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PhD – Disruptive technologies for transitions in agri-food systems

Are you interested in contributing to theory and practice of transitions and transformations in agri-food systems from the smallest to the largest level? Do you have affinity with disruptive technolog

Are you interested in contributing to theory and practice of transitions and transformations in agri-food systems from the smallest to the largest level? Do you have affinity with disruptive technologies, including blockchain? Do you know how to engage stakeholders in meaningful discussions? And are you looking for an exciting and dynamic environment to work in?

Then the Athena Institute of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) is looking for you!


FTE: 0.8 – 1

Job description

As a PhD student at Athena you will become part of an inspiring environment where you will have the opportunity to combine research, project and teaching activities, that will strengthen your skill set, and expand your academic expertise.

For this specific function, we are looking for a PhD student to work on the newly awarded TRUSTyFOOD project within the Horizon Europe framework. The project aims to contribute to the successful food system transition towards more sustainable and transparent supply chains. Together with partners across Europe (Crotia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, and Portugal) we will clarify the benefits and opportunities that blockchain technology can offer to stakeholders throughout the food chain by understanding why communities accept or reject blockchain-based projects, and by learning from previous projects.

Our role in the project will be to organize and facilitate a proactive dialogue with stakeholders across the supply chain, through a mixed methods approach. Stakeholders include farmers, investors, operators, IT / services providers, agritech companies and startups, and experts in microfinance. In addition, we will be training partners in the project to moderate their own national focus groups in order to learn from regional peculiarities in food system dynamics. And ultimately, we will be contributing to stakeholder consensus building in order to develop a roadmap for further development of blockchain technology within the agri-food system.

Our research questions revolve around technical, sectoral and national systems of innovation; transitions; stakeholder engagement and frame reflection. You will be part of a team of researchers who together work on this project, including a postdoc with whom you will form the core of the project. We will have weekly project meetings to discuss progress, and in addition you will be embedded in our ongoing academic discussions on transitions, transformations and sustainable agri-food systems.

These discussions precipitate in our teaching activities, and you will have the opportunity to contribute to Bachelor or Master courses we offer at the faculty of Science. In addition, you will have ample opportunity to further develop yourself by being part of our graduate school.

Due to the nature of the project, we look for a PhD student with ambition in developing themselves in doing transdisciplinary research, in which alternating roles and knowledge brokering are crucial, as well as reflection before, while and after actions. Having published articles resulting from (MSc) theses is a pre.


  • MSc, preferably in the fields of management of innovation, science & technology studies, public engagement or responsible research and innovation
  • Team player
  • Knowledge and skills in qualitative and participative research methods
  • Good communicative skills necessary to collaborate with scientists, professionals and interested parties

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,541 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,247 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0.8 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a duration of 4 years.

Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment,
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus,
  • solid pension scheme (ABP),
  • possibility to save holiday hours, for sabbatical leave,
  • child daycare facilities available on campus

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 30,000 students. We employ over 5,500 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.


We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science

The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to more than 11,000 students.



Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions

If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Dr. Linda van den Burgwal

Position: Assistant Professor Entrepreneurship in Health and Life Sciences


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