Unilever Starts Construction of Global Foods Innovation Centre in Wageningen, the Netherlands
Unilever CEO Paul Polman “The choice for Wageningen was a logical one”
A year after the centralisation of Unilever’s Foods R&D expertise from Heilbronn (Germany), Poznan (Poland) and Vlaardingen (the Netherlands) in the Foods ecosystem in Wageningen (the Netherlands) was announced, Unilever has started the construction of its new world-wide Foods Innovation Centre.
On the campus of the Wageningen University & Research (WUR), Paul Polman (CEO Unilever), Maarten Camps (Secretary General Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate), Louise Fresco (President of WUR), Aalt Dijkhuizen (President Dutch Topsector Agri & Food) and Mayor of Wageningen Geert van Rumund reflected on what innovation in the Agri & Food sector means to the world-wide food system, Dutch economy and the FoodValley region.
Innovation in the AgriFood to Improve Global Food Supply
Paul Polman, CEO Unilever: “In 2050, more than 9 billion people need 70% more food than is currently being produced. This calls for a fundamental adjustment of the current food system. It is not possible for one company to achieve this adjustment, but requires close cooperation. The move to Wageningen is therefore a logical step. By being an active part of the Wageningen Foods ecosystem, we have access to international talent and are able to develop new ways of cooperation with the WUR, knowledge centres, other companies, the authorities, NGOs and with start-ups, to jointly ensure that sustainable foods become the norm and that sustainable and nutritious food is accessible to all”.
Strengthening Wageningen University & Research and FoodValley
Mayor of Wageningen, Geert van Rumund: “We look forward to welcoming Unilever at the Wageningen Campus. The Foods Innovation Centre dovetails seamlessly with Wageningen’s ambition to become the Dutch knowledge centre in the area of (Agro)Food and Life Sciences within the Food Valley region. This will give an enormous boost to the knowledge and innovation networks, which are already very effective here. The realisation of the Unilever Foods Innovation Centre underpins that the Wageningen Campus is an attractive location for internationally operating companies”.
Aalt Dijkhuizen, President Dutch Topsector Agri & Food: “We are the global leader thanks to our knowledge and innovative strength. We are very pleased that Unilever is setting up its R&D centre in the heart of our ‘golden triangle’. This will enhance our ability to produce healthy and safe foods for 9 billion people in a resilient world.”
Louise Fresco, President of Wageningen University & Research: “I am very pleased to welcome the Unilever Foods Innovation Centre to the Wageningen Campus. At Wageningen University & Research, we contribute knowledge for sustainable and inclusive food sector development to generate an innovation-oriented ecosystem, where various partners interact in order to improve the – global – food chain and to solve the great global challenge to feed the world in a responsible, healthy and sustainable way. “Science for Impact” and “Partnerships for Impact” are key themes at WUR and we pride ourselves on developing innovation and partnerships, such as this collaboration with the Unilever Foods Innovation Centre.”
The Dutch as Frontrunners in Food Innovation
Maarten Camps, Secretary General of Economic Affairs and Climate: “The Netherlands has one of the most innovative and productive agrifood sectors in the world. Thanks to the Wageningen region, we are at the forefront of high tech applications, such as food robots, smart glasshouses and big data. Unilever’s choice to set up its global Foods Innovation Centre in Wageningen, contributes to this leading position. In this Centre, researchers, students, start-ups and consumers are jointly developing innovations in the foods industry. This is important, because this cooperation contributes both to a healthy and sustainable food supply and to our economy. I want to thank the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency and its regional partners for their efforts in attracting this important centre to Wageningen.”
The Global Foods Innovation Centre is designed by Paul de Ruiter Architects. The design aims to achieve a high BREEAM sustainability certification. The transparent design and strategic location of the building at the Wageningen Campus ensure optimal interaction between Unilever and various external parties, such as universities, science institutes and start-ups; an interaction centred around the sharing of knowledge. The construction is carried out by Dura Vermeer and is expected to be completed mid-2019.