The committee that awards the Stevin Prizes describes Jacobs as a completely independent thinker and brilliant researcher who has done innovative research with great societal impact for decades. He does not mince words and consistently addresses any digital privacy issue that may threaten society and citizens. At the same time, he is an authority for all his science colleagues – also in interdisciplinary contexts – and an eminent coach and stimulator for his students and researchers.
Bart Jacobs. Fotografie: Studio Oostrum.
Great societal impact
The Stevin Prize is awarded each year to researchers who have achieved great success in societal knowledge valorisation. The Prize primarily acknowledges the great social impact of their research. Besides Bart Jacobs, Judi Mesman, professor of the interdisciplinary study of societal challenges at Leiden University College, The Hague, will also receive this year’s Stevin Prize, which – together with the Spinoza Prize – is the highest award in Dutch science. The award ceremony will take place on Wednesday 13 October. Each laureate will receive € 2.5 million, to be spent on research and activities involving knowledge valorisation.
Originally a mathematician and philosopher, Jacobs has greatly expanded his expertise. He is one of the world’s leading scientists in his original field: logic and theoretical informatics, the subjects of two textbooks that he wrote. He also does practical work, for example on PEP, a technique for safely storing and exchanging general and patient data for medical research.
The ideas underlying the IRMA app that he developed (which enable people to log on to more and more websites) have recently been adopted by the European Commission for the development of a new European identity wallet. His critical comments on the European Payment Service Directive PSD2 – ‘a European strategic blunder’ – led to a hearing in the Dutch House of Representatives and radically changed the course of the debate.
Jacobs is also the founder of iHub, the interdisciplinary research group for Security, Privacy & Data Governance at Radboud University. In this Hub, researchers from the humanities, social sciences, engineering and natural sciences investigate pressing issues in the domain of digitisation.
Awards and grants
Jacobs has received major national and international research grants, including an ERC Advanced Grant. He received this prestigious European grant for his research in the field of probabilistic logic and probabilistic quantum logic, a subject that he is still studying. He was also awarded two prestigious science and society awards for the social impact of his scientific work: the Brouwer Prize and the Huibregtsen Prize.
Jacobs is the founder and chairman of the Privacy by Design Foundation. He is a member of the CTIVD (Review Committee on the Intelligence and Security Services) knowledge network that examines whether the Dutch secret services act lawfully, a member of the Cyber Security Council, former chairman of the advisory board of Bits of Freedom and a fellow of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities (KHMW) and Academia Europaea.