Clever ideas from clever minds

Rabobank promotes innovative start-ups in the Netherlands by presenting different awards. More and more entrepreneurs see opportunities for turning a sustainable idea into a commercially successful innovation. Rabobank provides these pioneers with a podium and contributes to their commercial success through the Herman Wijffels Innovation Award

Winners of the Herman Wijffels Innovation Award


2002: BerkelBike, bicycle for people with a physical impairment

The BerkelBike is a tricycle for physically challenged people whose use of their legs is impaired. Riders propel the bike with their arms as well as their legs. The legs automatically move in sync with the cycling motion that the riders initiate with their hands. In this way, the cyclists train their legs when riding. There are various models, which may for instance feature an auxiliary motor or be suitable for use as a stationary exercise bike. BerkelBike now sells its bikes all over the world.

2011: AM antibacterial coatings

The special antibacterial layer from AM Coatings kills bacteria not by poisoning them but by puncturing them with nanotechnology – like a minuscule kind of barbed wire. The barbed wire is fixed to the coating. No substances are released and the effectiveness is undiminished, meaning the coatings are safe for people and the environment. Equally as important: the bacteria cannot build up any resistance against puncturing. The coating therefore provides safe and sustainable protection against bacteria.

2009: Sidcon waste compressor

Sidcon devised an underground compression container for collecting plastic packaging that can process ten times as much waste as an ordinary container of the same size. The challenge faced in collecting plastic waste is that it has so much volume, as it consists mainly of plastic bottles and flasks. Sidcon’s underground system compresses the waste to one tenth of its original size. This means that waste collection trucks have to travel less frequently to empty them, which significantly cuts CO2 emissions. Sidcon supplies the containers to dozens of municipalities in the Netherlands.

2011: Autitouch, diagnosing autism

Doctors use observation techniques, questionnaires and paper tests to determine whether a patient is autistic. This makes arriving at a diagnosis complex and time-consuming. We can do better, the team at Autitouch thought. The business designed software that can distinguish the skills and behaviour of children with and without autism. This is done by using a 'multitouch' panel, a large tablet that lies flat on the table. As a result, several people can work with the software, which also makes this a more social approach.

2014: Condi Food food inspection

Condi Food developed a camera that can determine the freshness and quality of fish, with an accuracy of up to eight hours. Normally, inspectors inspect the quality of only a small portion of all products by means of sampling. If something is then found to be wrong with a specific product, the producer will recall the entire lot. The new camera technology allows the inspectors to check each product separately, and therefore businesses no longer have to dispose of entire lots if a single product is not up to standard. This prevents food wastage and provides greater assurance on the quality of their goods.

2011: Schilder en Schilder, a ‘survival bun’ for bycatch

Fishermen catch a lot in their nets: animals they are not fishing for but that do end up in their nets. Only 13 percent of this bycatch survives its stay on the ship. The brothers Jack and Ger Visser invented the 'survival bun', which enables as much as 99 percent of the bycatch to survive. The catch that fishermen bring on board swims into a kind of aquarium. From this container, water currents take the fish towards a kind of sorting system that uses rods: fish of the right size remain behind, others swim over board towards their freedom. The innovation contributes to improved fish stocks.