Social Innovation

Impact Team presents first Soulmate Chocolate Bar to Hein Fleuren

As a token of appreciation for his inspiring and impactful cooperation with the World Food Program and his ambassadorship for the Tilburg University Impact Program, Impact Program leader Margriet Sitskoorn presented the first ‘Soulmate Chocolate Bar’ to Professor of Operations Research Hein Fleuren.

impact soulmate hein fleuren

The chocolate bar, wrapped in a Soulmate wrapper, is meant to support and encourage the ambassadors of the Impact Program and to express the team’s gratitude for their tireless efforts in the field of socially impactful research. The motto of the Impact program is Science with a Soul.

Hein Fleuren’s research interests have shifted over the years from raising the profits of big companies to helping good causes. For years, he worked on the improvement of logistics chains, being involved, for instance, in improvements at TNT Express package delivery services. Changes in logistics led to enormous cost reductions and ditto reductions in carbon emissions (a quarter of a billion kilogram yearly). Peter Bakker, former top man at TNT, introduced Fleuren to the United Nations World Food Program. Initially the people there were skeptical about what a mathematician could add. That is, until Fleuren’s students designed a model that allowed the UN to optimize the entire food supply chain on the basis of data.

Inspiring example

Now the Tilburg optimization of the World Food Program is an inspiring example of science and practice coming together in a win–win combination. In this case, the impact theme of Creating value from Data was realized in the form of enormous cost reductions, making it possible to feed more mouths. Together with Conny Rijken of Tilburg Law School, Hein subsequently started up the Data Science for Humanitarian Innovation Program, in which they collect data for smart deployment together with and on behalf of aid organizations.

These are inspirational initiatives, not only for the Tilburg Impact Team but also for students writing their theses on these developments, for prospective students interested in mathematics, and for many others. Thank you, Soulmate Hein and your colleagues!

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