‘The grant is helping us implement our business case’
Adrie and Mariam van der Loo are restaurant owners who regularly cooked special meals for people with chewing and swallowing problems. Teaming up with business developer Boudewijn Oude Elberink, the enterprising couple decided to develop their special meals as a concept that they called Fijnproevers. Together with Subsidiefocus, they successfully applied for a grant under the OPZuid programme.
“Nearly one in twenty people have chewing or swallowing problems,” says Oude Elberink. “They are often elderly, or may have Parkinson’s disease or have suffered a stroke. All of these things can affect the swallowing reflex. People may also have problems because of a muscular disease or oesophageal cancer. Traditionally, people in this situation have been given liquid food, which has very little taste. Not much thought goes into the texture either.” Working with her team and the Máxima Medical Centre, Miriam van der Loo developed products that restore the pleasure of eating. The products taste good and are also highly nutritious, so people get plenty of nutrients from small amounts of food.
As Oude Elberink explains, “We started working with specialists and patients in 2012 and by late 2014 we had our concept: a meal box that contains a soup, a savoury mousse and a dessert. Since then, we have continued to develop the concept and our meals are now starting to be used in hospitals and care institutions. It’s difficult to get a new concept into the healthcare market, but we are now rolling out our concept in the Netherlands and Belgium. We also have an online shop, so customers can have our products delivered and enjoy them at home.”
OPZuid: Grants for innovation
Subsidiefocus had been taking care of the entrepreneurs WBSO (Wet Bevordering Speur- en Ontwikkelingswerk) R&D tax credit applications for several years. Consultant Roy Hoven drew their attention to the funding opportunities presented by OPZuid. OPZuid is a European funding programme for innovative small and medium enterprises that seeks to strengthen collaboration between the private sector, knowledge institutions and government. “Together we set to work. We wrote a clear and detailed description of our concept and explained why it is innovative. The consultants of Subsidiefocus then used this description to write the grant application. And we were successful! We were awarded the grant for two years. But of course that’s not the end of the matter. Every six months, we have to submit a progress report to the funding body. We provide the information, and Subsidiefocus fine-tunes it and presents it in the required format.”
The entrepreneurs are happy with the collaboration with Subsidiefocus and the grant they were awarded. “It has allowed us to make extra investments in equipment and in our staff. The grant is helping us implement our business case. It’s an excellent way to speed up development. Without the grant it would have taken much longer.”
To find out more about Subsidiefocus, email Roy Hoven or call him on +31 (0)73 646 5475.