All posts by Jantine van den Top

Taste Cricket burgers at Eetcafé H41!

Crickets, can you eat them? Unique, savory and nutty, and above all one of the most sustainable and nutritious alternatives in the protein transition. The Wageningen ‘Eetcafé H41’ puts the juicy cricket burger (‘Krekelburger’) of De Krekerij on the map, and invites you to a delicious meal and a good story behind the notorious burger.

Join us in the adventure of De Krekerij, a thriving startup with the mission to make crickets and grasshoppers part of our diet before 2030. With this we challenge the status quo, and change the perception of these animals by making tasty and responsible products that fit in with our western diet. Together with StartLife in Wageningen, De Krekerij focuses on lasting sustainable impact, in which we examine the current food system and set it up in a circular fashion.

Eetcafé H41 serves this impact. The chefs have combined the unique, nutty taste of cricket burgers into two menus and popped these onto the menu.

Foodvalley Summit: The Protein Plan(et)

Solving the Protein Puzzle on a Global Level

A global “return” to balance in protein consumption; less animal and more vegetable. During the third international edition of the Foodvalley Summit: The Protein Plan(et), on 17 October 2019 in Wageningen, food producers, growers, breeders, investors, research institutes and the government are coming together, in Wageningen, to share solutions, to strengthen the connections between meat, fish, dairy and vegetable and to find new business partners. This edition is an initiative of Foodvalley NL in collaboration with Wageningen University & Research, KeyGene and The Protein Cluster.

The Bigger Picture

The Foodvalley Summit program is built around three themes: The Bigger Picture, The Consumer Perspective and Growing, Breeding, Soil. The Bigger Picture gives the visitor a holistic view of protein transition, with attention to the current state of the transition and national and international challenges. An Expert Panel will discuss the National Protein Plan (in development) and how the Netherlands will contribute to European protein goals from its knowledge-intensive ecosystem.

The consumer perspective

How can consumers be tempted to consume more vegetable protein? What are the requirements for new products such as substitutes for cheese and fish? What role does the food environment play? The Consumer Perspective theme includes best practices in behavioral change, taking into account consumers’ food-related routines.

Growing Breeding Soil

Which protein-rich crops are suitable for our climate? What innovative crops are in the pipline? And how might future earnings models look? The protein transition is not only about increasing vegetable protein use, but also about local production. In the Growing, Breeding, Soil theme, out attention is on plants and animals, soil and biodiversity.

The speakers

During the Foodvalley Summit: The Protein Plan(et), numerous national and international experts are presenting the latest developments in their fields, with amongst others:

  • Chris Kerr | New Crop Capital, USA
  • Ruud Zanders | Kipster, Netherlands
  • Brad Vanstone | Plant Based Cheese, Netherlands
  • Nicolas Hartmann | VLY Foods, Germany
  • Mathijs Huis in ’t Veld | Jack Bean, Netherlands
  • Carola & Mattèo Piano | Innogusto /Gastronomeat, Netherlands

With contributions of Louise Fresco, President of the Wageningen University & Research Executive Board and McDonalds. More information will follow.

More information & registration

More information about the program will soon be available. Register today via:

Prior to the Foodvalley Summit, Foodvalley organizes thematic business experience tours on Wednesday the 16th of October. The Foodvalley Tours are a full day of company visits with four different themes of innovation and include lunch and interactive dinner. See the Foodvalley website for more information and registration,


For questions about the Foodvalley Summit, email or contact Foodvalley NL on +31 (0)317 42 70 95.

The Foodvalley Summit: The Protein Plan(et) is an initiative of Foodvalley NL in collaboration with Wageningen University & Research, KeyGene, and The Protein Cluster and is made possible in part by the Province of Gelderland.

Join StartLife at the Fi Global Startup Innovation Challenge 2019

The most exciting innovations are coming from small startups who are largely unknown to the wider industry. Now in its fourth year, the Fi Global Startup Innovation Challenge 2019 will give startups the opportunity to pitch their idea to the whole host of F&B industry players that make up Fi Europe’s 1,700+ exhibitors and 30,000+ attendees.

