It is a big pleasure and honor to welcome the delegation from Singularity University, Silicon Valley, here in the Netherlands, in the city of Rotterdam. We are looking forward to a long-term partnership with Singularity University. We are excited and inspired to help this cutting-edge university in producing and implementing new ideas to tackle important and complex challenges, both nationally and globally.
It is fantastic that you are all gathered here for the Singularity delegation. Rotterdam’s ambitions tie in with Singularity’s mission: ‘to assemble, educate and inspire a new generation of leaders who strive to understand and utilize exponentially advancing technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges’.
Rotterdam is a young, internationally oriented city. In contrast with many other cities, our city continuously rejuvenates itself. We consider this as a source of opportunities for the future, just as we look at Rotterdam’s diversity as enriching our society. In a port city, goods come in, from all over the world. Rotterdam’s citizens are also from all over the world. The city has an international allure and is, in many ways, a trendsetter. The future sometimes seems to arrive here earlier than in the rest of the Netherlands.
Rotterdam is a fount of innovation. Consider, for instance, the innovative power seen in the port: Nanotech, 3D printing, mobile, new energy sources, sustainability, robots for Port of Rotterdam (logistics). Biotech, nanotech, AI, robotics and energy for Shell Pernis (energy, petrochemical). Rotterdam considers innovation to be an important source of economic opportunities. That is why we have an Innovation Road Map, outlining the municipality’s vision, direction and framework for stimulating innovation. Innovation to aid sustainable economic growth and to provide answers to the challenges society faces.
Rotterdam has the perfect climate to foster innovation, but we cannot do this alone. Not as a city. That is why we expressly cooperate with the surrounding region and from that base all over the globe. Cooperation, not only with governments, but also with research institutions and the education and business sectors. For it will be them who will actually need to do the work. We, the government, assume the role of being sometimes the necessary link that connects the various parties, and of being a facilitator, creating appropriate possibilities where such is in keeping with our public function.
The three universities of Leiden, Delft and Rotterdam together offer the full spread of humanities, arts and sciences and accompanying research possibilities and lots of crossovers. The three universities collaborate extensively and this collaboration is set to deepen in the future. There are research institutes covering many fields: TNO, Deltares and ESA.
The business, research and education sectors and the government have joined in solid cooperative innovation projects to tackle the challenges we face. The two most important are Clean Tech Delta and Medical Delta. But we also cherish the cooperative projects in Deltri, Greenport and Security Delta. Each with its own, specific innovation road map. We aim to mutually connect these networks in TriDelta.
These endeavors have already led to facilities and arrangements necessary for renewal and innovative enterprises in various sectors. Take the medical sector. The medical sector is prominent in the city. It is a jobs engine and a highly innovative sector. The Erasmus Medical Center is internationally highly regarded and I would also like to point to the Rotterdam Eye Hospital. The Eye Hospital is a great example when it comes to innovative cross-overs (robotics, medicine). It is at the forefront of the trend of advancing to small segments or markets for one when it comes to innovation in the field of ophthalmology.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
These are attractive, really innovative examples. Should we so desire, the future is bound to look promising. With many more of these sorts of innovations. However, we will have to face the societal challenge that comes along as well. It is clear that technology shall aid us. But technology in itself will not be enough. Look at its significance for and effect on the social and human side of things. What does technology do to society, to social connections? What can we do to ensure that they optimally enhance each other? What will innovation mean when it comes to law, government, entrepreneurship, citizenship? When you consider the universities in the surrounding region, it will not come as a surprise to you that we think it is important to make this connection.
This event today will definitely help us finding answers for the challenges of the future. A special thank you for Yuri van Geest, the driving force of today, the Rotterdammer that brought the world of singularity to Rotterdam.
Thank you so much for your attention and I wish you a lot of inspiration and ideas for innovation! And some fun in between when you find the time to enjoy Rotterdams Filmfestival and other pleasant distractions here in Rotterdam.