Meet our partners
University of Leuven (KU Leuven) - Belgium
The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences is part of The University of Leuven, also known as KU Leuven. The main mission of this department is to carry out state-of-the-art scientific research with respect to the functioning of geo- and ecosystems at different spatial and temporal scales, including the interaction between humans and the environment and the sustainable management of natural resources.
Professor at the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering
Erik is Director of SFERE (Sustainable Food Economies Research Group) and Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at KU Leuven. He holds a Master’s degree in Bioscience Engineering (1991) and a PhD in Agricultural Economics (1998), both from KU Leuven. His research focuses on the practices, metrics and policies fostering the transformation of the agricultural and food system towards sustainability and resilience.
Project manager at the Sustainable Food Economies Research Group (SFERE) of Leuven University
Tessa manages interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary consortia working on food security, sustainable food systems, agriculture and sustainable diets. She focuses on the European context, where the food system is characterized by a growing gap between consumers and producers, inequality, the prevalence of obesity, a polarized debate on sustainable food systems and a continuous decrease in the number of farmers. She is a member of diverse working groups at national, regional and local level, contributing to an evidence-based transition of the food system and to empowerment of all actors in the system.
Kato Van Ruymbeke
Project manager at the Sustainable Food Economies Research Group (SFERE) of Leuven University
Following her interests in nature and animals, Kato obtained a BSc in Biological Sciences from the University of Sheffield. She holds an MSc in Climate Change from King’s College London, and is currently completing her PhD at the Department of Bio-economics at KU Leuven where she is investigating the impact of (ecological) farm management practices on ecosystem services throughout Europe. As part of the Sustainable Food Economics Research Group (SFERE), she manages the Horizon SoilValues project.
PHD at the Sustainable Food Economies Research Group (SFERE) of Leuven University
Marco obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and a Master’s degree in Sustainable Rural Development from the University of Perugia. He is currently pursuing his PhD at the Department of Bio-economics at KU Leuven, where he focuses on the adoption of practices that enhance soil health, on the potential and impact of carbon sequestration, and on value chain dynamics. As a member of the Sustainable Food Economies Research Group (SFERE), he participates in the Horizon SoilValues project.
Aarhus University (AU) - Denmark
The Agroecology Department at Aarhus University conducts fundamental, strategic and applied research on issues related to the interaction between climate, soil, plants, animals and humans in agro-ecosystems, with a focus on promoting health, sustainability and environmentally friendly production of food, feed, energy and bio-based products. The Agroecology Department contributes to sustainable production and growth through research, consultancy and education
Martin Hvarregaard Thorsøe
Martin has 10 years of experience in agri-food research and his research interest are at the interface between science, technology and society, focusing on issues related to agriculture, in particular the drivers of changes in farm-level agricultural practice, regulation of agricultural landscapes and the marketization of food quality in sustainable production such as organics, see also:
Kasper is an anthropologist specializing in agriculture and, in particular, the cultural history and practice of farmers. He works for the Department of Agroecology, Agricultural Systems and Sustainability at Aarhus University, where he participates in research projects bridging legislation and human-cultural everyday practice. In doing so, he aims to analyze the relationship between notions of the good life in the countryside and the legislation that one has to navigate as a stakeholder in the agricultural industry and the environment
Association of Balkan Eco-Innovation (ABE) - Serbia
ABE is a non-profit cluster organization that supports local sustainable innovators in accessing knowledge, partnerships, and funding. ABE has a strong focus on sustainable agriculture and works closely with farming communities and other key actors in the value chain.
Project Manager and Manager of European Affairs at ABE
Igor has 8 years of experience as a sustainability and innovation consultant in the public and private sector and has worked with universities, research institutions, consultancies, associations, companies and startups. He has project management experience for multiple European projects and contracts funded by Horizon Europe, Horizon 2020, European Space Agency, etc. — including as coordinator of the AgriCaptrue H2020 project. Igor holds a M.Sc. Natural Resource Management in Plant Science (Wageningen University) and BA. in Economics and International Development Studies (McGill University).
