Last year, Omnia, the inspiring meeting place in the Agrofood and Life Sciences domain on Wageningen Campus, officially opened its doors. Chris van Kreij, Manager Omnia, and Frits Kok, Business Consultant Sustainability at Hutten look back on the past six months and share their experiences and joint ambitions.
‘In May last year, the building was officially inaugurated and since then brings together various groups with a balanced programming of academic ceremonies, conferences, dialogues, symposia and workshops to exchange knowledge’, says Chris van Kreij. 'The activities taking place and the organisations that make use of our conference center are all linked to topics in the Agrofood and Life Sciences domain'.
Substantive programming and inspiring events
Chris continues: “In addition to the many promotions and inaugurations, we were able to host the Social Science Impact Day, the Urban Greenhouse Challenges, the Inspiration Dinner Region Foodvalley and the North Sea Days. Each client has unique requirements that we are keen to accommodate, ranging from online streaming of hybrid events to hosting conference dinners for up to 165 people. We also hosted the opening of the Academic Year for the first time. In addition, we hosted pension fund PGGM. It seemed like there was no clear connection with the Agrofood and Life Sciences domains, but it soon became clear that there were many parallels with the WUR domains. Andre Kuipers came to talk about his experiences as a scientist on his space missions. The programme was complemented by colleague Tim van Hattum, Programme Leader Climate at WUR. Also students were engaged for a climate expo in the foyer areas of Omnia.
Next year Omnia will again host inspiring organisations, interactive dialogues and wonderful events, such as F&A Next, a two-day conference with Food & Agri Startups. Various courses from Professional Education will take place in Omnia and the Posthavest Unlimited Conference is visiting Omnia as well. Throughout the year Academic ceremonies take place, involving around 40 Inaugurations, 300 PhDs and more than 1500 MSc degree ceremonies.
Challenging start Omnia
From an operational point of view, there were many challenges in the past year. Working together in a new operational team, in a new setting with various parties with different backgrounds was very dynamic. For staff, this was very challenging and required flexibility and the ability to deal with unforeseen situations.
"I am extremely proud that the team was able to handle these situations excellently. Hosting seventeen Mindlab performances proves that Omnia is a multifunctional building. Within 24 hours, the entire theatre production was dismantled and the hall regained its familiar setup to host an inauguration speech. This was only possible with a boundless energy of the operational team of Omnia”, Chris van Kreij says.
"At Omnia the guest experience comes always first. All supporting elements have to be right, such as the catering facilities in Omnia, which we see as an extension of the substantive programme. If there is a conference on protein transition, the food and drinks supply match the content of the event. If a student organisation has a specific dinner requirement with a set budget, we ensure special dishes are prepared within budget. A good cooperation with Hutten is crucial in this”, Chris emphasises.
Joint impact for a better world
"The corresponding ambitions between WUR and Hutten in terms of sustainability and making impact were the starting point of our collaboration," says Frits Kok. "In Omnia, the meeting centre in the heart of the Foodvalley, and the indoor restaurant Faculty Club Novum, we have the opportunity to create a sustainable and local offering and to work towards a fully climate-positive operations. In our banqueting folder you will find an assortment that offers products that comply with the 2050 EAT Lancet menu."
Frits continues: "Another example are our hybrid products that consist partly of vegetables. We are continuously developing these kind of special dishes. Together with Omnia and WUR, we enhance start-ups with their new ideas and alternative ingredients that we integrate into our menus. We believe in driving innovation and in the constructive combination of science and entrepreneurship."
Regarding WUR's research domains, restaurant Faculty Club Novum is an ideal culinary testing ground for closed-loop agriculture: with minimal CO2 emissions, straight from the land to your plate. With plenty of room for both plant and animal proteins. But always without compromising the flavour and the culinary experience.
Special meetings and tasty dishes
Open to all, restaurant Faculty Club Novum at Omnia is a great space to receive guests and host meetings. On weekdays, the restaurant is open for lunches, coffee, food and drinks. On Tuesday and Thursday evenings, it is also open for dinner. In addition, excellent lunches, dinners and drinks can be served during conferences and symposia as required.
During the festive months of December and January, restaurant Faculty Club Novum at Omnia offers special dishes in an atmospheric ambience. Check out the Brunch Special, Lunch Special, the Dinner Special and the Drinks Special. Faculty Club Novum looks forward to meeting you during the festive months.
End the year with your colleagues?
Then come to the Christmas party at Faculty Club Novum in Omnia on 21 December 4 pm. A glass of Glühwein and a first snack will be offered free of charge by Hutten.