World player Eurofins remained in Heerenveen after all, providing innovations in the agri-food sector
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  • Internationalizing

World player Eurofins remained in Heerenveen after all, providing innovations in the agri-food sector

With a parent company in France and 800 branches in 47 countries worldwide, it was not a foregone conclusion for multinational Eurofins to build a new facility in Heerenveen after a fire put one of their labs out of commission. Nevertheless, next July the first piles will go into the ground. And that is an important decision for both the company and for the Northern Netherlands. Karlijn Miltenburg is Business Unit Manager Chemistry at Eurofins and explains how this step came about.

Fire renders chemical lab unusable

'We had always had two sites in Heerenveen, both a microbiology lab and a chemical lab. Two years ago the new building of our microbiology lab was completed. A few months later a fire broke out in the old building of our chemical laboratory. That building became unusable and the laboratory moved to a temporary location,' Miltenburg says. 'So we had to look for a new location. That this would be in the Northern Netherlands was not a given. Logistics and the density of people and companies were considered, so the preference for the Randstad was automatic.' That Eurofins, which specializes in the testing and analysis of food, animal feed and water, did stay in the north was partly due to the cooperation with the NOM. 'We fully endorse NOM's vision of the Northern Netherlands. They helped us with the contacts and negotiations with local authorities, so that a new location could actually be realized and all noses were in the same direction.'

Most ecological lab in the Netherlands

This will also make the new lab unique: not only will the building be gas-free, it will even be the most ecological chemical laboratory in the Netherlands. In this way, Eurofins wants to contribute to its climate ambitions. Miltenburg: 'Our core business in Heerenveen is the testing and analysis of all kinds of food, animal feed and water. In our chemical branch we use a lot of energy to comply with all the necessary protocols. So now we are organizing that differently and more ecologically. And there too, we benefit greatly from our cooperation with the municipality and province.'

Mother's milk sugar against allergy

Eurofins' role in the agrifood sector of the Northern Netherlands is important. 'Our history in the Netherlands lies in the milk sector, but by now we serve all food-related companies. We test existing, but also new products. For example, from our Carbohydrates Expertise Center we are currently working a lot with large baby milk manufacturers on the development of a mother's milk sugar: an allergy-free alternative to the cow's milk lactose. And that's certainly not the only innovation in the rise of "new foods. Insect suppliers can also use Eurofins' expertise. Miltenburg: 'Insects are increasingly considered to be full-fledged food and are therefore also produced that way. We help these companies to ensure that the products are also safe, i.e. without chemical or microbiological contamination and meet the guidelines of the country where it is sold.'

Clout in innovation

Seen this way, Eurofins is an important radar in the ecosystem of the Northern Netherlands agrifood sector. And that ecosystem was an important argument for staying in the northern Netherlands after all. This is also confirmed by Joep de Vries, Business Developer at NOM: "The Netherlands has an important role in agrifood worldwide. Important players in the Northern Netherlands are joining forces to meet essential challenges in the food industry through innovation. Eurofins also has an important role in this. These include issues such as sustainability, the role of food in healthy aging, but also, for example, how do we ensure that everyone in the world has enough food? Only with strength can these issues be seriously addressed. We have that in the Northern Netherlands through these collaborations and we are therefore doing our very best to keep it that way or, better still, to expand it.'

Vision of Northern Netherlands important

Eurofins thus recognizes NOM's vision of the developments and position of the Northern Netherlands. 'A good relationship with local governments and other players in the market is important to be able to realize joint ambitions. This affects the business climate, locations and associated facilities, but certainly also when it comes to collaborations,' Miltenburg summarizes. 'Also because we are an international concern and therefore have an enormous network at our disposal. We can still do many great things together.'

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