Academia Business Community knowledge research research communication Researcher Special Guest

Entrepreneurship and Immigration:

Have you ever wonder how moving to a new country has inspired or made people open a new business and become an entrepreneur? Dr Nur (2015) found a direct link between immigrant entrepreneurship and success longevity in their businesses through innovation and sustainability. These successes lead to the creation of global brands, such as Heinz, Avon, Dell, Amazon, Estee Lauder and a hundred others.

Greetings from Italy! 

Dr. Nur Suhaili Binti Ramli, Department of Management, University of Venice, Italy

Dr Nur informs us that despite broad discussions between immigration and entrepreneurship in United States, Australia or Canada little research is done to investigate the success rates of the immigrant entrepreneurs in the European host countries, the longevity of immigrant businesses, survival rate during crises periods or scale-up potential, and various business strategies implemented by the immigrants.
To fight the myth: “Migrants still our jobs”, on-going research question: Does the immigrant entrepreneurship positively contribute to the European countries’ socio-economic development?
For example, the recent CENSIS and collaboration with Roma-Tre University (2019) found on a growing number of immigrant entrepreneurs and a positive causal effect of immigrant entrepreneurship on the national economy in the last ten years. The findings are beneficial for the internationalisation strategy as well as for the job creation, contribution to the economic growth, and support to the local government during the economic crisis. More findings of this sort can be useful for the EU Government’s decision making in drafting policies to reduce problems within the area (part of migration issue). Therefore, Dr Nur and her collaborator Prof Finotto are interested in examining the immigrant entrepreneurship phenomenon in Europe on a comparative approach and over time and is hoped to add significant findings.
The subject of the study (immigrant entrepreneurs) has been conducted in Dr. Nur’s earlier research that summarises during the Great Depression and Second World War, immigrant entrepreneurs put more endeavour into marketing innovation, while the non-immigrant entrepreneurs (native) are more likely to improve their product through innovation, retaining the same product line and target market. Among other things, a compelling finding demonstrates that immigrant entrepreneurs started to implement market segmentation, while non-immigrant entrepreneurs ventured into vertical product differentiation, strengthened their quality with product improvement, which increased consumer trust by associating their brands with particular products. Dr. Nur (2016) emphasise that some immigrant entrepreneurs at host country are somewhat patriotic, especially when their host country is facing difficulties. For example, they show support towards local governments during these two periods by helping the US government to survive during wartime, such as more than 50% of facilities at one of an immigrant entrepreneur’s factory and laboratories were made available to the US Government for the production of war items for the armed forces. It provides historical evidence that immigrant entrepreneurship is essential and has a significant contribution to the socio-economic of the host country. Extending from this study, Dr. Nur and Prof. Finotto use a similar research framework to study the phenomenon in the European context.

Several studies on immigration and entrepreneurship between 2010 and 2018 have almost doubled, that focus mainly on the performance of the entrepreneurs and compare businesses created by native and immigrant entrepreneurs by longevity, strategy during crises periods, and by businesses that started small and later, became global brands. However, there is a limited study on the comparative approach to answer these two questions: Why immigrant entrepreneurs have different strategies to business compared to non-immigrant entrepreneurs in Europe over-time? And, How do they recognise entrepreneurial opportunity identification at the host country in Europe differently than the native?, which interest Dr Nur and Prof Finotto to scrutinise the investigation. It is an exciting work-in-progress to follow as it focuses on the European countries when the influx of migration is a critical issue. The preliminary findings from two pilot studies summarise that immigrant entrepreneurs offer job creation to the local community, establish and smoothen business entry barrier between the host and home country, contribute taxes that benefit local pensioners, and create competitive advantage. Dr. Nur and Prof. Finotto are now conducting comprehensive research to confirm the preliminary findings, which updates are available via twitter.

Furthermore, Prof William R. Kerr and Dr Sari Pekkala Kerr (2017) point out that many policymakers believe that immigrant founders were essential for the revival of the country’s growth and continued recovery from the Great Depression. In contrast, Dr Nahikari Irastorza, and Prof Iñaki Peña-Legazkue (2018) explain that the immigrant entrepreneurs are more likely to quit their businesses earlier than their native competitors. Although there are mixed findings on the business performances and strategies of immigrant entrepreneurs, in general, they can adapt and expand despite the economic crisis with several explanations including on how and why they identify entrepreneurial opportunity at host country differently than the native. In summary, the immigrant entrepreneurship phenomenon must not be excluded from local agendas and discussion, particularly in Europe. With a broad range of evidence on the subject, it concludes that this research area is critical and beneficial for shaping and improving the policy in the future to benefit the economy and society at large in Europe.


