The 2017 edition of F&A Next, which will be held on 17 and 18 May on Wageningen Campus, will focus on food and health and on smart ways to produce more food with a lower ecological impact. F&A Next is an international platform for investors, start-ups and scale-ups in the food and agriculture sector.
'The demand for food is on the rise and food spending is growing even more quickly. These expenditures are expected to grow by 70% between now and 2030,' says Jeroen Leffelaar, Managing Director of Large Corporates Food & Agri at Rabobank. 'At the same time, the amount of arable land is decreasing per capita, forcing us to find smarter and more efficient ways to deal with scarce resources like water. That's why we're intensely focusing on smart farming during F&A Next to find out how technological innovations can contribute to sustainable production practices.'
Food and health
The combination of food and health is quickly becoming the top innovation priority for the food and agriculture sector. 'Approximately two billion people worldwide are overweight, of which 30% are obese,' says Leffelaar. A decline in health and vitality is having a significant impact on health care costs and labour market costs, which is prompting the potential relationship between food and health to be explored in more depth. 'This is also evidenced by a growing number of innovations at the interface of food and health,' concludes Leffelaar. 'During F&A Next, we will provide more insight into the current state of affairs, offer a glimpse into the future and focus attention on the rules and regulations.'
From an asparagus-picking robot to protein water
Twenty start-ups were selected from the nearly 130 applicants and given the opportunity to pitch to a selection of national and international investors. The start-ups range from the Dutch Cerescon, which is known nationwide for its asparagus-picking robot, to international start-ups like the British HeyLikeWow, which produces sugar-free soft drinks and protein water.
For more information about the participating start-ups, visit the F&A Next website. This website also contains an overview of the other participating start-ups and the participants in the interactive panel discussions.
Multinationals and start-ups need each other
According to Jan Meiling, Innovation Manager at Wageningen University & Research, F&A Next brought together an unprecedented group of F&A investors in 2016. The event also made it clear that multinationals and start-ups need each other. 'Multinationals want to stay informed of what's happening in the innovative landscape and are finding ways to involve start-ups in their innovative strategies,' explains Meiling. 'In turn, all start-ups need a corporate partner at some point in their development. This interdependence is the common denominator that can act as a powerful catalyst for the food and agriculture sector.'
F&A Next 2017 is expected to draw more than a hundred international capital and corporate venture funds. Many representatives of major international food and agriculture companies are also expected to attend. F&A start-ups and investors can meet and interact during pitches, company presentations, networking sessions and one-on-one conversations.