Thomas van den Boezem of StartLife will be joining the veteran jury. So join the Startup Innovation Challenge 2019, 3 December, Paris, France. Candidates have until Friday 20 September to apply.

For more information see the website. StartLife is one of the Startup Innovation Challenge Partners

Join the Topsector T&U Innovation Prize and win € 25,000 research budget and a wildcard for the StartLife Accelerate Programme

Are you an innovative food or agri startup or scale-up? A future maker with a promising idea? Then you are the ideal candidate for the Topsector T&U Innovation Prize!

Topsector T&U invites new technical innovations that demonstrably increase the efficiency of food production in a greenhouse environment in order to meet global food demand in a sustainable way in 2050. The challenge is open for startups or scale-ups that integrate innovative technology in end product or operations, preferably working on sustainability and/or circularity.

The winning team will receive research budget at Wageningen University & Research worth of € 25,000 and allocation of a T&U innovation broker (20 hours, nominal value of € 2,500). StartLife, the leading accelerator in the domain of food and agtech, also provides a wildcard for the StartLife Accelerate Programme of February 2020. Deadline for submission is September 15, 2019.

For more information see the Topsector T&U website or download the information sheet.

Topsector T&U Horti Heroes


Agri-Tech Startups wanted for Agricultural event in Ireland

Agri-Tech Startups wanted for Agricultural event!

The Dutch Embassy is looking for Agri-Tech startups who want to discover the Irish Agri-market. The National Ploughing Championships (NPC) is Ireland’s biggest agriculture event and the largest agricultural open-air event in Europe. This year the NPC will take place in Carlow, Ireland from September 17-19.

One of the main aspects of the NPC, next to the actual ploughing championship and entertainment, is the agricultural fair. A total of 300,000 visitors are expected during the three days. The fair will be mainly visited by representatives from a wide range of categories such as Farm Inputs, Dairy, Animal Health, Livestock Equipment, Machinery and Food Produce.

The Netherlands is represented in the Holland Booth

The event hosts an Innovation Arena where young companies and startups will show their newest innovations. The Dutch Embassy is hosting a ‘’Holland Booth’’ where Dutch Startups represent the Dutch agricultural innovation sector.

Dutch startup Serket-Tech won the international innovation prize last year. In addition to international startup competition, participation also generates a lot of attention and improves brand awareness of the participating startups. Connecterra who participated last year added: “We have never received so many serious leads at an event as here. The exposure is huge”.

Agri-Tech Startups wanted

This year four startups will get the opportunity to present themselves in the Holland Booth. Participation will give you free access to the event and the Holland Booth and puts your startup in the position to get in touch with over 100+ international buyers, individual (Irish) farmers, startups, agricultural organizations, research institutes and the press.

Are you a Dutch Agri-Tech startup who is interested in participating? Send an e-mail with a short motivation as to why your startup should represent the Netherlands at this event to no later than Friday 19 July.

Register for participation in EP&C’s ‘Master of the Future’

Patent agency EP&C is launching an innovation competition for students and startups. In honor of its 80th anniversary, EP&C is giving the new generation of innovators a platform on which to present their innovative idea. The innovation can be in concept form or already be on the market. As long as the innovation is not yet a commercial success, contributes to a social theme and shakes up the established order, it is eligible for the award worth €10,000.

Registration is possible until 19 July.

For more information, see

Looking back on a fruitful F&A Next 2019

With pleasure we look back at a successful and fruitful 4th edition of F&A Next 2019. With the most inspiring speakers from the industry and ample opportunity to make contacts, these two days proved to be very fruitful.

Take a look at the F&A Next website to see the photos and the video impression.

F&A Next is an initiative by Rabobank, Wageningen University & Research, Anterra Capital and StartLife, collectively believing that innovation will be key to sustainably feed future generations.

Contact with students via Education Project Services

Educational Project Services, part of Wageningen University and Research, connects external stakeholders to courses of Wageningen University & Research. In these courses, groups of students can work on real-life assignments, and thereby apply their academic knowledge.

