Gerrit Smit

Gerrit Smit (PhD) is the managing director of Yili Innovation Center Europe, which is based in The Netherlands. This centre is aiming to bridge Yili’s Innovation Centers in China with strategic collaboration parties in Europe; being academia, contract research institutes, key suppliers as well as other dairy and food companies.

Before joining Yili he worked as SVP R&D at Valio, Finland (2011-2015), where he was responsible for the R&D portfolio and in particular the long-term strategy, and open innovation with external partners. Previous to that, he worked in Unilever (2004-2011) as Director R&D covering the areas of Flavour and Consumer Research as well as leading the Open Innovation in the area of flavours. He also was a member of the global manage-ment team of the Unilever Food and Health Research Institute.

From 1993 until 2004, he worked at NIZO food research in The Netherlands, where he was a board member responsible for the departments Flavour, Nutrition and Ingredients. Moreover, he held for 12 years an en-dowed 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, fol-lowed by a staff position for 2 years at Leiden University.