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Laurens Hessels to be Professor of the Societal Value of Science

mission-driven innovation policy

Coordinator of research quality Laurens Hessels

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Laurens Hessels

As of 1 September, Laurens Hessels has been appointed Professor by Special Appointment of the Societal Value of Science at Leiden University. Hessels will carry out his new position alongside his job as senior researcher and coordinator of research quality at the Rathenau Instituut.

In short:

  • New professorship will be part of the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS).
  • The Rathenau Instituut emphasises that bringing together scientific knowledge and practical expertise is crucial to the development of successful solutions to societal challenges.

As a professor, Hessels’ research will focus on the best way for scientists to work with practitioners (co-creation) so that their research is of maximum benefit to society. He will also investigate how research and innovation can help tackle major societal problems. In addition, he wants to contribute to methods for improving the evaluation of the societal value of research. The new professorship will be part of the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) of Leiden University.

Hessels (1980) has worked at the Rathenau Instituut since 2019, where he was previously employed from 2010 to 2016. He studied Philosophy of Science and Chemistry at the University of Amsterdam and obtained his PhD at Utrecht University in 2010 for a study on the societal relevance of science. At the Rathenau Instituut, he collaborated on reports on the science and innovation policies of the Netherlands and the European Union.

Bringing together scientific knowledge and practical expertise

‘This appointment underlines the value we attach to new forms of cooperation between science and practice,' says Maria Henneman, chair of the Rathenau Instituut's Board. We have been saying for quite some time that bringing together scientific knowledge and practical expertise is crucial to the development of successful solutions to societal challenges. I am pleased that this appointment allows us to further expand our cooperation with CWTS.’

Hessels is the second senior researcher of the Rathenau Instituut to be appointed professor in a relatively short period of time. At the end of 2019, coordinator Rinie van Est became Professor of Technology Assessment and Governance at TU Eindhoven.