Living Lab Food, Health & Safety expands in China


A delegation of the VHL University of Applied Sciences (VHL) visits China to take some important steps toward a Living Lab Food, Health & Safety. They meet with several Chinese companies in the Food, Health & Safety business and expressed the intention to start new collaborations.

VHL wants to start up a testing ground with China in order to encourage collaboration between Chinese and Dutch companies in the Food, Health & Stafety industry, by setting up student and teacher exchanges, joint research programs, (graduate) internships and 2+2 programs. Students can do real-life assignments and put the acquired knowledge into practice. Also, the collaboration will create more intercultural awareness.

Parties involved

During the meeting VHL spoke with the companies Driscoll’s China (international producer of berries) and the Costa Group (largest vegetable and fruit producer, processor and distributor of Australia and partner of Driscoll’s China). The projects with Driscoll’s and Costa will take place in the province of Yunnan.

VHL already has a long-standing relationship of 15 years with the Yunnan Agricultural University. Chinese students follow a so called 2+2 programme in which they study the first two years in China and the third and fourth year at VHL. Since 2013 VHL also has contacts at Sichuan University. This year the first student started a 2+2 programme in Food Technology. He is now doing an internship at Ausnutria Hyproca.

Sino-Dutch consortium

The meetings take place during a trip of the Sino-Dutch consortium, a collaboration between Dutch and Chinese universities and research bodies. Dutch universities and research bodies introduce themselves to the Chinese parties that are present, under the coordination of the Vereniging van Hogescholen (Association of Universities of Applied Sciences). The Chinese colleagues consider the practical Dutch way of teaching with admiration and much interest.

In China it is not customary to gain practical experience during your studies, but the industry has been wishing for this approach for quite some time. VHL, as a “University of Applied Sciences” now makes this wish come true. It is expected that more companies and institutions will join the Living Lab China in the foreseeable future.

Living Lab?

A Living Lab is an instrument to facilitate collaboration and the joint development of applied knowledge in close collaboration with the industry and governments. The essence is the development of human capital.

The Living Lab is led by higher education and focuses on a triple-helix collaboration between government, entrepreneurs and educational institutions. It connects companies and governments with universities and research bodies by supplying students, professors and researchers who can apply their expertise to real-life challenges.

The Elite Cattlemen Programme (in which students of VHL, 25 Chinese universities , an Irish and an American University go on a study week together) is also part of the Living Lab. Last May American students visited Leeuwarden and Velp, in July Dutch students will visit China, in August Chinese students will come to the Netherlands and in October Dutch and Chinese students will visit the American University of Wisconsin, River Falls Campus, during the Dairy Expo. In these study weeks the students work together on assignments for companies, visit local businesses and go to guest classes. This will help them acquire international competences that are essential to their future jobs.