"When a space came available on campus, we thought: that's where Uticon needs to be"

Published on
April 4, 2024

What kinds of things are involved in designing a factory in the food industry? Uticon, an engineering consultancy which has an office in Plus Ultra II, are experts in this. Harold Post, who joined Uticon in 2016 and who is team leader of the Wageningen and Eindhoven offices, is enthusiastic about the dynamic ecosystem on Wageningen Campus.

Can you briefly describe what Uticon does?

"Say a company or start-up/scale-up wants to build a factory or pilot plant for the production of an ingredient or consumer product. They already know where they are going to build, but how are the raw materials going to get there? What processes will be used and what equipment do they need? What kind of investments are needed for the building? How do they ensure that they meet all the food safety requirements? We have all the disciplines to design the entire factory/pilot plant for them, so that it is sustainable and carbon neutral.

We are based in Eindhoven, Bergen op Zoom and near Ghent. And since 2022, we also have an office on Wageningen Campus, with a team of eight employees. They work on projects in the regions of Utrecht, Gelderland and part of Overijssel, with a focus on the food industry."

Why did you decide to open an office on Wageningen Campus?

"When a spot became available in Plus Ultra II in spring 2022, we immediately said: we need to be there. Wageningen University&Research is well regarded and Wageningen is in the food valley, important in the Netherlands but also in Europe and beyond. An office on Wageningen Campus expands our network. I have found that other companies respond very positively when they find out you have an office here."

In what ways do you benefit from the campus?

"We are always exploring how we can use the campus ecosystem. We are affiliated with the Food Valley Foundation and often attend interesting events like F&A Next. We have already had quite a lot of contact with the companies in Plus Ultra II, and it would be nice to collaborate more with other companies on campus. There are also plans to collaborate in a PPP (Public Private Partnerships) project on sustainable proteins that is yet to be launched. It will be great to be increasingly involved in sustainability as well.

And we are also in touch with StartLife. We regularly work with startups on campus, and it's always nice to see their enthusiasm. They are often focused on what is happening in their lab, or at pilot scale. If they want to move that to a larger scale, all sorts of new things come into play: organisational aspects, process risks, food safety, automation, packaging your ingredient or product, that sort of thing. That's where our added value lies, providing advice."

Do you also work with Wageningen students?

"We are planning to. There are great opportunities to work with the university and young people. Students could do internships with us, for example. Then we can learn from them, and they can learn from us. And, of course, they provide some labour potential. At our Eindhoven office, a TU student did an assignment and then joined us."

So life is good on campus?

"Definitely, we love it here. We feel good about the campus, the workplace, and the look of the modern building. It's just an incredibly fun, dynamic environment. I sometimes joke that I feel a lot younger when I walk around campus."

Harold Post
Harold Post