BASF and UM combine innovation power for healthy and sustainable vegetable production

BASF’s vegetable seeds business and Maastricht University signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate in the Brightlands Future of Farming Institute (BFFI). The aim of the collaboration is to study sustainable vegetable production systems in interaction with plant genetics, in order to deliver vegetables with optimal consumer traits such as taste and health. The focus of the institute will be in the areas of plant functional genomics, plant envirogenetics and circular horticulture systems. As of mid-2021 it will start its activities in a new facility at the premises of the Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo, The Netherlands.


”We see the opportunity in conducting research with modern facilities at our doorstep and expanding our knowledge by working together with partners that share our vision”,  says Andreas Sewing, Vice-President R&D of BASF’s vegetable seeds business. “We need a strong understanding on how the genetic make-up of vegetables relates to the environment and how can we influence this. With many technical and scientific questions, this can only be done in a multidisciplinary research environment. Adding technology and engineering to Maastricht University’s existing strengths in healthy nutrition and food innovation links directly to our ambition of making healthy eating enjoyable and sustainable”.


With the new institute, Maastricht University, more specifically its Faculty of Science and Engineering, contributes to technological innovations needed to find answers to the major social issues in the agrifood sector. One of the biggest challenges is to find solutions to feed the world’s population in 2050 in a healthy, safe and sustainable way. The Dutch agrifood sector can play a major role in this. In Venlo, the strengths of the region, Maastricht University and the campus are bundled. Researchers and students will be working at the heart of the Brightlands community, surrounded by companies active in agrifood.


”Our collaboration with BASF is a great example of pooling strengths in line with our purpose. Combining plant science and technology, the institute will further enhance the region’s innovative strength and contribute to the technological innovations needed”, says Thomas Cleij, dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering. Maastricht University will build R&D greenhouses at the premises of Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo. Further research will include modern breeding techniques, sensor technology, artificial intelligence, robotics and advanced systems analysis, in which taste, convenience and sustainable circular production of food will be central.



The establishment of the Brightlands Future of Farming Institute further strengthens the Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo eco-system consisting of approximately 70 start-up, scale-up and established companies spanning the three themes of healthy and safe food, future farming and the bio-circular economy. The four Brightlands campuses were developed at the initiative of the Province of Limburg, Maastricht University and several leading companies. BASF’s vegetable seeds business became shareholder of the Brightlands Greenport Venlo Campus on 1 January 2020.

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