Feike Sijbesma Sustainable Innovation Award

The Feike Sijbesma Sustainable Innovation Award is an incentive award for innovative entrepreneurs (<7 years) with a focus on scalable sustainable climate-proof food systems with a positive impact on society and the environment. Candidates for the Feike Sijbesma Sustainable Innovation Award have proven science-based solutions that can make an important contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and provide an answer to the global climate and food security issues we face.

The winner has serious potential to innovate within this theme in the near future by introducing a solution that addresses the challenges of climate change and food systems. The winner will receive a prize of €25,000 to invest in the start-up.

Applications 2023 open now!

You can now apply for the Feike Sijbesma Sustainable Innovation Award 2023. Please fill in the application form before 1 March. Before applying, read the criteria below carefully.

About the Award

The Sustainable Innovation Award in honour of Feike Sijbesma recognizes innovative initiatives, younger than 7 years, which focus on addressing global food system challenges related to the environment with the potential to deliver transformation at scale for as many people as possible. The Award is organized by University Fund Wageningen (UFW) and Wageningen University & Research (WUR), specifically with the Entrepreneurship department StartHub and with Corporate Value Creation (CVC), as the key knowledge organisation in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

Teams of entrepreneurs and innovators, of spin offs, start-ups, or internal startups of established companies, however less than 7 years, in the field of sustainable climate related food systems can apply. Also spin offs or individuals that are not from- or not connected to WUR are eligible to participate in the Award. The recipient can be in the Netherlands, Europe or globally.

The award involves 25.000 euro to be used by the start-up for investing in its venture.

Trajectory and data 2023

January 16 - February 28: Open for applications
1-15 March: Jury will select applications to be invited for a full application.
15 March - +/- 30 March: time to fill in your full application
30 March - onwards: Jury will deliberate and select three finalists.
24 May: Finale

In case of questions please get in contact with ufw@wur.nl. Subject: Feike Sijbesma Sustainable Innovation Award. Or fill in the contact form!

Procedure and enrolment documents

Applicants that are found eligible can apply formally. From these formal applications a shortlist of 10 will be selected by a committee. The shortlist of ten will be presented to the jury panel, that will also participate in the finals ceremony. Based on criteria ranking, three finalists will come out of this selection. They will be invited to actually pitch live in front of the jury.

First validation is done through:

The formal application consists of:

  • Filling in the formal application form
  • Submitting a business plan
  • Submitting an impact assessment
  • The pitch/presentation to the final jury, max. 5 slides. To have all in one place, add again your 2-page max. company presentation
  • Your link to your promotional video of max 1.30 minutes

Selection criteria

  1. Innovations with a focus on sustainable climate resilient food systems
  2. SDG driven, with a shown and visible focus on science based solutions and societal impact
  3. Demonstratable benefits for society in environmental and/or social impact reached or about to reach, underpinned with metrics linked to SDG indicators
  4. Actively involving key partners and interest of users (beneficiaries) is shown, with a track record of being a true impact maker that engages others in the field of sustainable climate resilient food systems
  5. Customer validation and market traction are shown with stated interest of collaboration
  6. Business model can vary for profit / not for profit or hybrid
  7. The knowledge base / IP backbone is brought forward in the application by proof of successful technological feasibility and application studies, from Proof of Principle to Proof of Concept and Proof of Scale
  8. Initiative is not older than 7 years

News: ekolive wins award 2022

The Slovakian startup ekolive was announced as the winner in the first edition of the Feike Sijbesma Sustainable Innovation Award on Tuesday September 6th and awarded with € 25,000. They convinced the jury with their interdisciplinary biotechnological approach to clean contaminated and regenerate depleted soil, and use the byproduct of this process as an organic biostimulant in agriculture. This opens up new sources of raw materials for industrial minerals and returns used raw materials to the value cycle, while also increasing production and nutritional value in agriculture with the byproduct. With their technology, they contribute to as many as 11 out of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, making them just the sort of inspiring sustainable innovators the jury was looking for.

Jury 2023

Sjoukje Heimovaara (chair) President of the Wageningen University & Research Executive Board

[more information will follow]

Joost Oorthuizen Impact investor, Invest International

Joost Oorthuizen

Joost Oorthuizen built his career in the fields of international trade, finance and sustainable development. He holds a Ph.D. in natural resource management from Wageningen University, a post-master in change management and was schooled at Insead in financial management. He is the founding CEO of IDH – The Sustainable Trade Initiative, which under his leadership became a 350 people, global organization, working with corporates and governments in mainstreaming sustainability in global value chains in agriculture, textiles and energy. Joost set up different impact investment funds for Nature Based Solutions and inclusive value chains. He sits on the board of the &GreenFund, the AECF and GASP. He is a regular speaker at international conferences.