Further reading:

  1. CENSIS (2019), Available online at
  2. Kerr, S.P., & Kerr, W.R. (2017). Immigrant Entrepreneurship. In Measuring Entrepreneurial Businesses:
  3. Current Knowledge and Challenges, 187-249. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press.
  4. Irastorza, N., & Peña-Legazkue, I. (2018). Immigrant entrepreneurship and business survival during the recession:
  5. Evidence from a local economy. The Journal of Entrepreneurship, 27(2), 243-257.
  6. Ramli, N.S., (2016). A comparative study of marketing strategies: the development of cosmetic brands created by diaspora entrepreneurs and non-diaspora entrepreneurs in the US cosmetic industry. [Doctoral dissertation], University of York, United Kingdom.
  7. Ramli, N.S., (2015). Immigrant entrepreneurs on the world’s successful global brands in the cosmetic industry. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences195, 113-122

The authors are currently working on the following project:

A Comparative Study of Entrepreneurial Opportunity Identification between Immigrant Entrepreneurs and Non-Immigrant Entrepreneurs in Europe.

Researcher: Dr Nur Suhaili Binti Ramli  Twitter: DrSuhailiRamli

Funding: Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy

Supervisor/Collaborator: Professor Vladi Finotto.

Business enthusiasm Researchista

(45) 1 year of Researchista: facts & feelings

2016: January Irina decides, it’s now or never ever ever will she take this courage to start her journey in entrepreneurship and makes visible to the public her Facebook page, called Researchistaraising immediately her deep concern about: “Does more knowledge create more happiness? Or rather, more unhappiness?To perceive (understand) is to suffer” said Aristotle. More you learn, more you understand that you need to learn more about it.. Socrates famous quote: “”I know that I know nothing”. So, does more knowledge create more unhappiness? At the same time, can more happiness create more knowledge?”


Having recently graduated, all she wanted  was to help other PhD students by sharing her ideas, her stories or by inviting others to speak on her blog.

2016: 14 February The blog goes on-air! is officially launched with its first post on.. Love during PhD.


2016: March Researchista hosts her first Special Guest Dr. Jimmie Leppink, who writes for PhD students about: My first paper,  Tips on improving your writing, Writing and Research design, Guest writer preview.

Dr. Jimmie Leppink, First Special Guest at Researchista

Twitter account – check.

2016: April From her genuine concern about the health of PhD students, Researchista invites over the life Coach Danielle Branje, to discuss about anxiety in professional life (see: “Trust more, stress less“, “Prevention is the key“, “Tips to trick anxiety in your professional life”).

Coach Danielle Branje, upcoming support to PhD students in 2017 on PhD Helpbox section

2016: May Researchista’s first media appearance in the Maastricht University newspaper, “The Observant”. And she wants to let the world know, Research does not exist only in the academia and it was not made only for PhD students to struggle!

Photo by for the “Magic 3 and the Earth” story (types of Researchers)

2016: June Researchista participates at the TEDx Pitch Night event in Maastricht and here is what she said:

It is in this month that an entire month (during Mondays), our Special Guest Hasmik Matevosyan tells us based on her Research finding what’s happening in fashion industry.

Special Guest, Hasmik Matevosyan

SoundCloud account – check.

2016: July When everyone went for holidays, Researchista picked a moment to hope that it will pass unnoticed, (but for some this became the only thing Researchista ever did?) and did her first Researchista-fashionista photoshoot. Her name has a fashionista touch, remember? 

It was the moment when many Researchers from my academic environment think I am doing it all wrong, the month of double-face self-palming from colleagues I know wondering to themselves of what I did I do. I wonder, is it because of this picture? 😀

First Photostique photoshoot for Researchista fashionista

Ever since, I am asked if I am trying to sell Research with my body or if I am trying to become a modeler. It did not matter what I wrote in that post, because those who gave me such feedback clearly haven’t read it 😛 carefully. Research on FASHION is just one of the multiple topics Researchista will approach.. so get ready to not get bored 🙂

2016: August Our Special Guest tells PhD students and others alike what are the secrets of high performance, how to generate brilliant ideas and on public speaking.

Paul Rulkens,

2016: 9th of September Researchista is launching her first product.

final A Board Game made out of Researchista’s PhD thesis.

It was a special experience!

