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This post is the third and last in a series of articles about the startup ecosystem in Amsterdam Delta (Amsterdam metropolitan region). The first dealt with the dual challenge for start-ups to become socially and environmentally sustainable and to empower employees to be entrepreneurial through shared leadership. The second one was a review of the strengths and weaknesses of the Amsterdam startup ecosystem by the authors of the 2021 Global Startup Ecosystems Ranking.
Weaknesses and strengths
The 2021 Global Startup Ecosystem Report revealed several weaknesses in the Amsterdam startup ecosystem, which – I accentuate - should not overshadow the city’s position of Amsterdam as the world number 13 startup ecosystem. In terms of market reach, the overall score is satisfactory (7), but the Amsterdam Delta startups are primarily focused on global markets and score low on the local market. In the field of talent, the overall score is more than sufficient (7), due to the quality of technology students and graduates, but their number is inadequate, resulting in high vacancies and salary costs. Partly related to this, the growth potential (scalability) of the Amsterdam startup ecosystem is also insufficient, due to a limited reservoir of experienced entrepreneurs. Overall knowledge success is assessed as poor (1!) due to the unsatisfactory number of life science patents.
Amsterdam Policy plan 2019 - 2022
Most of the underlying data of the 2021 report is from 2019 – 2021, a time frame that coincides with the start of the new policy plan for startups in Amsterdam in the period 2019 - 2022. The inventory of challenges in this report mirrors several weaknesses mentioned above. Looking at the future, the report states: We have reached a point where growth of the local ecosystem does not have to mean that the local government wants to encourage as many companies in Amsterdam as possible but encourages activity that adds value to the city in new ways. In the coming years, we must also lay the foundations for a more inclusive society, in which the local startup and scaleup ecosystem also plays a role. A step towards inclusiveness means significantly increasing the business sector’s ambitions for social responsibility. In other words, a focus on quality in general that is aligned with at least the first challenge in the first post I referred to above.
How cities can support their startup ecosystem?
Below, I discuss highlights from the policy report 2019 - 2022 within a broader vision of possibilities for municipalities to support start- and scale-ups, partly based on an earlier edition of a The Global Startup Ecosystem Report.
According to the 2021Global Startup Ecosystems Report, the funding of new businesses is not a big problem in Amsterdam Delta, also because of the generous tax facilities(!) in the Netherlands. However, investment relies heavily on local investors and governmental grants: 54% of the capital flowing into the ecosystem comes from domestic sources, 25% from the rest of Europe, and just 21% from the rest of the world.
The City of Amsterdam subsidized the Innovation Center for AI (ICAI) at Amsterdam Science Park, requiring that at least 20% of its revenues will be reserved for innovative SMEs and startups.
While funding is not an overriding problem, Amsterdam can improve its coordinating role in providing financial support, as for example Seoul has done by the creation of the Dream bank, a one-stop agency for all financial matters.
Growth of markets
The market position of Amsterdam start- and scaleups can be improved, especially in the home market, but also internationally. Besides, every new startup must start from scratch by creating a market. An agency called Amsterdam Trade and Innovate has commissioned trade developers to organize domestic and international activities that support promising companies in clusters such as technology, health, life sciences, and creative industry.
Expanding the reservoir of entrepreneurs
Amsterdam focuses on women and young people with a migration background, most of whom never received tech-related training. Initiatives such as House of Skills, Action Plan W&T, House of Digital offer a range of technology-based courses to make up for these shortcomings, alongside startup schools such as BSSA, Growth Tribe and The Talent Institute.
In December 2020, the City of Amsterdam announced it will invest yearly US$ 856,500 in RISE, the Female Hub Amsterdam. There is a high demand in sectors such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, robotics, life science and energy storage, while relatively many university students in technology seem to prefer media studies and gaming and the fintech market is almost satorized. Studying will become more attractive by combining study and jobs and affordable (co-)housing and childcare options, both of which are both are seriously lacking.
In addition, the ‘Warm Welcome’ program aims to attract ambitious tech talent from abroad. Unfortunately, the pandemic has significantly reduced the influx of potential talent from abroad while market opportunities for innovative tech startups and scaleups were improving.
Innovative and research-oriented start-ups prefer the proximity of comparable small and medium-sized companies in campuses. They also prefer locations in mixed urban environments. A campus offers space for complementary companies, large and small, and facilities to collaborate, such as shared laboratory spaces. Amsterdam develops urban innovation districts through regional development and transformation. These areas that can accommodate rapid growth and opportunity for clustering ‘anchor companies’, leading (knowledge) institutions, startups, scaleups, incubators and accelerators. The main areas are: West Innovation Park, Amsterdam Sciencepark, Marineterrein , AMC-Amstel III and VU-Kenniskwartier/Zuidas.
