The regional development corporations (ROMs) are working with various partners to combat food waste, including through the Business Innovation Program Food (BIPF). In it, they help entrepreneurs get a sharp focus on which ideas are promising and how to translate them into new business models. One of the partners is Invest-NL. "Our ambition is to make the Netherlands more innovative and sustainable," say Liz Duijves and Ansa Baykuş-Wasim, Business Development Managers at the investment fund. "The cooperation with the ROMs is very valuable to us in this regard."
Invest-NL is a so-called impact investor: "We help entrepreneurs with sustainable solutions that contribute to societal challenges such as energy transition. Impact is our goal, return is the means." The fund aims for a circular and carbon-neutral economy. "Food waste is a huge challenge worldwide. In the Netherlands, about 2.4 billion kilos of food are wasted annually. For every kilogram of food we waste, we emit about 3 kilograms of CO2. Waste therefore has a huge share in the greenhouse effect. We must transform the food chain to reduce waste and achieve the 2030 climate goals. Radical innovations are needed to work towards a circular food system, with innovative technologies and business models that can accelerate this transition. That is why we are happy to join the ROMs and BIPF, to work together towards an economy without waste and reuse of residual streams."
'By working with the ROMs, we have a good idea of what's going on'
Duijves and Baykuş-Wasim agree: Among other things, cooperation with the ROMs provides them with valuable knowledge about the market. "We are a new party, not everyone is yet familiar with what we can offer entrepreneurs. Through this cooperation we have intensive contact with all ROMs and get to know each other better. We know how to find each other, which is very much appreciated from both sides. The ROMs are very important regional players, with a lot of knowledge and network. The cooperation gives us a good picture of what is going on with entrepreneurs, what circular propositions are being developed and what bottlenecks there are."
Invest NL provides support during and after the program
The business developers are enthusiastic about BIPF. "We support the ROMs in the recruitment and selection of participants, and contribute to further development of the program. For example, in the next edition we will organize a session on impact. Entrepreneurs are often unaware of the added value they bring when it comes to sustainability. Investors value sustainable propositions but how do you measure impact? We help make that translation."
Invest NL also offers participants post-program support. "We can help interesting propositions with the further development of their business model, with commercialization, scaling up and funding. For example, through the First Time Right Facility, we offer entrepreneurs the opportunity to professionally execute their first commercial project with the help of external expertise. This can increase the chances of a successful first project and can boost the sales process and increase interest from funders."
"We think it's important to increase investor appetite in sustainable businesses so that entrepreneurs actually have a chance to bring their product to market and accelerate the circular economy. The great thing about BIPF is that a lot of market validation is done; that makes it much more likely to succeed. Also very nice is that thanks to BIPF, key parties are working closely together to help companies move forward. It would be great if we can increase the number of participants in the future, and thus make even more impact together!"