Project & Community Manager at ABE
Maja is an experienced project manager and environmental engineer with 10 years of experience implementing EU-funded projects in agriculture. She has proven experience in implementing pilot projects, mapping stakeholders, engaging end-users in collaborative co-creation processes, building cross-functional teams and networks for project purposes. In addition, Maja has extensive knowledge of regional and local agricultural ecosystems, including the networks of farmers, agri-advisors, researchers, industry players, public bodies and relevant decision-makers. Maja holds a M.Sc. in Environmental Engineering (University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Technical Engineering).
Consultoria Agroindustrial, Lda (CONSULAI) - Portugal
CONSULAI is the largest advisory company in Portugal in the agri-food sector. The company develops projects in several areas, including innovation, rural development, policy analysis, and prospective studies. The daily contact with farmers, farmers associations and national institutions is enhanced by a database of more than 4,000 contacts (1,500 farmers) in Portugal, which can be useful for the implementation of demonstration hubs and for project dissemination.
Director – Research & Innovation
Dina has more than 20 years of experience, managing the research and innovation area and leading work packages for communication and dissemination of several H2020, GreenDeal and HEurope projects. She has a strong educational background with degrees in Food Technology, Integrated Management Systems, and Energy, Environmental Technologies and Economics. Dina was Secretary General of ANCIPA – Portuguese National Association of Food Traders and Manufacturers and also manager of the Training and Consultancy Department , which organised training courses, workshops, seminars, conferences, and international exhibitions. Manager of European projects, from the Portuguese side, related to R&D, quality standards and training, involving various partners from a large number of European countries (FP6 horizontal research activities involving SMEs collective research; Leonardo Da Vinci training programme, among others).
Advisor – Research & Innovation
Diogo has a master’s degree in Materials Engineering from Universidade Nova de Lisboa. He has been a trainee at Joint Research Centre (JRC) – Petten working in the Environmental and Mechanical Materials Assessment (EMMA) infrastructure. Diogo has 3 years of experience in project management, having worked on evaluation and projection of manufacturing industrial technology, energy management, and testing and assessment of agriculture digital technology. He is currently involved in two other Horizon Europe projects at Consulai: QuantiFarm and ClimateFarmDemo. His main responsibilities include coordinating 30 Test Cases of DATs’ testing under real conditions in 20 European countries, coordinating and implementing project training centres, assisting in coordinating a Living Lab initiative and developing knowledge sharing with other projects, initiatives, and policymakers.
European Landowners’ Organization (ELO) - Belgium
ELO is a federation of national landowners’ associations from 27 EU and non-EU member states, representing the interests of landowners, land managers and rural entrepreneurs at European political level. It is a non-profit organisation that aims to promote sustainable and prosperous countryside by addressing the contemporary challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss.
Anna De Boeck
Project & Policy Officer
Anna holds a B.A. in international business and an M.Sc. in political science, majoring in international relations. She previously worked as an intern for the Permanent Representation of Belgium to the European Union, on fit-for-55 dossiers, mainly on the Emission Trading Scheme, the Effort Sharing Regulation and LULUCF. She then joined ELO as a project and policy officer with a focus on soils and carbon, participating in projects on carbon farming along with monitoring European policies related to this topic.
Positive relationships, constructive communication and meaning making is key for Marie. She has a Master’s degree in Public Relations specialized in « Europeans affairs ». She is leading the ENPLC communication and her objective is to give a voice to Private Land Conservation and its supporters. She wants to make sure that landowners and NGOs’ positive actions to enhance biodiversity are visible and heard. She loves to interact with passionate people, share knowledges, find solution, write, learn and laugh.