Participation in the network of incubators and accelerators
Startups and scaleups need support. Incubators help companies to settle, accelerators help them to grow steadily. One of the best things any city can do is actively participation in these incubators and accelerators. They can become a one shop-stop for all prospective participants, providing virtually all the support start- and scaleups need. 31 of the 89 incubators and accelerators in the Netherlands, are active in the Amsterdam metropolitan area. A rich pallette of incubators and co-working spaces such as TQ, WeWork, Spaces, Startup Village, Rent24 and B.Amsterdam have been set up. Accelerators are Rockstart, Startupbootcamp, Fashion for Good, ACE and Collider.
Within an incubator or accelerator, the municipality can be primary responsible for legal matters, offering work- and living spaces (initially for free and later rented out at attractive rates), trade missions and procurement.
In some cities, startups can practice aspects of social and environmental sustainability in public administration. An example is the Startup in Residence program that started in Amsterdam and has now been spread over 20 other Dutch cities, regional governments, and ministries. The program is open to both Dutch and foreign entrepreneurs. Professional coaches provide intensive training and support. Workspace is available too. Under certain conditions, local, regional, and national governments become launching customers or partners. A report provides a detailed overview of the program in Amsterdam and its impact on the participants and the community.
Taking care of starters in general
Only a small but previously unknown part of all starters becomes a startup. Moreover, the number of starters outsizes that of startups and some can become valued companies too In the Netherlands, each year more than 100.000 starters are registered with the Chamber of Commerce.
Short evaluation Amsterdam policy plan 2019 - 12022
I doubt whether the current Amsterdam policy on start- and scaleups will result in a better ranking next year, also because in many cities startup ecologies are growing faster. Personally, I believe that consolidating a position in the top 20 is the best possible and still admirable result. This certainly applies if Amsterdam can achieve its ambitions in the field of qualitative rather than quantitative growth. Amsterdam wants to become an inclusive community and the first circular city in the world. The city wants that start- and scaleups becoming forerunners in reaching these objectives. I am partly disappointed in the content of the policy report 2019 - 2022 regarding this ambition. Indeed, becoming a more inclusive community is reflected in supporting the growth of the number female entrepreneurs. However, I looked in vain at policies encourage activity regarding developing start- and scaleups that add value to the city in new ways for instance contributing to the development of the circular economy. These businesses will make the difference in the future startup ecosystem.
I will regularly share ‘snapshots’ of the challenge of bringing socially and ecologically sustainable cities closer using technology if useful. These posts represent findings, updates, and additions to my e-book Humane cities. Always humane. Smart if helpful, chapter 4 in particular. The English version of this book can be downloaded for free below.
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In the recent past, the value of startups in Amsterdam Delta (Amsterdam metropolitan region) has taken a giant leap. In 2015, Amsterdam startups were valued at $11.1 billion. Today, Europe's number 3 ecosystem is worth $83.3 billion. The extraordinary success stories of Adyen and Takeaway have been a major contributor to this success, but its base is much broader. On the annually published Global Startup Ecosystem ranking Amsterdam Delta rose from the 19th place in 2015 to 12th place in 2020. Everyone was curious about the 2021 ranking. Well, as the table shows, Amsterdam Delta has been overtaken by Paris and Tokyo, but only lost one place due to a significant drop in Stockholm.
The value of rankings is easily overestimated. However, the value of startups should not be underestimated. More than 30% of the 4000 startups in the Netherlands are located in the Amsterdam metropolitan region. Together, the Dutch startups have created more than 100,000 jobs and are responsible for 60% of the annual job growth.
Globally, 2020 and 2021 were amazing years for startups as the pandemic fueled technology. According to the Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2021, Internet capacity increased by 35% and global broadband traffic by 51%. Consumers bought 30% more food online. Global venture capital funding nearly doubled to $288 billion in the first half of 2021, compared to the first half of 2020. Startups have benefited from the explosive technology market, supported by significant government support. Following China and the US, the European Union has been generous to startups, and the same goes for its member states. The Dutch government offers tax credits to innovative companies and environmentally friendly investments. The city of Amsterdam promotes startups that support inclusive growth and diversity, for example by subsidizing female entrepreneurs.
The Amsterdam Delta startup ecosystem can be characterized as vibrant. Still other ecosystems in the world are growing faster, including those in some European cities. In the global top ten emerging ecosystems, we find Copenhagen in second place and Barcelona, Madrid, and Zurich in places 5, 8 and 9.
To detect possible vulnerabilities in the Amsterdam Delta startup ecosystem, analyzing of success factors of the 30 highest-ranked ecosystems in the report is informative. In terms of performance, Amsterdam's composite score is in a middle position (6 out of 10 points). In terms of funding, the position is good (8). In terms of market reach, the overall score is satisfactory (7): The Amsterdam Delta startups are primarily focused on global markets and score low on the local market. Like most European ecosystems, Amsterdam Delta scores excellent (9) in connectedness, which is related to its strength on the global market. In terms of talent, the overall score is satisfactory (7), but the components differ considerably. The quality of technology students and graduates is good, but their number is insufficient, resulting in high salary costs. The scalability of the Amsterdam startup ecosystem is also insufficient, due to a lack of experience, which keeps many startups small. The overall knowledge success is assessed as poor (1) because the number of life science patents is disappointing.
