Impact - Zero Hunger Lab

With the use of data science, less hunger in the world

Zero Hunger Lab

Tilburg University’s Zero Hunger Lab is a research group that aims to achieve global food security with data science.

Data science for zero hunger' is the goal of the Zero Hunger Lab at Tilburg University. The lab is part of Tilburg's IMPACT research program, which promotes collaboration between researchers and partners in society.

Working on sustainable food security with smart algorithms

How can smart algorithms and analyses help to combat chronic malnutrition, famine, and, at the same time,  strengthen and sustain local agriculture?

That is what the Zero Hunger Lab is conducting research in. Firstly, more efficient and effective emergency food aid is needed. It is also necessary to share knowledge and strengthen local capacity so that farmers, businesses, and communities can provide resilient and sustainable food security themselves. Eventually, this will be the solution to achieve zero hunger as agreed in the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

What have we already achieved?

reduction in costs

on Iraqi emergency food baskets

> 30 million dollars
saved so far

on the total logistics costs (purchasing, transport and handling)

The world hunger problem

Tilburg University has been working on optimizing the supply chain within emergency aid for a number of years now. In addition to optimizing this emergency aid, the Zero Hunger Lab also wants to use data science for more efficient and effective aid during rehabilitation and to help regions to become self-sufficient and resilient in the long term.

Professor Hein Fleuren started the project in the field of food aid and supply chain optimization with a number of Master’s students, including Koen Peters. The team achieved great results with the Optimus mathematical model: in Yemen, for example, 17% more people were fed on the same budget. The World Food Programme provides food aid to eighty countries; in the coming years, the organization will apply Optimus in all these areas, and the Zero Hunger Lab will further develop the model for wider application in fighting hunger.

The approach of the Zero Hunger Lab

Zero Hunger Lab

Improving the support of farmers with knowledge

"As a social organization, Solidaridad invests in the collection and analysis of data to give farmers more insight into the ins and outs of their farming. With this knowledge, we can better support farmers. We can also use data to demonstrate more clearly what we achieve as an organization. Especially when analyzing the data, we can use the knowledge and expertise of the Zero Hunger Lab."

Zero Hunger Lab - Goal 2

Through the partnership with Tilburg University, we expect to further improve our work with the farmers and to make a greater contribution to the United Nations  Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger.


Arjen Mulder, Head of Knowledge Management Learning at Solidaridad Europe

Together we are strong

Zero Hunger Lab has started attracting partners.  Several organizations such as Solidaridad, WUR, Oxfam, ORTEC, Welt Hunger Hilfe, INSEAD, Voedselbanken NL have applied. Read the interview with the founders Hein Fleuren and Perry Heijne.

Knowledge and strategic partners

Collaboration is the strength of the program, therefore, the Zero Hunger Lab is looking for specialists and organizations that

  • provide local assistance and thus have a local network;
  • possess relevant data;
  • have knowledge of areas involved and local conditions;
  • are part of a strategic network.

Do you have knowledge that can be of added value? Then we would like to use your data and/or time. In return, we help you to help others through data analysis, tools, and knowledge. In this way, we can jointly make a greater impact on people in need.

Talk to the Zero Hunger Lab


Support the Zero Hunger Lab during the start-up phase of this project and donate via the Tilburg University Fund Foundation. Continuous funding is needed for the appointment and retention of researchers. The organization has deliberately been set up in a lean way to make sure that donations end up there where we can make the difference: in research. Download the flyer.(Dutch only)

Support our scientific research

Students and researchers

In small teams, the Zero Hunger Lab works on different parts of the research agenda. In the coming years, there will be a lot of work for ambitious Master's students, PhD candidates, and researchers. Will you join the Zero Hunger Lab research team?

Contact the Zero Hunger Lab

Hunger is a major global problem. I appreciate the fact that I’m contributing to solving it. In my opinion, Data Science and Operations Research can make a huge contribution to Zero Hunger.

Robert Poos, MSc. student Business Analytics and Operations Research



If you are interested in finding out what contribution you can make or if you already know that you would like to become our partner or colleague, let’s meet and talk.