Brains in the city

Jan Dies from Antwerp

Jan Dries (Belgium)

Jan Dries is Head of Communications at the University of Antwerp in Belgium. Jan is a social and organizational psychologist. Communication, identity and design are his field of interest. As a senior consultant, he has assisted numerous organisations to become conscious of their identity and to express that identity in design, communication and behaviour. His current (and single) goal is to augment the reputation of the University of Antwerp. Because it deserves it.



In this session, Jan Dries of the University of Antwerp explores how communications can bring higher education and cities together.

With 45 000 students in a city of 450 000 inhabitants, students are noticeable in Antwerp city life. The University of Antwerp bears the city name in its logo, as is the case with many universities – with that comes great responsibilities, for both sides.

The city of Antwerp has centred it’s city marketing around four B’s: Brains, Business, Bevolking (inhabitants) and Bezoekers (visitors). This works well for positioning higher education in the city. The university in turn uses the city as it’s laboratory. From shared campaigning to shared marketing, from developing smart city concepts to citizen science projects and from partying Erasmus students to a party with the elderly of the neighbourhood. Through numerous examples Jan will show what a close collaboration in communications between city and university can achieve.