The IDEALiC consortium consists of 6 researchers that have extensive scientific experience in the field of e-inclusion. Both partners, imec-SMIT and FTU Namur, are conducting research at the fore end of (inter)national scientific expertise on e-inclusion, and have, over the past years, contributed significantly to the development of scientific knowledge and e-inclusion policies both at regional and federal level.
The added value of the IDEALiC consortium lies within its complementarity regarding geographical field of expertise and within its methodological interdisciplinarity. imec-SMIT has extensive expertise in the field of e-inclusion in Flanders. Both Leo Van Audenhove and Ilse Mariën were involved in the IST-study “Digital Divide of the second degree” that focused on mapping and analyzing e-inclusion initiatives in Flanders. Both also contributed to the development of the “Conceptnota Mediawijsheid” and are actively involved in Mediawijs.be, the Flemish knowledge centre for Media Literacy. Leo Van Audenhove is also supervising the research of Dana Schurmans on e-inclusion initiatives and policies in the Brussels Capital Region. The expertise of FTU Namen focuses mainly on the French speaking part of the country and on national and international level. Both Périne Brotcorne and Gerard Valenduc were responsible for the evaluation of the first Federal Action Plan against the Digital Divide (Brotcorne et al., 2010b), and the preparation of the next Federal Action Plan for e-Inclusion in 2020 (Brotcorne et al., 2013). Combining the expertise of both research centres will – at last – lead to a comprehensive view on e-inclusion at a local, regional and national level, supplemented by an in-depth analysis of the position of Belgium within the EU. A view on e-inclusion that transcends geographical boundaries is crucial because e-inclusion demands for interventions at all policy levels, regardless of the local, regional and national distribution of policy domains and according competencies. Improving e-inclusion in Belgium calls for a combined and integrated approach in which the scientific expertise on Flanders, Wallonia and the Brussels Capital Region is brought together.
Methodology wise, the expertise of both partners involved is highly complementary and interdisciplinary. The researchers involved come from a variety of backgrounds such as communication sciences, sociology, and science-technology-society (STS). Moreover, both partners have extensive experience in qualitative methods in social sciences, participatory research (action-research), comparative research, including both qualitative and quantitative methods, and policy research, which allows to approach the issue of e-inclusion from a multi-angle and interdisciplinary approach.