When assessing the success factors, it should be considered that the population of Amsterdam Delta is about 10% of the population of London, and in this perspective the need to improve the global 13th place is not urgent. On the contrary, understanding why the Amsterdam Delta is performing so well is more relevant than looking for opportunities to improve it.
The explanation of Amsterdam's success has its roots in the fundamental strength of the Netherlands as a whole, which has at least ten other vibrant startup ecosystems. Against this background, one might be curious about the Global Startup Ecosystem ranking of the Randstad, including Eindhoven as a whole. According to the report, the strength of the Netherlands is its well-educated population, international orientation and English proficiency, excellent infrastructure, an 'extremely high quality of life' and business-friendly laws. Amsterdam is also the headquarters of many international companies, a large pool of potential startup founders.
In a next post, I will focus on Amsterdam's policy towards startups and evaluate whether a higher ranking is within reach or whether more qualitative objectives are preferable, taken into account the considerations in a former post on the Amsterdam Smart City website.
I will regularly share ‘snapshots’ of the challenge of bringing socially and ecologically sustainable cities closer using technology if useful. These posts represent findings, updates, and additions to my e-book Humane cities. Always humane. Smart if helpful. The English version of this book can be downloaded for free below.
Barcelona is one of the oldest examples of a city that deploys technology as part of its government. Sensor networks have been producing an array of data on transport, energy usage, noise levels, irrigation, and many other topics without having much impact on the life of citizens or solving the underlying problems.
In 2015, Francesca Bria, chief technology, together with mayor Ada Colau started to reverse the smart city paradigm: Instead of starting from technology and extracting all the data we started aligning the tech agenda with the agenda of the city, she said.
One of the first challenges was using technology to increase ordinary citizen’s impact on policy. A group of civic-minded coders and cryptographers created a brand-new participatory platform, Decidem (which means We Decide in Catalan). For more information watch the video below.
Spain offers more inspiring examples. The city of Madrid has also created a participatory citizen platform, not for chance called Decide Madrid, which is in many respects comparable with Decidem, as this short video demonstrates.
The most important features of both platforms are:
Active participation in policy making
Citizens are stimulated to suggest ideas, debating them, and vote. In Barcelona, more than 40.000 citizens have suggested proposals, which form 70% of the agenda of the city administration. The most frequently mentioned concerns are affordable housing, clean energy, air quality and the public space.
The Municipal Action Plan of Barcelona includes almost 7,000 proposals from citizens. Decidem enables citizens to monitor the state of implementation of each of them to increase citizen’s engagement.
Decide Madrid and Decidem emphasize the value of being informed as starting point for deliberation. Citizens can start discussions on their own and participate in threaded discussions started by others.
As soon as citizens feel informed and have exchanged opinions voting can start. Both Decide Madrid as Decidemhave a space where citizens can make proposals and seeks support. Proposals that reach enough support are prepared for voting. These votes generally are advising the city council.
Decide Madrid enables citizens amendment legislative texts. The public is allowed to commend any part of it and to suggest alternatives. This also might result in discussions and the suggestions are used to improve the formulations.
Decidem and Decide Madrid are also data portals that show data that have been collected in the city, partly on citizens themselves. Decidem has the intention, because of its participation in the European project Decode to enable citizens to control the use of data of their own for specific purposes.
As not every citizen has a computer or is skilled to use the Internet platforms, both cities combine virtual discussions and discussion in a physical space.
It is not only the traditional rivalry between Barcelona and Madrid that has inspired the development of two comparable systems, independently from each other. It is also the fact that the Spanish people had to fight for democracy until rather recently. Democratic institutions that have long existed in many other countries had to be reinvented, but with a 20th-century twist.
The community of Madrid has developed Decide Madrid together with CONSUL, a Madrid-based company. CONSUL enables cities to develop citizen participation on the Internet quickly and save. The package is very comprehensive. The software and its use are free. CONSUL can be adjusted by each organization to meet its own needs. As a result, Consul is in use in 130 cities and organizations in 33 countries (see the map above) and reaches out around 90 million citizens worldwide.
In contrast with e-Estonia, the topic of a former post, the footing of Decidem and Decide Madrid is enabling citizens to make their voice heard and to participate in decision-making. Both cities offer excellent examples of e-governance. e-Governance reflects the mutual communication between municipal authorities and citizens using digital tools to align decision making with the needs and wants of citizens. Instead, the intention of e-Estonia is to improve the efficiency of the operation of the state. Both aims are complementary.
