Areas of expertise:
Jon is a biotechnologist by choice, and curious by nature. He is always searching for how, and why, a system works like it does -or doesn’t. He enjoys mentally taking things apart to analyze the pieces, to figure out how the thing works, whether machine, human behaviour, natural phenomenon, or societal complexity. As a biotechnologist he often returns to the natural world to find how nature solves a problem, and applies that to systems designed by humans.
The area where technology touches biology fascinates Jon. He is in his element solving these complex interactive systems. From a young age he was enchanted by the ingenious complex systems that are found in nature. Determined to figure out how it all works, he dedicated his studies to biotechnology. He adopted a broad knowledge base, and learned that interdisciplinary approaches help solve the toughest of problems, and that context and creativity are essential. Jon pursued a Bachelor in Biosystems Engineering, and got his Master’s degree in Biotechnology at Wageningen University. Both studies focused on mathematics and systems design and understanding, based on a wide variety of biological and natural processes.
The world, and everything beyond, is fascinating, and Jon aims to understand it all. But until then, he has dedicated his work to enable society, and human life, to become sustainable on this earth. In the process making sure there is a world left for himself to explore.
While society is struggling with the Corona pandemic, bananas are facing their own, a fungus called Foc-TR4.
It is not the first time that bananas face a serious threat. In 1950, the pathogen Foc-R1 brought the common banana to near extinction. The only surviving production crop was the Cavendish, due to its fungus-resistant genes. This seedless banana was quickly planted across the globe, replacing its diseased counterparts. This single variety is, to this day, the only banana most of us know and love.
Food security is a critical issue worldwide, particularly in arid regions, where unfavorable local production conditions mean a dangerous dependency on food imports. In Saudi Arabia, nearly 80% of all food is imported, making the country and others like it extremely vulnerable to shocks and systemic disruptions to the global food system. Industry-changing Serenity Farms offers Saudi Arabia and similar regions a sustainable and profitable way to produce food locally, creating jobs, and using only sunlight and seawater.
Serenity Farms is a concept for a sustainable 110ha greenhouse facility for profitable food production in arid climates. The first site is to be located on the west coast of Saudi Arabia, under the vision of the Reza Investment Company. It will be the largest sustainable greenhouse operation in the world. The only water it uses is salt water sourced from the red sea, and is powered entirely by the sun. The core of Serenity Farms is a high tech food production solution that provides fresh fruits and vegetables for 170.000 people.
Over the course of two co-creations sessions in June and July 2020, the IKEA Foundation Agricultural Livelihoods Team worked with us to identify focused and impactful granting areas through systems thinking. The mapping tools and strategy framework we developed together can support the team with tangible, flexible steps to channel the complexity of agricultural livelihoods into clear, decisive action and impact.