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Spatial Economics News

News from Spatial Economics


For his paper on 'The Welfare Effects of Greenbelt Policy: Evidence from England', Hans Koster received the Sakip Sabanci International Research Award from the Sabanci University in Istanbul. This year, the award acknowledges studies concentrating on the government's role in and economic policies related to the wide range of topics from inequality to income distribution, climate change to energy, traffic congestion to air pollution, transportation to housing. The prize amounts to 10.000 $. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there was no official ceremony this year. Instead, watch the video.


Steven Poelhekke Research Fellow of CEPR
Steven Poelhekke became Research Fellow of CEPR (Centre for Economic Policy Research), joining the programme on International Trade and Regional Economic. CEPR is a fully international network of approx. 1,300 research economists with a broad European Base. More information.

Invited guest lectureship ánd prize for Yue Bao
Yue Bao was invited guest lecturer at the prestigious 2019 Annual Conference of Management Science & Engineering Society & the 17th Forum of Management Science & Engineering of China (October 2019). In addition, Yue's PhD thesis 'Traffic management modelling and analysis based on tradable credits schemes' was awarded the Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation by the same Society of Management Science and Engineering of China in 2018. This Society is a first category discipline in China, sponsored by the founder of the discipline, Jingwen li, who was a scientist of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

Hans Koster member of the Amsterdam Young Academy
Hans Koster has been selected to be one of the new members of the Amsterdam Young Academy (AYA). AYA is an independent platform where talented young scientists from different disciplines meet to develop views on science, scientific policy and how to build bruidges between science and society in Amsterdam. AYA is an initiative of the University of Amsterdam and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and was officially launched on November 6th, 2018. More information.

Honorary doctorate for Jeroen van den Bergh

The Open University awards an honorary doctorate to environmental economist Jeroen van den Bergh, ICREA research professor at the Universität Autonoma de Barcelona and endowed professor at the Department of Spatial Economics. He receives this doctorate for his groundbreaking contributins to environmental policy debates. The official ceremony will take place on September 26 in Heerlen, during the celebration of the 35th Dies Natalis of the Open University.
More information.

Henri de Groot presents Economic Outlook Metropolitan Region Amsterdam 2019
On June 17, the second edition of State of the Region will take place in Theater Amsterdam. During this event, Henri de Groot will present the Economic Outlook Metropolitan Region Amsterdam 2019 (Economische Verkenningen Metropoolregio Amsterdam 2019). The event brings together key players from the business community, knowledge institutions, cultural organizations and regional authorities from the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area in order to discuss the metropolitan challenges and possible solutions.  More information (in Dutch).

Hans Koster advised the Mayor's Office of Bogotá
Hans Koster advised the Mayor's Office of Bogotá on the integration of Bogotá and its surrounding municipalities during the official launch of the Observatorio de Dinámicas Urbano Regionales (ODUR, Regional Urban Dynamics Observatory) on 8 May. Bogotá – capital of Colombia, with some 8 mln inhabitants – faces enormous challenges, when it comes to urban growth and regional cooperation. More information (in Spanish). 

Hans Koster nominated for the Best VU Teacher Award 2019
Congrats to STREEM teacher Hans Koster for being nominated for the Best VU Teacher Award 2019! Criteria to be met in order to be nominated the ability to inspire, involvement of the teacher, and didactic skills. The theme of the best teacher award is 'Looking Further', after the translated VU slogan 'Verder Kijken'. As a VU-broad theme, the jury underlines the importance of this slogan. Teachers look further when they stimulate the students to do the same, and when they provide depth. 

New project: HERILAND
The Department of Spatial Economics is prominently involved in HERILAND, a new pan-European research and training network on cultural heritage in relation to Spatial Planning and Design. It is funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement no 813883.

HERILAND is led by Gert-Jan Burgers (VU Humanities), Hadewijch van Delft is project manager, Niels van Manen training coordinator, Maurice de Kleijn data coordinator, and Ellen Woudstra communications officer. The department will also host one Early Stage Researcher / PhD. Through HERILAND, a consortium of 7 key academic and non-academic organizations - with 21 partners in civil society and business - aims to empower a new generation of academics, policy makers, practitioners, professionals and entrepreneurs. The project's research design positions heritage in the frame of five transformation processes, identifying as key challenges to the heritage management of the 21st century: The Spatial Turn, Democratisation, Digital Transformation, Shifting Demographies and Contested Identities, and Changing Environments. Using this framework, 15 Early Stage Researchers (PhDs) will be offered advanced training, combining theoretical and instrumental knowledge in a series of research seminars, living labs and secondments with public and private project partners. By doing this, HERILAND will establish a new pan-European, transnational, interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral research and training standard, which will be codified in a HERILAND Handbook for Heritage Planning and instrumentalised through an ongoing HERILAND College for Heritage Planning.  

