Rob van Gijzel en Yuri van Geest in het vliegtuig terug naar Nederland
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We have the city’s strong reputation in the fields of exponential technologies, such as robotics, nanotechnology, solar power, sensors and 3D printers, to thank for the arrival of Singularity University (see news article) in Eindhoven. “Rob van Gijzel and I were on exactly the same page,” says SU Ambassador Yuri van Geest of their efforts. e52 interviewed him.

Was Eindhoven a logical choice? Or does the location of the building have little to do with the importance of the city?

Eindhoven has an important, substantive cluster of different exponential technologies (robotics, nanotechnology, solar power, sensors and 3D printers) and a strong reputation in this field. This is confirmed by a whole host of awards. What’s more, knowledge institutes, business and authorities in Eindhoven strongly collaborate, which suits the vision of Singularity University. The location is the central hub that connects all activities in the Netherlands. That says something.

What can Eindhoven offer that maybe Amsterdam doesn’t have?

Amsterdam is strong in creativity, digital start-ups and artificial intelligence. In comparison with Eindhoven, Amsterdam is less widely developed in terms of exponentially growing technologies. This is supported by reports in the central government’s top sectors policy.

Why did SU choose a site outside of the US? Does the system of a travelling circus (conferences, training and symposia) no longer work? In other words, what is the added value of a permanent location in Europe?

Singularity University’s mission is to educate and inspire current and new leaders in order to radically improve the world by means of exponential technologies (‘moonshot thinking and doing‘). This is done by creating technology start-ups that positively affect 1 billion people within ten years. This is a global ambition which can also be realised outside of Silicon Valley. The conferences work well. The point is that this has limited impact locally and globally when compared with a physical location. This is gaining momentum, especially through the strong community of the Singularity University alumni of executives and students from the Netherlands. We’re now moving from the ‘awareness’ phase to working on a local level. The added value is that we can also achieve a greater impact here in the Netherlands by joining the Dutch power with the power from Silicon Valley. This offers various substantive, technological and social benefits.

What has your role as SU Ambassador been by choosing Eindhoven?

It was crucial because everything was starting and coming together. I have been putting this question to the SU’s main office since March 2010. After building an intensive relationship with SU through the largest SU community (the Netherlands has over 1200 members), a globally leading number of SU alumni from the Netherlands (over 250), various successful events and European Summits in DeLaMar en Carré, partnerships with companies like Deloitte, three Dutch Global Impact Competition winners and a joint best-selling book, Exponentiële Organisaties, (the first book from SU Press), great new progress has been made.

“Rob van Gijzel and I were immediately on the same wavelength”

Rob van Gijzel en Yuri van Geest in the Airplane back to the Netherlands
Rob van Gijzel en Yuri van Geest in the Airplane back to the Netherlands

Mayor Rob van Gijzel and I met at the end of 2013 when everything was picking up speed. In terms of innovation, technology, Eindhoven and the Netherlands, we were on exactly the same page. What’s more, representatives from Amsterdam, Nijmegen, Rotterdam and Delft also made valuable contributions. Last but not least, we certainly can’t forget Brainport and TU Eindhoven, whose contributions were incredibly important!

Is this the first of many locations outside of the US?

Yes, this is the first of many. That’s what makes it so special. As a team, we’re very happy about it.

Read more about the arrival of Singularity University in our news article.

Want to learn more about Singularity? Yuri van Geest legt op Top Names uit wat de kern is: