Protix has won the Dutch Innovation Prize 2020. The large-scale nursery for insect larvae is a lightning-fast grower and a technology pioneer in an area that should contribute to making food production more sustainable, were some of the deliberations of the jury led by UvA professor Henk Volberda. The award was announced on Monday evening October 19 in the TV program ‘De Wereld van Morgen’ on NPO1. The top three also consisted of AI specialist Bolesian and high-tech system developer and builder Demcon.
Protix recently built a factory in Bergen op Zoom where larvae of black soldier flies are reared on a large scale. These are then processed into food (protein) for farmed fish, chickens and pets. It is important for the productivity of the process that the larvae receive sufficient food. To this end, a robot has been developed that is able to count the number of larvae at lightning speed so that the amount of feed can be accurately adjusted. In this way, the food chain is also closed: organic waste is used as feed. This way of food production is much more sustainable and more in balance with nature and an answer to the production of animal food that has many negative climate effects.
The ‘counting robot’ and the artificial intelligence, in combination with smart algorithms that it has at its disposal, is so innovative that the company has been designated by the World Economic Forum as a ‘technology pioneer’ and this aspect also weighed heavily for the jury in the designation of the company. as the winner. For the development of innovations, the company works closely with a wide range of external parties, including knowledge institutions.
Protix has the ambition to build a second factory with a larger scale than the factory in Dongen. The next step in a phase of rapid growth – from start-up to scale-up. That was also appreciated by the jury, who also saw a lot of growth prospects: ‘The progressive approach of Profix is currently applied in animal and fish nutrition and has the potential to be applied in many other food value chains. Sooner or later, numerous value chains will have to deal with a stronger emphasis on sustainability. Protix is responding proactively to this transition. ‘
The Utrecht-based Bolesian is also a pioneer, but then in the field of artificial intelligence. The company has been active in this field for more than three decades, but has grown rapidly in recent years because it is able to convert large amounts of data into, for example, adequate predictions of the necessary maintenance of roads and sewerage systems. Bolesian’s systems enable humans to perform tasks that require human intelligence but are of an « inhuman » size.
De andere runner-up, Demcon from Enschede, this spring, at the personal request of the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport, Hugo de Jonge, developed a high-tech respirator within two months and produced it in large numbers. This to meet the then great need of hospitals for such equipment, needed for the treatment of seriously ill Covid-19 patients. The company, together with industrial partners, succeeded very quickly in reallocating a large number of specialists for a sizeable project that was literally vital.
The other seven companies in the pre-selection for the Dutch Innovation Prize 2020 were Arcadia Chrysanthemums (specialized in the cultivation and marketing of disbudded chrysanthemums), Binder Green Projects (development and realization of professional greenery, Port of Rotterdam Authority (development, management and operation of the port), Koppert Cress (developer ingredients to intensify the taste, aroma of dishes), Livekindly Collective (developer and producer of sustainable food without animal additives), Mc Energy (specialist in the design and production of energy storage solutions) and Vital10 (offers individual insight into health and increasing vitality)
Dutch Innovation Monitor 2020
After several selection rounds, these ten companies have survived from the approximately one thousand companies that cooperated with the Netherlands Innovation Monitor 2020. This survey is known as one of the largest annual surveys of innovation in the Netherlands and looks at the innovation capacity of companies. The winner was determined by a jury led by Prof. Henk Volberda, professor of strategic management and innovation at the Amsterdam Business School, University of Amsterdam. He is also research leader of the Dutch Innovation Monitor.
The jury, chaired by Volberda, consists of: Hans Boumans (Technology Transfer Manager TNO), Lotte de Bruin (director of the Netherlands ICT), Thomas grosfeld (specialist Innovation and Top Sector Policy VNO-NCW), Mariëtte Hamer (chair of the Social and Economic Council), Geert Huizinga (director of FME advocacy), Mark Pehlig (deputy chair of Koninklijke NLingenieurs), Sjaak van der Tak (chair of LTO Glaskracht Nederland), Doekle Terpstra (Chair of Technology Netherlands), Focco Vijselaar (Director-General Business and Innovation, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate) and Pieter Waasdorp (Director of Entrepreneurship, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate).