President of the Executive Board

Robert-Jan Smits

Department / Institute
College van Bestuur

Research Profile

Robert-Jan Smits is President of the Executive Board since May 2019. As President he believes that universities must seek a stronger connection with and relevance to society and its challenges. Educating young talents and carrying out excellent research is essential. The TU/e is embedded in a strong high-tech region. Together and in full partnership, university and industry in this innovation ecosystem are realizing the unimaginable.

Academic Background

Prior to his appointment at the TU/e, Mr. Smits served as a Director-General of Research and Innovation at the European Commission (2010-2018).
In this capacity he was the architect of Horizon 2020, the 80 billion EU Research and Innovation program. Smits has also been instrumental in shaping the successor program Horizon Europe (budget: 95 billion).

In his last year in Brussels, Robert-Jan Smits was the Open Access Envoy of the European Commission and developed concrete policy proposals aimed to ensure that all academic publications resulting from publicly funded research are widely available and accessible through Open Access.

Smits has received several recognitions and awards for his contribution to European science and innovation.
He received the Academy Medal of the Royal Dutch Academy, the Excellence in Global Science Award in South Africa, the Medal of Honour of the KU Leuven.
He holds an honorary degree from Edinburgh University, is a honorary member of Academia Europaea and is a Fellow of the International Science Council.

Ancillary Activities

TU/e and Regional level:

  • Member of the Board of Governors of the University Fund Eindhoven (UFe) (Function related to the Chairman of the Executive Board TU/e) (unremunerated)
  • Member of the Executive Board and General Board of the Brainport Foundation (Function related to the Chairman of the Executive Board TU/e) (unremunerated)
  • Member of the SmartwayZ.NL Program Board (Function related to the Chairman of the Executive Board TU/e) (unremunerated)
  • Member of the Committee of Recommendation of the Philips Symphony Orchestra (PSO) (Function related to the Chairman Executive Board TU/e) (unremunerated)
  • Member Committee of Recommendation of the Catharina Research Fund (Function related to the Chairman of the Executive Board) (unremunerated)

National level:

  • Member of the UNL (formerly VSNU) Strategy, Public Affairs & Governance Steering Committee (Function related to the Chairman of the TU/e Executive Board) (unremunerated)
  • Member of the 4TU Federation (Function related to Chairman of the Executive Board TU/e) (unremunerated)
  • Member Curatorium confederation VNO-NCW (unremunerated)
  • Member of the Committee Nationaal Groeifonds (unremunerated)
  • Member Supervisory Board Naturalis and SieboldHuis (unremunerated)

International level:

  • Member of the Senat of the Leibniz Association Berlin (unremunerated)
  • Member of the Hochschulrats of the  Ludwig-Maximilians-Universit├Ąt, Munich (unremunerated)
  • Member of the International Advisory Board of GARI Next-100 (unremunerated)
  • Member of the Scientific Board of the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure (EHRI) (unremunerated)
  • Member Board of Trustees of the Cyprus Research and Educational Foundation (CREF) (unremunerated)
  • Member Icelandic Science and Innovation Council (unremunerated)