Cosun is making it easier for R&D professionals to collaborate with each other. We want to offer them every opportunity to get together and work with one another. Given the importance of R&D to the future of our group, an innovation centre has been developed with all the facilities researchers and developers need. It is located at the Nieuw Prinsenland agrofood cluster in West Brabant. Most of the businesses operating from this business park are engaged in the agrofood sector.

The Cosun innovation center offers flexible workplaces to more than a hundred R&D professionals and colleagues from other business groups. It also hosts the activities of Cosun Research & Development, Cosun Innovation, Cosun Biobased Products and the Institute for Rational Sugar Production (IRS), which has its own laboratory opposite the main building.

The innovation center has several laboratories (for analysis, product development, microbiology and non-food), a complete sensory research facility, 12 meeting rooms and a pilot factory. The pilot factory can handle production runs that are bigger than a laboratory can but smaller than a full-scale factory can.

All Cosun’s business groups work on innovation to improve their own products and processes. By working together we can achieve better results. The R&D professionals support the entire Cosun group by performing quality analyses, application development and process optimisation. Cosun R&D is increasingly being engaged to carry out innovation projects in close cooperation with the business groups. Many of these projects are part of the business groups’ multiyear innovation programmes. This is making higher demands on the R&D staff’s knowledge and expertise. Their broad outlook and ability to think in terms of concepts, however, make it easier for these highly qualified professionals to work with external knowledge institutions and this collaboration will be intensified.

The core activity of Cosun Innovation, and thus of Cosun Research & Development, is to create and develop new applications of vegetable raw materials. In doing so, the business group not only contributes to the cooperative’s goals but also increases the sustainability of its processes and products and strengthens the profitability of its operations.

Decisions were taken in 2018 to increase Cosun’s innovative strength. One of them was to transfer Cosun Biobased Products to Suiker Unie. Its innovative product range is a good match for Suiker Unie’s ambitions to extract maximum value from the sugar beet. Betafib is an example of a new product based on sugar beet pulp. Suiker Unie’s expertise in process technology will also help Cosun Biobased Products to scale up and optimise its production.

The trend towards more vegetable proteins offers opportunities to the Cosun business groups. The potential is being researched at various places within the group. Cosun Innovation shares its know-how and expertise throughout the cooperative and collaborates with other business groups on innovative projects. Cosun held its third Innovation Day in the autumn, with more than 90 Cosun professionals enthusiastically explaining how innovations can successfully be brought to market.