Forest and Landowners Association of Lithuania (FOAL) - Lithuania
FOAL was founded in 1993, as the demand for forestry knowledge was rising and a growing community of forest owners with increasingly common goals emerged. Creating a strong and independent private forestry movement in Lithuania, based on shared values, has been a major goal of FOAL since its foundation. FOAL represents the interests of family forest owners at the national and international level, and after about 30 years of activity has grown into a social organization with more than 6500 members. FOAL is the national interest organisation for forest owners in Lithuania and has the status of an independent public NGO. FOAL is a recognised national organisation in Lithuania and internationally. FOAL is a member of the Chamber of Agriculture of Lithuania, the Confederation of European Forest Owners (CEPF) the European Landowners’ Organisation (ELO) and the International Forestry Alliance (IFFA).
Chairman of the Board
Dr. Algis Gaižutis, Chairman of the Board, Forest and land owners association of Lithuania (from 2004), lecturer at PI Vilnius University International Business School, Vilnius (from 2006), associate professor at Vilnius University, Faculty of Economics, Vilnius (from 2002).
Head of Administration
živilė Navardauskė, Head of Administration, Forest and land owners association of Lithuania (from 2016), Bachelor of Applied Ecology and Environmental Studies (2007), Master’s Degree in Applied Ecology and Environmental Studies (2011).
Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO) - Belgium
The Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO) is an independent scientific research institute of the Flemish Government. Commissioned by the government, it works on the sustainability of agriculture, fisheries and agri-food sector. ILVO’s work is strongly anchored in Flanders and from there extends across Belgium, Europe and the rest of the world.
Researcher sustainable soil management
Greet Ruysschaert (PhD) is sr. researcher sustainable soil management and its effects on soil health and soil (degradation) processes. Her focus is on policy supporting research and solutions that meet policy objectives and fit into the context of farm practice. Among other things, Greet is regional coordinator for EJP SOIL, is coordinator of the LIFE CarbonCounts project and coordinator of the Soil Mission MaRViC project on monitoring, reporting and verification for the purpose of carbon farming.
Hans Vandermaelen holds a bachelor’s degree in geography (2013), a master’s degree in urbanism and spatial planning (2015) and a PhD in urbanism and spatial planning (2023). His doctoral research «Urbanising the agroecological reproduction of soil fertility» was situated at the interface between urbanism and political agroecology and studied what it means to consider agroecological soil fertility reproduction as an object of collective, urban organisation. He specialised in land management and public land ownership. His current research is situated at the interface between urbanism and spatial planning, agroecology, land management, landscape ecology and soil care.
Ioanna Panagea is an environmental engineer with a PhD in Bioscience engineering on the effects of agricultural management practices on soil organic carbon, structure and physical soil quality. Ioanna has several years of experience in EU projects on regenerative agriculture and soil protection, climate adaptation and water resources management. Ioanna also has experience in numerical modelling, data management and analysis, and soil sample processing. She is currently involved in EJP projects on soil carbon sequestration potential through agricultural management practices and on soil related ESS monitoring in agro-ecosystems.
Director of the ILVO department Agrifood Technology
Jurgen Vangeyte works as Director for the agrifood technology department, which has been involved in European projects in the past, such as IOF2020, Smart Agri Hubs and Cybele. Through this department, ILVO supports an active and mature Digital Innovation Hub Smart Digital Farming and the Agrifood Technology Living Lab recognised by Enoll. ILVO deploys the Flemish data sharing initiative DjustConnect as one of the first fully operational regional data spaces in agriculture. Currently, the team specialises in the crossover between digital and data technologies, soil proximate and remote sensing in projects such as Envision, ScaleAgData and SoilWise. Therefore, they are well placed to support ‘digital technologies’ and ‘data support systems’ in SoilValues.
Lene Cillen graduated as a business engineer from Hasselt University in 2013. In the following years, she worked closely with farmers, on various projects as a consultant at Groene Kring, FABulous Farmers. She was involved in monitoring stakeholder management Farmwell that focused on social innovations. She built up expertise in qualitative research and organizing and facilitating participatory processes.