I will regularly share ‘snapshots’ of the challenge of bringing socially and ecologically sustainable cities closer using technology if useful. These posts represent findings, updates, and additions to my e-book Humane cities. Always humane. Smart if helpful. The English version of this book can be downloaded for free below.
In the city of Arnhem a new green cooperative is founded by the students and teachers of the course "Organic Growing in the City". The new cooperative is two years old and has 54 organic urban growers as members. You will watch the green cooperative growing in the future years.
The time to make a change is now. The world is in motion: COVID19 lockdowns changed our perspectives on life as we know it, the cities we live in are exposed to devastating nature extremes this summer and the IPCC report fast-forwarded our sense of urgency. Do you have an awesome idea that can make an impact, then join the AMS Startup Booster to fast-track your idea. Deadline for applications is extended till September 12.
Are you wondering if the AMS Startup Booster can help you turn your business into a successful business. Then please get inspired by the stories of Mublio and Swugo.
Mublio bootstrapped their business and a year later they're selling their first product! Their first product is tailor-made, affordable, built-in cupboards to make efficient use of the space underneath your stairs.
Swugo wants to help reduce CO2 emissions in our urban environment and attribute to getting Amsterdam car-free by electrifying bikes. The Booster helped them to gain access to a European Mobility accelerator where they have extended their potential client base to other European cities.
Mission-driven ventures are a big part of the transition towards a circular economy. However, unlike conventional startups, these ventures face an important challenge: how can they prioritize purpose over profit, while also overcoming the hurdles of venture-building?
Part of the answer lies in rethinking ownership, to welcome investment without compromising long-term impact. Metabolic has recently written an article explaining the concept of "steward ownership" and we'd love to hear your thoughts!
More of a webinar person? Take a look at this Fresh Talk instead: https://lnkd.in/dNJDXVSY
For centuries, entrepreneurship was linked to art and craft and rewarded by personal fulfilment, satisfied customers, and a good life. The term entrepreneur is still associated with giving direction, shape and content to new activities based on personal motivation and skills and thereby creating socially approved value. A description that applies to the self-employed, business entrepreneurs, franchisees or intrapreneurs and includes both commercial, institutional, and artistic activities.
However, there are two problems. Overcoming them opens the way to become a better business.
The plunder of the earth
Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz has warned that the creative power of entrepreneurship can easily become destructive. A 'maker' becomes a 'taker' once creating value becomes making money in the first place. Indeed, for centuries, companies have robbed resources around the world, destroyed nature, traded millions of slaves and exploited domestic workers, creating the divide between rich and poor countries.
The creative power of entrepreneurship can also be aimed at sustainable prosperity, for their employees, the country, and the world. In that case, the “purpose” of a company precedes the pursuit of profit. Unfortunately, still a minority of all companies are moving in this direction while others pretending.
The decline of engagement and passion within the workforce
There is more. In developed countries, the blatant exploitation of labour has disappeared. Instead, the majority of employment relegates into low strain jobs. Research by Gallup and Deloite has shown over consecutive years that over 64% of all employees worldwide are not engaged or passionate. Find John Hagel explain this in a short video. The reason is clear. 20th century companies have organized their production according to principles of scalable efficiency and have top-down planning and control. Room for initiative is therefore neither expected nor desired. Moreover, detailed protocols and regulations limit employment for people at a distance from the labour market.
In a rapidly changing world, companies must be adaptive and innovative. They therefore need flexible, interdisciplinary teams with a high degree of self-government and less pay differentials. According to recent research in 17 countries, this type of organizations (8%) outperforms in all respects.
Summarizing, to become a better business requires a double challenge:
· Replacing the dominance of the pursuit of money with a social and environmental purpose.
· Mobilizing the entrepreneurial and other capacities of their whole work force by forms of self-organization and shared leadership.
Why focussing on startups?
As only a limited number of companies meet these conditions, employees consider starting their own business. In the US alone, approximately two million workers give up well-paying jobs every year and become self-employed. 127,000 starters were registered in the Netherlands in 2018. Of them, only a minority will become a startup, which means that they will successfully commercialize a promising technological innovation and grow rapidly on an international level.
Start-ups are potential engines of growth and innovation. In the US, their steady growth is compensating for job losses in the rest of the economy. Dutch startups created 20.000 of jobs in 2018 and 2019. A recent reportoffers excellent documentation of the identity, growth and potential of the 4,311 Dutch startups in 2019, most of which have fewer than 10 employees. 34% of Dutch startups can found in the Amsterdam metropolitan area.
The hope is that start-ups will rise to both challenges by nurturing their social and environmental purpose end fueling the commitment and passion of each employee, and thereby become a better business.
