Crack the code of scaling for Scale-Ups in Food & Agri

ScaleUpFood Research

At ScaleUp Nation we have the ambition to underpin the growth strategy of fast scaling companies, scale-ups, with scientifically sound research. The outcomes of this research are used to generate insights and best practices for the scale-ups that participate in our support programs. The ScaleUp Food & Agri Research project is an integral part of the ScaleUpFood Program, feeding new insights into the program, but also working with the ventures and the industry experts in the program to sharpen the insights on Scaling Success Factors in Food & Agri.

The Research

Scaling is hard, but innovative companies in Food & Agri often face a number of additional challenges. Common hurdles are unpredictable regulatory approval journeys for new products or ingredients and long sales cycles in a complex value chain. Compared to other sectors, F&A ventures have less access to external funding, which again limits their ability to invest in organization, data architecture, IP and production facilities. The ScaleUpFood research aims to unravel scaling best practices in this tough environment. Which practices set apart the scale-ups from the stall-ups. Which best practices lead to scale, and which behavior or strategic choices should scale-ups avoid?

The Research program is an integral part of the ScaleUpFood Program, you will be a part of the SclaleUpFood team (4-5 members) and act as day-to-day leader of the research project. The research will use a number of sources and methodologies, ranging from literature studies, quantitative data-gathering and expert interviews to more experimental set-ups like social media traffic analysis and deep dive learning sessions. The Senior Researcher will be hands-on involved in the qualitative research, but work with experts from ScaleUpLab and our corporate partners (e.g. Rabobank) on projects that require different skill sets.

The Senior Researcher will work with the ScaleUpNation Practice to translate research insights into articles, classroom materials and management tools.

What will you do

Key Deliverables of the job:
  • Lead the research project to generate deep understanding of the drivers of scale-ups in Food and Agri.
  • Lead qualitative sessions like expert interviews, group discussions, learning dialogues
  • Combine the outputs of quantitative and qualitative research and literature into new insights
  • Collaborate with scale-ups, corporates and institutions inside and outside our community
  • Produce insights, frameworks and tools

These research projects address the following Food & Agri Success Factors:

  • Strategic selling to large corporate customers
  • Design & Construct of production facilities
  • Innovative financing of the business and its products
  • Navigating regulatory and IP landscape
  • Data-driven business models

The work includes:

  • Defining the research questions and research setup (methodology)
  • Determining the required resources and data collection
  • Setup and manage relationships with research partners
  • Attend relevant congresses, read relevant literature
  • Write publications and disseminate research results into training materials
  • Manage budget, set up planning and monitor progress.

What do you bring?

You are a Post-Doc level Qualitative Researcher with a background in the business domain and a good understanding of the world of Food and in particular Agri. Given the challenges of the ventures, affinity with commerce, marketing and business development is preferred.

You are curious, creative and sharp: able to formulate the right research questions and experiment with research methodologies in this relatively new field of research. You are an excellent and critical interviewer, with the ability to probe for the non-obvious insights. You have proven experience in producing training materials (short texts, presentations, exercises, tools) and excellent communicative and facilitation skills.

About ScaleUpNation

Societal challenges are also entrepreneurial opportunities. Many businesses are started but only very few are able to scale. And only those that scale move the needle in terms of impact and value creation. These insights drive ScaleUpNation to dedicate itself to supporting the scaling of young, innovative ventures with potential for large societal impact.

Scaling is an art, not a mechanistic formula. Still, we believe scale-up practices can be distilled, that increase the probability of scale-up success. The ScaleUpNation approach combines research with practice, support programs with digital tools, and mentoring and coaching with growth capital. We support our ventures with 3 pillars: ScaleUpLab, ScaleUpPractice, and ScaleUpInvest.

About ScaleUpFood

ScaleUpFood is a new initiative from ScaleUpNation, in which we work together with Rabobank and Foodvalley2030 to support scale-ups in the Food & Agri sector. ScaleUpFood is led by Anieke Wierenga, former Innovation and Strategy leader at Corbion and Unilever. The first ScaleUpFood Masterclass Program has started in Q4 2019.

About ScaleUpLab

ScaleUpLab collects data and produces insights and tools on scale-up success factors. We aim to build an internationally renowned institute (similar to Kauffman Institute in the US), dedicated to scale-up practice. ScaleUpLab is led by Jörgen Sandig, former founder and CEO of Scyfer, an AI solutions company that was sold to Qualcomm in 2017. The Lab team includes researchers and software developers. And always aim to turn insights into usable tools for practitioners.

Your skills

  • Demonstrable passion for social impact, entrepreneurship and scale-ups
  • Skilled in research methodologies and statistically sound data analysis;
  • Awareness of data driven research methodologies
  • Ability to turn findings into articles, presentations and classroom materials
  • Able to connect with management of scale-ups

Our offer

  • 1 year project – 3 days a week (450 per diem)
  • Great learning
  • Inspiring environment
  • Part of an A-team.

To apply, please send your CV and a motivation letter to Anieke Wierenga, ScaleUpFood Director, at