Nieke Roos
7 December 2020

Delft University of Technology has appointed Geert-Jan Houben as pro-vice-rector magnificus of artificial intelligence, data and digitalization (PVR AI) with effect from 1 December 2020. Houben has been at TU Delft since 2008 as a professor of web information systems. Currently, he’s the director of education in the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science. In the new role of PVR AI, he’ll be leading the TU Delft AI Initiative and promoting regional, national and international cooperation on this theme.

The TU Delft AI Initiative was launched earlier this year. Present activities include the establishment of 24 labs to promote cross-fertilization between AI experts and scientists who use AI in their research. Another focus of the initiative is to train the next generation of digital professionals.

Houben will also take a leading role in the collaboration in which TU Delft, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Leiden University, Erasmus MC and LUMC are joining forces. This convergence aims to use far-reaching cooperation and the bundling of research in AI and with AI to come up with pioneering solutions in fields such as health, the energy transition and safety and security. Another goal is to establish a large-scale curriculum on AI, data and digitalization for all 85,000 students at the universities and university medical centers in Zuid-Holland.

Geert-Jan Houben is Delft’s new PVR AI. Credit: Delft University of Technology

The convergence also forms the scientific backbone of the cooperation in the Zuid-Holland AI Hub, in which regional businesses and knowledge institutions collaborate around AI. The hub has received kick-start funding from the Netherlands AI Coalition (NL AIC) to produce a joint proposition for the National Growth Fund for strong AI applications such as AI for peace, justice and security, AI for port and maritime sector, AI for energy and sustainability, AI for health and care and AI for industry.

Tim van der Hagen, rector magnificus of TU Delft: “At the beginning of this year, we announced the start of a far-reaching cooperation in AI, data and digitalization. Despite the coronavirus outbreak, we’ve accomplished a great deal. For example, we’ve launched the first eight TU Delft AI labs, recruited 16 tenure trackers and 32 extra doctoral candidates, regional multi-year plans are being drawn up for collaboration on AI themes and the educational plans are already in an advanced stage. Via NL AIC, we’re working with our partners in the region and with other regions to build a strong and distinctive position in AI.”