New Dutch Export: The Floating Farm

In 2015 the Dutch developer, Peter van Wingerden, went on a trade mission to China. His goal: to find a market for his innovative Floating Farm. Mission accomplished. “Even before we set foot on Chinese territory, our schedule was packed with appointments,” he says. The trade mission was organized by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO.nl).

New Dutch Export: Floating Farm

New Dutch Export: Floating Farm

Image: PvW/FF

Farm in the city

Van Wingerden devised the Floating Farm together with two partners, Johan Bosman and Carel de Vries. “The growing world populations are attracted to cities,” he says. “This increases the need for food in those areas. With a farm in the town or city, we capture that production deficit. Thus, we reduce not only the supply chain but also provide an educational function (particularly children). Townspeople can come and pick fresh, healthy products.”

Joining maritime technology to agro-knowledge

Making the food chain less vulnerable reduces the burden on the environment, floating, high-tech farms are a solution. With the multiple use of space, fresh food (dairy) is produced in an animal-friendly and sustainable manner. The production is circular: cycles of nutrients, energy and water are closed as much as possible. Cities in delta areas with a strategic location on the water and with waterways into the heart of the city are especially suitable for these floating farms. Expertise on maritime technology and agro-knowledge is united.

Good preparation is essential

Prior to van Wingerden’s mission, Chinese journalists in the Netherlands were invited to write articles for the Chinese media. As a result, says van Wingerden, “There was plenty of early attention for our concept. A major Chinese dairy company was eager to talk to us as well were several livestock and investors. Due to thorough preparation and the broad announcement of our arrival, the mission went smoothly. We found that cultural differences were no obstacle.”

Broad market

China imports a lot of food, among other things, from the Netherlands. In many of its large cities the country has a limited ability to produce it themselves. "Right there is our concept fit," Van Wingerden says. "Abroad is our largest market."

Interest is high. Apart from China, also from America, especially faced with logistical challenges because of the immense distances. And densely populated Singapore, where there is zero land space for private facilities, is also enthusiastic. "Our concept is scalable. We can drop the farm on both large and small water surfaces."

“There's something special about the floating farm.” Van Wingerden continues, "Climate change regularly causes flooding. With the planet consisting of 70 percent water, and the challange of rising water levels, it is necessary to develop alternatives for future food production."

Building an international business

According to Van Wingerden, it’s important to visit abroad more than once. "If you want to do business internationally, be prepared to invest your time abroad. They’re not junkets. It is hard work and requires a proactive attitude. The trade mission has completely fulfilled our expectations. In addition to providing a good picture of the interest in our concept, it also showed us the possibilities and possible obstacles, including architectural barriers. But above all we prized the many valuable business contacts it gave us."

Holland – fertile ground for innovation

The Dutch have the character and attitude of reinvention. Its people have embraced new ideas and innovation, with an ethos of ‘boldly going where none has gone before’ and ‘making things happen.' We see it as crucial for economic growth, but moreover that it improves the well-being of society as a whole.  Still, we strive to instil integrated approaches and holistic vision in our industries, knowledge institutes and citizens toward finding innovative solutions within high-tech, logistics and agriculture to further secure the Netherlands leading international position in innovation and sustainability.