Research group at imec & Vrije Universiteit Brussel

PhD Researcher – Disruptive business models in energy markets

Apply before 31 Jul 2019

PhD Researcher – Disruptive business models in energy markets

SMIT (Studies in Media, Innovation and Technology) is een onderzoekscentrum van de Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Het maakt deel uit van de Faculteit Sociale en Economische Wetenschappen, Departement Communicatiewetenschappen en maakt daarnaast ook deel uit van IMEC, het wereldwijde toonaangevende strategisch onderzoeksinstituut voor nanotechnologie en ICT-innovatie.

Al meer dan 25 jaar specialiseert imec-SMIT zich in socio-economisch en beleidsonderzoek naar ICT-innovatie in Media, Steden en Gezondheidszorg. Ons team bestaat uit ongeveer 70 senior- en junioronderzoekers met een grote diversiteit in achtergronden en nationaliteiten.

Research domain

Your PhD will be part of SBO SNIPPET, a fundamental research project funded by the Flemish Government with a consortium of technical, legal and business researchers in different universities.

In SMIT, you will be part of the smart cities unit where we collaborate in smart city initiatives and investigate how their applicability and sustainability can be promoted. You also partake in our business model group that focuses on market analysis and business models of future disruptive digital innovation. Both enable you to understand the big picture.

Your PhD research will be based on SNIPPET research activities and will likely deal with the disruptive changes in the energy market caused by the advent of peer-to-peer energy trading. In SNIPPET you will look at the roles and business models of involved actors and their privacy and/or information needs. This means that you have to be comfortable learning about business models, privacy and conducting interviews with experts from this field.

By the end of your PhD you will be able to understand and predict disruptors in the energy market based on technological innovations such as AI, new market entrants and paradigm shifts in business models. This will allow you to continue in academics, policy planning or the private

You will be responsible for the analysis of the current energy trading market, and you will define the new roles and requirements within the ecosystem of the peer-to-peer energy trading system, incorporating the privacy sensitivity in the market. You will propose potential business models, in discussion with other researchers and an advisory board of industry partners. This is media studies research where you investigate how the means of (energy) production and the added meta-data change how a society thinks and interacts with energy.

Tasks include

  • Literature review
  • Interviews, roundtables, consultations and meetings with professionals, regulators, and policymakers
  • Organization of research seminars and workshops as part of the PhD research
  • Working on publications (peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters) and presenting research findings internally and to the broader academic community
  • Daily project management and reporting to promotor/ project coordinator

We offer

  • The opportunity to work four years full time on a PhD track
  • A dynamic and stimulating work environment with enterprising young scientists and experienced senior research staff in an international setting
  • High-quality innovative research on future-oriented services
  • Support and guidance by experienced supervisors/ senior researchers
  • An annually renewed bursary contract for four years

Please submit your email application including full CV and motivation letter to Wim Cloots on before 15/6/2019.


  • Master in communication sciences, business or management sciences, economy, political science, sociology
  • Your goal is to start an academic career
  • You like to learn more about new technologies, smart cities in particular, having a background in the energy market is a plus
  • Good knowledge of economic and/or social science research methodologies (qualitative and quantitative) or prepared to learn in a short timeframe.
  • Able to work independently, good self-management and planning skills.
  • Analytical thinking and academic writing skills.
  • You have the ambition to obtain a PhD title and the perseverance to complete this within 4 years.
  • Being able to interview in Dutch is something you already can or are willing to learn in a short timeframe.

Sounds like the job for you?

Apply before 31 Jul 2019 by sending your CV and motivation to .