2016: October is Research on FOOD month… and here a wild month unleashes, because the posts were so interesting and we’ve got a lot of feeback. It starts with the transition of a civilization  and vertical farming by Michelle Jongen from Botanica Innovare and continues with the first Special Guest from abroad, Dr. Beatrice D’Ippolito, York University

Dr. Beatrice D’Ippolito, York University

Even more, together with my friend, Diana Z. from Busy Avocado, we embark in a little Research journey on our own, here is what my friend says about food labels.

This month, Dr.-to-become Carolin Hoffman is telling her story on 2nd Researchista fashionista shoot.

Dr.-to-become Carolin Hoffman, Maastricht University

2016: November is the Research on BRAIN month, hosting a series of very nice Guests from Maastricht University and abroad. We start with Dr. Joao Correia on brain & language, we continue with Dr. Gojko Žarić on brain & reading and almost ends with the post on brain & hearing problems from Laurien.

Dr. Joao Correia, Maastricht University

2016: December As an extention to Research on BRAIN month, Researchista pays a particular attention to a less researched topic, called “MISOPHONIA“, suggested by Dr. Mercede Erfanian, Amsterdam. This month we host our first guest from the USA, Dr. Jennifer Jo Brout!

Dr. Jennifer Jo Brout

Also, Researchista was nominated in the Business Development and Knowledge Transfer  contest, event organized by the School of Business and Economics at the University of Maastricht. Thank you!

Indubitably, the year had to end with one more Researchista-fashionista photoshoot! This is the story of Laurien, upcoming on first Monday of 2017. Subscribe to the blog 😉

greeting card.jpg


I learned this year that marketing speaks in mysterious ways, 2016 was the year of social media and marketing exercises.

Have a happy 2017! Everything will be ok…

With love for Research,


Academia Business Environment Food knowledge research Researcher Special Guest

(37) Aesthetics, Food and Innovation

Dear Researchista friends, please welcome our first Special Guest from abroad (outside NL), Dr. Beatrice D’Ippolito! 


This month Researchista has decided to focus on the food industry. As an evolutionary economist at root, when I think of an industry and the products or services offered, I start thinking of what drives change and innovation in the specific context. Last week’s contribution to ‘Research on Food (industry) month on Researchista’ started off with the following: “It is the experience which brings about development and innovation”. Today I would like to delve further into the concept of innovation in food retail, hardly considered as innovating, yet bearing a significant potential for growth and change.

Source: “Learning about food design”, d’Ippolito (2015)

Ongoing debates within the academic and policy-making communities centre argue that less technology-intensive industries rely on services to build their innovation capacity. Which foundations does this belief build on?


Recently I have been involved in a project which sought to explore how aesthetics, which often finds expression in design, can shape the innovation activities undertaken by food retailers. ‘Why aesthetics?’, you may wonder? And even, ‘How does it relate to food retail?

Aesthetics was a term coined by Baumgarten in Aesthetica (1750-58) to describe a philosophical discipline that examines the “lower” sensual aspects of human experience as opposed to the “higher” realm of logics. Research on the topic has evolved in many directions ever since and, for the sake of simplicity, I hereby refer to aesthetics as concerned with “the nature and appreciation of art, beauty, and good taste” (Oxford English Dictionary). Falling under the realm of axiology, that is, the study of values and value judgments, aesthetics is strongly connected with individual preferences. You may start connecting the dots here.

Source: internet.

Retail industries are increasingly being subject to consumers demanding for more innovation. Interestingly, although a retailer’s success relies on the ability to predict market trends, retailers are usually the adopters of innovations produced by other manufacturing companies. Retail firms are rarely thought of as innovation pioneers, yet some of them seem to adopt existing technologies to either improve their selling practices or enhance the quality of their retail processes. In addition, most innovations offered by retailers, though incremental, can generate meaningful impact on firms’ performance if sustained in the long run.

Source: “Emerging trends in food retail”, (Oct’16)

Further, I would like to discuss more about these aspects by illustrating how food retailers can innovate their offering by leveraging on the design element of their products and services. To do so, I draw on the case of Eataly (, a food retailer that entered the Italian food market in 2007 with a first establishment in Turin, and additional ones later on, both in Italy and abroad.

Source: internet.

The founder of Eataly believed in a world in which consumers are aware of healthier eating habits and the importance of consuming organic and seasonal products. These values have been inspired by Slow Food, a global organisation founded in Italy in 1989 to counteract fast food and a fast life on the one hand, and the disappearance of local food traditions and ethical modes of food production and consumption on the other. In seeking to protect this cultural heritage, Slow Food has effectively become a ‘clearing house’ for knowledge of local foods, initially in Italy, then globally.