Sylvie Fosselle graduated as a forestry engineer. She worked in several multi-actor processes in agricultural areas at governmental institutions. She is active in facilitating learning processes on implementing bluegreen measures (Turquoise), and in setting up capacity-building programmes to support the transition to agroecology (ALL-ready).
Ennio Facq has a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s degree in bioscience engineering. Before joining ILVO in 2021 he worked as a project engineer handling environmental impact assessments with a focus on biodiversity, water, soil and landscape. He has contributed to a system analysis and roadmap for carbon farming in Flanders (Belgium) and is currently active on several research projects regarding the valorisation of ecosystem services in agriculture.
Institute for Agri-food Technology and Infrastructures of Navarra (INTIA) - Spain
INTIA is a public corporation under the Ministry of Rural Development and Environment. INTIA’s core mission is to provide services for the transfer of knowledge, technologies and the innovation of the regional agri-food system. A pioneer in Spain in combining applied research with technology transfer, INTIA has been working rigorously and technically independently throughout the value chain since 1980.
Soil and fertilization technician
Nerea Arias is an agronomist with a PhD in soil. She has more than 12 years of professional expertise in INTIA and has worked on crops such as cereals, horticulture and industrial crops as a consultant but also as a knowledge disseminator. In recent years, she has focused on crop fertilisation as a field trial technician. She also participated in several European and national research projects.
The Institute of Rural and Agricultural Development of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IRWiR PAN) - Poland
The Institute of Rural and Agricultural Development of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IRWiR PAN) is an «A» category public research and advisory institution (according to the evaluation of scientific activities by the Polish Ministry of Education and Science) conducting interdisciplinary and fundamental scientific research in the field of social sciences.
IRWiR PAN Team Leader
Katarzyna Zawalińska is associate professor of economics and head of the Department of Economic Modelling at IRWiR PAN. She specialises in evaluations of agricultural and rural policies using advanced quantitative methods, including various global and regional CGE and partial equilibrium models. She conducted evaluations of the EU CAP, with a particular focus on the second pillar in the 2014-2020 programming period, including the «greening» effect and Less Favored Area measures. She also leads Polish teams in several international projects: BioMonitor4CAP in Horizon Europe programme; SURE-Farm, LIFT and BATModel in Horizon 2020 programme.
Piotr Gradziuk is associate professor in the Department of Economic Modelling at IRWiR PAN. He is an agricultural economist whose research focuses on sustainable development, renewable energy sources, efficiency in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He also leads and contributes to numerous national and international research projects and has experience in working with various stakeholder groups in Poland, including farmers, middlemen, processors, local self-government representatives, agricultural organisations and policy makers.
Dr. Vitaliy Krupin is an assistant professor in the Department of Economic Modelling at IRWiR PAN. Majoring in international economics and trade, in recent years he has focused on rural development, agricultural and environmental economics, renewable energy sources and climate change. He is currently involved in several international research projects: BioMonitor4CAP in Horizon Europe programme, TRADE4SD in Horizon 2020 programme, LIFE VIEEW 2050 in EU LIFE programme. He has previously contributed to projects funded by USAID, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Poland and the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
Adrianna Wojciechowska is a PhD student and research assistant in the Department of Economic Modelling at IRWiR PAN. She graduated with a master’s degree in Economics and Organization of Enterprises. Her interests include urban agriculture, ecological farming practices, environmental protection and climate change. Experienced in project communication and promotion on social media, interactions with stakeholders, preparation of communication materials and visualisations.
KOIS Invest (KOIS) - Belgium
KOIS is a leading international impact investment and innovative finance advisory firm involved in designing, structuring, and managing innovative finance solutions characterised by high societal and environmental impact and financial returns engaging a wide range of stakeholders from the public and private sectors. KOIS turns projects with high societal & environmental impact into tangible investment propositions mobilising various forms of capital (concessional, non-concessional) for public & private sector clients by creating innovative financing mechanisms and offering fund management services.
