PhD position: Business and governance models for data spaces

(15-12-2023)

Context

imec

​imec is a world-leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies. By leveraging our world-class infrastructure and local and global ecosystem of partners across a multitude of industries, we create groundbreaking innovation in application domains such as healthcare, smart cities and mobility, logistics and manufacturing, and energy.

As a trusted partner for companies, start-ups and universities we bring together close to 4000 brilliant minds from over 97 nationalities. Imec is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium and also has distributed R&D groups at a number of Flemish universities, in the Netherlands, Taiwan, USA, China, and offices in India and Japan. All of these particular traits make imec to be a top-class employer.

IDLab research group @ Ghent University/ imec

The Internet Technology & Data Science Lab (IDLab) is an imec research group at Ghent University and the University of Antwerp. IDLab focuses its research on internet technologies and data science. Bringing together more than 300 internet experts, we develop technologies outperforming current solutions for communication subsystems, high speed and low power networking, distributed computing and multimedia processing, machine learning, artificial intelligence and web semantics. IDLab has a unique research infrastructure used in numerous national and international collaborations.

IDLab collaborates with many universities and research centers worldwide and jointly develops advanced technologies with industry (R&D centers from international companies, Flanders’ top innovating large companies and SMEs, as well as numerous ambitious start-ups).

Techno-economics @ IDLab

The IDLab techno-economics team where this vacancy is offered, consists of engineers and economists who are supporting decision makers by translating technological innovation into business opportunities and challenges in different application domains like smart cities, smart mobility and smart energy. The group aims at providing research insights that help companies and policy makers in their decision making. Our research aims to put forward methodology-backed insights that combine technical solutions with expected economic impact like costs, benefits and related business models.  

Business models and governance models for data spaces

The value of data is often purely linked to the value that large amounts of data brought with it (big data). That data was often collected by so-called Big Tech companies (Google, Facebook, ..), who maintain vertically integrated silos of data in order to gain a competitive advantage over industry peers. The latter often depend on Big Tech to open up the data at a predetermined price. In addition, the same data is very valuable for the Big Tech companies themselves and the advertisers to whom they sell advertising space.

This undesirable concentration of market power among these large companies is not the only issue. End users start asking questions  “What exactly is Facebook going to do with all my data?” “What data does Facebook have about me?”. This lack of transparency towards end users is a second issue that led to increased attention for alternative solutions such as decentralized storage of data. Data spaces are the new mantra. Making (preferably open) data accessible in a standardized way creates new opportunities for application developers. In addition, standards such as Solid allow personal data to be stored in a personal 'data pod', so that access to it can be easily and transparently managed

Data spaces and personal data pod-based solutions make great promises about economic potential. However, a lot of research is still needed to gain a good insight into what these technologies can effectively achieve. Different organizations (commercial companies as well as public institutions) need to agree on the way they will interact. Policy and regulatory boundaries are to be taken into account. The interaction with companies is important in order to gain insight into the current state of affairs and possible developments.

In order to face the different research challenges in this interdisciplinary domain, we are looking for a researcher who is able to combine technical, governance and economic insights and has a strong interest in data technology and the business potential it enables. The researcher will work within the interdisciplinary research projects on data spaces in different application domains, e.g. mobility, logistics, energy, education, etc.

Job description

The job

  • Under the supervision of a professor and a postdoc researcher in the team, you will prepare a PhD dissertation over a duration of about 4 years.
  • You perform cutting-edge research in the domain of techno-economic evaluation of data spaces and digital platform ecosystems
  • You publish and present results both at international conferences and in scientific journals.
  • You validate your research by considering concrete use cases and discussing with public and private actors in the field.
  • You collaborate tightly with IDLab colleagues within the techno-economic team, as well as in other teams where appropriate.
  • You will be involved in different research projects related to your PhD topic, in the framework of national and European funded research cooperations, and collaborate with research partners from industry.
  • You will assist the research group with limited educational tasks.

Job requirements

  • Holder of a Master degree in Computer Science, Computer Science Engineering, IEOR, Commercial Engineering or Business Engineering.
  • Strong interest in economic evaluation of technological projects.
  • Strong analytical skills for designing and implementing abstract models.
  • Experience with object-oriented programming and web-based development is a plus.
  • You work independently, have a strong feeling of responsibility and are able to commit to timing and milestones set forward by different research projects.
  • You are a team player and have strong communication skills.
  • Good knowledge of English (oral and written) is a must, good knowledge of Dutch (at least oral) is a strong plus!

Our offer

We offer a challenging, stimulating, young and pleasant research environment where you can contribute to solving real-life problems for technological innovations with a clear societal as well as economic value. The work is done in close collaboration with ICT and telecom industry players in Flanders and Europe. The UGent doctoral school program offers possibilities for following a range of courses or trainings of your interest. We foresee a competitive remuneration and the possibility to obtain a PhD degree in Engineering. The contract takes the form of a PhD grant for 4 years, with an evaluation after the first year (1+3 contract).

How to apply?

This PhD position is available immediately and is open until the vacancy is filled. The position is not open for post-docs.

Apply asap but definitely before end of January by sending an email to prof. Sofie Verbrugge. Your application should include

  • your resume (curriculum vitae)
  • motivation letter (indicating both your technical and economic background/interest as well as any specific research skills)
  • a copy of your diploma and diploma supplement (with overview of all courses followed)

More information

Sofie Verbrugge – sofie.verbrugge@ugent.be