Being inspired by Benjamin Barber’s vision for a future from the book “If mayors ruled the world”, Rob van Gijzel has initiated the experiment to put the theories around a city-centric society into practice. An experiment because making and discovering the future is a trial and error process. This is not done by individual organisations in a classical, top-down approach by putting signatures under association agreements. Rob van Gijzel shows that the key to achieve humane solutions to the Grand Challenges is collaboration in interdependent horizontal networks at the city level, not vertical but horizontal democracy.

Rob van Gijzel has been mayor of Eindhoven since 2008. In 2015 he announced that 2016 will be the year in which he resigns as mayor. The vision, experiences and lessons during those 8 years have recently been published in the book “The city that creates the future”. One of the highlights during his 8 years as mayor was Eindhoven being named smartest region in the world by the Intelligent Community Forum in 2011. With a previous career in the House of Representatives, Rob van Gijzel has experienced the rise of information technology but also the difficulty to predict its influence. Apart from being mayor Rob van Gijzel is also chairman of various institutes such as Metropolitan Region Eindhoven and Brainport.