Marleen de Rond: “Next Level Innovation adds value”

29-6-2021
Marleen de Rond

Next Level Innovation is an important pillar in ForFarmers' Build to Grow strategy. A special team has even been formed for it, with employees from various disciplines. But what does ForFarmers understand by Next Level Innovation and what does this team do? We asked Marleen de Rond, who heads this team.

Different departments

“NLI works on major (innovation) projects involving several departments”, Marleen explains. ForFarmers is currently involved in many different projects, but not all of them carry the ‘NLI’ label. So what actually makes a project an NLI project? Marleen: “The most important criterion is that they are large projects with a high potential margin, savings or profitability. What the projects also have in common is that they are at the interface of Production, Formulation/Nutrition and IT. In most cases, they involve the introduction of a new technique, combined with bringing together data that is available in different parts of our company. And there will always be an innovative element to it.”

Game changer

“These are projects that can really make the difference, so-called game changers”, Marleen continues. “They require an approach that differs from the usual one and they usually lead to a change in our systems. NLI projects are, by definition, always exploratory and the eventual outcome will initially be unclear. So in that sense, these projects also involve a certain level of risk, as you don't know in advance whether what you hope for will come out of it.”

Setting the bar high

As mentioned earlier, another core feature is that we use the very latest techniques in these projects. The result must be that we deliver something that is (almost) new in the market, giving us the advantage of ‘being the first’. Marleen: ´The bar has been set quite high, so it’s certainly not that easy for a project to turn into an NLI project.”

Wider scope

ForFarmers also has a Nutrition Innovation Centre (NIC) that deals with innovation. What is the difference? “The NIC primarily focuses on research and innovation in the area of feed and feed applications. And it is also responsible for nutritional support and training of the sales organisation. Next Level Innovation focuses on innovation at the interface of Production, Formulation/Nutrition, Sales and IT. So the scope is broader. They are not in each other’s way, but complement each other well.”

Afbeelding: Marleen de Rond_in-line
Marleen de Rond: "NLI focuses on innovation at the interface of Production, Nutrition, Sales and IT."