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Pieter Balon

Humanities

Social Sciences

Director, imec-SMIT (Studies in Media, Innovation and Technology) - VUB

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Pieter Ballon is Professor on digital innovation at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, teaching at the Communications Sciences and Business Economics departments.

He is the Director of imec-SMIT (Studies in Media, Innovation and Technology) at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. This research centre aims to make digital technologies society-proof. With over 100 researchers, it is among the largest centres in social sciences dedicated to digital innovation in Europe. SMIT also contains knowledge centres on media literacy (Mediawijs) and societal impacts of artificial intelligence (KC Data & Maatschappij).

From 2017-2021, Prof. Ballon held the VUB Academic Chair on Smart Cities. Since 2016, he is also Scientific Lead Humanized Technologies at imec, the worldwide R&D centre on nanotechnology and digital systems, representing the social science research carried out by research teams from several universities.

Pieter holds a PhD in Communication Sciences (VUB), a postgraduate diploma in Information Science (University of Antwerp) and a Master degree (licentiate) in Modern History (KU Leuven). His PhD dealt with business model innovation and power in mobile communications.

From 1998-2007, Pieter was Researcher, Senior Researcher and Unit Lead at TNO, the Dutch organisation for applied scientific research.

From 2010-2014, he was Guest Professor at the Polytech institute for engineers (ISTIA) of the Université d’Angers, France.
For 5 years he was also member of the CORE Innovation in Services Panel of the Fonds National de la Recherche in Luxembourg, and presently he is member of the G&M 4 panel on Social, Political and Communication Sciences of the Flemish Research Foundation (FWO).

His current research interests include the evolution of digital platform models, the benefits and drawbacks of smart cities, and serendipity in a digital context. He has written over 60 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, over 100 published conference papers and has delivered over 50 keynotes. His research is impactful, as testified by a high h-index and citation rate.

He sat on the editorial board of 4 academic journals and has been co-editor of 8 special issues of academic journals and of 2 academic books. He has chaired around 50 conference tracks, international workshops and conferences, including the International Telecommunications Society Europe Conference, 4 joint EU-US workshops with MIT on Cognitive Radio, and 3 IEEE BMMP workshops. Over the years, he has been the coordinator and promotor of over 100 research projects within VUB and imec, both at European and Flemish levels.

He has won 5 scientific awards, i.e. Veli-Pekka Niitamo Best Paper Award 2015, ICE-B Best Paper Award 2013, Elaine Lawrence Best Paper Award 2013, ICIN Best Presentation Award 2008 and IEEE DYSPAN Best Policy Paper Award 2008.

Pieter Ballon has co-founded several organisations dedicated to the social sciences. He is co-founder and scientific director of the Hannah Arendt Institute (2020), dedicated to disseminating facts and best practices on citizenship in diverse, urban contexts. It was set up by the VUB and the University of Antwerp, and presently involves all Flemish universities.

He is also co-founder of the Brussels institute on AI for the Common Good (FARI), the European Network of Living Labs (ENoLL) and the Open & Agile Smart Cities network (OASC). Next to his academic research, he is an opinion maker on digital platforms and their impact on economy and society. He wrote a number of popular-scientific books on cities and technology, including “Smart Cities: Hoe slimme technologie onze steden leefbaar houdt en slimmer maakt” and “De Stad is een Boek”(LannooCampus).

From 2016-2019, Pieter Ballon was appointed by the Brussels regional government as Brussels Smart City Ambassador.
In 2017, he was awarded the prize for Societal Valorisation by the VUB research council, meant for researchers who have a strong societal impact.

In 2020, he was one of the winners of the KVAB annual prize for scientific communication. In that same year, he was appointed by the Flemish government as one of the 9 experts advising on the post-Covid societal relaunch.

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