Science - June 23, 2005

A&F nutrition research will go to Nizo

The Agrotechnology & Food Innovations research institute will probably transfer part of its nutrition research to Nizo Food Research in Ede. The personnel affected will remain employed by Wageningen UR for another year and will be seconded to Nizo. Within a year Nizo will decide which employees it will take over.

The Restaurant of the Future, sensory research, protein technology and allergy research, all parts of the Food Quality business unit, will remain part of Wageningen UR. Microbiology, mild separation and conservation techniques, and product technology will move to Ede if the plans are approved.

Nizo will also take over the equipment, and all licences and patents from the departments that move. Wageningen UR will also pledge not to compete with Nizo for the coming five years in the areas that will be transferred to Nizo. In exchange for the transfer, personnel at A&F will receive preferential treatment when vacancies arise. In addition Nizo and Wageningen UR intend to work together more closely. A steering group with representatives from Nizo and the university will examine ways to extend the current cooperation further.

The agreement between Nizo and Wageningen UR has not yet formally come into force. The A&F works council (OR) still needs to approve the proposal to disband the Food Quality business unit. Only when the negotiations with the OR have been concluded will a definite agreement be signed.

According to spokesman Simon Vink, the executive board sees no viable future for Food Quality. The group is too small to survive under the current difficult market conditions. ‘Losses have been suffered in recent years, and this year the business unit is still in the red. A reorganisation is inevitable. That is why the executive board has decided to transfer part of the activities to other sections of Wageningen UR, and has made provisional agreements with Nizo. This would provide some of the personnel with the possibility to continue at Nizo. We hope that they will seize this opportunity.’

The agreements concerning not competing do not apply to ongoing research at the university and other sciences groups. Vink: ‘According to the executive board, we are only talking about research done by parts of A&F. Research that is done at the university or other parts of Wageningen UR does not fall under the agreement.’ The A&F works council has not yet discussed the plans, and therefore was unavailable for comment. / KV

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