Academic research to solve sustainability
questions from the market

A joint programme with the

About the PAIR programme

PAIR connects professionals working in the field of sustainability with students seeking to conduct academic research on sustainability and impact-related topics.

For many students, the Bachelor or Master thesis is an exciting opportunity to have an impact on real-life issues through their research. Through the PAIR programme, you can gain access to VU students from a variety of academic backgrounds who want to conduct research on ‘real world’ sustainability challenges.

The PAIR programme offers a tailor-made service to match your research question with the right student!

The deadline for 2019 company participation has passed. Please stay tuned for 2020 PAIR opportunities!

Do you work in the field of sustainability?

Passionate about steering students to use their skills for positive change?

Have impact-related questions that need researching?

The PAIR programme can help

  • As a professional, or ‘market practitioner’, to participate in the programme, you will draft a question that you or your organisation believes is testable, worthy of academic research, and could broadly advance a sustainability agenda.
  • Research questions will be matched to a student and a VU Research Supervisor to conduct an academic study through the form of a thesis project.
  • The research period is expected to last for about six months, and you will be consulted along the way.
  • Professional participants are expected to play an active role in steering the research from the market practitioner perspective and to coach the student on relevant professional skills.
  • If applicable, you should, occasionally or as necessary, invite the student to learn on-site at your office, through your network, and potentially through client interactions.
  • All submitted research questions are treated with the upmost care, diligence, and privacy if requested. Non-disclosure agreements are acceptable.
  • Participation is free of charge.

Research timeline

  • August through September 2019
    Net Impact Amsterdam members submit potential research questions for sharing with the VU Green Office.
  • September through October 2019
    The VU Green Office matches these research questions with appropriate university supervisors. Research questions are refined and finalised in cooperation between the market practitioner (you), Net Impact Amsterdam, the VU Green Office, and the aforementioned supervisors. Formal criteria is drafted (i.e., what type of student is required).
  • November through January 2020
    Opportunities are presented to students at various VU led thesis-preparation events, through social media, and through other platforms. Market practitioners might be asked to present the research question in front of an audience of students.
    Students are able to apply for the research and applications are presented to the market practitioner (you) for selection. Depending on the preferences of the market practitioner, Net Impact Amsterdam and/or the VU Green Office can play a role in selection.
  • January through March 2020
    Student commence their research projects. Market practitioners should be available to steer the students from a business perspective.
  • June 2020
    Research is presented to the organisation. It is possible that students will continue with having the study peer reviewed for publication in scientific journals.


Feel welcome to contact Andrea Palmer ( or Sarah Elkan ( for any further details or inquiries about the PAIR programme.