After a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Arizona (Tucson, USA) he returned to Ghent, became a full-time Lecturer in 2001, and founded the Multimedia Lab at the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture. This research group is one of the founding teams of iMinds. In 2016, it became Data Science Lab. Currently, the Data Science Lab has about 80 members.
In 2004 he was appointed Full Professor, and in 2010 he became Senior Full Professor at Ghent University. In the same year, Rik Van de Walle was appointed as Research Director within the iMinds, where he is leading the Future Media and Imaging Research Department (consisting of about 150 researchers, coming from Ghent University, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, and University of Antwerp). His personal research interests include multimedia content delivery (including presentation and archiving), coding of multimedia data, metadata technology, content adaptation, interactive (mobile) multimedia applications, and e-health, systems and signals.