SMIT (Studies on Media, Innovation and Technology), the research centre, founded in 1990 at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, is part of imec. SMIT specializes in social scientific research on media and ICT, with an emphasis on innovation, policy and socio-economic questions.

SMIT research combines user, policy and business analysis with both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. In order to develop new methodological tools, a continuing dialectic between theory and empirical research is one of the centre’s high-level objectives.

Prof. Dr. Pieter Ballon

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 Throughout a career spanning almost twenty years, Pieter has demonstrated academic excellence and taken up significant responsibilities both within and outside the university, gradually becoming one of the thought leaders on ICT Innovation in Flanders while also gaining international acclaim.

He is Assistant Professor at the Department of Communication Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Pieter is also the Director of research centre SMIT (with currently more than 60 researchers), as well as Scientific Director Living Labs at imec, the internationally leading research institute for ICT innovation.  

Dr. Ilse Mariën

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Ilse Mariën is working as a post-doc researcher at imec-SMIT, where she has been involved in several projects related to digital inequalities, e-skills and other policy aspects related to digital media. In 2016, she successfully defended her Ph.D. that entails (1) a more contextualized and comprehensive theoretical framework for digital inequalities; and (2) a concise strategic framework for developing sustainable e-inclusion policies. In addition, it examined the informal learning settings, methods and practices that are used by grassroots initiatives to enhance the development of media literacy amongst at-risk groups.

Jan Waeben

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Jan graduated as MSc in Communication Studies at the VUB with greatest distinction in 2014. He worked on media policy projects at UGhent before joining SMIT in February 2017 to work on a PhD concerning the monitoring of Smart Cities. His research involves how KPI measurement is used to evaluate progress in Smart Cities and the link with evidence-based policy.  

Willemien Laenens

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Willemien joined the imec-SMIT-VUB research centre in October 2016. She graduated in 2016 from her masters in Communication Sciences at the VUB. She holds a bachelor degree in Graphic Design from Sint-Lukas.

She works as a researcher on various projects focusing on (1) e-inclusion policies at local, regional and federal level; and (2) the consequences of digitization processes for (non-)users.

Annelien Smets

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Annelien holds a master's degree in Information Management (2016) and Artificial Intelligence (2017) from KU Leuven. She joined imec-SMIT-VUB as a smart city researcher in March 2017 and was involved in various City of Things projects. In 2019, she started a PhD on Artificial Intelligence & the city. Throughout her work, she focuses on the relationship between society and data-driven innovations.

Eladio Montero

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Eladio has a master in Artificial Intelligence from KU Leuven. He joined imec-SMIT-VUB in November 2018 to work as a Data Scientist for the Smart Cities unit. His research involves quantitative analysis of multiple sources of data to analyze the dynamics of citizens moving through the city. Also, how cities can take advantage of the available data for better decision-making.