Source: “One of Eataly’s mottos” from field visit to Eataly Store in Milan (Teatro Smeraldo, 2015), D’Ippolito & Timpano (2016). Translation: “Life is too short to eat and drink bad”

How does aesthetics manifest itself in the offering and activities of Eataly? The company originates from a series of stimuli rooted in both the territory in which the first store was set up, Turin, and the professional background of the founder, Oscar Farinetti. Eataly became the place where consumers could go and enjoy their food with family and friends (a restaurant), buy locally produced ingredients (a supermarket), and learn how to cook traditional recipes (a locus of learning).

Oscar Farinetii, Founder of Eataly. Source: here

Still, where is aesthetics? Eataly is an excellent case to explore how design as embedding and expressing aesthetics can foster innovation in service industries like food retailing. This is the case for various reasons. First, Eataly sought to grow and build reputation by locating their branches in sites that have a meaning for the local community. As Farinetti puts it, “Each ‘Eataly in the world’ focuses on one value: harmony for Turin, audacity for Genoa, doubt for New York. For Rome, we have chosen beauty”. For instance, the branch in Turin is located within the old premises of Carpano, an Italian winery and distillery that first established in Turin in 1786 and later moved to Milan. The store also benefits from the flourishing surroundings, that is, one of the country’s largest areas for food production and relevant events such as Terra Madre and The Salone del Gusto. The logic behind this approach is that of attracting the attention of those consumers who are familiar and emotionally attached to the site they live in and increase their awareness about its cultural heritage. Second, whilst the architecture of the various retail stores tries to recall the big factories (e.g., visible pipes on the ceiling, metallic furniture), Eataly still wishes to establish a reputation for the store as being central to the city rather than peripheral like many shopping malls.

Source: Eataly Story in Rome (taken during one of my field visits, April, 2014)

Third, elements of aesthetics have been built into different aspects of the firm’s organisation. A highly visible dimension regards the layout and logistics of the store. The first store, Eataly Turin, counts more than 6,000 m2 dedicated to the supermarket area, the restaurant, and exhibition (e.g., fair trade coffee) of their products. The store logistic has been set out with the aim of making the consumer ‘travel’ through theme-specific corridors almost by forgetting that the store is of a much bigger size. Product and restaurant points are arranged to induce purchase and offer a unique experience – “…products are shelved so closely that you cannot just avoid them, you feel the impulse of taking one back home with you” (field notes from the researcher’s visits to Eataly Rome). A series of mono-theme restaurants are dedicated to the product types such as ready-made bread or fresh meat, and besides each of them, a learning corner has been set up to deliver cooking training programs to candidate chefs, for example about meat cutting or bread making techniques.

Translation: “If I don’t go to Eataly, I die! I have fallen in love from the first moment I saw it. This is why I wanted to bring it in my city: New York. It is liked like crazy, even by my dog”, Joe Bastianichi. Source: internet

The architect’s brief for Eataly’s first store has been framed and exhibited in the Rome store (see figure below): here one can really see Eataly’s intent to recall consumer attention to the company’s roots and how these have informed their organisational values.Still, where is aesthetics?

Eataly is an excellent case to explore how design as embedding and expressing aesthetics can foster innovation in service industries like food retailing. This is the case for various reasons. First, Eataly sought to grow and build reputation by locating their branches in sites that have a meaning for the local community. As Farinetti puts it, “Each ‘Eataly in the world’ focuses on one value: harmony for Turin, audacity for Genoa, doubt for New York. For Rome, we have chosen beauty”. For instance, the branch in Turin is located within the old premises of Carpano, an Italian winery and distillery that first established in Turin in 1786 and later moved to Milan. The store also benefits from the flourishing surroundings, that is, one of the country’s largest areas for food production and relevant events such as Terra Madre and The Salone del Gusto. The logic behind this approach is that of attracting the attention of those consumers who are familiar and emotionally attached to the site they live in and increase their awareness about its cultural heritage. Second, whilst the architecture of the various retail stores tries to recall the big factories (e.g., visible pipes on the ceiling, metallic furniture), Eataly still wishes to establish a reputation for the store as being central to the city rather than peripheral like many shopping malls.

Last but not least, aesthetics is also embedded with how products are “placed on the shelves and introduced to consumers” (interview with the Communications Director). Most products, though manufactured by small farmers, are packaged in light-coloured packaging, in white more often than not, to introduce fresh, healthy, and tasty products. Shelves are painted in white; advertising wallpapers or flyers have a white background; and shopping assistants’ aprons are white to recreate a similarly freshening atmosphere. As the Communications Director stated, “it is important to present the product without overwhelming it”.

