Food Valley: Europe's hot spot for Agri-Food innovation

Food Valley, located in East Netherlands, tops the list of appealing investment regions for many Agri-Food innovators worldwide. It’s reputation as a European hot spot for pioneering in agriculture, food and nutrition, can be explained by some simple facts.

  • Thanks to a strong tradition of entrepreneurship, innovation and collaboration, and despite its small size, the Netherlands (‘Holland’) is the world's second largest exporter of agricultural products. It’s also the world’s third largest exporter of food processing machinery, and its third producer of vegetables and fruit.
  • On top of that, East Netherlands is the home of Wageningen University & Research (WUR), a thriving research community that has been at the forefront of global Agri-Food research and development for decades. Today, it is the beating heart of a 30-mile-radius region in which a large, multinational and multisectoral research and business community dedicates itself to finding new avenues in agriculture and food production.

Joining this hot spot, where new ideas lie waiting behind every corner, was a great move for many Agri-Food businesses that were seeking sustainable growth. Allowing Oost NL to assist your company could turn out to be a significant decision as well.

Join multinational corporations that set foot in Food Valley

Food Valley’s status as an Agri-Food hot spot is illustrated by the presence of research and development labs, production facilities, and offices of more than 60 multinational Agri-Food corporations.

They find themselves in the good company of more than 2,600 SMEs operating in the same sector.

The list of globally operating companies in the greater Food Valley area includes household names such as:

  • Kraft Heinz, Unilever, Nestlé, Cargill, FrieslandCampina, and Mead Johnson.
  • Other big names include CRV, Kikkoman, Mérieux NutriSciences, Givaudan, Yili, Keygene, Arla Foods, 2 Sisters Storteboom, De Heus, Hoogwegt,
  • Bieze Food Group, Dupont, Innova Market Insights, Moba, Vion, Dishman, and Jansen Poultry Equipment.

Supported in many ways by Oost NL, all of them once made the strategic decision to set up shop in a region that is also intimately connected with Agri-Food networks in Europe, North America, Africa and Asia.

Capitalize on Food Valley's wealth of knowledge organizations

Food Valley is home to a wide array of public/private Agri-Food knowledge organizations.

They include research universities, academic medical centers, research institutes, and universities of applied sciences, all offering companies in the region access to new ideas, precious human capital and state-of-the-art infrastructure.

Research universities and medical centers

  • Wageningen University & Research (WUR), the largest food, nutrition and agriculture research community in the world, ranks in the top-30 of life sciences universities globally. Its more than 6,000 staff and 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students from over 100 countries focus on healthy food and the living environment.
  • Radboud University and Medical Center (Nijmegen), a century-old general research university with over 15,000 staff and 19,000 undergraduate and graduate students, specializes in organic chemistry, microbiology, infectious diseases, immunology, human genetics, and brain research, among many other fields.
  • Utrecht University and Medical Center, one of Europe’s largest general research universities, dates back to 1636 AD. It is Holland’s highest ranking university with top grades across many disciplines, including veterinary medicine. It counts more than 18,000 staff and almost 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students. 

Research institutes

Food Valley comprises many high-end Agri-Food research institutes, which cover the full spectrum of research from molecule to market and from basic science to applied (contract) research.

Examples include:

  • NIZO food research, specialized in proteins, bacteria, and processing;
  • RIKILT Institute of Food Safety, focused on food safety & quality and specialized in detecting and analyzing substances in food & feed;
  • Wageningen Plant Research, covering the entire Agri-Food chain with research ranging from ‘omics’ and bioinformatics to food safety/security, crop protection/ecology and agro systems;
  • Wageningen Livestock Research, focused on livestock farming systems, nutrition, genetics, animal welfare, and environmental impact;
  • TNO Healthy Living, whose thousands of staff work with many public and private partners in the area of food and health.

Universities of applied sciences

  • Approximately 100,000 (under)graduate students receive training at various universities of applied sciences in cities and towns across the greater Food Valley area.
  • They all offer education programs relevant to the Agri-Food sector.

Profit from the heartfelt support of committed governments

Agri-Food innovation in Food Valley enjoys enthusiastic and consistent support from governments at regional, national, and European levels.

  • At the European Union level, collaborative projects of Food Valley participants have raised millions or euros from EU Framework Programmes.
  • At the national level, the Dutch government has named the Agri-Food sector as one of the country’s nine innovation priorities. Hundreds of millions of euros have been allocated for co-funding of public-private Agri-Food collaboration projects.
  • Regional governments, i.e. the provinces of Gelderland and Overijssel, provide support in many ways, e.g. through Agri-Food venture capital funding and through active encouragement of business campuses and public-private networks.

Gain access to Food Valley's large supply of human capital

The Food Valley region provides Agri-Food businesses companies with a vast labor pool:

  • Tens of thousands of Agri-Food researchers at various levels reside here.
  • Even more students at undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels are trained in Agri-Food-related disciplines.
  • Many options are available for employees’ continuous education.
  • The work force’s highly international background serves as a bonus: virtually all the world’s nationalities are represented among workers and students.
  • A dedicated ‘Ambassadors Network’ actively recruits, supports and trains talented students from all over the world and introduces them to Food Valley players.

Put yourself halfway between Amsterdam and Dusseldorf

Part of Food Valley’s allure is its strategic location, right between and very close to the urban economic engines of Amsterdam and Rotterdam in the Netherlands and the German Ruhr District.

Companies and their employees

  • profit from top-rated digital and physical transportation infrastructures that include Europe’s largest sea port and airports serving hundreds of global destinations.
  • can enjoy excellent health care and education systems.
  • find political and social stability of a country that has ranked near the top of the United Nations’ Human Development Index for many years in a row.

While very close to large urban and metropolitan areas, they enjoy

  • low real estate prices
  • a lack of congestion
  • the natural pastures, forests, and streams in the magnificent Rhine delta.

"In short, they benefit from the best of two worlds."

Oost NL will guide you into Food Valley

Close collaboration with Wageningen University & Research and other relevant partners enables Oost NL to quickly guide newcomers into Food Valley — whether it is newly arriving companies, incoming employees or their families.


  • benefit from experienced networking and matchmaking services, which enable them to find effective partners within or even far outside Food Valley,
  • participate in the sharing of pre-competitive knowledge or high-end facilities (such as in-vitro digestion and microbial technology equipment, animal facilities or a flexible food grade pilot plant).
  • find help in recruiting new personnel, in scouting a wide range of potential business locations, or in attracting outside investment or partners in the Food Innovation Network Europe.

Non-native employees and their loved ones are able to get full support in finding their way towards, for example, suitable housing and many excellent international education opportunities.