Project Description

The Athena Institute and Science Shop, a research department within VU’s Faculty of Science, specifically studies and designs interfaces between science and society. Its work seeks to increase academic and societal understanding of innovation processes, to enrich science through increased societal legitimacy and improved research utilization, and to improve awareness of how innovation may benefit the sustainability, equity and fairness of society.


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Understanding the local starting point A highly developed field is present in Amsterdam: multiple established networks, both from a policy perspective and a civil society perspective and players active in the different areas of the FOOD 2030 priorities. Stakeholder mapping revealed more than 70+ stakeholders and explorative conversations with the ones considered key provided advice and guidance about the lab strategy and mapping. The desired lab vison and trajectory The desired network configuration of the lab was to become integrated, in a sustainable way, in the well developed landscape of Amsterdam, established networks and activities, maximising possible synergies towards a shared goal. The base for Lab activities is the Athena Institute’s Science Shop, and connections are being built with other departments of the VU to enable transdisciplinary work. Read more Investing in local connections Connections with local partners such as the Municipality of Amsterdam, the Food Council of Metropolitan Region Amsterdam (MRA), and Food Connects platform were established or further strenghtened, resulting in the development of several joint activities. Student connections with the Municipality of Amsterdam A group of 13 Bachelor students in the course 'Applications of Food and Nutrition Security' developed a research design to investigate what kind of barriers, opportunities and needs health care institutions in the Municipal Region Amsterdam face regarding the reduction of food waste. In October 2018, the students made policy recommendations to the Municipality of Amsterdam. Read more September-October 2018 Investigating bottom-up citizen initiaties A group of 12 Master students in the course 'Analysis of Governmental Policy' investigated how the Food Council of the Metropolitan Region Amsterdam can facilitate and stimulate collaboration between citizens’ initiatives committed to contribute to a sustainable food system, developing a research design in collaboration with policy makers and making policy recommendations. September - October 2018 Food Connects The Province of North Holland has established Food Connects, an initiative that aims to connect, activate and facilitate in order to stimulate a robust, sustainable and healthy food system in the Metropolitan Region Amsterdam; the Food Council and several provinces and municipalities are partners. The City Lab Amsterdam provided guidance and support, and facilitiatied a visioning session on future-proof food systems for the leaders of Food Connects workgroups. 21 January 2019 Embedding experiences into courses Three educational modules are developed Building on experiences connecting food system stakeholders and students, a food-related course was transformed to focus on: the concept of ‘food systems’ and its complexity, the need for a food systems approach for transformation, and the importance of inter- and transdisciplinarity. Several shorter modules focusing on specific skills were also developed. October 2018 - May 2019 A Collaborative Centre on Food Research in the region of Amsterdam VU Amsterdam joined 7 other knowledge institutions in establishing a Collaborative Centre on Food Research (Academische Werkplaats) at the initiative of the Chief Science Officer of the Municipality of Amsterdam. Academic Workplaces act as knowledge infrastructures in which practice, research, policy and education work together. The longer-term goal is to building a food-related Research & Innovation Agenda for the Municipal Region Amsterdam. 2020 First steps towards a Research and Innovation Agenda In the framework of the Collaborative Centre on Food Research in the region of Amsterdam, a visioning workshop and a first meeting dedicated to ‘the role of consumers in the transition towards a healthy and sustainable food system’, both featuring representatives of the quadruple helix (research organisations, industry, policy makers and civil society), were facilitated by the City Lab Amsterdam in 2020. June 2020 - October 2020 Reflecting on sustainability The preliminary food related R&I agenda should be achored not only within the Municipality of Amsterdam (via the Academic Workplace on Food), but also within the Athena Science Shop, continued connections between teaching at VU and real-life challenges of food system stakeholders. The educational modules, already part of the official curriculum, will support this embedding. A new project on food system transformation Fostering the Urban food System Transformation through Innovative Living Labs Implementation - the FUSILLI project kicks off in 2021 and will allow the lab host organisation, VU Amsterdam's Athena Institute, to continue working with living labs and knowledge communities in the area of food system transformation. View more 2021 Staying open to windows of opportunity The FIT4FOOD2030 lab coordinators experimented with a new method to tell stories of the impact of the project. The City Lab Amsterdam coordinator reflects on the journey of positioning the lab and how important scanning for windows of opportunity is - and contributing to their creation as well. December 2020