ZEF Public Lecture: Supporting transformation in food systems and bio-economies: towards mission-oriented agricultural innovation systems

October 12, 2023 | 13:30 h - 14:30 h

Welcome to our upcoming ZEF Public Lecture! 

Venue: ZEF Conference Room and Zoom

Topic: Laurens Klerkx, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Talca, Chile

Knowledge, Technology and Innovation Group, Wageningen University, The Netherlands

The presentation will be in hybrid mode (Zoom). Please register in advance for this event:



In order to address wicked problems related to issues such as climate change, resource degradation, biodiversity loss, and exceeding other planetary boundaries, calls have been made for transformation of our food systems and more broadly bio-economies. Simultaneously, advances in fields such as robotics, artificial intelligence,  synthetic biology, nanotechnology, open new technological possibilities and opportunities.  As a response to these problems, challenges, and opportunities, multiple public, private and third sector actors in agricultural innovation systems (AIS) are working on shaping pathways for food systems and bioeconomy transformation, underpinned by different concepts, technologies, business models and value systems, such as agroecology, Agriculture 4.0, vertical farming, cellular agriculture, nature-based and nature positive farming, and many more. In view of the transformative ambition, this hence implies that agricultural innovation systems become increasingly mission-driven. In this presentation, I will talk about mission-driven AIS  as a next iteration in the development and application of the AIS concept. I will touch on aspects of what are the boundaries of these mission-oriented AIS, the role of policies for both innovation and exnovation, and the politics of mission-oriented AIS.  I will give a few examples of what (emerging) AIS look like in practice, from experiences in countries such as The Netherlands, New Zealand, and Chile.

Bio Professor Laurens Klerkx

Laurens is Principal Scientist at the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Talca, and  Full Professor of Agrifood Innovation and Transition at the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation Group of Wageningen University, The Netherlands.  Laurens  is an expert in the field of (agricultural) innovation studies, doing social science research and teaching and supervision (at Bachelor, Master and PhD level) on various topics such as:

  • Institutional change in research and advisory organizations;
  • Roles and positions of organizations that broker multi-stakeholder networks for innovation;
  • Implementation of transdisciplinary science and co-innovation approaches;
  • Dynamics an politics of research and innovation agenda setting;
  • Advisory service innovation and professional development;
  • Division of public, private and industry roles in innovation;
  • Internationalization of research and innovation;
  • Digital agriculture innovation;
  • Transformative innovation in agri-food systems;
  • Innovation system development;
  • Innovation policy.

Laurens (together with colleagues and his team of PhD students and postdocs) has done research in many countries, such as The Netherlands, England, New Zealand, Vietnam, Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana, Chile and Mexico. Throughout his career, Laurens has (co-)authored and published more than 170 articles in international peer reviewed journals. His work informs policy makers, through contributions to policy and practice oriented publications and direct engagement through invited presentations with organizations like the World Bank, the European Commission, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the United Nations Commission for Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Furthermore, he frequently interacts with practitioners through presentations and workshops  on systemic perspectives on innovation and the implications for research and development professionals.

Laurens is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension, editor of Agricultural Systems, and a member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability. He has held advisory positions for several research and innovation programmes and projects in Europe, New Zealand,  Australia, and Latin America.


Jorge Sellare

Dr. Jorge Sellare


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