Assistant Professor

Jonas Colen Ladeia Torrens

Industrial Engineering and Innovation Sciences


My research focuses on developing, testing, and improving urban and policy experimentation approaches. I work to support communities, (local) governments, and companies to engage with the complex, multi-system transformations our societies face and learn from their experiences. I adopt an inter and transdisciplinary research approach.  I hold a PhD in Science and Technology Policy, emphasising sustainability transitions, from the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU, University of Sussex). My thesis concerned the development of' favourable environments' for experimentation with sustainability, with case studies concerning energy (Bristol) and mobility (Medellin). That gave me insight into why particular places can sustain experiments over time and maintain high levels of ambition. This experience is particularly relevant now, as we witness a step change towards more ambitious and complex forms of experimentation and a shift in orientation towards more exploratory and anticipatory forms of governance at different levels.  I am also interested in novel approaches to innovation policy that aim for transformative change. I have engaged in the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (TIPC) since 2015 and was responsible for developing new approaches for 'experimental policy engagements' that inform the consortium's activities. At present, I am leading the development of a research & action agenda to help catalyse that community. I have also co-founded the Mission-oriented Innovation Policy Observatory (MIPO), which study's how missions are being deployed to respond to societal challenges. I collaborate closely with colleagues at Utrecht University, where I did my Postdoc as part of the Transforming Cities hub. I am an associate fellow of the Urban Futures Studio and contribute to a seed grant project to develop a community of practice for urban experimentation. I have also co-developed the universities Transdisciplinary Field Guide.  I grew up in Brazil and studied engineering, developing renewable energy technologies. My studies took me to France, Spain, Sweden, the UK, and the Netherlands. Along the way, I became passionate about understanding sustainability transitions and the role cities can play in these processes and decided to become a transitions scholar. I value collaboration and love connecting with like-minded peers. I confounded the Network of Early Career Researchers in Transitions (NEST) and served in the Sustainability Transitions Research Network Steering Group.