Innovative ideas for the agricultural sector: Syngenta Netherlands coaches WUR students

Remco van den Berg (Crop Planner, Syngenta Vegetable seeds), Remco Peerdeman (R&D Project Lead, Syngenta Flowers) and Ward Clevers (Program Manager, Syngenta Flowers)

As a partner of the first edition of the WUR Student Challenge, experts from Syngenta Netherlands, including Syngenta Flowers, support students with the development of innovative ideas for challenges in the agricultural sector. The theme of the challenge is ‘rethink protein’: how can we feed 9 billion people with healthy, sustainable and affordable protein?

"This great project of Wageningen University & Research (WUR) gives top talents from the sector the opportunity to develop ideas themselves", explains Ward Clevers of Syngenta Flowers. "If some of the ideas fit well with Syngenta, we will start to coach the students."

Syngenta is one of the sixteen companies that guides the students in the further elaboration of their plan. Depending on the idea, it is determined which companies can offer the best support. And although the students' plans vary widely, they all have a common goal. Ward: "Students mainly look for innovative ways to make or use proteins."

"There are now 56 projects running and with a third we can really get started", says Ward. "An example of a project is finding ways to increase the amount and quality of proteins in rice with different techniques."

The WUR Student Challenge is an international competition organized by Wageningen University & Research (WUR), where much research is done in the field of agriculture, environment, ecology and forestry. Syngenta Flowers has knowledge and experience through specific breeding and technology, just like Syngenta Vegetables and Crop Protection. “We want to share knowledge with the students. Together with Remco Peerdeman and Remco van den Berg, it is our role to link the projects to the experts within Syngenta, so that they get the information they need to go further and manage the projects at a high level.”

Now that the projects are known, Syngenta starts to collaborate with students on their projects. "We are going to coach groups, the goal is to ensure that the projects reach the final and of course win!"

The 20 best ideas will be announced on 2 June and the final of the WUR Student Challenge will be on 27 June.