Lucia Luijben Investment associate
“At NuFrontiers, we’re looking for groundbreaking technologies for our industry.”
While working as a technology consultant, Lucia Luijben contacted Nutreco. That encounter was so unique that she ended up working at NuFrontiers, Nutreco’s strategic innovation and investment team. With a master’s in Biotechnology, she focuses on the technical side of things.
Can you tell us more about NuFrontiers?
‘We’re looking to identify, develop and invest in technologies that enable next-generation sustainable products, models and services throughout the feed and food protein value chain. Nutreco has a great deal of inhouse knowledge and expertise, but there is also a limit to what we can do ourselves. With NuFrontiers, we comb every inch of the market looking for start-ups, scale-ups, innovative projects and joint ventures we can invest in. We’re not only an investor but, as strategic partner, also an accelerator. Leveraging the knowledge and expertise we have at Nutreco, our resources and our network, we can jointly develop and market technologies faster. Truly a win-win situation.’
What are examples of such next-generation products, models, and services?
‘Our key investment themes are nutrition, health and precision farming for livestock and aquaculture, as well as sustainable aquaculture farming systems and alternative food protein. For example, antimicrobial resistance is one of the biggest public health challenges of our time. With Skretting, we have started a collaboration with a company specialised in a particular biotechnology, which can be used as an alternative to antibiotics that used to be included in animal and aquafeed. Together we are developing a new feed additive for shrimp. Another example of a product we are looking into is computer vision combined with machine learning to automatically measure animal growth and performance. Based on this data, we can provide better feed advice to farmers. By investing in these next-gen products, models and services, we want to optimise the industry and make it more sustainable.’
“Nutreco embraces and feeds new technologies.”
What is your role within the NuFrontiers team?
‘As an investment associate, I’m always on the hunt for new investment opportunities. Roughly every other day, I have a meeting with a new company that I have scouted myself or the other way around. I do a lot of desk research and, in a pre-COVID situation, I would travel a lot to congresses, other events and to meet potential partners. Of course, we can’t just invest in everything we bump into. It’s always important to ask ourselves if it fits Nutreco and the needs of our clients, therefore we rely heavily on the expertise of colleagues from research & development and marketing.’
What do you like about your job?
‘In addition to being in touch with a lot of exciting and interesting start-ups and scale-ups, I have a huge network within our own organisation. For example, I communicate a lot with our research & development department. It’s always fun to meet someone new and to find out what they’re working on. And I really like the different topics I work on myself. It is mighty interesting to be on top of all the new developments in the animal feed industry.’
And what do you like about working at Nutreco?
‘Before Nutreco, I worked at a smaller company where the number of specialists, knowledge and expertise was limited. Here we seem to have an inexhaustible source! I also like working at Nutreco because idea sharing is encouraged from all team members. To me, it shows that the organisation is always willing to change, renew and improve. And, of course, what I also find interesting and important is ‘Feeding the Future’, our purpose to meet the rising food needs of a growing world population sustainably. Every single colleague at Nutreco contributes to this mission from his or her own field of expertise. Feeding the Future unites us.’
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