“First and foremost NIZO food research is indeed a company. That makes us quite distinct from other knowledge-intensive organizations because those are usually closely linked to the government. At NIZO we do research projects for the worldwide food and ingredients industries.”
What does that mean?
“The type of research that we do could, for example, be improving the taste of a company's product when they themselves can't figure it out, for instance, with respect to their suppliers. We could, for instance, change the composition of a ‘flavor’ but also improve the ‘release.’ Another example is we could investigate the food safety of a product or specific nutrition claims. Our research is quite broad.”
What kind of facilities do you have for your research?
“For instance we have a large pilot plant here at our company grounds near the town of Ede. Here companies can experiment with new processes and increases in scale. Not only do we offer theory but also practice for a wide range of food products. To say it in proper Dutch ‘we make sense of science.’”
Why did you pick this location for your company?
“We've been in Food Valley for over 60 years now and the Food Valley may be presented as not more than a region, but it has, in fact, a genuine global impact. We're surrounded by companies and institutions that all possess an enormously high level of know-how and innovation with regard to the food industry and that is a tremendously valuable aspect.”
Within this consortium and the network that we've created in the region, Oost NL is a very important partner for us. Not only do they know the industry well, they also know the providers of know-how and the local government. This is especially important now that we’ve begun expanding our international business, Oost NL is a driving force that opens new networks for us, for example by inviting international delegations to the region. It's not just some abstract network organization. They’ve provided us with some very real and concrete business opportunities, for example, in investment projects.”
What will your future look like?
“We currently have about 225 people working at the NIZO plant. Not all of them are employees of NIZO. About 175 people are directly employed by NIZO – only to indicate that there's more than just NIZO at this location. Of course we have growth ambitions, but the uncertainties within the R&D market are a factor that we need to consider as well. Hopefully we'll grow another 10 percent in the next five years.”