  1. In the course Data Management, MSc-students pick their own practical assignment to design and build a database for a real commissioner in teams of 4-5 students from different backgrounds. Companies, organisations, governmental bodies, etc. can send their problem related to data on topics in all WUR domains. Students select their desired project, and improve the data use: They make the design, construction and use of a database more efficient.
  2. In the course Case Studies Product Quality, third-year BSc-students of Food Technology work in groups of 5 to 6 students on a group assignment in which product quality of a foodstuff and opportunities for product and process improvements are central. Students integrate of the various disciplines in food technology – food microbiology, food processing, food chemistry and food physics – and aspects such as market science, consumer, legislation or economy. At the end of their project, the students give advice or a design based on a desk study; no practical work is done in this course.
  3. Within the course Academic Consultancy Training (ACT), MSc-students work together in multi-disciplinary teams of 5 to 7 students to address specific queries set by societal and private organizations. ACT is an obligatory MSc course for 20 MSc study programmes. Suitable projects contain multiple Wageningen domains (Natural Resources and Living Environment, Society and Well-being, and Food, Feed and Biobased Production).

The courses start in September 2019 and students will work on their assignments part-time for 8 weeks, full-time for ACT. At the end, the students will deliver their findings and advice through a written report and oral presentation. Commissioners are expected to interact with their student team through a kick-off, and be available for contact with them throughout the course.

Would you like to work with a group of students on a topic you find relevant? Mail, or call 0317-485314. Please reply before 31st of May.

WUR sells share in Surfix spin-off

Wageningen University & Research (WUR) is selling its share in coatings company Surfix to market parties Qurin Diagnostics and LioniX International. WUR will remain involved in the further growth of its spin-off. The sale is consistent with WUR’s policy to develop knowledge generated within the university and make it available to the business community to create economic value. Surfix is part of the StartLife Startup Community.

Surfix, which started out in 2011 as a WUR spin-off, develops and markets special coatings on the basis of knowledge generated at Wageningen. These nanocoatings are mainly interesting to companies developing biosensors: sensors outside the body that measure all kinds of parameters when they come into contact with biological material. Qurin and LioniX, for example, have been working for some time on a biosensor capable of detecting cancer at an early stage in people’s urine. Although resembling a pregnancy test in this respect, the test should discover whether someone has cancer. To make the sensor sensitive enough for this purpose, Surfix’ special coating is extremely important. This was the main reason why Qurin and LioniX decided to buy Surfix.


WUR’s Director Value Creation Sebastiaan Berendse is glad that Surfix will be sold, which he feels is a logical step: “It is beautiful to see how this young company has a practical impact and at the same time enriches the environment around WUR. The company will maintain its presence on the campus, for example, and Surfix will continue to use our facilities. The company is at a crossroads in its development and the new shareholders allow it to take the next step to ensure product diversification and corporate growth. Applications such as early diagnostics and personalized medicine place Surfix and its coatings right at the centre of our OnePlanet initiative with Imec, Radboud University and Radboudumc. This development also dovetails nicely with our plans for the coming years as formulated in our Strategy Plan.”


Luc Scheres is the Director of Surfix and holds a PhD from Wageningen. He is very happy with the way his company has grown over the last years: “The Laboratory of Organic Chemistry led by Professor Han Zuilhof had already started working on so-called surface modification before 2011 – and still does. A lot of knowledge and experience was therefore available, even eight years ago. At a certain point, it became high time to start working on nanocoatings, not only from an academic perspective but also for commercial reasons.

After I had obtained my PhD, Han asked me whether I would be interested in setting up a company. With the backing of two experienced investors and a senior professor, I decided to take the plunge. That’s how we started Surfix. Although I laid the groundwork in my attic, I soon rented one of the WUR labs. We started out with two students on placement; now, eight years later, we have twelve employees.”



Founder of Zzinga invited for lunch with royal couple

Last week, Fabian Lindner, Founder of Zzinga, one of our startups, was invited for lunch with His Majesty King Willem-Alexander and Her Majesty Queen Máxima.

