The Food Innovation Global Mission (FIGM), the official mission sponsored by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, led the 14 students of the second edition of the Food Innovation Program (FIP) Master course to the Netherlands for the first stop on the research mission to the most important food hubs in the world.
Departing from Bologna, Italy the 18th of January, the delegation arrived in Amsterdam, a city recognized by the European Commission as a capital of innovation and the top spot for startup development according to the European Startup Monitor. The main theme of the stop in the Netherlands is food waste. “This is certainly a hot topic at the moment,” explains Sara Roversi, executive director of the Food Innovation Program, “and is addressed in many different ways: from new models for restaurants, to research at top tier universities like Maastricht and Wageningen, and all the way into the food system with production methods that help cut food waste.”
Presenting both the discoveries and the traditions of a territory in which innovation plays a central role in understanding the food ecosystem was Peter Klosse: an exceptional character, creator of the theory on the classification of flavors in wine pairing, initiator of the Academie voor Gastronomie, author of The Essence of Gastronomy: Understanding the Flavor of Foods and Beverages, and owner and general director of the Hotel Gastronomique De Echoput. He was joined by the two founders and managers of the magazine Food Inspiration, Arjan de Boer and Hans Steenbergen, both crucial to the diffusion of innovation in the Netherland’s food scene.
As soon as they landed, the talents from FIP met other food heros of the city. At Kitchen Republic, one of the most important food startup incubators in Amsterdam, they had the chance to meet founder Bart-Jan Veldhuiz and cross paths with Maarten Nielsen, creator of The Food Line-Up, a new format of catering that aims to shorten the distance between chef and guests allowing them to get to know the stories that surround each dish. The search for food heros is just one of the many objectives of the Food Innovation Global Mission, and one of the methods of research carried out by the students of the Master program. Another aspect are the food rituals: the traditions and habits rooted in the everyday food of a country. So what better way to end the first day than with a bike ride to get to know Rakish Gangapersad of Foodhallen, the large covered market in the heart of the city that has become an icon for quality and diversity of products, followed by dinner at Instock, a restaurant that creates dishes using only ingredients derived from food waste.
The students then went to discover Scelta Institute, a world leader in the production and processing of mushrooms, and Flow By, one of the most innovative 3D food printing companies in the world, and finally a stop at Maison Van de Boerd, which focuses primarily on the recovery of waste food but also founded the FoodforCare project that transforms meals for hospital patients into gourmet dishes, managing to create positive results in mind and body for the patients.
After Amsterdam, the tour of Dutch food innovation continued at Maastricht, where the students met the founder and creator of the first burger grown in vitro, Professor Mark Post, also a professor for the FIP Master in Reggio Emilia. The students, having already participated in his lectures in Italy, were able to visit the lab at the University of Maastricht where his now internationally recognized project first began. “To meet Professor Mark Post was an incredible source of inspiration, especially considering the impact and positive effects on animal health and on climate change the production of his burger on a large-scale could have,” says Venezuelan student Yhosemar Daniela Mendez Sanchez.
Attention to research at prestigious universities around the world is one of the Food Innovation Global Mission key concepts. Because of this, a visit to the University of Wageningen was necessary, and offered a chance to dive deep into the World Food Innovations project, a new portal which lists all the most innovative solutions in the world of food. It was followed by meetings with food heroes linked in a variety of ways to the agribusiness sector such as as Rune Theill from the Rockstart accelerator. And to finish things off, the discovery of Mediamatic that transforms the heart of Amsterdam in a place of experimentation and urban agriculture.
The Netherlands trip was full of intense and inspiring days that have prepared students for the next leg of the journey: the United States. First Boston, then New York, and to follow the heart of the world’s innovation, the Silicon Valley.