Meet co-founder and innovator Ton

It was time for Artificial Intelligence to finally get really up to speed...

Artificial Intelligence is finally picking up steam…

One of the co-founders of Grexx is Ton Romeyn, who, alongside Pieter Hufen, Erica Rietveld, Hans de Hoog and Niels Klinkenberg, founded the company in 2000. All five of them still play a role in Grexx to varying degrees. This is certainly true for Ton who served as Grexx’s CTO, before passing the torch to current CTO Bart Laarhoven in early 2023. As of January 2023, Ton has taken on a new role as the company’s Chief Innovation Officer.

Broad background with focus on Artificial Intelligence

Ton started with a bachelor's degree in mathematics back in the mid-1970’s, but graduated as a cognitive psychologist. Although somewhat unconventional for an ex-CTO, Ton used his educational background to drive and develop his passion, artificial intelligence. 

Ton: "In my math studies at TU Delft, you could choose the computer science variant in the second year. That seemed like a good idea, but I didn't find the automation processes very interesting at all. At one point I took some lectures from Joop Doorman. He was then a professor of philosophy at TU Delft, a philosopher of science and logician, a very inspiring man. When he spoke about artificial intelligence, I knew that I wanted to be involved. I found AI and its way of thinking much more interesting than what I previously encountered in my education. 

After some wandering, I encountered a group of psychologists in Amsterdam who were also working on AI. This was in the late seventies, early eighties, and the potential of AI was not so obvious back then. Long story short, I first studied psychology in Leiden, to lay a foundation, and then I did a master's degree in psychology in which I majored in AI and Machine Learning, at the University of Amsterdam. I had wanted to finish Mathematics/Informatics, but it never came to fruition. Thus, I became a cognitive psychologist."

Early emergence of AI

"After completing my education, I started working with AI, creating teaching assistants. In practice, these were mostly expert systems: rule-based systems, formalized knowledge, exactly what I didn't want. I had gone from math to psychology because I wanted to learn the way people learn through inductive reasoning from data. So, I set up my own company pretty quickly to focus on that and my colleague and I worked on machine learning projects, but found that the time wasn't ripe for it just yet. Too little data, too little computing power. We were a little too far ahead of the industry at the time. 

After about six years, I quit that and went to work at BSO/Origin (later ATOS) for several years. There I integrating different pieces of software together–environments and systems that had to work together - and assembling software like Lego blocks became my new focus. Grexx was founded slowly, having met the other co-founders at Origin. Together, we established several companies around creation and implementation of public marketplaces. And although that went well - there was even talk of an IPO - the dotcom crash at the beginning of this century pulled the plug on it."

Beginning of Grexx

"Our next focus became what is now Grexx. Initially, we started working on services for somewhat larger, traditional companies and were focused on Business Process Management (BPM), which was gaining popularity. In one project, we would tie all kinds of machines together using BizTalk. But BizTalk programmers were hard to find, which put us at a disadvantage. We then built ourselves a replacement in a short time with which we could quickly develop and run the BPM processes, and that is the beginning of the Grexx Platform as we know it today."

From 2000-2022, Ton was the technical scepter at Grexx. He developed the original Grexx Platform consultants used to build applications for clients, and of course was also closely involved in the transition to the current Grexx as a low code platform. 

AI within Grexx

"By now, we are a good twenty years down the road. I've been waiting a long time for it, but so much is happening in AI. In the past, it couldn't go fast enough for me. AI had taken such a long time to develop, but today developments are picking up steam. I think it's wonderful to see. It is now up to us to make sure that those developments, those different worlds of traditional automation and digitalizing and true artificial intelligence, come together again. If you see now how fast AI is developing - finally... I think it's an exciting time in that respect.

This is also going to play a more important role at Grexx. The application of AI will largely be in customer projects. By digitalizing, you capture data that AI can use. Development on our platform will also be partially supported by AI. Fully building applications with AI is still too complex, but supporting citizen developers with generating small pieces of code and building blocks is possible. Finding the balance between humans and AI as coders is our big challenge.

I would love to see more courage on the customer side, more courage to become data driven. People find that exciting, and I can understand that, but if you capture information and processes, and then make predictions based on that data, optimizing processes and improving quality, then you have gold in your hands."

From programmers to superusers 

"I find the move to low code natural. I firmly believe that most companies should work less with programmers and more with super users, the people who intimately understand the domain and the business. Those are the people who should be leading in building the automation. 

Of course, they need certain knowledge and skills, think basic knowledge of computer science and patterns around automation. This allows them to make a transition between practice and automation. We support them in that. AI will start supporting that process. Think about component generation, project-based assistance, test scripts, etc. We're working hard on that right now."

Chief Innovation Officer

That is exactly what Ton is working on in his new role as Chief Innovation Officer. The development team works on the core of the system, Ton works on trial and error: "I find out what might be interesting, try things out, and sometimes things arise that actually end up in Grexx Platform. You have to understand, in terms of technology, I'm slowly being overtaken by the youngsters, but with my background I can put out new posts on broad concepts. Those experiments and broad lines, away from the delusion of the day, that's what I enjoy doing enormously."


Ton (age 67) lives in Bergen with his wife Jacqueline. Together they have two sons, also active in AI: one as machine learning specialist at NVIDIA, the other working on clinical implementation of AI at Leiden University Medical Center and has started his own company. It seems to run in the family... In their spare time, Ton and his wife like to travel with their caravan and bikes to the most beautiful campsites of Southern Europe. 

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