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“As a city manager Rob van Gijzel recognized the impact of the digital transition for the whole society years ago already, and he has continued to promote this view.” For that reason, CIONET elected the Eindhoven mayor as the first “European Digital Leader” during Monday’s International CIO CITY conference in Amsterdam. Hendrik Deckers, founder and CEO of CIONET International is pleased with the choice of his organisation: “We hope that Van Gijzel will be an example for many other managers.”

Van Gijzel prijs 2CIONET is an international innovative knowledge network with more than 6,000 CIOs (Chief Information Officers) and Digital Leaders from 24 countries. Van Gijzel received this international award for his efforts to expose Eindhoven as one of the Smart Cities of the world. He himself prefers to speak of smart society, “because technology is not the dominant factor, but the connection of technology with the people”. According to the jury Van Gijzel personally ensured that the Brainport Eindhoven region was named “smartest region in the world” in 2011 by the New York-based Intelligent Community Forum, to top regions such as Seoul and Silicon Valley.


The criteria on which the jury assessed the candidates: to take the initiative with innovation and leading digital transition of an organisation or within a broader ecosystem, inspiring new ideas and having a challenging vision.

According to the jury, Van Gijzel personally leads the digital development of the Brainport Eindhoven region. This shows, for example, in the experiments with various forms of collaboration and co-creation. To accept that failing is part of the game is an important rule, Van Gijzel says. “Cities are the level where businesses, government, research institutions, civil society organisations and people meet each other physically. In cities ideas are exchanged and new technologies are born, and that’s why cities are breeding grounds of economic, social and managerial innovation. Experiments are essential therein. This unique position of cities should be facilitated far better by removing regulatory barriers to innovation and providing more financial leeway. ”

CIO CITY is the European Congress of CIONET, a knowledge network for CIOs and Digital Leaders. There are now more than 6200 members in 24 countries, including more than 600 in the Netherlands. The members are active in market segments such as telecom, finance, logistics, healthcare, government and industry as an IT executive at multinational corporations, governments and large SMEs.