Francesca holds a master’s degree in sustainable finance from the University of Cattolica and a BSc in Economics and an MSc in finance at the University of Bologna. She has a diversified background and gained experience as a risk management consultant at E&Y and in impact investing through her role as Impact Investment Analyst at acube and aimpact where she helped scout, select, due diligence, and analyze startups with a social, environmental, or cultural impact. She also works with the University of Bologna as a researcher on social venture capital and impact investing. She joined KOIS as an Associate in 2023. She will participate in the Oxford Impact Investing Programme 2024.
Matteo brings 3 years of experience in sustainable projects within the non-profit sector, along with over 3 years of experience working on financial innovation for socio-economic development. Matteo holds a MSc in Poverty, Inequality, & Development from the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom. Matteo joined KOIS in 2023 and has been involved in innovative and blended finance projects with a wide range of stakeholders from the public and private sectors. His contributions have spanned advisory assignments within the climate & nature impact platforms, encompassing various geographies such as Europe, Sub-Sahara Africa, and South Asia.
Partner, Head of Advisory
Serena is an expert in innovative and blended finance, impact investing and inclusive business models. She brings 20 years of experience in strategy consulting, previously at McKinsey & Company (specialising in private equity, banking and insurance) and Dalberg Advisors where she spearheaded the Access to Finance practice globally. Serena has also worked for Mercy Corps in Darfur. She holds a PhD from Caltech in Social Sciences with a specialization in Behavioral Finance.
Silvana brings over 2 years of experience in international development and impact evaluations. She has worked for non-profit research organizations in policy assessment and analysis. She holds a Master’s degree in International Development from Sciences Po Paris and a BA in International Relations from Queen Mary University of London. Silvana joined KOIS in July 2023 and has contributed to innovative finance projects within the Climate & Nature impact platform.
MR F&A Consult CommV (MR F&A) - Belgium
MR F&A Consult provides its clients with independent, evidence-based and applicable advice on strategic management (strategy design, business development, mergers & acquisitions, efficient organisation, etc.), public affairs and lobbying issues (political mapping, stakeholder analysis, coalition and relationship building, lobbying strategy design and support,etc.).
Marc Rosiers holds a Master of Science in Economics from the KU Leuven (1980) and London School of Economics (1981). He can look back on 25 years of experience as internal consultant and board member in agri-food companies, agri-food investors and professional associations such as Agri Investment Fund, Agriland, Arvesta, Belgian Pork Group, Boerenbond, Greenyard, Iscal Sugar and Société générale des Fabricants de Sucre de Belgique. Since 2016, he is managing director of MR F&A Consult. In this capacity, he is senior advisor to the ELO European Policy Group and is the file holder for carbon farming. For more information, see https://www.linkedin.com/in/marc-rosiers-1406016/
Thünen Institute (Thuenen) - Germany
The Thünen Institute is a federal research institute consisting of 14 specialized institutes that conduct research and provide policy advice in the fields of economics, ecology and technology. The research focuses on developing concepts for sustainable, ecologically viable and competitive agriculture and food economy, forestry and wood economy as well as fisheries and aquaculture.
Dr. Marie von Meyer-Höfer
Marie von Meyer-Höfer has a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from the Georg August University of Goettingen. She is a senior researcher at the Thuenen Institute of Market Analysis. Dr. von Meyer-Höfers’ main field of work is consumer reserach, focusing on transdisciplinary research on the transformation of farming and food systems. Here, she analyses perceptions, preferences and acceptance levels of different social groups with regard to food production processes and products. She has been involved in several projects on carbon farming, animal welfare and organic agriculture and will participate in the SoilServicEs project starting in the summer of 2023.