Yet, like any other businesses, startups risk becoming takers rather than makers, trading their social and environmental purpose for the pursuit of money and losing the engagement and passion of their employees. Fortunately, they can prevent this.
Eleven ways to become or stay a better business
1. Embrace self-organization and shared leadership.
2. Involve all employees in the continuous strengthening of the social and environmental purpose of the company.
3. Enable all employees to become shareholders or even better co-owners.
4. Cherish diversity within the employees.
5. Secure shares in a foundation while enabling shareholders to support the purpose of the company.
6. Cap the profit to a level that guarantees the continuity of the company.
7. Ban greed, cancel bonuses, or at most pay a limited and equal allowance to all employees.
8. Place surplus profits in a foundation that spends money in accordance with the purpose of the company.
9. Being a fair taxpayer who refrains from tax avoidance practices.
10.Create a supervisory board to monitor the purpose of the company.
11.Focus the founder/director/CEO role on monitoring the purpose of the company and the commitment of all employees and on fueling the discussion on how to deal with changing external conditions.
Rapid societal changes require a reinventing the concept of entrepreneurship. Because of their flexibility and commitment, startups are apt to embrace the dual ambition of pursuing a social and environmental purpose and of mobilizing all employee’s engagement and passion.
My next post will look at how cities can help start-ups to settle, grow and become better businesses. The history of entrepreneurship, its growing distance from ‘makership’ and its possible revival by start-ups is documented in chapter 4 of my e-book Humane cities. Always humane. Smart if helpful. The English version of this book can be downloaded for free below.
Last year, during the Month of the AAI in November, the Centre of Expertise Applied Artificial Intelligence (AUAS - Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences) presented the Dutch Applied AI Award for the first time. This year we are back for a second edition. The award is part of the Computable Awards and is for suppliers of AI solutions, start-ups in the AI field and good examples of the implementation of AI.
This award is jointly organized with AUAS, Computable and podcast De Dataloog . You can nominate an individual or organisation, based on a project you think has stood out in the past 12 months. The projects may have been particularly successful, innovative or extensive.
You can nominate until 16 August 2021
The winner will be announced on 2 November 2021 during a spectacular show in the Jaarbeurs Utrecht. Last year, healthcare platform DEARhealth won the Dutch Applied AI award. Who will walk away with the prize this year? 🙌🏻
About the Computable Awards
This will be the 16th year in a row that Computable will present the Computable Awards in November 2021. These prizes are awarded to companies, projects and individuals who, according to Computable readers, have clearly distinguished themselves in the past year.
An independent jury of experts will select five nominees for each award from the nominated parties. The ranking by the jury and the number of votes from Computable readers each determine half of which nominee will receive the award in November. The number of times a party is nominated for a nomination does not play a role, but the quality of the substantiation and information about the project mentioned does.
The impact of circular principles on the construction sector will be large and beneficial because buildings are responsible for more than 50% of the total use of materials on earth, including valuable specimen such as steel, copper, aluminium and zinc.
The picture above – the interior of the Circle pavilion of the ABN-AMRO bank in Amsterdam is an example of a new building that uses as many existing components as possible and new components of the building are designed to be reused. Think of:
• 1200 m2 of wooden floors
• Partition walls of a demolished building
• 16.000 garments of employees for isolation purposes
By circular construction we mean designing, building and demolishing a building in such a way that, in addition to the high-quality reuse of materials, justice is done to sustainability ambitions in the field of energy, water, and biodiversity and ecosystems.
New materials are often more expensive than new ones
In case of demolishment, nowadays many components are already reused, but at a very low level, for instance concrete and stones as the foundation of new roads. Apart from the limited necessity to construct many new roads, this type of recycling destroys the intrinsic quality of materials and does not diminish the use of new materials. The biggest problem is that recycled materials are often more expensive than new ones.
Evidently, progress can be made by planning, designing, developing, and building circular buildings. A number of options are mentioned below.
Dedicated urban planning
Challenges for planning are the use of inner-city vacant land and issuing mandatory requirements regarding the construction of new buildings, for instance the use of less cement, glass and steel, the mandatory application of a certain percentage of reused materials, and becoming energy positive or at least energy-neutral. Switching to sustainable timber is an option for 90% of homes and 70% of offices being built.
Mandatory reuse of existing components
Reuse of existing materials means that glass is reused as glass and concrete pillars as pillars. The same applies to doors, frames, carpets, wall-cladding materials and so on. To start with, after demolishment all materials must be selected, cleaned, registered, and stored in new-to-develop warehouses. A materials passport, which contains an overview of all materials and components that are used to construct of a house or building, is a useful tool as well. The obligation to reuse a large percentage of existing components has far-reaching consequences for the design and construction of new houses.
