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Managing Director, Yili Innovation Center Europe

Dr Gerrit Smit

Dr Gerrit Smit is the Managing Director of Yili’s European Innovation Center based in The Netherlands. This center is bridging Yili’s Innovation Center in China with strategic collaborating parties in Europe, being academia, contract research institutes, key suppliers as well as other dairy and food companies.

Before this role he worked as Senior Vice President R&D at Valio, Finland, from 2011-2015, where he was responsible for the R&D portfolio and in particular the overall long-term strategy, as well as open innovation with external partners (OI). Previous to that, he worked in Unilever from 2004-2011 as research director covering the areas of Flavour and Consumer Research as well as leading the Open Innovation in this field. He also was a member of the global management team of the Unilever Food and Health Research Institute for 6 years at Unilever.

From 1993 until 2004, he worked at NIZO in The Netherlands, where he held various positions. In his last position he was member of the board of the organisation and headed the department of Flavour, Nutrition and Ingredients. Next to that he got in 2003 a professorship at Wageningen University (NL) in Molecular Flavour Science.

Gerrit got his MSc degree in Molecular Microbiology and Biochemistry, at Utrecht University, and got his PhD degree in 1988 at Leiden University. He also worked as a post-doc for 2 years in R&D in the United States, followed by a staff position for 2 years at Leiden University.