Eataly represents an example of how, through the entrepreneurial initiatives driven by passion, tradition, and ethical behaviour (e.g., promotion of locally sourced products, shorter product life cycles, and new restaurant models), a small firm can be innovative and contribute to driving change. The case points indeed to the importance of local communities, local brands, and intensified relationships with customers’ suppliers that will not only generate a positive impact for the company, but also the local economy.

Post written by Dr. Beatrice D’IppolitoLecturer in Strategic Management, University of York, UK

Note to the post:

The current piece draws from a research collaboration between Dr D’Ippolito and Prof. Timpano (Universitàa Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Piacenza, Italy). Results from this project can be further consulted at the following sources:

With love for Research,


Business Environment Food future health knowledge research Special Guest

(36) Research on food (industry): the future.

 Welcome on Research on food industry month on Researchista! Our Special Guest Michelle Jongen (former student of HAS University in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, study Environmental Science) discovered ‘vertical farming’ and wondered how she could implement a vertical farming system in combination with a knowledge center. She wants to create awareness, and activate and inspire people about the environment with her initiative at Botanica Innovare and the story goes like this…

….”The only source of knowledge is experience” – Albert Einstein. A beautiful phrase with which I would like to start this article. Indeed, it is the experience which brings about development and innovation. Today, I will discuss the developments and innovations in the field of future food.

Botanic-Center-Bloom-by-Vincent-Callebaut-9 (1).jpg

First, we look at the responsible cultivation of vegetables. It has been known for a long time that change is necessary. Before change is possible, we need an inspirer. Concerning crops, the designated person is Dickson Despommier. He is a pioneer in the field of urban farming. He is the one who tells people about his vision where crops are grown vertically in apartment buildings. This view is also known as vertical farming. It is a technique that is developed at this moment both with and without the LED lights. This system is used and examined all over the world.

Some advantages of the vertical farming system are:

  • No crop failure due to weather conditions or pests and diseases;
  • Year-round picks which achieves 30% more yield;
  • Sustainable use of space through the use of vacant buildings;
  • Constant quality of the crops;
  • Food miles are reduced.


What you see is that countries where the demand for healthy and safe food is high already apply this technique. A good example is Japan. After the nuclear disaster and tsunami, growing food is a tremendous problem. A new cultivation method had to be developed to ensure the health of the population. Nowadays, the consumers of Japan are supporting both vertical and urban farming as this is a secure way to grow crops.

Another development is closer to us than we think. Especially for the people who live in Maastricht. Maybe you already know what I’m talking about. After watching the development of crops, it is now time to look at the future of meat. Meat is increasingly discredited because of the large amount of carbon dioxide and methane which is emitted into the environment. It is our own Professor Mark Post of the University of Maastricht who researches cultured meat.


Last week, he organized the second International Conference on Cultured Meat from 9 to 11 October. During these days, the acceptance among consumers was important. Several speakers gave their views on the acceptance of cultured meat. In conclusion, we can say that questions are not asked in the right matter and the information on the Internet is often one-sided. We shouldn’t view this alternative as cultured meat but as clean meat. This will give a more positive name to cultured meat.

If we take a step further, we examine situations such as the ones in the film The Martian. In the film, Matt Damon is launching his own urban farming on Mars because he has been left behind. In his alternative greenhouse, he mainly grows potatoes. This made a big fuss because how realistic is this scenario? It is a question that lead to many different opinions.


As you can see, many innovative developments arise in the food industry. For example, the future crop cultivated at large fields are moving to closed rooms and cows will eventually be replaced by cultured meat. Both techniques have a major positive impact on people and the environment. People receive food that is produced in a responsible way which greatly reduces carbon dioxide and methane emissions. Consumers need to search for the correct information about these themes. Of course, that is not an easy task because of the influence of the media and companies.


That is why Botanica Innovare is offering education and creating awareness on the themes of sustainability, environment and health. Need more information or a workshop, please contact us.

Post written by Michelle Jongen, founder at Botanica Innovare.


With love for Research,


Business Environment Food future health research Researcher Researchista

(35) The transition of a civilisation.

…Food… the substance to keep us alive, the reason for one of the most amazing things we can devour and enjoy, the reason to meet with friends, the thing that we sometimes abuse having in our bellies or forget to consume on time for a healthier living. So many topics relates to it: food waste, food management, food production, toxic food vs. healthy food, food eating, food and public health (is what children at school eat healthy enough?), poverty and food, wealth and food, labour costs and rights when working in this industry, auditing and inspection of food (so many… exquisite food, shrimp production and labour costs of people producing food, McDonalds). Let’s just call it in one word: “Food industry”. 

