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Personal profile


"Fourth paradigm research and innovative cross-overs between AgriFood, Data and Engineering in all its forms will be needed to feed the world by 2050 while reducing the environmental footprint of the current food production systems. Only by working together we will be able to provide the solutions."

Research profile

Jakob de Vlieg is a Full Professor, Chair of Applied Data Science at the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science. The key goal of the Applied Data Science (ADS) group is to develop Integrative Data Science solutions for fourth paradigm research. This by linking advanced data management and data analysis tools (e.g. machine learning, visualization) in an effective manner by applying translational and question-based research methods (linking data and minds). Another responsibility of De Vlieg is to develop the interdisciplinary and data-intensive field of AgriFoodTech (i.e. stimulating cross-overs between AgriFood and engineering including Data, Materials, Robotics, Sensors, Logistics and Business Models). AgriFoodTech@TU/e is developed in close collaboration with Wageningen University&Research (WUR) and other knowledge institutes (e.g. HAS University of Applied Science and the University of Utrecht, Future Foods program). A longer-term goal of the initiative is to build an effective ecosystem of companies, organizations and knowledge institutions to integrate fast innovation and deep fundamental research.


AgriFoodTech@TU/e is focusing on three key themes: Smart Farming (e.g. precision farming for crops and animals, breeding, urban & vertical farming), Smart Foods (e.g. food processing and personalized foods) and Education. Translating the three themes into coherent and sustainable program lines and attracting funding in a structured manner is an important objective. Key words and challenges of AgrFoodTech include: go beyond existing paths to feed nine billion people sustainably by 2050; combine different types of people in cross-functional teams; deal with the effects of climate change and related water and energy issues; digitalization of society (IoT, big data, algorithms), food practice (making the right choices, life style monitoring), health & wellbeing.

Academic background

Jakob de Vlieg studied biophysics at the University of Groningen and graduated with honors. His PhD research was focused on computer simulation of biomolecular systems. Shortly thereafter, he joined the EMBL, Heidelberg, to develop structural bioinformatics techniques. From 1990 until 2001, de Vlieg held a range of research and management positions at Unilever Research, in the fields of modeling, biophysics and ICT. Between 2000 and 2015 he has held a professorship in the field of Bioinformatics and Computational Chemistry at the Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands. De Vlieg joined Organon BioSciences in 2001, as head of the Department of Molecular Design and Informatics responsible for computational medicinal chemistry, bioinformatics and research information systems.

In 2006, he was appointed as CIO R&D to integrate Data Sciences and IT into the drug discovery and development processes. In 2008, he was appointed as Global Head Molecular Design & Informatics, at Schering-Plough (now MSD) to support the Discovery Research and Translational Medicine functions worldwide. In July 2011 he began serving as CEO and scientific director of the Netherlands eScience Center (NLeSC) to optimize data-driven research in the Big Data era. De Vlieg joined Bayer Crop Science in 2013 as head Computational Life Sciences (CLS). In 2015 he was appointed as VP Sr. Expert Lead to develop a Computational Life Sciences (Data Science) strategy for R&D including overarching data science capabilities for the Health Care and Crop Science divisions. Between 2001 and 2008 de Vlieg chaired the NWO Bioinformatics program committee in the Netherlands. Presently De Vlieg serves at a number of advisory boards including board member of the Lorentz Center.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production


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