Grant acquisition vision | contribution to society

The Global Center for Food Systems Innovation (GCFSI) - designed by my former Michigan State University (USA) colleagues and me in early 2012 and funded by the US Agency for International Development – provides the interface between my research and education activities, the ones of colleagues in our MST Group in Wageningen working on similar topics (such as managing innovation and entrepreneurship within and across agribusiness organizations in complex agri-food systems) and external stakeholders.

As such, GCFSI acts as the main pole of attraction for my grant acquisition activities, networking with stakeholders within and outside Wageningen, and for the realization of societal impact, in collaboration with a team of colleagues in our MST Group. GCFSI objective is to trigger innovation within and across organizations at a global level to address the problems of food insecurity, natural resource depletion and poverty. As such, my research vision and the GCFSI vision fully align.

Through its interface, the GCFSI constitutes a common resource for the MST group in line with the research and education vision of a group of my colleagues interested in organization and innovation of agri-food systems. In particular, through the GCFSI interface and with my leadership, the GCFSI has achieved the following results:

Outside Wageningen University, I have been invited to join or form research project consortia as a Principal Investigator for a total acquisition of 1,1 Million EUR from multiple funding sources (US, Australian, Polish and Malaysian Government and the Dutch Embassy in Kenya). Since these project consortia and funding institutions engaged with our MST Group through the GCFSI interface, the research themes of the projects fully align with the GCFSI and my research and education vision. Therefore, in line with the Wageningen University strategic plan (2015-2018) and to contribute to my MST Group, I specialize in seeking funding through new global channels of funding relative to the traditional EU (e.g. H2020) and Dutch (e.g. NWO) channels.

Within Wageningen University, the GCFSI has established strong lines of collaboration especially with the Center for Development Innovation (CDI) and various groups in the Department of Social Sciences (Education & Competence Studies, Knowledge Technology Innovation, Agricultural Economics and Marketing & Consumer Behavior), also under the umbrella of One Wageningen, to which now MST Group members are constantly invited especially for the design of new Wageningen activities in Africa. To the other research Wageningen groups, the GCFSI brings a unique business strategy perspective on how to address wicked problems in agri-food systems. To CDI, the GCFSI brings a research methodology to conceptualize, replicate and scale up their activities with strong linkages with theory. 

Societal impact: Through the GCFSI interface, I have been invited to hold keynote speeches for a number of events organized by public institutions (USAID and FAO), universities (Exeter Business School and CDI book launch on multi-stakeholder partnerships), NGOs (Africa in Motion) and multi-stakeholder partnerships (UN Global Compact, Marine Stewardship Council and Sustainable Food Lab). For example, based on the GCFSI interface, I was invited to organize a one-day training session on partnerships for systemic change targeting 80 young professionals in impactful (both profit and non-profit) organisations at the Nudge Global Leadership Challenge. Starting from two special issues on managing wicked problems in agribusiness (which I guest edited in 2012 and 2013), my research continues to target the broad societal audience that invites me to hold these keynote speeches.

While the current stream of funding from USAID will terminate in 2017, the GCFSI interface will remain as a common resource for the MST Group. It will continue to fund itself through other external projects, as it has already started doing for more than 60% of the >1 Million acquired, in collaboration with a core team of at least six colleagues in the MST Group. While maintaining the same vision, the GCFSI will combine multidisciplinary projects with a global focus (with an emphasis on developing countries and emerging economies). To increase its societal impact, the GCFSI plans to integrate its platform more strongly with the MST Group web sources and to adopt a video-based technology to disseminate the research and education outcomes of the MST Group to our external stakeholders.

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