Once a year, they have an ‘uitblinkerslunch’ (luminaries lunch) with people who have been given a prize for their achievements to show their appreciation for these special people.

Fabian was invited because he has won the Student-Ondernemer Prijs (Student Entrepreneurship Prize).

Make use of Unilever’s Pilot Plant

Unilever has chosen to become an active participant of the Wageningen Foods Innovation ecosystem. Being close to Wageningen University, worldwide Food Science & Technology university number 1, to tap into strong international knowledge and talent, Unilever opens its doors for others and approach others where they don’t have all the answers. This way, Unilever would like to develop new ways of working that will multiply the impact of its resources and capabilities together.

Startups can be enabled to upscale their process from bench to pilot plant scale. Therefore giving technical guidance, safety and quality awareness. Support through trained operators and processing technologists.

Currently all equipment is split over 3 locations: Vlaardingen, Netherlands; Heilbronn, Germany and Poznan, Poland. All sites will be moved to the Foods Innovation Centre in Wageningen.

For more information contact Caroline Bijkerk,  Global Partnership Manager of StartLife

Boosting the Dutch innovation climate

Eight new food & agtech startups for StartLife’s Accelerate Program

A microbiologist producing sustainable proteins from micro-organisms and a technician who developed a robot for automated harvesting in greenhouses: just two of the eight promising high-tech startups selected to participate in the second StartLife Accelerate Program. It is the first program in the Netherlands entirely dedicated to supporting young food & agtech entrepreneurs in validating their businesses and raising funding. The startups were chosen from over 30 candidates, at the selection day organized by StartLife, March 12 in Wageningen.

“The selected startups have developed groundbreaking products and technologies that could have an enormous impact on industry and society – but only with an effective market strategy”, says Thomas van den Boezem, Program Director at StartLife. “That’s why we specifically chose them to participate in the StartLife program.”

Eight startups

The eight selected startups include:

  • FUMI Ingredients (sustainable proteins from micro-organisms),
  • PreMal (a high-performance mosquito trap),
  • SAIA Agrobotics (harvest and crop handling for greenhouses),
  • Wageningen Agricultural Monitoring (advanced monitoring of crop yields),
  • Clevabit (a smart decision-support system for cattle breeders),
  • Thelial (a nutraceutical that improves barrier function in the oesophagus),
  • TasteIndex (digitalization of taste to facilitate matching of food products),
  • PEF Technologies (non-thermal food processing and preservation technology)

StartLife Accelerate

Establishing a high-performing team, defining your value proposition, developing a go-to-market strategy and delivering a convincing investor pitch and business plan, and negotiating with investors, are just some of the elements that make up StartLife Accelerate both concentrated and effective. The three-month program is uniquely and entirely dedicated to guiding food and agtech startups towards growth and market success. Participants experience a high-quality curriculum and business support from Wageningen University & Research experts, and from qualified trainers and successful entrepreneurs. Each participant receives a €10k soft loan up-front, and €25k after successfully completing the program.

Selection procedure

Participants were selected via a two-step process: initially, entries were evaluated on their innovativity, stage of development (entrepreneurs need to have a prototype or most-valuable player) and market potential. Fifteen of these entries were invited to the selection day. The young entrepreneurs had to present themselves from three different perspectives:

  1. The people behind the startup and their personal drive and motivation.
  2. The value proposition of their product or technology.
  3. The market opportunities and challenges. The presentations were reviewed by the StartLife team together with independent investors.


StartLife believes that startups are the propelling force behind the food and agtech innovations required to meet future global food demand. The company 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, multinationals, government organizations and investors. Since 2011 it has built, supported and funded 300+ startups, in bringing breakthrough technologies, to market.

Startup Week 2019

The past weeks at StartHub were dedicated to the Realisation Program where students were challenged to realize their validated propositions. During the Startup Week, nine entrepreneur(ial) teams dedicated their time to learn more about sustainable business models, pitching, negotiating and implementing this knowledge to tweak their business plan. During the prototyping weekend a week later, students who passed the ideation stage were given the opportunity to create a tangible product to bring their idea forward.

