Burgemeester Lancering app 'Utrecht Time Machine' tijdens conferentie LERU

Toespraak burgemeester Jan van Zanen

Utrecht, Academiegebouw, 29 november 2018

Thank you very much for your kind words professors (Henk) Kummeling and (Toine) Pieters. Dear participants of the LERU Conference, welcome again to the City of Utrecht, the heart, the very heart of the Netherlands. And please allow me to add that it is not only the geographical heart, but also the historical heart of our country.

Here, in this very building (then serving as a chapter hall of the Dom Church), a unique treaty was signed in 1579 by most of the provinces of the northern Netherlands. For the very first time they presented themselves as a union against the Spanish rulers.

Few physical traces are left of that unique occurrence. Although maybe you noticed, in front of the Academy Hall, the 19th century statue of one of the noblemen who signed the treaty, Jan van Nassau.

The Union of Utrecht is one of the many symbols of our city's long history. And it is one of the occurrences one would like to re-experience.

Now anyone knows that this is impossible. But our city has a characteristic feature that may turn this impossibility close to reality. This feature of Utrecht is, that it is not only very old but also very young. That it combines a very long history with a seemingly eternal youth.

Our city does not only house numerous (old) monuments, canals and wharves, but also more than 60 thousand students and a breezing college life, centred around Utrecht University and her sister institutions. All this, against the background of a rich cultural life and a lively business ecosystem and environment, consisting of many ambitious - partially startup - enterprises.

By cooperating closely, scientific and business world, partnered by city government, have created an excellent breeding ground for new developments. For instance in the area of digital learning.

Tonight, you have been shown one of the more spectacular results, coming up from this breeding ground. A digital device, obviously offering educational possibilities, that outstrip imagination. All solidly founded on the historical data our institutions keep in abundance. For instance about this 1579 treaty, the Union of Utrecht. It was an honour for me to put this new device into action, which (I have been assured) literally imagined a both historical and historic moment. At the same time a great test of the creative abilities of our present-day city. Thank you very much.