Peter Van Der Vlugt – Celebrating One Year of Innovation at Kubota Innovation Center for Europe
(October 30, 2020)
The Kubota Innovation Center for Europe (hereinafter ICE) reached an important milestone this summer, celebrating one year anniversary since the opening in July 2019. Last year Kubota Corporation announced the establishment of Innovation Centers in Japan and Europe for the creation of new business ventures, products, and services in Kubota’s fields of business. Working together with external partners, the Innovation Center started its activities by advancing open innovation for proactive engagement with ICT, AI, and other advanced technologies, and has continued to accelerate the creation of new business, products, and services. ICE is based close to the European Kubota HQ in Nieuw-Vennep, Netherlands, and lead by Mr. Peter van der Vlugt as General Manager / Chief Technology Officer.
“It has been an extremely exciting journey this first year, starting all the way from scratch. I always have had this Innovation drive and want to push new ideas and opportunities forward. With ICE we are really accelerating Kubota into new business opportunities! This first year has flown by with the blink of an eye, and we achieved already so many results in just one year with our great team”.
Mr. Peter van der Vlugt was appointed General Manager / Chief Technology Officer of ICE, coming from Kverneland Group Mechatronics where he was responsible for identifying and following up on Technology trends in general and the Smart Farming Program management. Mr. van der Vlugt worked 24 years for Kverneland Group. Next to his career within the agricultural implements supplier, he is also involved in International Standards, Ag Industry Working Groups, Patents and international Research and Subsidy projects. Peter is also Chairman of the Agricultural Industry Electronics Foundation (AEF). Peter continued to lead the Smart Farming Program until end of 2019.
“There are many milestones that I am already proud of, and the ones in particular are; The completion of the hiring of our ICE team in January this year, Kubota becoming the core member of the AEF proudly taking over from Kverneland Group, the collaboration with Aurea Imaging, the collaboration with WUR and the opening of our new office at WUR campus, visit of the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag, our final strategic vision reports to Headquarters, and finally our investment in the Trapview company. Many more important milestones to come shortly, and looking forward to it”, says Mr. van der Vlugt.
The first priority of ICE upon establishment was to create a fruitful innovation process in order to generate new concepts that can provide added value to existing products and markets. This is being done by research of the technical possibilities, needs of the customers in the markets as well as valuable input of internal knowledge. On the implements side there has been a close cooperation with Kverneland Group.
Team effort and group dynamics
“I started on my own in 2019, almost like a “one man startup” in a large enterprise. Soon I received help from a Japanese colleague with whom I together started setting up our office and define the roles to hire for our team. With great support from our Kubota Talent Acquisition team, we managed to hire all necessary roles in the scope of 5 months and completed our team with over 7 different nationalities, in a good mix of male and female team members. The team dynamics is so good and with a great drive we’re moving things really quickly forward together”.
On the question regarding motivation and what he is most proud of, Peter van der Vlugt replies, “My motivation has always been to push things forward with Innovative solutions and new ideas for products and services. Our assignments are exactly like this and with such a fine team we work on Open Innovation, collaborating with startup companies and technology partners, while getting the full support from HQ to do real investments in such companies”.
Leading Innovation during a challenging year
“The corona pandemic has of course impacted our work, since we were traveling a lot. After all working with startups, investigating the markets, interviewing customers you can do best when it’s conducted face-to-face. Still we managed to keep on working virtually at full speed, conducting customer and company interviews now remotely and trying to do it as much as we can with online video, to keep it as personal as we can.
Socially COVID-19 had also great impact on my new colleagues of which some of them just moved to The Netherlands. Imagine how you would feel in a new country and then going into lockdown! But we kept closely together, communicating a lot, keeping eachother involved and up to date, and of course staying also focused on getting our work done in the best way we could. That kept the whole team going!”
The ICE has also recently established a satellite office at Wageningen University & Research (WUR) to cooperate with the Universities and start-up companies in the area. The WUR is the leading university in the world in the areas of Food and food production, Living environment, health, lifestyle and livelihood.
Fast facts about Kubota Innovation Center for Europe
- July 1st, 2019, Nieuw-Vennep, The Netherlands
- General Manager / Chief Technology Officer: Peter van der Vlugt
- Respond fast to Business globalization, changing Customer needs and Market changes
- Respond to societal awareness for “Food, Water and Environment”, climate change, ageing of farmers etc
- Research new business values and system solutions utilizing Connectivity, Digitalization, AI and Robotization
- Regional needs will differ, therefore regional Innovation Centers are established (Japan, Europe, and soon North America)
- Advancing Open Innovation, accelerating the creation of new Business, Products and Services
- Scout, and collaborate with, Startups, Tech Partners, Universities and Research institutes