“Amersfoort is making technology an important part of the city”

An interview with Maringo Vlijter, co-initiator of IT Innovation Day

An annual event in Amersfoort is IT Innovation Day. In The New City (De Nieuwe Stad) well over two-hundred decision-makers from major companies are inspired by controversial speakers and by each other: how can the IT sector take its business to the next level in times of digital transformation? As a forward-looking city, Amersfoort contributes to this higher goal, says co-initiator Maringo Vlijter from IDG Netherlands.

Vlijter: “Amersfoort combines the central location of Utrecht with the can-do mentality of Rotterdam. The best of both worlds. In addition, Amersfoort is run by approachable authorities who are themselves actually engaged in making technology an important part of the city. In times of transition, it’s most valuable to have like-minded partners who are willing to contribute ideas. The Amersfoort local council is such a partner. It’s progress-oriented and always open to constructive collaboration and to examining what does or doesn’t work. Some cities are inward-looking; they think inside their own box. But digital transformation is causing markets to disrupt. If a city council fails to embrace this, it’s likely to stagnate in that area. Amersfoort has figured this out. The council knows the city isn’t big enough to go it alone and so it’s looking for synergy with other parties. I really appreciate that. Due to its size, Amersfoort has never been a genuine powerhouse, but it’s now going from strength to strength in the new economy because it’s thinking out of the box, it’s accessible, it’s collaborating and it’s sharing knowledge.”

First-rate IT and tech infrastructure

Having lived in the United States, Russia and Singapore, Vlijter is a bit of a globetrotter himself and knows what distinguishes a city. “First-rate IT and tech infrastructure, good accessibility and a high standard of living. Amersfoort’s got it all. In a digital economy, where you can work anyplace anytime, a positive environment that makes you feel good is all the more important. This is the atmosphere we want to have on IT Innovation Day and this is what Amersfoort has to offer.”

Collaborating with Amersfoort now feels so familiar that Vlijter would not want to change anything. “It’s grown quite naturally. It starts on the evening prior to the event itself, when we have a dinner with our guest speakers, a delegation from the Amersfoort council and entrepreneurs from the Amersfoort corporate world. That’s where the edition really starts. The vibe.”