Saturday, June 1, 2013

Interview: Dr. Ad Juriaanse, Managing Director and Dr. Liz Kamei, Vice President of business development for Asia Pacific, NIZO Food Research

Dr. Ad Juriaanse did a PhD in Biochemistry. He worked for 14 years for Unilever in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom in different positions in both R&D and operating companies.  Since 1995 he is managing director of NIZO food research.
Dr. Liz Kamei obtained her PhD in biochemistry in the UK and then went to work as a research scientist for Kirin Breweries, a Japanese beverage company. She transferred to Gunma University where she worked as associate professor in the Faculty of Engineering before returning to a business position in the UK. Liz has worked in business development and open innovation roles, mainly focusing on the Asian-Pacific food & beverage markets.
She is fluent in Japanese and is currently learning Korean with the aim of creating good working relationships with our friends in the Korean food & beverage industry. At NIZO, she is the Vice President of business development for Asia Pacific.
Ad: It is a pleasure to speak about NIZO and our aspirations for developing our business within Korea. It is my role to oversee NIZO’s activities on a global basis, and Liz is leading our business activities in Asia-Pacific. I am inviting Liz to comment in this interview as it is our hope that our friends in Korea will see her as the point of contact for NIZO and will reach out to her to discuss their innovation ambitions and objectives.
What are the key objectives of NIZO this year, in terms of expanding operations?
Ad: Our overall objective is to carry on being relevant to the global food industry by maintaining our cutting edge capabilities and evolving as an organization so that we are always a key part of food innovation networks. Liz, what do you have to say about our activities in Asia-Pacific?
Liz: Our ambition for Asia Pacific is to really understand the innovation needs of our current and potential partners and provide the best match of NIZO expertise to meet those needs. That expertise might be flavour, texture, gut health food safety or process optimization – it depends on the needs of the client. My personal aim is to act as an initiator of relationships that lead to co-creation and breakthrough innovations.
 What are the competitive advantages that NIZO offers?
Ad: NIZO is an independent research company that assists the food industry with their innovations and optimizations on a project basis giving maximum flexibility to the client. We are convinced that good food needs good science and that can be achieved by working together intimately with our clients on those things that are relevant to their business.  As a hub of food science expertise, working with NIZO gives our clients access to the latest science and technology. We believe it is important to stress that IP generated during projects belongs to the client.
Our experts have a variety of backgrounds - both academic and industrial – and they understand the needs of industry. In addition, our understanding and expertise has grown as a result of the many successful projects carried out for food and ingredient companies over our 65 year history.  Thus, NIZO also serves as an excellent gateway to the European markets.
Liz: I would emphasize the fact that our scientists have a broad range of experiences gained from different organizations. As you may know, innovation happens when a diverse set of skills and experiences are brought together to create something new. In addition, our scientists all have their own personal networks into industry and academia – they span the boundaries of our organization – and that also amplifies the opportunities to innovate. This really illustrates the importance of being part of diverse networks –and it is something that is not easy to replicate in other organizations.
What are your plans for operation in Korea?
Ad: Liz has the overview of our ideas for Korea, so I will let her answer.
Liz: We realize the importance of building the business relationship and understanding our client’s needs and ways of working. We welcome the opportunity to learn how to best work with you.
We are considering opportunities in the near future (2014)  to take NIZO experts to Korea and to run one of the well-respected NIZO technical courses. This will be a learning opportunity for NIZO, and a chance for potential clients to interact with our experts and learn about NIZO. Our experts are of course available for consultancies, depending on the needs of Foodpolis in general and specific companies in particular. We welcome the chance to discuss potential opportunities with our friends in Korea.
Any thoughts on FOODPOLIS, the Korean government initiative to develop the food industry in Northeast Asia?
Liz: The incredible progress made by Korea in other technical fields is well known and we expect that this initiative will be backed by the same dedication and energy. We are excited by the future of Foodpolis.

Ad: All I can add is that we are delighted to be invited to attend the 3rd International Food Cluster Forum and have the chance to visit the site of Foodpolis.