Responsible Scaling Interview 3/3 - Loet Rummenie, Startlife

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On February 13, 2024, the Netherlands Food Partnership and CGIAR co-organized a breakfast meeting on Responsible Scaling. We had the opportunity to interview three of the participants. Below, you'll find valuable insight from the interview with Loet Rummenie. Loet is program director at StartLife, an AgriTechFood Accelerator on the Wageningen campus.

Q: What is the biggest insight you’re taking away from this Responsible Scaling event?

Loet reflected on the work for StartLife, emphasising the 24 hours a day seven days a week dedication to their mission. He shares that in discussions about scaling, the focus often centres on expanding a technology into a market, understanding market demands, and driving technological advancements. However, the recent workshop underscored a crucial realisation: “It's about whether we can actually bring solutions to the challenges we face around equality, around sustainability, around land degradation, around biodiversity. Technologies are just one of many enabling factors to scale. It’s not the Holy Grail.”

Q: In your experience, what are some of the bottlenecks to scaling innovations and do you think this CGIAR tool can help address these bottlenecks?

Loet emphasised the pivotal role of behaviour as the most important bottleneck. He suggested that altering behaviour could stimulate market adaptation. For instance, embracing trends like environmental consciousness by opting for train travel or reducing meat consumption can drive significant change. He highlighted that technological solutions should align with such behavioural shifts. Loet therefore expressed optimism that once alternatives like convenient train travel or appealing plant-based meat options become more accessible, widespread change will naturally occur. For example, one of the startups on our a la Carte program, The Mediterranean Food Lab, is working on improving the taste of plant-based alternatives by using solid state fermentation and simple, familiar ingredients like grains, legumes, and vegetables. Ultimately, we need to meet consumer needs with innovation otherwise it won’t take off. Price, taste, and convenience all play a big role here.

Q: Is StartLife working with CGIAR and the Scaling Readiness Approach?

At the moment, we have a memorandum of understanding with CGIAR. He shares that StartLife is exploring with various CGIAR Initiatives to see if they can help bring more of the knowledge created by CGIAR institutes to the market, generating real impact. Loet explains that: “Not many scientists are entrepreneurs. We're interested in setting up a platform where innovative ideas and concepts are shared, allowing entrepreneurs to take them forward and make a difference. Working together with technical knowhow and entrepreneurial spirits is the way forward to bring innovative solutions to the market. ”

Loet shares that StartLife hasn't yet integrated CGIAR’s Scaling Readiness approach into their operations. However, when discussing innovation and technology, they primarily focus on technology readiness levels, which they perceive as a comparable approach. He expressed particular interest in the morning's discussion about how to filter and search the scaling readiness methodology. “That's something we would be open to explore with CGIAR—to see if we could implement that. That's pretty cool!”


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Ken Owino

NFP Communications

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Mariëlle Karssenberg

Knowledge Broker - Netherlands Food Partnership

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