InsectSense winner of Topsector T&U Innovation Prize 2021

InsectSense winner of Topsector T&U Innovation Prize 2021

Thursday 7 October was the presentation of the third Topsector T&U Innovation Prize. The jury declared InsectSense the winner, while Thermeleon was conferred the audience award. Both winners succeeded in developing an innovation that contributes demonstrably to the realisation of sustainable horticulture. The awards were conferred during the National Horticultural Congress in Baarn.


What set this edition apart from previous years was a focus on innovations contributed by other sectors that are useful for Dutch horticultural enterprises. Chairman of the jury Harrij Schmeitz of Topsector Horticulture and Starting Materials (T&U) was impressed by the entries. ‘The Dutch horticulture sector has many challenges ahead of it in the step towards climate-neutral production. The innovations we need to accomplish this will need to come from disciplines other than the “traditional” horticultural innovation ecosystem. That many ground-breaking innovations have their origins in other sectors is also evident from the entries: no fewer than 27 candidates from the Netherlands and abroad, from within and outside the sector, entered into the competition. The Top 10 were allowed to pitch their innovation before a jury of 12 experts.’

Jury prize

The jury on the winner: ‘InsectSense uses the incredible sense of smell that only real bees have for the early detection of plant diseases. This method is fast, accurate, cost-effective and non-invasive and can help prevent significant economic losses in the agricultural and horticultural sector. This is so ground-breaking and sustainable that we are happy to support its further development. Thanks to this method, we can harness the power of nature to optimise and enhance the sustainability of the cultivation process: nature helping to improve nature.’

InsectSense received a voucher worth 25,000 euros for the further development of its solution or concept and/or the resolution of bottlenecks in collaboration with the research staff and students of Wageningen University & Research. The winner also received a wildcard from Startlife Accelerate, as well as a full year of personal guidance provided by an innovation broker from Topsector T&U.

Audience Award

Start-up Thermeleon won the audience prize with a record number of votes. This start-up optimises the energy-efficiency of greenhouses by strategically reusing surplus heat during the day and night cycle, thereby reducing CO2 emissions as well as cutting energy costs for growers. Thermeleon received a cash prize of 1,500 euros and a six-month HortiTech Startup Membership with access to the network, knowledge and facilities of innovation platform HortiHeroes and World Horti Center.

The awards were conferred by Marije Beens, Director-General for Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality.

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