Industrial production and 3D printing
Construction of components in factories, deploying industrial processes, will reduce costs by 30 percent and the delivery time by at least 50 percent. In 2014, the Chinese company WinSun printed and assembled ten houses, each 195 square meters, in 24 hours, for an amount of €5,000 per house. The company used 30 - 60 percent less material than in traditional construction. The “ink” for their 3D printers is a mixture of dry cement and construction waste. WinSun plans to open 100 recycling plants in China to convert waste into cost-efficient ink. This video below demonstrates the printing activities of WinSun
The size of apartments will decrease, partly due to costs, but also because of the presence of shared guest rooms, lounge areas and terraces for working and socializing, spaces for washing and drying laundry. The need for office space will decrease rapidly due to sharing space and working home. Already now, IBM has only one desk available for 12 employees. Given the presence of 300,000 employees, this has led worldwide to savings on real estate of around € 1 billion in the past 10 years.
Modularity and durability
A key barrier for better use of floor space is the lack of flexibility in the design of buildings and room configurations. A modular design, which provides for easy replacement of partitions and placement of complete pre-fab units (kitchens and bathrooms, walls, and roofs as well) facilitates adjustments in case of new construction or as the use of a building changes. DIRTT builds interior components that are modular and standardized and offer maximum interchangeability in both existing and new buildings. This video gives an impression of the production and application of these flexible and inexpensive solutions.
Forget new construction at all
Anyway, a first step is more efficient use of existing buildings and houses.
As families become smaller and offices need less space, existing space becomes underused. Many thousands of one family houses can be transformed in apartments. Well-thought adjustments to the lay-out of existing houses and buildings can improve their efficiency without reducing their functionality and amenity. Look here for inspiring examples.
I will regularly share with you ‘snapshots’ of the challenge to bring social and ecological sustainable cities closer using technology if helpful. These posts represent findings, updates, and supplements of my e-book Humane cities. Always humane. Smart if helpful. The English version of this book can be downloaded for free below.
Note from ASC: What are your thoughts on this? Let Herman know bellow.
Over the coming months, the building of the Temporary Courthouse Amsterdam will be dismantled and completely reassembled on 'Kennispark Twente' (the area of Business & Science Park/Campus UT) in Enschede. There, it will have a new function as an office and research facility.
The temporary accommodation provided the Amsterdam judiciary continuity during the construction of the new permanent court. Now that this new home has been completed, the building will move as planned. At the time, the Central Government Real Estate Agency (RVB) tendered the assignment as a Design, Build, Maintain & Remove contract, which was realized by dpcp, a cooperation between cepezedprojects and Du Prie Bouw & Ontwikkeling. cepezed and cepezedinterior designed the building and Du Prie took care of the execution.
National Sustainability Award Steel after completion
Importantly because of its high degree of circularity, it won both the Amsterdam Architecture Prize (Golden AAP) and the National Sustainability Award Steel after completion. Also, in the report 'Circular Buildings – a measurement method for detachability' it scores the highest of all tested projects. The demountable construction and floors, which cepezed designed in close collaboration with IMd Consulting Engineers, play an important role in this.
Dismantling and reassembly with a 3D model
Yesterday saw the handover of the key from the RVB to dpcp, which heralds the new phase of the building. For the relocation, dpcp called in the expertise and experience of Lagemaat from Heerde, a company with a solid background in the dismantling and reassembly of buildings. Through a unique coding based on the 3D model and a 3D scan, the precise position of each part is known. Smaller elements are transported in containers and larger ones, such as the walkway, are loaded directly onto trucks. Lagemaat processes materials that are not reused in other projects. A minimal amount will be recycled in a high-quality manner. The dismantling period starts today already. The building is expected to be taken into use by the Overijssel Restructuring Company in early 2022.
Note from ASC: Would you like to know more? Let Menno know in the comments.
About ten years ago, technology companies started to provide cities with technology, luring them with the predicate ‘smart(er)’, a registered trademark of IBM. At that time Cisco's vice-president of strategy Inder Sidhudescribed the company’s ‘smart city play’ as its biggest opportunity, a 39,5 billion dollar-market. During the years, that followed, the prospects rocketed: The consultancy firm Frost and Sullivan estimated the global smart city technology market to be worth $1.56 trillion by 2020.
The persistent policy of technology companies to suggest a tight link between technology and the wellbeing of the citizens, angers me. Every euro these companies are chasing at, is citizens’ tax money. What has been accomplished until now is disappointing, as I documented in the IET Journal. According to The Economist it is not surprising that a ‘techlash’ is underway: Many have had it with the monopolistic dominance of behemoths like Google, Amazon, Facebook and the like, because of their treatment of sensitive data, the lack of transparency and accountability of algorithm-based decision making and the huge profits they make from it.
Regaining public control
However, let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater and see how digital innovation can be harnessed for the Good of all citizens. Regaining public control demands four institutional actions at city level.