Education Project Services

Education Project Services connects projects and assignments from society with the study programs of Wageningen University & Research. A company, startup, foundation or other societal partner that wants to start a project or assignment with students from the university, can enlist the help of Education Project Services.

Education Project Services asserts whether the question is suited for the students’ expertise and whether the assignment is complex enough and of an academic level. Then, it considers how the assignment fits in the curriculum. Education Project Services advises the commissioner in finding a suitable course and adjusting the definition of the question.

Mono- and multidisciplinary courses

Wageningen University & Research offers collaborations in education in mono- and multidisciplinary courses. In mono-disciplinary courses, students from one educational program or specialization deal with the problems posed by the initiators. This can be done in all domains of the university (see Figure 1). Students work part-time on a case in groups of 5 to 7 people for 1 to 2 months.

Figure 1: Domains in which Wageningen University & Research is active

For the multidisciplinary Academic Consultancy Training (ACT), Education Project Services looks for suitable assignments all year through. Teams of 5 to 7 students from different educational programs work on a case for 8 weeks. The commissioner gives advice to the students in the form of feedback. He also reimburses the students for incurrent costs. The course is taught five times a year. At the moment, Education Project Services is looking for projects for the period May-July (deadline: March 22). On the website you can find a form to submit a proposal. Do you have questions or an interesting case to work on with students? Contact Jelle Van Leeuwen

Meet up with the Agri-Food sector at the CROP Innovation & Business conference

At the CROP Innovation & Business conference on April 14-16, 2019 at the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam you’re able to meet up with the international Agri-Food sector and explore business opportunities. Encounter new ideas. Expand your network. Engineer opportunities.

During this bi-annual conference the most influential trends that will affect crop innovation and value chain strategies will be addressed including indoor farming, whole genome sequencing, artificial intelligence, precision agriculture, consolidation, economic growth and sustainability. Want to know what the sector’s next big success story is going to be? It’s a story you could be part of!

The program

Take a look at the program with speakers from companies like BASF Bioscience Research – EuropaBio – Agrifirm – Anterra Capital – Bayer Crop Science – Bioseed – bloomon – Corteva – DCM – De Vegetarische Slager – Deroose Plants – Dümmen Orange – Fall Creek Farm and Nursery, Inc. – Iden Biotechnology – Inari – KeyGene – KWS Group – Limagrain Vegetable Seeds – Maïsadour Semences – Meijer Potato – Microsoft Corporation – Naturex – Nestlé SA – Olam – Plantum – Priva – PureCircle Ltd. – Rijk Zwaan – Royal van Zanten and Unilever.

Order your ticket now and receive a 10% discount by using the code STARTLIFE10% upon registration. Go straight to the registration page: 

Poster presentation for PhD students and Postdocs

PhD students and Postdocs are invited to join the poster presentation corner at the CROP Innovation & Business conference. For more information, please contact

Rabobank Sustainable Innovation Award 2019

Thanks to the Rabobank Sustainable Innovation Award, the possibility of making a difference in society as well as in the sector comes a step closer. The Rabobank Sustainable Innovation Award 2019 is awarded in three categories:

1. Food & Agri

Innovations for sustainable agriculture and food supply
Innovations aimed at:

  • Improving food production by using new technologies
  • Providing the growing world population with sufficient, safe and satisfying food
  • Realizing less strain on the environment and surroundings
  • Pursuing more transparent chains and sustainable, efficient chain management

2. Circular economy & climate

Innovations for a more sustainable economy
Innovations with the goal to:

  • Close the cycle of resources or nutrients
  • Lower the emission of greenhouse gases
  • Lower or enhance sustainability of use of energy and resources
  • Innovative initiatives to create chains together

3. Vital communities & care

Innovations for vitality, quality of life and good care
Innovations that:

  • Promote vitality and quality of life
  • Stimulate initiatives in which people work together for a common interest
  • Safeguard efficient and sensible care for now and the future

Daring, feasible and profitable

The Rabobank Sustainable Innovation Award is for entrepreneurs that dare to bring their innovations forward and mean something valuable to society. They show the world feasible and profitable innovations that are in the final stages of development, with societal impact and to ultimately create a better world. It is for entrepreneurs who want to grow and contribute to the improvement of society.


