View all blog posts

Kickstart AI’s first PhD collaboration: Forecasting food insecurity using LLMs, time series analysis and neural networks

April 18, 2023, was a landmark moment for us: we welcomed Cascha van Wanrooij as the first PhD sponsorship recipient of the Kickstart AI foundation! Cascha is a PhD Researcher at Tilburg University’s Zero Hunger Lab, and we’re delighted to support his work.
February 21, 2019

Cascha’s PhD research aims to use AI to analyse public domain data in order to better forecast food insecurity, enabling timely interventions and reducing the impact of food shortages worldwide. Having already graduated on this topic in 2022 from Tilburg University with promising initial results, Kickstart AI will supply funding until 2028 for him to further develop on that research and make a real impact on food security worldwide.

“Cascha’s innovative research at Tilburg University is a prime example of how AI can accelerate the adoption of cutting-edge solutions to complex societal challenges. I am confident that our collaboration will not only contribute to the AI ecosystem in the Netherlands but also demonstrate AI’s potential as a positive force for society.”

— Sander Stomph, Managing Director of Kickstart AI

Enabling timely interventions in areas facing severe food insecurity is crucial for protecting the health and livelihoods of millions of people across the world. The fact is, current food insecurity forecasting depends on manual input from local experts. Cascha aims to utilise innovative methods such as unsupervised topic modeling with large language models, time series analysis, and convolutional neural networks to analyze data sources like satellite imagery and local news sources — revolutionising the forecasting process. Aid organization ZOA will support Cascha’s research by providing data and local domain knowledge.

“We are very pleased with this agreement. Kickstart AI’s sponsorship of Zero Hunger Lab fits the collaborative partners’ belief that Artificial Intelligence will change our collective future. The sponsorship will accelerate developments to enhance society.”

Marike Knoef, Dean of the Tilburg School of Economics and Management (TiSEM)

Using AI to help society is a big part of our mission at Kickstart AI. We believe bridging the gap between business and academia can amplify the positive outcomes AI can deliver. This PhD sponsorship is the first of many to come, so watch this space for more world-changing research in 2023 and beyond.

We extend our sincere thanks to everyone involved at Tilburg University and Zero Hunger Lab for their support and collaboration. This research has the potential to make an enormous impact on people’s lives, and at Kickstart AI we’re deeply proud to be a part of it. We look forward to working with Cascha on this ground-breaking project.

More information

You can read the full press release on the Tilburg University website.

For more information about Cascha's research and Zero Hunger Lab, please contact Dr. Frans Cruijssen, Senior Researcher at Zero Hunger Lab

For more information about Kickstart AI, get in touch at

Read more: Our Summer of AI Challenge: Using Data to Predict Food Insecurity

Receive Our Newsletter
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form. Please try again.