1. Practicing governance
Before even thinking about digitalization, a city must convert into best practices of governance. Governance goes beyond elections and enforcing the law. An essential characteristic is that all citizens can trust that government represents their will and protects their interests. Therefore, it is necessary to go beyond formal democratic procedures and contact stakeholders directly, enable forms of participatory budgeting and deploy deliberative polling.
Aligning views of political parties and needs and wants of citizens takes time and a lot of effort. The outcome might be a common vision on the solution of a city’s problems and the realisation of its ambitions, and a consecutive political agenda including the use of tools, digital ones included.
2. Strengthening executive governmental power
Lack of cooperation within the departmental urban organizations prevents not only an adequate diagnosis of urban problems but also the establishment of a comprehensive package of policy instruments, including legislation, infrastructure, communication, finance and technology. Instead, decisions are made from within individual silos, resulting in fragmented and ineffective policies. Required is a problem-oriented organization instead of a departmental one and a mayor that oversees the internal coherence of the policy.
3. Level playing field with technology companies
Cities must increase their knowledge in the field of digitization, artificial intelligence in particular. Besides, but they should only work with companies that comply with ethical codes as formulated in the comprehensivemanual, Ethically Aligned Design: A Vision for Prioritizing Human Well-being with Autonomous and Intelligent Systems, drafted by the influential Institute of Electric and Electronic Engineers (IEEE)
Expertise at city level must come from a Chief Technology Officer who aligns technological knowledge with insight in urban problems and will discuss with company representatives on equal foot. Digitalisation must be part of all policy areas, therefore delegating responsibility to one alderman is a bad idea. Moreover, an alderman is not an adequate discussion partner for tech companies.
4. Approving and supporting local initiatives
Decentralization of decision-making and delegating responsibility for the execution of parts of the policy to citizen’s groups or other stakeholders helps to become a thriving city. Groups of citizens, start-ups or other local companies can invoke the right of challenge and might compete with established companies or organizations.
In summary: steps towards seamless integration of digitalization in citizen-orientated policy
1. Define together with citizens a vision on the development of the city, based on a few central goals such as sustainable prosperity, inclusive growth, humanity or - simply - happiness.
2. Make an inventory of what citizens and other stakeholders feel as the most urgent issues (problems and ambitions).
3. Find out how these issues are related and rephrase them if desirable.
4. Deepen insight in these issues, based on available data and data to be collected by experts or citizens themselves.
5. Assess ways to address these issues, their pros and cons and how they align with the already formulated vision.
6. Make sure that digital technology has been explored as part of the collected solutions.
7. Investigate which legal, organizational, personnel and financial barriers may arise in the application of potential solutions and how to address them.
8. Investigate undesired effects of digital techniques, in particular long-term dependence ('lock-in') on commercial parties.
9. Formulate clear actions within the defined directions for dealing with the issues to be addressed. Involve as many expert fellow citizens as possible in this.
10. Make a timetable, calculate costs, and indicate when realization of the stated goals should be observable.
11. Involve citizens, non-governmental and other organizations in the implementation of the actions and make agreements about this.
12. At all stages of the process, seek support from those who are directly involved and the elected democratic bodies.
13. Act with full openness to all citizens.
I can't agree more than with the words of Léan Doody (smart city expert Arup Group): I don't necessarily think 'smart' is something to strive for in itself. Unlike sustainability or resilience, 'smart' is not a normative concept…. The technology must be a tool to deliver a sustainable city. As a result, you can only talk about technological solutions if you understand which problems must be solved, whether these problems are rooted in the perceptions of stakeholders and how they relate to other policy instruments.
Every year, more than 300 million tons of plastic are produced worldwide, half of which are for single use. Only 10% of all plastics are made from recycled material. Their production contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and plastic waste threats our health.
It could have been otherwise, and it still can as plastics are versatile materials which can be valuable parts of a circular economy.
Unilever leads the way in integrating plastics in a circular economy. Better late than never. The company currently produces 700,000 tons of plastic packaging and it intends reducing this massive quantity by a not-very impressive 100,000 tons in 2025. Moreover, the company wants that all its plastic packaging becomes recyclable, compostable of reusable, and that at least 25% recycled plastic is used in the production of new plastic.
Easier said than done
Recycling is easier said than done. Preventing plastics from entering nature requires a labor-intensive and costly system for collecting and separating waste and technology for high-quality recycling of the collected plastic waste. New machines limit this unattractive work thanks to artificial intelligence. They are able to separate 20 different types of plastics. But consumers must be willing to collect used plastics first.
One of the biggest hurdles in recycling plastics is its pollution, for instance because of added dyes. The Dutch company Ioniqa (now part of Unilever) can chemically reduce PET waste to virgin PET. Large plastic users like Coca-Cola intent to co-operate with Ioniqa. This video shows how chemical recycling works.