During her bachelor Environmental Science, Michelle discovered ‘vertical farming’. She wondered how she could implement a vertical farming system in combination with a knowledge center. Subsequently, she wants to create awareness, and activate and inspire people about the environment. Eventually, after six months of doing research, she was convinced to launch Botanica Innovare.

The transition of a civilisation. Research on food (industry), an introduction.

“Life is good! You can move easily from A to B, buy the most exotic products in the supermarket and you always have access to clean water and electricity. What do we want more? Well, it would be nice if we can continue this life and pass it on to future generations. That is possible, however, this way of life begins to take its toll on the earth. In fact, we are plundering our beloved planet. This is something that each of us is responsible of. It is not completely strange because it is the way we are shaped by society. It is mainly about consumption rather than the familiar consuming less. We know this damn well as a consumer and yet we still go for the bargains. Is it denial, a habit or laziness?

The end is nowhere near and it is time for a transition! A transition in which we turn from an unconscious unhealthy society to an unconscious healthy society. A society in which we take responsibility for our actions. A society where we can be proud of and which makes it possible to pass our earth to future generations. You might be wondering where you should start. That is up to you because you are the one who has the potential to initiate changes with small actions. For example, stop buying plastic bags, look at the origin of your food or take your bike for a spin instead of your car. Furthermore, sustainable development needs to be encouraged. Fortunately, people understand the necessity of change. Last year, in September 2015, 193 world leaders agreed to 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development. If these Goals are completed, it would mean an end to extreme poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030. Our governments have a plan to save our planet…it’s our job to make sure they stick to it.


That brings us to the second Global Goal: Zero Hunger. This Goal states that we must end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture. The beauty is that we can make this happen! Companies and research institutes are considering this issue for years. New cultivation techniques are becoming increasingly realistic. All over the world, different vertical farming systems are designed and tested. Also the hydroculture (growth on water) and hydroponic systems are increasing. If we look at the alternatives to meat, we see the frequent use of insect and the development of cultured meat.

Source: here

For the time being, we in the Netherlands can (only) make use of vegetables that have been grown on water. Further investment and development is necessary for other food production systems. And that while the vertical system is already used in other parts of the world. Think of Japan where they can’t grow safe food in the open ground after the nuclear disaster. Here, the need for alternative systems is much larger. Therefore, these sustainable developments should be more encouraged in Europe. Luckily, this is already happening.

human activity by night and the influence we have on the environment

It is as Socrates once said: “it is often better to ask good questions than to give good answers. With questions, you move others to examine their own experiences and ideas. That triggers learning processes that may be more effective than knowledge.” Dare to ask questions about new food production systems and inform yourself. Dare to be open minded because this is our future. These movements should not be seen as an adversary but it should lead to solidarity. Next week, I am going to talk about LED farming, cultured meat and more. I hope this article inspired you and made you realize that you are the one that can change our civilization.


A transition is a structural change that is the result of interacting and mutually reinforcing developments in areas such as economy, culture, technology, institutions and nature and the environment.

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present generation without jeopardizing the future generations.

By Michelle Jongen, founder at Botanica Innovare.


With love for Research,



anxiety Business Environment Fashion future health knowledge research Researcher Researchista Special Guest

(25) Fashion & Research, part 2: the Industry.


“Some day, when I’m awfully low and the world is cold. I will feel a glow, just thinking of you, and the way you look tonight….”, Frank Sinatra.

Going that extra mile for that beautiful dress, that good quality shirt or those cool pair of jeans is not unfamiliar to probably most of us. “Dress to impress”… This is the Research in Fashion month on Researchista and I want to invite you to a journey of self-discovery and reflection on how we ended up feeding a badly functioning mechanism of clothing machine and how can we change this machinery with our very own hands. Let us have an honest talk about how in our very particular, at first sight, impossible way can change the way some things work fashion industry. Our mentor in this area Hasmik Matevosyan, will think along from an documented point of view and present her arguments. She has done a lot of Research on this topic. 

Ok, I have to confess… First time when I went together with my sister to “Primark”, we went wild. We were in Dublin, it was summer, I was in my second year of PhD and things were going brightly. We bought all sorts of summer clothes, especially we were getting ready to go to The Galway Race.

