Ioannis Athanasiadis bio photo

Ioannis Athanasiadis

Professor of Artificial Intelligence
Geo-information Science and Remote Sensing Lab
Wageningen University & Research

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Navigating the Twilight Zone: Pathways towards digital transformation of food systems

S. Wolfert, L. van Wassenaer, S. van der Burg, M. Ryan, L. Klerkx, K. Rijswijk, M. McCampbell, I. Athanasiadis, G. Beers

Abstract

Wageningen University & Research organised the fifth edition of the Mansholt Lecture in Brussels on 22 September 2021. We discussed the options and challenges for stakeholders in the transition towards a sustainable digital innovation ecosystem. There are challenges in the food system such as hunger and obesity, but also climate change and the use of crop protection agents. The proper use of digital systems – from sensors to apps – can help to address these challenges. Digitisation in agriculture and the food sector creates opportunities as well as challenges. An app may be very easy to use, but it must connect to other apps or underlying larger information systems that businesses already use. If this is not the case, then ease of use quickly translates into a negative as a result of additional administrative actions. ‘We don’t need more apps. We need a system’. This short quote of a farmer reflects the high degree of fragmentation and discontinuity in innovation processes we observe. More focus on the user readiness of technologies and support by multi-actor ecosystems is required, in which innovations are embedded in a system approach and tested in living labs. These are important pathways towards a sustainable digital innovation ecosystem and to navigate through the Twilight Zone.

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S. Wolfert, L. van Wassenaer, S. van der Burg, M. Ryan, L. Klerkx, K. Rijswijk, M. McCampbell, I. Athanasiadis, G. Beers, Navigating the Twilight Zone: Pathways towards digital transformation of food systems, Mansholt Lecture No. 5, 2021, Wageningen University and Research, doi:10.18174/552346.


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