200 students showcase sustainable innovations as Business Fair goes online


‘’An innovation in itself"  that is how VHL University of Applied Sciences (VHL) President Jan van Iersel described the Online Business Fair and Innovation Market as he welcomed students, educators, institutional partners and other guests to the culminating event on Friday 19 June 2020.

Through the event website hvhl.nl/business-fair, about 500 students, professionals, parents and guests visited about 50 booths on that day, which showcased sustainable business ideas of the second years students and innovation ideas of the first years students.

Four jury prizes were given during the ceremony. Winners of the Rabobank Awards, Sustainability Awards, Social Media Awards and Innovation Awards are Positive Partners, Droneherd, Ajabu Snacks and Community House Birgauani, respectively.

During the event, Loet Rammelsberg of StartLife advised students to “take the helicopter view to further assess your business ideas” as he talked about Spotting and Fostering Startups. Furthermore, Ge Backus of Connecting Agri and Food presented an innovative project on Changing the Lives of Animals by use of information, communication and sensor technology.

Dubbed Greentrepreneur 2020, the Online Business Fair and Innovation Market was organized by the teachers of the study programmes International Business in Food and Flowers (IBFF); International Development Management (IDM); Food Technology (FT); Animal Husbandry (AH); and Management van de Leefomgeving (ML), with the support of the Marketing & Communication department as well as the ICT department.  

Ajabu Snacks wins VHL Social Media Awards

Team Ajabu Snacks of International Development Management (IDM) won the first prize of the Social Media Awards during the VHL Online Business Fair on June 19, 2020.   

VHL President Jan van Iersel, chair of the jury, complimented the team’s “impressive and highly visible corporate identity” citing that the team bested 30 teams with their excellent social media engagement and creative promotion work. The idea of Ajabu Snacks is to provide nutritious snacks to the Tanzanian population through food production that aims to empower small-scale women farmers, strengthen the local economy and reduce food as well as plastic waste.

Neo Care bagged the 2nd place with their high engagement and creativity on Instagram. NeoCare’s idea is to provide sustainable shampoo for horses. The jury gave the 3rd prize to Eco Wrap for their creative and engaging posts on Facebook. Eco Wrap’s idea is to create sustainable alternatives for wrapping gifts.

Anita van Mierlo and Stefan Martens of VHL’s Marketing and Communication department are members of the jury.

Anti-locust drone project wins VHL Sustainability Awards

Droneherd from International Development Management (IDM) bagged the first prize of the Sustainability Awards. The team’s mission is to use drones to help farmers protect their crops from the locust plagues, by steering the locusts into low-value land and creating an opportunity to harvest and sell them for profit.

1st runner up was Sprout from International Business in Food and Flowers, who presented an app that uses gamification to raise awareness on sustainable consumption and change consumer behavior.

Kiemie from International Development Management (IDM) was announced the 2nd runner up, with their customizable modular and automated rack for vertically growing (micro)greens inside houses. 

The jury members, Lieselotte Heederik of Nazava Water Filter Indonesia and Jos van Hal of VHL, looked at how the students envision their business ideas to contribute to sustainability and the Sustainable Development Goals. According to the jury, the winners presented potential contributions to SDGs # 1,2,5,7,10,11,12,13. The thirty participating teams, combined, covered all the SDGs in presenting their sustainability vision.

Rabobank commends Positive Partners

Ewout den Ouden of Rabobank Vallei en Rijn announced Positive Partners as winners of this year’s Rabobank Awards during the Business Fair on June 19, held digitally this year. Crystie of International Business in Food and Flowers and Trailer Share of Animal Husbandry garnered the 2nd and 3rd prizes respectively.

Positive Partners is a dating app meant for HIV-positive people in South Africa who struggle in finding a partner due to the stigma around HIV. Moreover, it provides the possibility to contact medical professionals to answer HIV-related questions. “Aside from their business approach, I am impressed by the way they would like to build a community and care for people.”says Den Ouden.

The Rabobank representative was also impressed by Crystie. “Our vision was clear from the beginning. We wanted to create a new experience with our concept of a bottle paired with a flavored crystal.”said Zoe Nijland of team Crystie.  Their bottle consists of a screw made from wood; the main body made of glass, and the bottom made of an aluminum ‘push to-click' system.

Trailer Share received the 3rd prize, as they presented a possibility for trailer owners to rent out their trailers through an online platform. Trailer Share aims to contribute to SDG 12.

 The criteria for this award are presentations and professionalism, clear view on customers' needs, investment potential, feasibility, and clear unique selling points.

Community House Bargauani earns 1st place of the VHL Innovation Awards

Team Community House Bargauani topped 15 innovation ideas presented by 1st year students of International Development Management (IDM) and Food Technology. Jan van Iersel (VHL President) commended the team’s energy and enthusiasm as they presented their creative ideas on how to contribute to community-building in a village in Romania through their innovation.

The second prize was given to Flavour Bobbs for their idea of using alginate spheres that are filled with condiments, like soy sauce or salad dressing. The main focus of the company is the development of a plastic-free, sphere-shaped sauce bubbles for wholesalers and retailers, restaurants and catering alike. Jan van Iersel said he recognized the problem the team presented about food waste, and that edible packages is an interesting idea.

Bargauani Bed & Breakfast received the 3rd prize. The judges were impressed about “how entertaining the presentation was while giving the necessary information” about their B&B and its goal of giving additional source of income and cultural exchange for a village in Romania. 

The judges assessed 15 teams on the following criteria: 1) design of the end product is visually attractive and informative; 2) Presentation of the innovation is concise and convincing. 3) The feasibility of the innovation is evidenced.