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March 27, 2022

  • 15:30

    Start canal tour

    Relax and enjoy the view of the city from the river. Bask in the fascinating history of Ghent as your professional tour guide shares with you all the history and secrets of the city. See the beautiful architecture in Ghent and view the impressive walls of the Castle of Counts.

  • 17:00


    • Welcome

      by our chair Dr. An Michiels, Director AgKnowledge Partnering (Belgium)

    • Opening

      by Dr. Arjen van Tunen, CEO KeyGene (NL) and Prof Dr Dirk Inze, Science Director VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology (Belgium)

  • 17:15

    Plenary keynote lectures

    This Sunday evening program will focus on the impact of climate change on the development and production of crops.

    • ´Environmental control for better plants and better plants for controlled environments’

      by Dr. Jon Van Wagenen, Senior Scientist AeroFarms (US)

      Jon will highlight AeroFarms achievements to date in using environmental control to produce exceptional plants. Furthermore, the presentation will provide perspective on how the interaction between genetics and environment offers an opportunity to breed crops for vertical farms.

    • ´Adapting crops to changing environments: Genetic diversity & sustainable banana production´

      by Anker Sørensen, Vice President New Business KeyGene (NL)

      The presentation will describe in general how KeyGene is approaching the challenges caused by fast changing environments. Focussed on crop improvement to address these challenges. A few examples on this theme of ongoing research will be given. The bulk of the presentation will further focus on the banana example, explaining the market of this important fruit and it’s challenges with respect to sustainable production. In particular I will discuss the way KeyGene and our partners in the newly established R&D company Yelloway, are approaching the breeding of novel banana varieties that will be able to face the challenges.

    • ´A different kind of green: changing the narrative on sustainable food production´

      Dr. Hidde Boersma, Science journalist, essayist and documentary film maker (NL)

      For the general public there is only way forward to more sustainable food production. It is the story of the classical environmentalist: farm more in harmony with nature, extensify and eschew from using more of  the modern techniques that got us in the problems in the first place. Recent science however, suggests this path might actually worsen the case.  To save biodiversity and stave off of an even hotter climate, it is actually best to intensify food production of the most fertile fields, to make more space for nature.  How is it possible that this new story hardly leaves academia, and how do we change the narrative on what sustainable food production actually entails?

  • 20:00

    Closing keynote lecture - ´Food as a Force for Good – Driving the Food Transition Together´

    by Manfred Aben, Global VP S&T Foods & Refreshment / Site Leader Unilever Foods Innovation Centre Wageningen (NL)

    • The food system is broken – Unilever’s Future Food Commitments
    • Doing well by doing good: Purpose and Sustainability are key drivers for growth and resilience
    • If you think you can do it alone, you are not thinking big enough
    • Working across the value chain and beyond – ecosystem innovation
    • Challenges we need to address – together.

March 28, 2022

  • 09:00

    Plenary program

    Keynote lecture by Hendrik van Asbroeck, Partner Astanor Ventures (Belgium)
    ´Revolutionizing agrifood by investing in impact´

    • The case for revolutionizing the agrifood sector – A discussion of the environmental and social impacts of the global agrifood sector and the tech innovations that can change the game
    • Impact investing as a tool to accelerate change – Overview of Astanor’s approach to impact investing (investment principles, impact measurement)
    • Highlight a few innovative, impact-driven agrifood tech companies

  • 09:45

  • 10:30

    Parallel sessions part 1

    Healthy soils for healthy crops for healthy humans

    Presentations by

    • Student: Thijs van Gerrewey, Biostimulant Project Coordinator at Ghent University (Belgium)
    Dr. Mikael Courbot, Chief Technology Officer Micropep Technologies (France)
    Dr. Isabel Vercauteren, CEO Aphea.Bio (Belgium)
     André Negreiros, Seed Applied Technologies Leader Corteva (Switzerland)

    Crop diversity for human health benefits

    Presentations by
     Dr. Ying Liu, Postdoc Researcher, Horticulture and Product Physiology Group at Wageningen University and Research (NL)
     Dr. ing. Matthew de Roode, Manager Innovation Sensus (NL)
    Dr. Ryan Rapp, Chief Technology Officer Pairwise Plants (US)
     Juan Sanchez Tamburrino Ph.D., MBA, Vice President of Research and Development 22nd Century Group, Inc. (US)

  • 13:30

    Parallel sessions part 2

    New crops for sustainable & healthy products

    Presentations by
     PhD Student: Evelien Waegneer PhD, ILVO and affiliation KU Leuven (Belgium)
     Benjamin Laga, CEO and Founder Protealis (Belgium)
     Ying Shao, Co-Founder and CEO Plantik Biosciences (France)
     Hein Kruyt, CEO Solynta (Netherlands)

    Adaptation of crops to diseases & environmental changes

    Presentations by
     Postdoctoral Researcher: Karen Kloth, Wageningen University & Research (NL)
     Irina Calic, Postdoctoral Research Associate University of Cologne (Germany)
     Dr Fred van Ex, Vice President Discovery and Product Design, Inari Agriculture N.V. (Belgium)
     Jack Peart, Chief Commercial Officer Tropic Biosciences (UK)

  • 15:30

  • 16:15

    Plenary pitch program

    Innovator pitches by young-, promising- and/ or startup innovators
    6 Early stage companies will have the opportunity to present their venture, technology or business case in an elevator pitch of almost 7 minutes (PechaKhucha style*).

