Last year, Mandy Dijcks, Ilse van Lier and Robin van Ophoven received a scholarship from the Regio Noord-Limburg, to study the master’s programme Health Food Innovation Management (HFIM) at Maastricht University (Campus Venlo). They are all graduated by now, so it is time for an update. What are these ambitious young professionals up to?


Mandy: ‘‘I am very happy to say that I am graduated! The study was everything I dreamed of, I would do it over in a heartbeat. An absolute highlight was Ecotrophelia (which is a student competition) in which we all participated, but my personal highlight was my internship at internal medicine department of Maastricht University.’’

‘‘Even though it is a very business focused master’s programme, this master introduced me to the world of research. The combination of the four disciplines at HFIM, gives you a very broad insight in the development of food, health and in the prevention or treatment of diseases. Instead of developing the products, I would like to continue further in the field of research, making sure that those newly developed products actually contribute to a healthy living.’’

‘‘During my internship, I knew I wanted to continue my academic development in doing research. However, due to COVID-19, things turn out differently and open new windows of opportunity. Since vacancies in research are not available all the time, I started looking around for other opportunities. Right now, I am contributing to the GGD Zuid-Limburg by helping the COVID organization to contact people who are tested positive for the virus. It feels good to help in a crisis like this and learn all sorts of new things. Still I hope to be able to find the perfect job that is as perfect as Health Food Innovation Management was to me at the university.’’


Ilse: ‘‘I am doing great! We had our graduation ceremony this autumn, which means I am officially graduated now – Master of Science in the pocket! I really liked the programme Health Food Innovation Management, which was not only because of the interesting topics and courses we followed, but also because of the input and support of the teachers and staff members, and of course the fellow students – we became a close group.’’

‘‘The two years had several highlights for me. For instance, in one course we had to develop our own food product. Together with other students, I developed a plant-based alternative to quark (we named it ‘Oat it’), with which we won prizes at Ecotrophelia and GROW! 2019. Such an experience! Moreover, I did my internship at the chair of Youth, Food and Health at Brightlands Greenport Venlo, in which I helped PhD-students with their projects and did my own study to parental influence on toddlers’ vegetable consumption. Although I had to work from home a lot because of COVID-19, I liked my internship a lot – it taught me a lot on doing research and children’s health.’’

‘‘The master’s programme certainly contributed to my plans for the future. My ambition is to make future generations a bit healthier and to improve their wellbeing, by giving them insights in nutrition and by making healthy food more the status quo. During my study, I got interested in doing research. A PhD-project related to nutrition and health, focused on people’s wellbeing, is definitely one of my ambitions for the future. I also learned that there are ample possibilities in the Venlo Region regarding healthy food, in which Brightlands Greenport Venlo is a big actor. For me, this was a confirmation that staying in this region is a good choice!’’


Robin: ‘‘I’m doing really well! I graduated in June this year and started working full days right away. The decision to start studying Health Food Innovation Management has been one of the greatest decisions in my life. After my bachelor Health Sciences I knew I wanted to do more in the business community, but also combine it with nutrition. When I came across the HFIM master, I knew right away that that was it for me! I definitely wasn’t mistaken; I have fully enjoyed every single module, the professors and I made friends for life (Mandy Dijcks).”

“I quickly realised that I’m mostly interested in the commercial side of the food business. A new product appears at the market; how can you position and promote this in the best possible way? When I graduated, I therefore started looking for a nice job where I would be concerned about the marketing for most of the time. Due to COVID-19, it was pretty hard to find a nice job, but luckily I was hired quickly by Maze-one in Amsterdam, where I am working as a marketplace specialist. My position comes down to helping businesses who are trying to position there products on Amazon and also strategically looking towards approaching the market in the best possible way; it’s so much fun!”

“However, I can’t let go of the University of Maastricht just yet; next year I will be teaching HFIM master students about marketing in the food industry. In conclusion, HFIM brought me a lot: friends for life, a job where I feel totally at home ánd good memories.”


This scholarship was offered in cooperation with our fund and the Maastricht University Scholarship Office.