"Innovation means taking risks"

Inno-Agro; innovation agent in World Horti Center

Why do you call yourself an innovation agent?

Innovation has brought glasshouse horticulture to the point where it is today, and the Netherlands is highly regarded internationally. Inno-Agro helps SMEs (small and medium-sized business) with their technical innovation projects and as an innovation broker we act as the central point between grower, supplier and researcher.

However, innovation also means taking risks and in practice we often see that a lot can go wrong in the journey from idea to commercial product. We specialise in the project management of innovation projects. Through 'lean' methods AND simply by keeping our feet on the ground, we know how to get growers and suppliers to a higher level.

How do you put your mission into practice?

The Inno-Agro team consists of 4 people: Sebastiaan Zwinkels, Joel van Staalduinen, Ilona van Zunderd and Stefan Persoon. Between us we have various technical, cultural and commercial backgrounds. But above all, we are enthusiastic about innovation and the international opportunities that greenhouse horticulture offers.

We are often initiators and project managers of innovation projects, both in the field of product development and crop research. This often theme-based: over the past 10 years we have earned our stripes on projects such as LED, substrate-free cultivation, the new cultivation project (Het Nieuwe Telen) and CO². The smart use of subsidies is an important task.

Where do you think opportunities lie?

Over the last two years we have been very active with projects concerning high-tech and the digitisation of greenhouse horticulture. We see great opportunities in applications where artificial intelligence is combined with vision techniques. Digitising the well-known 'green finger' and remote support is also important for the supply industry.

There is a great deal of international interest in greenhouse horticulture, but the investors from other industries do not always take feasibility into account. That is why we are also active in this area.

Why does Inno-Agro have an office at World Horti Center?

Stefan Persoon: "I am more or less part of Demokwekerij Westland because I have been here since 2002. For us it was a logical step move to the new building. We see great opportunities to bring participants together. Together we can achieve so much more than on our own. In order to implement this more effectively, I have a leading role on the Participant Advisory Board: this board provides advice to World Horti Center management.”