Dept of Spatial Economics in Jakarta
End of January / early February Erik Verhoef, Gerard van der Meijden, Peter Mulder and Henri de Groot teached at the Universitas Indonesia in Jakarta a 2-weeks intensive course in transport, urban and environmental economics. It was the second time that this course was held, as part of the collaboration between the Department of Spatial Economics and the Faculty of Economics and Business at the Universitas Indonesia in Jakarta. The long-term goal of the collaboration is to conduct joint research in the field of transport, urban and environmental economics.

To this end, the Department of Spatial Economics invests in strengthening education in these fields for Indonesian students and junior academic staff. We do this, amongst others, by teaching each year in Jakarta this 2-weeks intensive course. The course was attended by over 30 students. It was a great success, thanks to the highly motivated and very good students, excellent logistics provided by Universitas Indonesia and the awareness among both teachers and students that transport, environmental and urban economics are of great importance for Indonesia in general and Jakarta in particular.

Clearly, the course contributes to gain awareness and understanding of the kind of teaching and research that we do in Amsterdam, and as such helps to improve the matching process for potential candidates for our master and PhD programs. Three Indonesian students that took part in last year’s intensive course are currently following our Master Program in Amsterdam – they do very well, to their and our joy. We have again been inspired by our experiences in Jakarta and very much look forward to deepening and expanding this collaboration.

For more information send an email to Peter Mulder.
See the pictures here.

Carolyn Fischer: Publication in Nature Sustainability
In January, Carolyn Fischer et al. had their article on 'Policy design for the Anthropocene' published in Nature Sustainability, a special edition of NatureNature is one of the most recognizable scientific journals in the world, and is ascribed an impact factor of around 40, making it one of the world's top academic journals. The authors investigate the complexities of designing policies that can keep Earth within the biophysical limits favourable to human life. Read more.

Japanese Fellowship for Jos van Ommeren
The JSPS (Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science) offered Jos van Ommeren the JSPS Invitational Fellowship for Research in Japan. The fellowship was established to stimulate a fruitful collaboration between foreign researchers and their Japanese colleagues. Jos will work with professor Toshimori Otazawa, and visit several universities in Kobe, Hiroshima, and Tokyo. 


Erik Verhoef, Jos van Ommeren and Jan Rouwendal in ESB Top 40
In the ESB Top 40 Best Dutch economists, our department is well represented: Erik Verhoef occupies the 12th, Jos van Ommeren the 13th, and Jan Rouwendal the 36th place. Not only our department, but also VU in general is doing exceptionally well. Of all universities in the Netherlands, VU has the most economists (10) in the ESB Top 40 Best Dutch Economists, followed by Erasmus University Rotterdam (9), and Tilburg University (6). The Top 40 is published annually in December by Economisch Statistische Berichten (ESB). More information.

New Research Project: U-PASS
A large research grant has been awarded in the NSFC JPI Urban Europe programme: U-PASS (Urban Public Administration and ServiceS innovation for Innovative Urban Mobility Management and Policy. A consortium led by Erik Verhoef will bring together researchers from VU Spatial Economics, Leeds University, Beijing Jiaotong University, Zhejiang University, and the Beijing Transport Research Institute. Motivated by the world-wide shared desire and need for more efficient, reliable and environmentally sustainable urban transport, the U-PASS project will investigate how to achieve this through new policies and services. We conduct real experiments and build models, both in China and in Europe, and integrate the two approaches. We focus on policies and services such as tradable credits schemes, automated vehicles, electric driving, ride sharing, car sharing, and cycling. The approach enables us to learn more by exploiting differences in modelling approaches, cultural backgrounds, local conditions, and research expertise. The project will last for four years.

New Research Project: SIMETRI
SIMETRI (SustaInable Mobility and Equality in mega-ciTy RegIons: patterns, mechanisms and governance) is a new research project, funded by NSCP JPI Urban Europe. This consortium is led by Michael Batty from University College London and involves researchers from Birkbeck University of London, King’s College London, VU Spatial Economics, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen Institute of Research and Innovation, The University of Hong Kong and Sun Yat-sen University. The project will develop a platform for prediction and urban governance using the Pearl River Delta ‘Greater Bay Area’ mega-city region as a demonstrator, bringing sustainability indicators and simulation models from the Greater London and urban Holland (the Randstad) regions to inform the development of an urban data and simulation platform relevant to designing and testing scenarios for new modes of transport and the alleviation of socio-economic inequalities in the Bay Area. Eric Koomen of VU is responsible for developing the land use and transport modelling environment.

Vanguard Fellowship for Hans Koster and Ceren Ozgen
This autumn,Hans Koster and former colleague Ceren Ozgen were awarded the IAS (Institute of Advanced Studies) Vanguard Fellowship of the University of Birmingham for their research proposal on ‘Skills Mismatch’. The Vanguard Fellowship Programme aims to attract outstanding early and mid-career researchers from global leading institutions, operating at the cutting edge of their disciplines, to work collaboratively with colleagues at the University of Birmingham. Research focuses on new and existing areas - topics that are timely, relevant, address national and international priorities, and cross disciplinary boundaries. Read more.