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Little we knew what was Primark back then, we are from Moldova, our big clothing chains are underdeveloped (now I think is maybe for the best). We do not have Primark, H&M or Mango, unless you go to Bucharest or Odessa. We buy locally produced clothes or those imported clothes from Turkey or outlets of big stores.


The times passed by and I watched randomly all sort of movies about fashion industry on internet, but it never really made me aware of my own behaviour towards clothes. I really pity the people that died in Bangladesh and that work so very hard to make these clothes for cheaper price, tagged “Made in Bangladesh”, “Made in Romania”, “Made in China”, but the reality is that…

Photo: A.M. Ahad.

… although much less, I still go to these chain shops… Last time I went to Primark was last year, when I redecorated my place and was looking for a blanket for my colour in a special colour and it was really a coincidence that I ended up Primark in Liege, recalling my Dublin experience. This time, I was an informed customer… and I still bought it. I still made that purchase because it was exactly what I was looking for, at a price that was incomparable on the market (very cheap).

low price – new things = high temptation to buy

So, what to do? I don’t want to ruin people’s life and the planet by buying a new dress that I love.

What is the alternative? In which shops is safe to buy and which ones do not respect human rights at work? Is it all clothing bad to buy? What to do…

I know I am not in this alone.

So, I wonder what does Hasmik thinks about it. She knows a lot about fashion industry, she wrote her master’s thesis about it. She must know what can we do as customers to fight for fair treatment of all people at work and to avoid pollution.

Hasmik Matevosyan, fashion industry expert

Hasmik: The fashion industry today is the second biggest environmentally polluting industry in the world. Millions of production workers are forced to work in inhumane conditions and barely make enough money for a living. Clothes in the shops are of a lower quality then they used to be, but also much cheaper. Clothes get worn off faster, the prices are getting lower and new items keep arriving to the shops in a rapid speed. The consumption speed goes up with it, just as the amount of clothes thrown away every year. On the positive side many fashion designers and brands are researching and applying sustainability and innovation in their practices. There are even several initiatives applying business models where clothes can be leased or borrowed and some fashion brands co-design with their customers.

“During the first year of my fashion education I found out about the downside of the fashion industry and decided that I did not want to contribute to so much negativity, but rather would start searching for a solution. I set as a goal that I want to achieve a fashion industry where clothes are designed to meet your desires and needs and give you a sense of confidence and comfort, where the production of clothes improves lives, where clothes are affordable to everyone and where fashion brands make profit that helps them grow and improve lives and the environment through the work that they do”. 

Here, Hasmik is sharing her solution at TEDxMaastricht, but since many of us were not there, next week we will discuss this idea in details. It is one of the concrete, practical, mediatized solutions I heard as an alternative to how things work today.


Unfortunately, just like in other areas, when it comes to buying clothes we let ourselves trapped in compulsory consumption....

There is plenty of time till next Monday, when Hasmik will share her ideas…plenty to reflect on your consumption behaviour. Do you wear all clothes you buy? Have you already by the way, sorted your wardrobe out of things you don’t wear anymore? This is a self-discovery and self-reflection trip, enjoy!

With love for Research,




Business definition enthusiasm ignorance knowledge Magic 3 Policy research Researcher Researchista stereotype

(19) Magic 3: Policy – Academia – Business

When I was small, “Sailor Moon” was one of my favourite cartoons, especially when she and her girlfriends gathered in a circle and took out their magic sticks with magic powers from the nature: fire, air, water and earth – to unite their powers and fight the evil… When these elements are apart they have one power, but when combined, they can create effects that could never happen independently. Just like in life, Research is useful, but if not discussed and transmitted further into policy or business, it might just stay there for years, without serving it’s purpose.

Please welcome the Magic 3 (fire, air and water) and the earth (you and me and everyone).


To avoid confusion, policy is not politics, nor police ;). Policy (or public policy or a policy in an area) is a governmental programme addressed to solve or to take care of a specific sector of public life; for example, energy. In the energy sector, there are people who install the electricity in your building and there are people who pay these people to do this work and there are people who decide how much will the electricity cost this month for all the citizens of a country (and by body, I mean, of course a group of people with a specific role, not the actual human bodies 😉 ). Although it might seem as if they do not talk between them, they all function according to a plan. So, that plan  – is a policy – created by the government with budget and right structure to make sure that area of public life will work.

So, here we are… a bunch of Researcher, each of us representing one of the Magic 3 elements (we are 5, since in Academia we are 2 types of Researchers and 1 is myself (how could I leave my humble self out of the photo-shoot). Am I missing a type of Research? What type? Who?

