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About FINEST Doctoral students and Postdoctoral fellows

Linus Thomson

Linus Thomson is a postdoctoral researcher at FINEST, focusing on Work Package 2, which aims to enhance understanding of innovation management within the food sector. Linus has several years of professional experience as a civil engineer in the United Kingdom and as a consultant in Sweden.

He obtained his Ph.D. in Entrepreneurship and Innovation from Luleå Technical University in June 2023. His dissertation, centered around digital business model innovation, challenged the established academic perspective on digital business models. In his thesis, he critically examined the academic discourse surrounding digital business models, which had struggled to explain the core of digital technology. Through his research, he highlights the critical mechanisms that constitute the true value of digital technology in business model innovation.

Within the framework of FINEST, Linus works in Work Package 2, focusing on innovation management in the food sector. He pays special attention to understanding how linear thinking, which leads to overproduction and overconsumption in the economic domain, can be redistributed to benefit both the social and environmental domains. In other words, Linus explores how companies can create and capture value through their business models in a more sustainable manner. This research emphasizes the importance of understanding the interactions between various actors in the food sector and how their interactions can promote a circular logic.

Paul Plummer

Paul Plummers PhD project is connected to FINEST Work Package 1 - A sustainable food system, and focuses on how value chain development can contribute towards sustainability goals in the Swedish food sector.

Paul Plummer is a doctoral student at Uppsala University, Department of Civil and Industrial Engineering, Division of Industrial Engineering and Management. I have an academic background in Sustainable Development and Philosophy, and my previous research work has related to urban sustainability transitions, with a focus on alternative food systems, and policymaking for education for sustainable development (ESD) in the Nordic countries.

In the project within FINEST Work Package 1 - A sustainable food system, Paul hope to generate a system-level understanding of value chains for Swedish wild berries and experimental food products and explain how innovation activity is shaping their development. The current focus is on the wild berry value chain and its surrounding innovation system.

By better understanding the factors which shape innovation activities related to wild berries in Sweden, Paul hope to identify opportunities and barriers for value chain development, and discuss this development potential in relation to sustainability goals. This research will contribute towards an emerging body of literature which studies innovation systems in relation to societal missions.

The results of this study, and the PhD project more broadly, should be of interest to stakeholders within the studied value chains, as well as to researchers and policymakers with an interest in their development. Pauls research is also of relevance to other academics working in the field of agri-food sustainability transitions studies.

Helena Fornstedt

Helena Fornstedt is connected to FINEST Work Package 1 - A sustainable food system and her focus is on the  the green protein shift - focusing on Swedish legumes - from a systems perspective.

Helena Fornstedt is a civil engineer in Systems Technology and Society with a couple of years as a consultant at Accenture behind her. She received her doctorate in Industrial Engineering and Management in 2021 with a thesis on Innovation Resistance. In that thesis, she problematized the prevailing view of innovation as indisputably positive and resistance to innovation as negative. Contrary to that, the thesis showed that innovation resistance should be understood as a different process with a different goal than the often company-driven innovation process. This shed new light on innovation development as something that occurs in conflict between different desires and visions for how society should develop. Helena thought it was great fun and exciting to write this thesis, and in 2022 it was awarded the Scandinavian Academy of Industrial Engineering and Management's (ScAIEM) Thesis Award and a Wallander scholarship.

In FINEST, Helena works in FINEST Work Package 1 - A sustainable food system and researches the green protein shift - focusing on Swedish legumes - from a systems perspective. Initially, a driving question was, "How is it that we now have such a large range of plant-based products on the shelves in grocery stores?" Just ten years ago, it looked completely different. Veganism was seen as something extreme, and there were essentially two brands that offered vegetarian meat substitutes. Now both the supply and the number of flexitarians have increased significantly. To cast new light on this development Helena and her colleagues map the development of the innovation system around the green protein shift in Sweden. They have identified important events that drove the development and links between the involved actors. The study points out that a significant shift took place in 2006 when the reports "Livestock's Long Shadow" and "the Stern Review" as well as Al Gore's film "An inconvenient truth" came out. Another important year was 2016, when "proteinskifte" ('protein shift' in English) became one of the year's new words in Sweden. The study does, however, not only focus on modern historiography but also on the current situation, what the value chain looks like and what possibly is hindering the development towards reduced meat consumption.

The research is important because it describes modern and socially relevant industrial history that has not yet been recorded. This story is worth noting as it may inspire increased commitment to the green protein shift. The study highlights that reducing meat consumption is valuable for society and does not necessarily have to mean a complete transition to a plant-based diet every day of the week. A reduction in meat-eating is worth a lot - especially if many people do it. It also provides an example of how an industry has begun to change and shows key factors that have driven that development. For industrial, public and civil actors who work for a protein shift where meat plays an ever smaller role in Swedish consumption, the study highlights essential bottlenecks that may need focus, creativity and investments to accelerate the transition.

The team in FINEST Work Package 1 - A sustainable food system are just now (at the end of 2022) completing a more extensive interview study comprising approximately 60 interviews, which will form the basis for scientific and popular science publications. Lead times are long in academia, so scientific publications can be expected to come out in about two years. However, the material can already be used for inspiring lectures and discussion material for FINEST partner organizations and any others interested in an increased understanding of the green protein shift.

Robin Meijer is now conducting a study together with RISE, ICA and the Agricultural Society with the aim of creating a better understanding of how different actors in the food system work with innovation. The background is that more knowledge is needed about how different actors can both collaborate and develop their internal processes to enable more innovations in the food system.

Robin is a trained agroecologist and horticultural engineer at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Alnarp, where he has also worked as an operations manager within the university's innovation support aimed at students, and also worked as a teacher. The common denominator for Robin has always been innovation and development, a track he now continues on in the role of doctoral student at Chalmers and he is active in FINEST work package 2 - Innovation of the Swedish food sector.

Karin Östergren

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Karin Östergren

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+46 70 420 56 19

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