NWO Grant Large for Erik Verhoef
NWO has awarded seven proposals for innovative research infrastructure within the programme NWO Investment Grant Large. With this programme, NWO funds large research facilities, within which researchers from throughout the Netherlands work together, often with international partners. Erik Verhoef, together with Jasper Knockaert, Paul Koster (all Spatial Economics) and Henk Scholten, Eric Koomen, and Maurice de Kleijn (all SPINlab) participates in the TU Delft project Urban Mobility Observatory (UMO). A summary of the project is given hereafter: Real-life data and observations are crucial for getting a better understanding of the complex and rapidly developing urban mobility system. UMO is a coherent system of sensors and ICT infrastructure able to observe traffic flows and to combine data from different sources (cameras, mobility, phones, questionnaires etc.). UMO collects and stores all sorts of traffic, transport and mobility data which are made available for research into mobility and transport in urbanized regions. Read more.

Henri de Groot presents Economische Verkenningen Holland boven Amsterdam
On Friday September 21, Henri de Groot presented the Economische Verkenningen Holland boven Amsterdam (Economic Outlook region North of Amsterdam) for an interested audience of more than 300 entrepreneurs and local policy makers in Alkmaar. The project is a cooperation between TNO, Neo Observatory and the department of Spatial Economics at VU. The Economic Outlook is available at It presents the short-term forecasts and long-term trends in the economy of this region.

New NWO Project: Participatory Value Evaluation: A new assessment model for promoting social acceptance of sustainable energy policies
Worldwide, governments and firms invest in sustainable energy policies to decarbonise energy systems. These investments are often made on the basis of Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA). However, classical CBAs have difficulty incorporating citizens' ethical considerations concerning the procedural and distributive aspects of such decisions, considerations that clearly affect the social acceptance of decisions on sustainable energy policies. Dutch practitioners now consider the use of Participatory Value Evaluation (PVE) instead of CBA as this approach has the potential to include citizens' ethical consideration in real-world economic policy analysis. In a PVE, citizens choose a portfolio of policies given one or more constraints (budget/sustainability target). Using these individual choices,  behavioural choice models are estimated that subsequently form the basis for an economic evaluation of different policies. The project aims to contribute to the construction and use of ethically sensitive policy evalution through the further development of PVEs, and is a cooperation between TU Delft (Niek Mouter, Ruth Shortall - who is also guest research at VU - and Kornelis Blok) and VU (Paul Koster, Marion Collewet and Martin van Hees). THe project runs from 1 September, 2018 to 28 February, 2021. Read more. 

Henri de Groot presents the 2018 edition of the Economic Outlook Metropolitan Region Amsterdam
On 20 June, Henri de Groot presented the Economic Outlook Metropolitan Region Amsterdam 2018 (Ecnomische Verkenningen Metropoolregio Amsterdam) during the opening session of the WeMakeThe.City festival. The report states that the Amsterdam Metropolitan Region strongly developed after the financial crisis and will continue to do so in the coming years. The research was carried out by the Department of Spatial Economics of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, represented by Henri de Groot and Maureen Lankhuizen, in cooperation with TNO, NEO Observatory and Ecorys. Read more.

Again: 'Top Rated Programme' Distinction for our master Spatial, Transport and Environmental Economics (STREEM)!
Every year, the Netherlands Higher Education Information Centre (CHOI) published the Keuzegids Masters: the Netherlands' influential higher education guide for prospective students, which provides information to help students find the right Master's programme. The rankings are based on the opinions students expressed in the National Student Survey (NSE), the percentage of students that continue their studies in the second year and expert views. As in 2017, STREEM was evaluated as top programme: Students and education experts are particularly enthusiastic about the attainability, academic buidling and study guidance. Read more.

Two journals - of which department members are editors - are to receive an impact factor
In the beginning of March, two journals managed by members of our departement received the good news that these journals will receive an impact factor soon. Erik Verhoef is co-editor-in-chief of Economics of Transportation, Erik Ansink is managing editor of Water Resources and Economics. The Web of Science has accepted both journals for coverage in its Journal Citation Reports (SSCI). The journals' offical Web-of-Science Impact Factor and associated bibliometrics indicators will be computed and published for the year 2018 onwards.

Cooperation agreement between Spatial Economics VU and Universitas Indonesia, Jakarta
The Department of Spatial Economics recently signed a cooperation agreement with the Faculty of Economics and Business at the Universitas Indonesia in Jakarta. The long term goal of the collaboration is to develop joint teaching activities and to conduct joint research in the field of transport, urban and environmental economics. Read more.
Hans Koster appointed Fellow / Advisor of the CMSSE in St. Petersburg
Hans Koster was appointed Fellow / Advisor of the Center for Market Studies and Spatial Economics in St. Petersburg. As per 2018, Hans will be visiting St. Petersburg for 20 days a year. The Center's activities focus on fundamental research on market structure theory with an emphasis on applying developed theories to international trade, industrial organization and urban economics. Papers by the Center's staff on the above research have been published in renowned journals such as EconometricaJournal of International Economics and Journal of Urban Economics.