Data science

Data science represents a disruptive innovation that market orientated organisations will use to drive competitive advantage and governmental bodies to set and reach policy targets. The value of Data science lies in the insight that organisation can draw from it, rather than in the information itself. Data science offers huge opportunities. Linking socio-economic and physical data, for example, may generate entirely new insights and market opportunities. However there are also risks, for example those related to regulatory hazards and issues such as ownership and privacy. To secure value from Data science, organisations need a holistic and strategic plan for identifying opportunities and overcoming hurdles and managing risks.

At Wageningen University & Research, Data science is identified as an important field of research, contributing to provide innovations in areas, such as:

Animal Health

Animal health research provides us with a lot of data. For example, we can quickly determine the complete genetic code of viruses and bacteria. It only gets really interesting when this new data is combined with existing data. Bioinformatics helps us to combine, analyze and interpret these huge amounts of data. Thus, answers can be obtained to biological questions. This allows us to draw conclusions about origins and risks of diseases. This provides new knowledge and applications in animal health, food safety and epidemiology. With this, for example, we can for example quickly determine characteristics and the origin bird flu virus outbreaks, automatically detect lame cows and monitor behaviour of fishers. Read more about our innovative research below.

Food production, food security, food safety and integrity

The use of Data science allows the development of Smart Farming approaches for plants and animals (Precision Agriculture). Individual, small, as well as large production units can be managed and monitored in time and space according to their needs required for optimal production and biosafety without jeopardizing health, welfare, and environment. Improved data communication and data integration between parties within and between various food supply chains, locally as well as on a global scale, may contribute to improved efficiencies, sustainability, safety and a better global food and nutrition security.

Food-related public health issues

Data science can help consumers in making healthy and sustained food choices. With the Data science the gap between intention and behaviour of consumers can be narrowed down and may provide ready-to-use health intervention strategies (e-Health). Personalized feedback on dietary needs may be given if one takes into account data on personal preferences, dietary intake history, activity levels, physiological information, and eating behaviour. Relevant markets include: individual consumers; (care) hospitals; retail; producers, breeders, etc.

Biobased and Circular economy

Data science is crucial to understand and control biomass feedstocks. Open data systems are needed to set up and support the complex logistics in a future Biobased and Circular economy, where physical product flows are divers and scattered by definition.

Green cities and planet earth management

Global changes of political, financial or climatic nature, make food production chains vulnerable and are expected to have major impacts on global and local economies. Planet earth as well as metropolitan clusters face problems with respect to their food supply and waste removal, for example, how to produce enough food and keep the local and global system environmentally sustainable?

The development of embedded systems

Other nearby perspectives are the use of embedded systems in our food production and living systems. For example in smart greenhouses, in kitchens and fridges.

Advice for policy ministries and small and large companies

All these parties are aware of the developments in the Data science landscape and do not know yet how to deal with them. Wageningen University & Research helps to develop strategies for implementation and validation. Wageningen University & Research is also instrumental in bringing Data science forward, while supporting the (inter)national Agri&Food economy and policy makers to set and realize their (inter)national agenda’s.