Rector Magnificus, Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), former Vice Rector of Valorisation & Development of the University of Antwerp
Silvia Lenaerts (1966) has always been a pioneer. She was the first Chemist to obtain a PhD at IMEC and KU Leuven.
She then founded Heraeus Sensor-Nite where gas sensors were developed. This technology was successfully acquired by Bosch. Then at Seghers better technology she initiated the air purification technology program. To improve her overall strategic skills and broaden her view she moved to Lloyd’s Register of Shipping where she acquired the Lead Assessor certificate and learned a lot about high tech companies. Since 2002 she has been working for the European Commission as expert, reviewer, innovation radar expert, advisor for the framework programs and as member of the European University Association (EUA) expert groups on innovation ecosystems and on the green deal task and finish group. She has joined the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) as board member in 2022.
Back in the academic world, at the University of Antwerp, in 2008 she founded the research group DuEL “Sustainable Energy, Air and Water Technology” from scratch. She became full professor, guided 25 PhD’s at her group and the Antwerp Maritime Academy. The research team acquired 12 mio euro in the last 5 years and counts more than 50 members. She took the lead in the refurbishment of the Department of Bio-science Engineering with an innovative cooperation model for the Bachelor’s degree, resulting in the biggest bachelor’s degree at the faculty of Science. In 2022 a new master’s degree in Sustainable Urban Engineering, together with KU Leuven and UGent was initiated. For seven years, she was the president of the interdisciplinary Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development (IMDO) and the Belgian coordinator of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).
As Vice-rector Valorisation & Development at UAntwerpen (2016), together with Antwerp’s strong stakeholders in industry, society and government she selected 3 priority multidisciplinary valorisation domains and realized for each of them a dedicated open innovation hub: The Beacon for digitalisation, BlueApp for sustainable chemistry and materials and Vaccinopolis for infectious diseases. She has put Uantwerpen on the map concerning valorisation, with 34 active spinoffs and a tripling in industrial cooperation.
Since May 15th 2023, she has become the Rector Magnificus at the Eindhoven University of Technology. TU/e offers a unique cradle to educate and train the professionals of the future, to dive deep into ground-breaking research, to collaborate in research for solutions to new and unexpected challenges and to deliver socio-economic value by valorisation.
Silvia’s track record covers achievements in industry, academia and government/public sector. Discovery, invention and innovation are intertwined, though happen in different worlds.
The culture of collaboration is key in everything she has achieved. She has always reached out towards other stakeholders in industry, government and public sector or philanthropic organisations. Only by creating long term strategic partnerships, connecting people over the borders of their own organisation and attracting more young people, long lasting socio-economic impact can be achieved.