The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and data science is causing a dramatic shift in the way that business and society respond to public demands and needs. But where are universities in this process? While they are leading the charge in research in these areas, are universities adapting their own offerings fast enough to accommodate societal expectations of institutes of higher learning?  In our digital, networked world, with rapid advances in data analytics and artificial intelligence, what should students expect from a modern university?

Fast-Forward Digital: A new kind of University, hosted by Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) on Friday, 24 September will dive deep into these questions with some of the leading minds in technology, AI, data analytics and management consulting including:

  • Frans van Houten, Chief Executive Officer, Royal Philips
  • Ed Brinksma, President of the Executive Board, Erasmus University
  • Ansgar Richter, Dean, Rotterdam School of Management
  • Brigitte Lammers, Partner, Egon Zehnder, Global Leadership Advisory Firm
  • Ulla Kruhse-Lehtonen, Co-founder and CEO, Dain Studios, Finland
  • Diederik van Liere, Vice President Data Science & Engineering, Wealthsimple 
  • Farshida Zafar, Director, ErasmusX, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Expert Online Debate Panel 

The three-part programme, based on the valedictory farewell speech of RSM Prof. Peter Vervest, will feature a debate panel on the role of data and technology in shaping the future of business and education. It will explore how data-driven decision making and AI has enabled Royal Philips to set the bar for excellence in providing a digital experience for those within its organisation and how Erasmus University, Egon Zehnder, Dain Studios and Wealthsimple envision the future, and the required digital skills needed, for the next generation of business leaders.

Introducing the Erasmus Data Collaboratory

The programme will also include a special session introducing the soon-to-launch Erasmus Data Collaboratory. As part of the Convergence Alliance between TU Delft, Erasmus MC and Erasmus University, the Erasmus Data Collaboratory will be an inclusive open-learning hub for data and AI on the Erasmus University campus. Operated by the Erasmus Centre for Data Analytics, the Collaboratory will offer students, academics, public and private partners a dedicated facility to think, work, learn together, and invent on areas such as energy transition, resilient deltas, health systems, and creating smart and inclusive cities. The session will provide a “sneak peek” of the new facility and feature van Houten, Brinksma and Richter giving their insights on what this new venture and alliance will mean for research and the Netherlands.

Valedictory Farewell

Rounding out the programme will be the valedictory farewell speech of Prof. Vervest, who will retire after 38 years of service as an RSM faculty member and a leading expert and professor of information management and networks. Vervest’s speech, which provides the theme for the event programme, will tie together the insights generated from the debate and special session and will provide a thought leader’s perspective on how universities can make the necessary changes through AI and data science to meet the digital needs of students and the expectations of global business.


More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top-ranked business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Erika Harriford-McLaren, corporate communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

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