Prof. dr. Luc Soete

Rector Magnificus Maastricht University

Prof. dr. Luc Soete (1950: Brussels) obtained an economics degree from Ghent University and a PhD in economics from the University of Sussex. He then embarked on a research career in Britain and the United States, producing new economic insights on the Schumpeterian dynamics of innovation. In 1986 he was appointed professor of International Economic Relations at the Maastricht University School of Business and Economics. Two years later he established the Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT), which quickly grew into a leading research institute in the economic analysis of technological development and innovation, and became part of United Nations University (UNU) in 2005. He was appointed dean of the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance (MGSoG) in 2010.

Prof. dr. Luc Soete is also a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and the Dutch Advisory Council for Science and Technology Policy (AWT).

He was the Rector Magnificus of Maastricht University (UM) from September 2012 to September 2016.

From Ghent University to University of Sussex
After receiving his economics degree from Ghent University (1972, magna cum laude), Soete became a research assistant at the economics department of the then Sint-Ignatius University Faculties in Antwerp (UFSIA). He received his PhD in economics from the University of Sussex in 1978 with a grant from the British Council. In 1979, he became a research fellow at the Institute of Development Studies and the Science Policy Research Unit in Sussex.

In 1985, the then director of studies of the new UM Faculty of Economics, Wil Albeda, asked Soete to relocate to the Netherlands, and specifically to Maastricht. Soete was still a visiting associate professor at the Department of Economics at Stanford University (US), then the cradle of innovation within both the electronic and the biotechnology sectors. Before leaving for Stanford, he led a series of British research projects at the Science Policy Research Unit of the University of Sussex on the influence of technological development on international trade and unemployment.

In 1986 Soete was appointed UM professor of International Economic Relations, with the additional task of developing the research area on economics of technological development, one of the three planned research spearheads of Maastricht’s new economics faculty.

In 1988 the Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT) was established, which quickly developed into an international think tank with numerous academic research projects as well as policy projects commissioned by third parties. MERIT was integrated with the United Nations University (UNU) institute INTECH in 2005 and renamed UNU-MERIT; Soete remained its director until 31 August 2012.

In 2010 he was appointed by UM’s Executive Board as dean of the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance (MGSoG) of the Faculty of Humanities and Sciences (FHS). Together, UNU-MERIT and the MGSoG form one of the largest research and education institutes on innovation and public policy worldwide, with some 50 researchers and 60 in-house PhD candidates.

Over the past 30 years, Soete has authored, co-authored, edited and co-edited no fewer than

  • 11 books
  • 50 articles
  • 100 book chapters.

His publications cover the broad fields of theoretical, empirical and policy studies of technological development and, in particular, innovation.




  Wilma Coenegrachts
  + 31 43 38 84475
 Wilma Coenegrachts



  • in 2002 he received the MSM Honorary Fellow Award
  • in 2006 the Belgian decoration Commander in the Order of the Crown
  • in 2010 an honorary doctorate from Ghent University

In the past, Soete has served as

  • acting adjunct-director of the Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry (DSTI) of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
  • part-time dean at the Maastricht School of Management (MSM
  • chair and member of various High Level Expert Groups of the European Commission
  • a member of various expert advisory panels (Commissies van Wijzen) for the Dutch government
  • a member of various domain areas for the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)

He delivered the Dutch Innovation Lecture in both 1996 and 2002.

Current additional positions

  • Member Advisory Council for Science, Technology and Innovation (AWTI)
  • Member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)
  • Member AcTI
  • Member of 'De Zeven Eycken' Foundation
  • Chairman of the Research, Innovation, and Science Policy Expert (RISE) High Level Group (HLG) -  Experts Groups website  

An overview of publications of prof. dr. Luc Soete is available on the  UNU-MERIT   website.