Taking a look inside Mother Earth to make sustainable and safe choices for a healthy living environment. That is in essence the mission of Royal Eijkelkamp. The Dutch company does this worldwide, both on a large and – since recently – also a small scale, in the new research area Innofields in Giesbeek, Gelderland. “A kind of Madurodam for innovations in soil and water research.
Looking for clean water, preventing flooding, gaining insight into evaporation and desiccation, or measuring organic substances in the soil for food supply. These are just a few of the projects Royal Eijkelkamp is involved in. The family business has over one hundred years of experience and expertise in soil and water research.
Recently, because of their innovative research, the company won the Economic Board‘s Pearl Award, a recognition to a special, innovative, or sustainable company in the field of Food, Health, and Energy. On the basis of these three fields of interest, the Nijmegen-Arnhem region and Wageningen are together presenting themselves as ‘Lifeport‘.
Royal Eijkelkamp has more than 10,000 products and research possibilities to, for example, take soil samples up to a depth of 300 meters. “It is our motivation to make the world a little better with knowledge and skills in the field of soil, water, land, and climate,” says director Huug Eijkelkamp. As an example, he mentions his own province, Gelderland. “It is the province with the most rivers in the Netherlands, but at the same time also the province that is desiccating the most. What exactly is going wrong? And how can we counteract this desiccation? Those are the kind of solutions we are looking for.”
The research takes place from China to South Africa and from India to Giesbeek, in no less than 140 countries in total. Innofields is currently being developed on Royal Eijkelkamp’s own site close to the head office in Giesbeek. “Here we will conduct research, tests and demonstrations together with a number of partners, such as Rijkswaterstaat, the province of Gelderland, Wageningen University & Research, but also a number of foreign research institutes and small innovative companies”, says Eijkelkamp. “We can do research on a small scale into what’s happening on a large scale anywhere in the world. You could see it as an innovative playground, a kind of mini-Madurodam, where we can come up with complete solutions together with all those other stakeholders.” Eijkelkamp also expects to attract many foreign organizations to Innofields.
Innofields is located in a large valley area between the Hoge Veluwe and Montferland and is still in the start-up phase. Anyone who goes there now will see an almost empty area of 7 hectares. The concept is currently being developed further; the first start-ups have just begun on the site.
For example, the company ‘Bodemliefde‘ (“Love for the Soil”) is going to do research here into organisms in the soil. There are billions of organisms in just one cup of earth. The correct composition of that soil with living organisms creates fertile soil and is a prelude to sustainable cultivation systems, which contribute to the global food challenges.
Ultimately, Innofields wants to become the hotspot and knowledge center for parties all over the world that are active in soil and water. Eijkelkamp also works on knowledge sharing and innovation in other ways. Such as with the Eijkelkamp Academy and collaborations with, among others, the Dutch Food Security Alliance.
The Economic Board is a ‘triple-helix’ collaboration between government, knowledge institutions, and the business community in the Arnhem – Nijmegen – Wageningen region. The board connects parties and stimulates more innovation and special potential in the region. Under the heading ‘Lifeport‘, the regional innovation network in the areas of Food, Health, Energy and the crossovers between them aims to come up with smart solutions for a better, healthier, and more sustainable life. Lifeport stands for “connecting and innovating with a human touch“.