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Former Red Bull-USA executive speaks April 9

Posted: March 29, 2013

Hershey’s Innovation Chief and former Red Bull-USA executive Hans Vriens to speak at Harbaugh Entrepreneurship Forum, April 9.
Hans Vriens, Hershey innovation executive and former executive at Red Bull-USA speaks April 9 at the Harbaugh Entrepreneurship Forum

Hans Vriens, Hershey innovation executive and former executive at Red Bull-USA speaks April 9 at the Harbaugh Entrepreneurship Forum

March 22, 2013

Hans Vriens, senior VP of Global R&D and Innovation at The Hershey Company and former marketing and sales director for Red Bull-USA, is the keynote speaker at the 2013 Harbaugh Entrepreneurship Forum. 

He will speak about entrepreneurship and innovation in the food industry at 6 p.m., Tuesday, April 9, in Room 10 of the Sparks building on Penn State’s University Park campus. 

Vriens’ address headlines the fifth Harbaugh Entrepreneurship Forum, held since 2010 by the College of Agricultural Sciences to help inspire innovation among students, faculty and alumni. As part of the forum, visiting entrepreneurs will also meet with students at smaller events such as in-class discussions.

“Hans brings the unique qualities of an entrepreneur to much larger, established companies," said Dan Azzara, Warehime Professor of Food and Agribusiness in the College of Agricultural Sciences. "He has started new business ventures on his own and brought an entrepreneurial mindset to major companies looking to launch innovative new products.”

Vriens’ successful career in the food and beverage industry includes multiple product launches and new business ventures at major food companies like Procter & Gamble, Mars and Barry Callebaut, the world’s largest chocolate manufacturer, where he was Chief Innovation Officer and Executive Board member until June 15, 2012.  

Vriens directed innovation for Callebaut, based in Zurich, for seven years. The company, with annual sales of about (US) $5 billion, manufactures and markets high-quality cocoa and chocolate in 27 countries. 

Vriens describes himself as a marketing and sales professional with a passion for business development. Translating complex technical issues into marketable strategies is among his key strengths. 

At Red Bull Gmbh, Vriens helped to grow the Red Bull business into a multinational corporation. He founded, created and managed the U.S. Red Bull operation from the beginning in 1997, when the energy drink first entered the U.S. market. Today, Red Bull is a privately held Austrian beverage company with $7 billion in annual sales. 

About the Harbaugh Entrepreneurship Forum and the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Program

The Harbaugh Entrepreneurship Forum is a signature event of the College of Agricultural Sciences’ Entrepreneurship & Innovation Program. Both are made possible by gifts from Earl and Kay Harbaugh, who established several endowments to champion entrepreneurship in the college.

The E&I Program’s mission is to create entrepreneurs and innovators in the food and agriculture sectors.

“We are witnessing an increasing call for entrepreneurs and innovators in food and agriculture,” said Mark Gagnon, Harbaugh Entrepreneurship Scholar & Coordinator of the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Program at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

“Innovative leaders and solutions are needed to address the challenges of feeding the world, advancing human well-being, animal health and providing the next generation with bio-renewable energy and materials,” added Gagnon.

To date, the college’s entrepreneurship efforts include expanding entrepreneurship course offerings, developing a food and bio-innovation focus for Penn State’s minor in entrepreneurship and innovation, and holding signature events like the Harbaugh Forum. 

The Ag Springboard business plan competition, also a signature event, has awarded $13,000 in seed funding to student-run start-up ventures.

Contact: Dr. Mark Gagnon, Harbaugh Entrepreneurship Scholar & Coordinator, Entrepreneurship & Innovation Program

E-mail Dr. Gagnon