“I am delighted to be part of the jury. Our food system is broken in many respects, so we badly need innovation to get agriculture in line with the Paris goals. So, it is great to see all these new innovations coming online! Start- and scale up work is both exciting and challenging at times. I wish the candidates the very best in their efforts to change the world for the better!”

Marian Geluk, Executive Director Global Coordinating Secretariat Food Innovation Hubs at World Economic Forum

[More information will follow]

Ivo Demmers Executive Director Netherlands Food Partnership

Ivo Demmers

Msc. is Executive Director of the Netherlands Food Partnership.

Ivo Demmers has 20+ years of experience in water, environment and food. Before joining the Netherlands Food Partnership he was Programme Director of the Research Programme on Food Security and Valuing Water within Wageningen University & Research (WUR). Prior to joining WUR in 2014, he held management and consultancy positions in private as well as not-for-profit organisations. Ivo has experience in Europe, Africa, Asia and Northern America. Amongst others he initiated the Water Technology Innovation Programme (80 M EUR) (2007-2011), focussing on speeding up innovations and bringing together research, companies, launching customers and export markets. As a director of a Small and Medium Enterprise (Kalsbeek BV) he was closely involved in bringing innovation to market. He serves as jury member for several innovation awards. Since 2021 he is Board Member of PYMWYMIC, an impact investor for scale ups in Healthy Food Systems.

“We need the innovation and drive of enterpreneurs and youth to accellerate the transition towards sustainable Food Systems. As a jury member I want to contribute to keeping Food Systems a rewarding place for enterpreneurs and youth to work in.“

Maurien Olsthoorn Senior Science Fellow Analytical Sciences at DSM

Maurien Olsthoorn.jpg

Maurien Olsthoorn is Senior Science Fellow Analytical Sciences at DSM, a global science-based company active in health, nutrition and biosciences. She drives the strategic, analytical developments across DSM to provide key insights for all innovations. In addition, she leads a program about disruptive food solutions supporting the protein transition by developing ingredients and solutions to close the gap between animal original and plant-based analogues. Before joining DSM in 2000, she obtained her PhD in biomolecular mass spectrometry of glycoconjugates (Utrecht University). Maurien is board member of the Dutch Techcentre for Life Sciences.

“It is a true honour that in the spirit of the legacy of my company’s former CEO Feike, this award stimulates innovators to scale their science-based solutions with a specific focus on sustainable climate resilient food systems. I look forward being inspired by the innovations contributing to solve the world’s biggest problems!”

About Feike Sijbesma

Feike Sijbesma

Feike Sijbesma has been CEO of Royal DSM for nearly 13 years and transformed Royal DSM from a bulk-chemical company into a global leading Life Sciences & Materials Sciences company, focusing on nutrition (food), health and sustainable living (a.o. green energy). At DSM sustainability and innovation is not only a key responsibility but also a core value and a main business driver. DSM became a clear purpose driven company, being financially successful and doing well (450% Total Shareholder Return) by addressing the UN SDG’s and doing good for the world. Feike is a strong advocate for inclusion and diversity as well.

Since early 2020, Feike Sijbesma transitioned to the role of Honorary Chairman of Royal DSM of which he has been CEO between 2007 and 2020. Feike sits on a variety of Boards, as Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Royal Philips, as non-executive board member of Unilever and as member of the Supervisory Board of the Dutch Central Bank. Feike is co-chair, together with Ban Ki-Moon, of the Global Center on Adaptation. He is Climate Leader of the World Bank, focusing on carbon pricing (CPLC). He is member of the Board of Trustees of the World Economic Forum and is heading the CEO Climate Leaders group. He is also member of the Advisory Board of the IMF and Co-chair of the UN Scaling Up Nutrition initiative.

Mr. Sijbesma is a recipient of the Humanitarian of the Year Award & Leaders of Change Award presented by the United Nations; received an honorary doctorate from Maastricht as well as Groningen University, Netherlands; he was listed by Fortune on the World's 50 Greatest Leaders, by Harvard Business Review as one of world’s 100 most successful CEO’s. He also received the Courage to Lead Award from the World Resources Institute. He is married and has 2 boys.