Dr. Elke Plaas
Elke Plaas has a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from the Georg August University in Goettingen. She is senior research fellow at the Thuenen Institute of Farm Economics. Dr. Plaas’ main areas of work are: socio-economic assessment of (soil) biodiversity, agricultural policy and environmental economic issues in Europe, CEEC and China, analysis of individual farms, water economics and rural development. She has been involved in several projects on biodiversity and sustainable farming systems in Biodiversa ERA, BELMONT and Horizon 2020 programmes.
Dr. Gerald Schwarz
Gerald Schwarz has a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from Humboldt University in Berlin. After his Ph.D. he worked for several years at the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute in Scotland. Since 2009 he has been working at the Thünen Institute of Farm Economics in Germany. His work focuses on transdisciplinary research on the transformation of farming and food systems and policy instruments for delivering public goods from agriculture. He has been involved in several projects on agroecology, organic farming, sustainable farming systems and agri-environmental policies and coordinated projects on these topics in the EU’s FP6, FP7 and Horizon 2020 programmes.
Wageningen University & Research (WUR) - The Netherlands
Wageningen University & Research (WUR) is the framework of Wageningen University, among which the Business Economics Group (BEC), and the Wageningen Research Foundation, which comprises nine independent research institutes. Three of these are involved in SoilValues, specialising in environmental (WEnR), plant (WPR) and economic (WEcR) research. WUR focuses on education and research in a broad spectrum of life sciences.
Senior researcher sustainable plant production
Dr. Bert Smit (1961) is senior researcher at Wageningen Economic Research, part of the Institute Wageningen University & Research. He specialises in entrepreneurship, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and sustainable arable farming. In the field of entrepreneurship, he developed a training programme for farmers based on the interactive strategic management (ISM) theory. With regard to the CAP, he has played an important role in several ex ante and ex post studies in different phases of CAP reforms in recent decades. In arable farming, he places great emphasis on the transition to more sustainable, regenerative, nature-inclusive, mixed and/or circular farming systems. (Photo by Carolien Tiernego)
Associate-Professor Business Economics
Helmut Saatkamp is Associate Professor of Business Economics at Wageningen University and conducts interdisciplinary research in agronomy, animal production, economics (business economics, value chains and sectoral economics) and policy (support).
Senior Researcher Wageningen Plant Research
Jan Hassink is a researcher in social and agro-ecological farming at the Agrosystems Research business unit of Wageningen University and Research Centre. After being educated as an agricultural scientist (soil science) and a phD in Soil Organic Matter and Soil Biology in 1995, he became interested in other topics such as farmers’ and citizens’ behavior and (social) sustainable farming systems. A second PhD in 2017 at the University of Amsterdam focused on transition theory, entrepreneurship and governance. The title of the thesis was: Understanding Care Farming as a swiftly developing sector in the Netherlands. His research field has broadened in recent years to include agro-ecological, community and urban farming, local food, citizen initiatives and stakeholder collaboration.
Amanda Matson is a senior scientist in the Soil, Water and Land use Team at WUR. Her research to date has focused broadly on the effect of anthropogenic activities on soil biogeochemistry in agricultural and forest systems. She is particularly interested in the selection and use of soil indicators to support decision-making around sustainable soil use and management, as well as how innovative sensor and isotope techniques can provide insight into soils at different scales.
Jack H. Faber
Dr. Jack Faber is a senior scientist with a strong background in soil ecology and ecotoxicology. His research activities are focused on soil biodiversity, soil health and ecosystem functioning. This includes studies on the relevance of soil biodiversity for soil fertility, soil structure and water regulation in sustainable agriculture and nature conservation, with implications for management to enhance ecosystem services. Experience and experimental know-how is applied in site-specific ecological risk assessment and the development of decision support systems for contaminated land management, as well as in the derivation of soil quality standards. He is currently involved in the HEU Soil Mission projects BENCHMARKS and SoilValues, and in the EJP SOIL projects SIREN (coordinator) and MINOTAUR (WP leader).