The Smart Cities chair is organized by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, the Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences and Solvay Business School, and imec-SMIT, Studies on Media, Innovation and Technology, together with her private partners Joyn, Belfius, Proximus and Befimmo. The chair aims to increase the exchange of knowledge between city experts and public and private stakeholders on how to develop innovative, yet sustainable, user-friendly and inclusive smart cities in Belgium. By combining academic expertise with compelling (inter)national use cases, the chair strives to support smart city actors in their learning activities on how smart cities can create public and private value in the area of retail, mobility, energy and so on.

The holder of the chair, Prof. Dr. Pieter Ballon, aims to further the state-of-the-art on Smart Cities in Belgium by: 1. Showing the opportunities and challenges to set up Smart City services 2. Highlighting the need for joint competence building 3. Presenting a living lab approach for co-creating open and standardized Smart City solutions 4. Setting up economic experiments to discover user value and incentives for citizens.

As part of the chair, every two months a Master Class on Smart Cities is organized at imec-SMIT on the VUB campus, where academics, public and private sector, and city experts meet, discuss and learn about aspects such as developing a smart city vision, user participation, behavioural change, public and private partnerships, monitoring or ethics on data and privacy in a smart city environment, with an eye on potential future implementations.

Master classes

This section highlights an overview of the previous and future Master Classes, including the theme and the date of the Master Class.

Master Classes in the year 2017 Date
Vision and strategy development 9th of February 2017
User Participation 30th of March 2017
Behavioural Change 7th of June 2017
Public and private partnerships – Innovative approaches 7th of September 2017
Public and private partnerships – Start-ups 9th of November 2017
The Human City Conference 14th of December 2017
Master Classes in the year 2018 date
Internal Organisation of a Smart City 8th of February 2018
Monitoring a Smart City 19th of April 2018
Local economy and local currencies 7th of June 2018
Data and privacy: future challenges of Smart Cities 6th of September 2018
Realizing inclusive smart cities 8th of November 2018
Conference 2.0 4th of December 2018
Master Classes in the year 2019 date
Work and life in the Smart City 7th of March 2019
Data Protection in Smart Cities 24th of May 2019
Transformation of the city 12th of June 2019
Hyperlocal networks and initiatives 24th of September 2019
Health in the city 22nd of October 2019
City dashboards 10th of December 2019

Holder of the Chair: Prof. dr. Pieter Ballon

Prof. Dr. Pieter Ballon is Assistant Professor at the Department of Communication Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. He currently lectures on Critical Issues in Media Economics, New Media Economics and Media Economics and Media Structures. Pieter is also the Director of research centre SMIT (Studies on Media, Innovation and Technology), as well as Scientific Director Living Labs at imec, the internationally leading research institute for ICT innovation. In this capacity, he is leading various national and international programmes on Living Labs, Smart Cities, and Business Models for new media services and platforms. Clients and partners of his work include Alcatel Lucent, Sony, IBM, SAP, Nokia, France Telecom, Telefonica, Belgacom, Telenet, VRT, the European Commission, and the World Bank. He was appointed the first Brussels Smart City Ambassador and is also the International Secretary of the European Network of Living Labs. His expertise lies in the Smart City area for both Brussels and the Flanders Region, on the subject of which he has recently published the book “Smart Cities: hoe technologie onze steden leefbaar houdt en slimmer maakt"


Chair type

Research, innovation and education


2017 - 2020


Since September 2017, the chair on Smart Cities welcomes her new website: www.smartcitychair.be. The website gathers all relevant information regarding the chair and the Master Classes. Previous presentations and future themes and dates of the Master Classes can be found and downloaded online.