In 2019, the Rabobank Sustainable Innovation Award will again be awarded. Do you have the invention with which you are making a difference in society? You can apply until May 31, 2019.

In2Care Receives €3.5 Million From Bill Gates Foundation To Test New Malaria-prevention Method

Wageningen-based startup In2Care is part of a consortium that has received a total grant of 9,3 million euro from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to further develop a new ‘Eave Tubes’ malaria-prevention method, developed in collaboration with researchers in Africa. In2Care receives 3.5 million euro for their part. 

In2Care, that works on the project together with partners in the US, UK and Africa, receives this five-year grant to investigate a new method for preventing the transmission of malaria. The method involves limiting mosquito access to houses by screening windows and installing “eave tubes” that contain a unique type of insecticide-laced netting developed by In2Care that kills the insects as they attempt to enter.

“In 2015 an estimated 438 thousand mostly African children and pregnant women died of malaria,” said In2Care’s Director Bart Knols. “Although we have achieved tremendous progress over the last fifteen years and have saved countless lives by using insecticide-treated bednets and indoor spraying with insecticides, resistance to insecticides in mosquitoes is spreading rapidly which may undermine these fragile gains. Eave tubes combine two approaches: First the house is rendered mosquito-proof and second the tubes represent a novel approach to target mosquitoes as they try to enter the house in search of a blood meal .The beauty of it all is that house occupants don’t need to do anything, it is passive technology.”

Mosquitoes find their way to humans by responding to odors leaving the house. They enter the house through the ‘eave’, the gap between the roof and walls. According to Matthew Thomas, who will head the study at Penn State, African malaria mosquitoes have a strong preference for entering houses at night through eaves — the gaps between the roofs and the walls of houses. The team’s novel eave tube approach involves blocking the eaves and inserting tubes that act like chimneys to funnel human odors to the exterior of the home. Attracted to the human odors, mosquitoes enter the tubes and encounter netting that has been treated with an electrostatic coating that binds insecticidal particles to it. The netting can hold several kinds of powdered insecticides, including biological agents, and has been shown to break resistance with currently recommended insecticides.

“Since insecticide is only used on small pieces of netting in the tubes, the reduction compared to spraying walls of entire houses is massive, making eave tubes highly cost competitive, especially now that more expensive insecticides are needed due to resistance against the cheaper ones” said Knols. “Furthermore, retreatment is easy, as it requires simple replacement of small pieces of netting within the tubes.”

With a previous €5.2 million grant from the EU, the collaborative team of researchers has already conducted a proof-of-concept intervention in which they installed eave tubes in more than 1,800 houses in the Kilombero valley in southern Tanzania. The team found that the eave tubes reduced indoor mosquito densities by up to 90 percent.

The new project funded by the Gates Foundation expands on the previous intervention by installing eave tubes in approximately 6,000 homes in villages in Cote d’Ivoire and Tanzania. The researchers will examine householders in these villages and compare them with equivalent control villages that have not been supplied with eave tubes to determine the effect of the intervention on malaria incidence. The team also will test the mosquitoes caught in the villages for insecticide resistance. Finally, the researchers will conduct socio-economic analyses to determine homeowner acceptance and create strategies for implementation across different regions and market sectors.

“We know that eave tubes can perfectly kill mosquitoes when they contact electrostatic netting; even the ones resistant to insecticides. But that’s not enough to convince policy makers that this approach can be added to the arsenal we have at present. Quite rightly so, before a new approach can be adopted we need to clearly measure the overall impact on disease, not just mosquitoes. That’s what we aim to do in this unique project,” Knols said. “If we are to eradicate malaria from the face of the planet over the next decades it will be essential to move new strategies forward, and especially those that can help to break the vicious circle of insecticide resistance. This is what eave tubes offer.”