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Vacature PhD position Innovation for transformation

Aeres University of Applied Sciences
Professional development, exploring new horizons, fostering innovative entrepreneurship, contextual learning and the sustainable management of resources are the focus areas of the Aeres Group

Aeres University of Applied Sciences is a branch of the Aeres Group. Aeres is a broad, multifaceted knowledge centre on food, living environment and green. Aeres specialises in regular education (primary, vocational, diploma-level, higher diploma-level, bachelor and master programmes), skills and practical training, commercial services and applied research.

Aeres University of Applied Sciences, with one of its 3 Faculties in the City of Almere, contributes to the social development of future-oriented and innovative professionals. Persons who can take responsible decisions in a complex world, with a natural gift for sustainable solutions.

Aeres University of Applied Sciences values the quality and practical orientation of its education and research, as well as the fine tuning of its related work processes. The university has an extensive project portfolio.

Does your expertise match the ambitions of Aeres University of Applied Sciences ? Then we would like to get in touch with you. Candidates are invited for the position of:

PhD position Innovation for transformation - regional business models for ‘Feeding the City’ (1fte)

The research agenda
The research group Food and Healthy Living of Aeres University of Applied Sciences, hereafter referred to as AUAS, focuses on the relation between sustainable food provision, food consumption and healthy living within the city of Almere, one of the main cities in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. Almere offers a unique 'living lab' opportunity for PhD research that can inform the transition to sustainable and healthy metropolitan food systems.

Almere aims to produce a large share of its food supply regionally (10-20% by 2020) and to demonstrate - as ‘living lab’- how cities can sustainably produce their own healthy foods. Moreover, Almere, home to residents of 181 different ethnicities and 153 different nationalities, aims to shape its future-proof system of food provision in such a way that it positively contributes to improving the health and wellbeing of all its citizens. But, how to encourage the development of an inclusive, sustainable and health-promoting regional food systems? What are the effects of regional food strategies on promoting sustainable and healthy lifestyles? How can we ensure that sustainable and healthy food strategies are truly inclusive for all groups within the population of Almere city region?

The research program Food and Healthy Living aims to address these questions with the aid of a variety of analytical and methodological approaches. The academic objective is to discover patterns and develop theories for transitions towards sustainable and healthy food consumption practices. The applied research ambitions are to translate the theoretical understandings into concrete actions that contribute to the nutrition and health needs of the urban population with minimal environmental impact. 

The research is funded by the Fonds Verstedelijking Almere (FVA) as part of the broader agenda ‘Feeding the City’ which is linked to the World Horticulture Exhibition Floriade 2022, taking place in Almere. 

AUAS offers a PhD position to complement the research team. The PhD candidate receives the opportunity to write his/her thesis and develop as an academic and applied researcher in the context of the agenda ‘Feeding the City' with the aim of contributing to sustainable and feasible solutions for an urban/metropolitan food system. The position regards the following project:

PhD description

To realize the ambitions of Almere 2.0 towards an inclusive sustainable food supply for achieving healthy consumption patterns among its citizens, radical innovations are needed that go beyond technical and logistical efficiency. Scarcity and depletion of natural resources constrain economic growth as we know it, in which the logics of capitalism determine economic valuation and materialization. Regarding the transition towards futureproof sustainable food systems new forms of economic valuation are required.

Within the province of Flevoland different groups and companies develop regional initiatives for Feeding the City based on value propositions like environmental sustainability, social cohesion, and regional authenticity.
Traditional economic models for business development provide inadequate support for these initiatives, because these do not sufficiently take into account the dynamic societal interaction of the business model, which allows for continuous co-creation and redefinition of shared values.
The PhD research focuses on two key challenges. The first relates to valuation. There is a need for a new generation of business models that pays attention to the creation of multiple values and the strength of the business ecosystem. The second challenge relates to the transformative power of novel business concepts, which are determined by the extent to which these are able to catalyse 'new' social practices. Several innovative concepts that are successful on a small, mostly local, scale are (not yet) able to transform established systems.
For promoting societal transformation, it is pivotal to understand how alternative business models can generate real breakthroughs, not confined to niche alternatives, but leading to new mainstream production-consumption practices. Questions include:

  • What new business concepts, aimed at promoting more sustainable and healthier lifestyles, do exist within the region? How and to what extent do these business models contribute to reducing the ecological footprint of the city and to improving the health of its citizens? Which groups within the population are being reached?
  • How is value awarded, based on what and by whom? How and to what extent are new value systems able to generate new practices? What is the role of time and place based physical connections versus more virtual connections and global information flows?
  • What are the challenges and opportunities for up-scaling of these models? What models for scaling could be considered?

The city of Almere and its wider provincial embedding provides a living lab for testing these questions. The research aims to provide insights into i) social relations in production and consumption models through theoretical anchorage of business models and concepts in social theories and ii) the best practices, which might inform the directions for business models targeting the desired development towards sustainable regional food systems for healthy living.


  • You have a (research) Master degree : in an area of specialisation that is relevant in relation to the PhD theme.
  • You have excellent results in your first degree/graduate study.
  • You have explicit interest in and motivation for scientific research.
  • You have a keen interest in food system transformation, healthy living, environmental sustainability and urban development.
  • You are fluent in written and spoken English.
  • You have strong quantitative and qualitative research skills.
  • You have strong scientific writing skills.
  • You are highly motivated to work in a team.
  • You have strong social skills and the ability to effectively communicate with different stakeholders.
  • You are an enthusiastic and pro-active self-starting personality.
  • You have excellent organizational skills.
  • You are prepared to participate in educational tasks.

What we offer

Dynamic work in a dynamic and developing organisation. The challenge of working in a University of Applied Sciences is the integration in a team for the development of young professionals. There are good opportunities for your further development. The PhD position carries a salary that starts with a salary of € 2.638,45 based on the salary scale 10 of the cao hbo on fulltime employment. We first offer you a contract for the period of 1 year.
After the first contract, the length of the following contract(s) is equal to the period of the PhD.
Additional work benefits can justly be called generous.

Hours: 38.0 hours/week
Employer: Aeres University of Applied Sciences
Location: Almere


Does this interest you and would you like more information? Please contact Dr. Sigrid Wertheim-Heck, Lector Food and Healthy Living, phone number: 024-088 020 6743 or 06-33 876 825.
Do you want to apply direct? Formal letters including a full CV can be sent until Friday 24 February 2017, to Drs.W.G.Bekkering , Director of The Aeres University of Applied Sciences location Almere.
Interviews will be organised on Monday 6 of March 2017, in the afternoon.

- vervuld.

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