practiced on 43 million ha (Willer & Lernoud, 2016). Modern conservation agriculture is less costly than conventional farming, is better for the environment and it has the same yields as conventional farming. Thierry saw the advantages and decided to start a business.

Saving money with better tools
Conservation agriculture helps save the environment and prolong soil life. Thierry cares about soil: “Soil is the stomach of plants”. Thierry discovered that in conservational agriculture there are more developments since the 60’s. Developing better tools would save a lot of money for farmers worldwide! Although Thierry has always been open for cooperation, it was hard to find a business partner. Thierry decided to stake all his savings in developing a product himself.

Unique selling points
Now, Thierry is almost ready to launch his first product. In the past two years he has developed a sowing tool for conservation agriculture farmers. The product has four unique features: 1) it creates a higher humidity of the air surrounding the seeds, 2) it prevents plant residues from getting into the ground, 3) it enables farmers to safely place a fertilizer in the seed slot and; 4) it’s affordable!

What he’s learned
Looking back Thierry has learned a lot from his adventure. He discovered that being a good student and smart doesn’t mean starting a business is easy. As an entrepreneur you really need to be a jack-of-all-trades. There is nowhere where you can learn to become an engineer, a PR person & marketeer and a salesman at once. Thierry found out that making things easy and straightforward is the best way to go. For example, he approaches his customers (farmers) directly, using personal one-to-one communication.

Help from StartLife
A StartLife coach helped Thierry to realize the importance of a solid financial plan. Making things financially clear is the only way to progress. Moreover, Thierry really appreciates his office at StartHub: a great place, more than enough networking opportunities and many valuable workshops to attend.

Hans de Haan, Business Coach at StartLife: “Thierry has started Zip Drill after having worked in the industry for several years. He is not only well-informed on technical issues but also has a good insight in the industry dynamics. The combination with his interest in soil provides him with a lot of potential to become a successful company”.

Thierry is optimistic about the future. The only thing that Zip Drill lacks is a co-founder who loves “Sales & Soil”!

Get in touch with Thierry

Read Thierry’s blog or have a look a Zip Drill’s teaser:

F&A Next 2017 was a huge success

F&A Next is a yearly event and a platform for food and agriculture companies, investors and startups. Read more about F&A Next HERE.

The second edition in 2017 was very successful with over 500 international participants, of which 200 startups, including many of StartLife’s startups, and 100 investors. StartLife startup Cerescon was named as one of the three winners of the F&A Pitches.

At F&A Next 2017, The Dutch Minister for Agriculture, Martijn van Dam, announced the launch of the first edition of the European Agri-Food Startup of the Year Challenge. The final will take place in Wageningen on the 13th of December 2017! Find more information about this EVENT.

Missed it? Get a feel of how it was with this 2 minute impression video:

In this Dutch video startups BLUE-tec, Cerescon and Multi Tool Trac, talk about experience with StartLife.

European FoodNexus Startup Challenge is Open for Applications

As of today food & ag startups are invited to apply for the European FoodNexus Startup Challenge, a contest and support program that will recognise and accelerate the most promising food & ag startups in Europe. Apply at

The European FoodNexus Startup Challenge, organized for the 2017, consists of selection rounds in seven European countries: Denmark, Spain, Italy, Ireland, France, Belgium and The Netherlands. More EU member states are eager to join this prestigious program from 2018 onwards.

Startups winning their national finals are qualified for the European Finals. The first EU final is scheduled for December 13th, 2017 in Wageningen, The Netherlands. From 2018 onwards, the EU final will be hosted, yearly, in different European countries. All European finalists will receive cash prizes, premium exposure to the investors community, exclusive access to the support of leading European food & ag companies, including Unilever, and business development support from high-level mentors. The European winner is awarded an additional cash prize of €50,000.

FoodNexus proudly connects its name to the challenge. As initiator of this challenge FoodNexus invites startups from its three core domains to participate in the FoodNexus Startup Challenge. The three domains are:

  • Agrotechnology for Food Security and Sustainability.
  • Technology for Food Quality and Safety.
  • Food technology for Health and Well-being.

“Agtech and foodtech can contribute to solving societal challenges by developing healthy and safe foods, sustainably grown and provided in the right quantities to feed the world’s growing populations”, says Rob Hamer, VP R&D at Unilever and president of FoodNexus, and continues: “Startups are of key importance to build a sustainable and economically viable food sector that is fit to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. That’s why FoodNexus is proud of having launched this important challenge.”

The Minister for Agriculture of the Netherlands, Martijn van Dam: “This European challenge aims at startups in food and agriculture. Those who join the competition can have excellent opportunities to learn, because practical experts are there to guide the startups. And there is a bonus for all of us. This new challenge will strengthen the EU network of startups, investors, researchers and corporates.”

The Ministry of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands agreed to host the first EU final in The Netherlands and to contribute €200.000 to make this European challenge happen.

About FoodNexus
FoodNexus is a European consortium of multinational companies and world-class knowledge institutes. It has the ambition to create a robust and sustainable European food system in which global and diverse local food systems interact.

Read more


Contact for the media
If you require additional information, please contact Thomas van den Boezem via or +31 (0)6 5374 4262.

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