    A jury, in combination with the audience will select the winner who will get the opportunity to give a 8 minutes presentation, 2 free full conference tickets and booth space at the next edition of the conference (value 5,000 EUR).

    *PechaKucha is a presentation style in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each (6 minutes and 40 seconds in total).

    The pitch program is supported by VIB and StartLife.

  • 17:30

  • 19:00

    Dinner experience

    Restaurant De Abt, Lange Kruisstraat 4, Ghent

March 29, 2022

  • 09:00

    Plenary program

    Keynote lecture by Dr. Arjen van Tunen, CEO Keygene (NL):
    ‘Understanding Fertilization for better seeds’

    Plant Breeding depends, almost by definition, on the central process of fertilization and seed development. In the past years more and more knowledge has been gained at the molecular levels. Which gene sets are important and which genes can be used to direct crosses and improve seed quality of new varieties? In his presentation he will show a number of applications or potential applications of this.

  • 09:45

  • 10:30

    Parallel sessions part 3

    Artificial intelligence in agriculture

    Presentations by
     Student: Lars van der Lely BSc., MSc Robotics Student TU Delft (NL)
     Ouri Fischel, Business Development Director Agrematch LTD. (Israel)
     Prof. dr. Steven Maenhout, DirectorProgeno, Research group Predictive Breeding, Ghent University (Belgium)
     Ingmar Wolff, Co-Founder and CEO GmbH (Germany)

    Global portfolio strategies in agri business

    Hosted by BASF Agricultural Solutions Belgium NV

    Presentations by: 
    Prof.Dr. Matty Demont, Research Leader Markets, Consumers & Nutrition at CGIAR International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) (Philippines)
    • Dr. B. Bart Lambert, Global Oilseeds Technology Lead at BASF Agricultural Solutions (Belgium)
    • Manuel Rosas, Chief Scientific Officer, Planasa (US)
    • Mark van Haaren, Global Head Licensing Vegetables at Syngenta Crop Protection AG (Switzerland)

  • 13:30

    Parallel sessions part 4

    Robotics and drones for breeding- and production of crops

    Hosted by VITO Remote Sensing

    Presentations by:
    Sam Oswald, R&D Data Scientist VITO Remote Sensing (Belgium)
    Drs. H.J. Rick van de Zedde, Project Manager Netherlands Plant Eco-phenotyping Centre (NL)
     Jonathan Berte, Founder Robovision (Belgium)
     Bram Tijmons, CEO & co-founder PATS Indoor Drone Solutions (NL)

    Complementary advancements in science & technologies

    Presentations by
     Student: Denia Herwegh, Predoctoral fellow VIB-UGent (Belgium)
     Sami Saarenpää, PhD, Doctoral Student SciLifeLab Stockholm (Sweden)
     Dr. Gerard Verbiest, Assistant Professor / Tenure Track TU-Delft (NL)
     Prof. Dr. Guido Grossmann, Heinrich-Heine University Düsseldorf (Germany)

  • 15:30

  • 16:15

    Closing plenary program

    • Award ceremony winner 'best pitch´

    • Closing keynote lecture

      by Prof Dr Dirk Inze, Science Director VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology (Belgium)

      ´Plant science for climate change and food security´

      The world is experiencing an unprecedented climate crisis that requires urgent action at all fronts. Plant biology offers great opportunities both for adapting to climate change as well as for mitigating the accumulation of greenhouse gasses. I will discuss how, on a world-wide level, plant scientists address climate change and how new breeding tools, such as genome editing can contribute to it. There is an evident need for the further development of high yielding crops that are able to cope with environmental cues such as drought and high temperatures. However, crop yield and stress tolerance are governed by many interacting genes and are difficult traits to improve. I will illustrate with our research on maize that genome editing is offering unprecedented perspectives to tackle complex multi-genic traits such as yield and drought tolerance. Furthermore, genome editing also has the potential to accelerate the development of crops that maximally the mitigation of greenhouse gasses. Numerous concepts are being development ranging from plants with maximized CO2 fixing capabilities; (perennial) crops with deep root systems and an improved nitrogen use efficiency to crops that can serve as protein source to reduce meat consumption.

    • Closing ceremony and announcement

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