Arvesta, good for 2,000 employees, is full service partner for farmer and gardener. Three business units are central: Animal Nutrition (from R&D, sales, production to distribution), Agri & Horti (from crop protection over agricultural equipment to fertilizers), and finally Retail. Especially to the broader public, Arvesta is known for its Aveve brand. How innovation comes into this story, we like to let Arvesta tell itself.

Although most people might not immediately associate agriculture and horticulture with innovation, nothing could be further from the truth. More than that, they are even very innovation-intensive sectors. This is confirmed by Quinten De Witte, who as innovation and sustainability manager works across the three business units. "That involves coming up with new concepts, setting up R&D projects on animal nutrition, developing more resistant seeds, optimizing logistics processes in our sorting centers or horticultural automation, and so on. For example, Hortiplan's fully automated mobile gutter systems are distributed worldwide and praised for the innovative way they save up to 95% water."

Innovation as a foundation for the future

"What we strive for at Arvesta is to develop innovative concepts that offer added value to farmers and consumers," he continues. "In the form of reduced consumption, increased efficiency, reduced methane emissions in cattle, for example... We develop these specific technical solutions or concepts in close cooperation with the various stakeholders. So innovation and sustainability are more than our mission or responsibility: they are the foundation for ensuring the farmer's future."

Innovation is in all layers and even the DNA of Arvesta. "Consequently, that means we need to have people with the right competencies," adds talent manager Jan Houben. "Because in the end, innovation is not only driven by R&D, but mainly by people. However, that's where the shoe pinches: we found that projects were all too often assigned based on gut feeling, or technical competencies. To give a simple example: suppose we wanted to set up an innovative project around a certain animal species, there was a good chance that it would automatically be assigned to the person responsible for this species, even if his strength or specialization lay mainly in product and sales management."

Projects with a certain complexity

Arvesta got in touch with to tackle innovation projects even more efficiently. We believe that by giving people insight into their own innovation profile that we can make our projects not only more successful, but also more closely aligned with the needs of the farmer and end consumer.

"The most important insight came even before we had the results" : "says Quinten De Witte. "Setting up the test also made us more aware of the different roles within an innovation process, namely ideation, championing & implementation. Our managers were immediately enthusiastic and started to look at the start-up of new projects from a different angle. From now on, it is not just the functional manager who supervises every part of the process. We look for the person who naturally forms the best match."

You buy or you build

"The advantage of such an assessment is that we put the right person in the right place and in a role where that person is in his or her full strength. Should that profile still not be available, we can really grab the competencies and work with them," adds Jan Houben. "They become aware of it and want to develop and deepen them . For me, that was the biggest win. Also because this awareness led those people to the innovation learning systems and training we offer on our internal platform."

"Look, if you want to move forward with your organization you have two options: you attract external talent (you buy) or you make the most of the potential and competencies of your existing employees (you build) .

We use the assessment mainly for the second one: how do we support our own talents in the further development of their innovation skills". We want to make our employees stronger in terms of innovation.

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