Besides top sports, Outdoor Gelderland also focused on green innovation last Thursday. Sustainable developments and animal welfare are becoming increasingly important in society – also within the equestrian sector. In order to boost this, VHL University of Applied Sciences (VHL) organised the event “Green Equine Innovation” in collaboration with Outdoor Gelderland and Vereniging Eigen Paard. The event was made possible in part by an ERDF grant from OP Oost.
Two groups of students started working on innovative, sustainable and technology-based solutions for two model companies: Anemone Horsetrucks and Pensionstal de Heidehoek. Various experts including Hans Hopster – Professor of Animal Behaviour, Health and Welfare at VHL, Wiepk Voskamp – Professor of Sustainable Dairy Farming at VHL and Dr Miha Lavrič – who has expertise in Data Science and Saxion Machine Learning – helped the students to get through the various rounds. At the end of the day, the winning idea was voted on. The Anemone Horsetrucks group had considered all aspects surrounding transport and sustainability.
In parallel with the hackathon, representatives from 16 different companies from the primary, secondary and tertiary equestrian sectors convened in the lodge of Outdoor Gelderland. The aim was to exchange ideas on the theme of “Equine Sensing” and to look for potential initiatives, connections and projects.
After a shared lunch during which students and entrepreneurs met, the plenary session took place at the entrepreneurs’ day of Vereniging Eigen Paard. No fewer than 64 participants listened to various speakers including Christel Werkman from Werkman Horseshoes, John Voskamp from the Paardensprong Project, Fenna Westerduin and OneSwitch – about the 'Ruiter en paard samen VITAAL' project of the KNHS – as well as Anton van Limpt from Bestronics, who is Entrepreneur of the Year 2019.
To finish the day, Anne Muller – from the WOW initiative (Dutch abbreviation for ‘working on the best possible horse welfare) – was presented with the Green Equine Innovation Price by Jan van Dellen, alderman for economic affairs at the municipality of Arnhem. In collaboration with Machteld van Dierendonck and Pascale Berens-Nales, a poster and educational package was developed that translates scientific training principles for children at riding schools and explains how horses can be trained in a sustainable and welfare-friendly manner. The Green Equine Innovation Price was first issued in collaboration with the Province of Gelderland.
In short, it was a positive day that provided enough inspiration to apply green innovations in the equestrian sector to an even greater extent.