Kris Willems, a biologist by background, is currently CEO of the Botlhale Village an innovation ecosystem of the Belgium Campus ITversity (Pretoria, South Africa), pioneering community-based participatory IT knowledge valorization in Africa. He is also Executive Dean of the Faculty of Information Technology at BC ITversity. He has more than 30 years of experience in leading academic and industrial organizations. His experience includes change and operational management in academia and industry. Kris Willems graduated from the University of Gent as a biologist. He obtained a postgraduate degree in Tropical Marine Ecology (Bermuda Marine Biological Station) and in Marine Ecology (Flanders Marine Institute). He received his PhD from the University of Gent. Additionally, he obtained a postgraduate degree in Environmental Science (University of Antwerp) and a postgraduate in Total Quality Management (University of Hasselt).

He was a co-founder of the biotechnology program at the University College De Nayer and during the period 1982-1992 was responsible for both the strategic and administrative aspects of the new program. As a researcher he led his own research group since 1994, which acquired national and international research funding as well as many industrial contracts. His main research interest is the microbial ecology of engineered environments and he is the author of several articles in multiple peer-reviewed journals. As Dean of the Faculty of Engineering Technology at KU Leuven university, Kris Willems has spearheaded the “academisation” process, i.e. the integration of seven engineering technology educational programmes of the Association KU Leuven within KU Leuven university, including the incorporation of a full-fledged research component into the curriculum.

Beside his academic career, he has also acquired relevant business experience throughout different position, e.g. he joined the company Eurogenetics (Belgium) as a Chief Operations Officer (1992-1993), in 1994 he was the founder of Proman Consulting bvba (Belgium) and in 2002 became co-founder of the spin-off company BioART NV (Belgium).