  • Academia: Experienced Researcher and Early-Stage Researcher
  • Policy
  • 50/50 academia-policy and of course,
  • Business Researcher
Photo credit:

So, let us start in order of the order with a small description about each beautiful and precious human you see in this picture:


Magic 1: Academic Researcher (Experienced Researcher, according to European Commission)

Please welcome the most stylish, elegant, classy man of Maastricht (according to me. I know such labeling is dangerous, but I simply can not help it, this gentleman does not stop being elegant probably every day of the year ).


Antoine P. Simons, doctorate graduate 2010 at Maastricht University: “As a clinical specialist in the cardiovascular field, working both efficiently and effectively demands up-to-date knowledge that can be derived either from basic research or from clinical trials. Without science, health care could never have reached the level it has today, and which I use to save lives. I either use the knowledge gathered by others, accessible via peer-reviewed publications and at scientific meetings, or by simply investigating myself. Setting up my own research helps me to become a better team member, colleague, teacher, supervisor and clinician in order to help those in need: patients I like to become healthy again!”

Magic 1: Academic Researcher (Early-Stage Researcher, according to European Commission)

Representing probably the closest to Researchista’s heart group of Researcher – PhD fellows, otherwise called, Early-stage Researchers. Say hi to one of the most engaging story-teller I know:


Ibrahima Sory Kaba, PhD fellow at the United Nations University – MERIT, Maastricht University: “Academic research is to economics what stretchers and legs are to a chair. It helps the discipline to stand on solid and firm grounds. As a Ph.D student in macroeconomics of development, the bulk of my work consists of controlling for potential causalities or building mathematical models, all rooted in a strong body of theory, with the main objective of guiding policy-making. Currently I am halfway of completing my Ph.D before moving on to new challenges. But as of now I am simply enjoying myself with collaborative academic research, weekly seminars and eye-opening teaching experiences.”

Magic 3: Policy Researcher.

As a former PhD at Maastricht University, she never ceased to impress with her talents:Photo-4

Olga J. Skriabikova-Coenen, Researcher at the Regional government of Limburg, South of the Netherlands [doctorate graduate 2014 at Maastricht University]: “I have a PhD in Economics and since two years I work at Limburg regional government. In my role as Strategy research and evaluation advisor I provide critical reflection on proposed research questions, methods and design. The main difference between fundamental research and policy-oriented, or in other terms, applied research is that policy research should ideally provide directly applicable results which can be used to address urgent policy matters. Formulating research questions in such a way that policy-makers receive information that they can use is therefore crucial. Another issue related to applicability is timeliness, since policy-makers need to be able to react quickly and cannot afford waiting for a year or more to plan a policy action. The other side of the coin is that policy research cannot provide the depth, precision and generality of conclusions of fundamental research. Nonetheless, high quality policy research is crucial for adequate planning, design, implementation and evaluation of policies.”

Magic 3: Business Researcher.

Maastricht is simply lucky to have Mark Lewis as it’s inhabitant, a genuine promoter and simply a model to follow when it comes to social equity and solidarity. I am honoured and privileged to be his friend.Photo Mark

Mark Lewis, Business Analyst at APG, Netherlands (one of the largest pension funds in the world): “I think Research is really important for business: ..” Listen here to what Mark has to share with us about the role of Research in his area.

Magic 1 & 2: Academia & Policy Researcher.

Welcome to your humble partner in crime for Research, Irina Burlacu aka Researchista.


Irina Burlacu, Lecturer at the Center for European Studies at Maastricht University and Researcher (in both academia & policy sector: 50%-50%). She believes in the strong (not yet valorified at its fullest) potential of Research in current societies and economies and wishes to promote this vision at more levels. Read more about it here.


At the end of every movie, the producers always remain with the pieces that are not included in the movie (the extras). Our producer, the professional photographer Manor Lux, whom I would like to thank very much for his patience and this very beautiful pictures, also had some extras, I believe this is one of it 🙂 The location is the good old “Cafe Zondag“, who let us feel like on a shooting platform (the location was chosen for you, my friends, who left Maastricht long ago).



With love for Research,


p.s. A special Magic 3 type of event takes place yearly in Maastricht. If you are part of one of the 3 elements, subscribe on their web-page or require information from the organizing group, as the following step is to create an app in the area of circular economy that would match partners from business-academia-policy, powerful….


p.s.2. You understand that most probably I am missing something in this diagram and that the truth is relative (for example, I did not include the international organisation or local communities and non-governmental organisations), but let us assume for now that it is like that.