Reusable high-quality products
If plastic had been designed for a circular economy from the start, the emphasis would undoubtedly have been on reusable high-quality products, in combination with substantial deposits. Together with Coca-Cola, Proctor & Gamble, Nestlé, Unilever has joined Loop, a platform that develops refillable packaging. Supermarkets that deliver products at home can easily include them in their range. This video shows how the system works.
The ultimate solution
What about using sustainable raw materials like biomass? Unfortunately, biomass from reliable sources is becoming increasingly scarce. Moreover, most bio-based plastics are not biodegradable. If they end up in litter, the effects are as harmful as those of other plastics. Some types of biobased plastics are compostable and might be thrown in the green waste. However, expecting consumers to be able to discern which are and which are not is too much to ask.
Biologically degradable plastics are the ultimate solution. These are biobased materials, which are safely broken down in nature in short time. PHA for example. Unfortunately, years of research have not yet resulted in any viable application.
Ban some types of plastic
A recently opened pilot factory in Almere that cycles plastic waste that otherwise would be burned is a promising step. However, the collection of plastic waste is still inadequate, and a large proportion ends up in nature as visual litter and returns to our food chain as toxic plastic soup. This applies in particular to plastic bags, cups, trays for snacks and soft drinks bottles without a deposit. A ban seems to be the only way-out awaiting a solid system of reuse based on substantial deposits and an advanced system of waste collection and separation and subsequent high-level reuse.
I will regularly share with you ‘snapshots’ of the challenges of us, earthlings, to bring social and ecological cities closer using technology if helpful. These posts represent findings, updates, and supplements of my e-book Humane cities. Always humane. Smart if helpful. The English version of this book can be downloaded for free below.
Energy ambitions of the City of Amsterdam
The City of Amsterdam has the ambition to become climate neutral by 2050. To achieve this, major transformations of, among others, the current energy system are required.
To illustrate, the City wants to eliminate the use of natural gas by 2040, phase out fossil fuels by 2050, and have 80% of the electricity that households use to be generated by solar and wind energy in 2030. Regarding the latter, Amsterdam aims to install a total solar energy capacity of 550 megawatts (MW) by 2030. Taking into account modern solar panels of 330 watt-peak, this adds up to 1.67 million solar panels.
With these ambitions set, what is the 'true' implementation potential for solar panels in Amsterdam – in terms of space on the city's rooftops? Which neighborhoods, streets, or even houses have the highest yield? And how can this be calculated best? The PV Advent Calendar project, led by AMS institute and TU Delft, investigates the city's solar panel implementation potential.
True solar panel implementation potential up to 6.5x bigger
A tool – also referred to as the “multi-layer framework” – developed for the PV Calendar project measures the optimal allocation of solar panels for each roof section.
The tool calculates that a total of 3.250.000 solar panels can be installed on Amsterdam rooftops. That means in Amsterdam there’s room to potentially install 6.5 times as many photovoltaic (PV) systems than the 500,000 currently installed on the city’s roofs.
What would this look like in the city? To give you an impression, with the true potential of 3,25 million solar panels installed this comes down to approximately 6.5 solar panels per residential address (taking into account 527755 addresses in total). The tool calculates that 1/4 Amsterdam’s electricity consumption could be solar based... Click on the link to read the full article >>
On April 15th the first onsite Innovation Hub was opened in Almere, part of Amsterdam Metropolitan Area.
As a partner of the hub, you will have the right ecosystem and business opportunities.
As a participant of the hub, you can rent seats in the hub, starting with 1 day a week.
Contact Manuela Krull-Mancinelli if you want to know more!
For the press release, see this link: Innovation Hub Almere
Recently, the peer-reviewed Journal of the Engineering and ˜Technology published an overview of the emergence of a human-centric approach into smart cities in contrast to the techno-centric approach. In this article I give many examples how technology can be applied as an enabler tp improve social and ecological sustainable city actions, starting from the principles of the donut-economy
Dit voorjaar bouwen de makers van de zorgboerderij Hoeve Klein Mariëndaal in Arnhem-West YIMBY moestuinbakken voor de nieuwe stadsboeren in de wijken Klarendal, Geitenkamp, Presikhaaf, 't Broek en Malburgen van de stad Arnhem.
Angela Jong heeft haar buurtgenoten in de wijk Klarendal warm gemaakt voor het biologische tuinieren in de stad met YIMBY's. "Het komt mooi uit dat de Gemeente Arnhem 50% van de aanschafprijs bijdraagt door de groene subsidieregeling De Eetbare Stad". Bart van Dalsem van de Hoeve Klein Mariëndaal geeft aan: "Door de lokale sponsoring door de bedrijven Welkoop Elst en De Bolster kunnen we de YIMBY;s leveren met biologische moestuinaaarde en biologische zaden"
Zéger Nieuweboer heeft met zijn groene onderwijsbedrijf learningisgrowing.nl al acht jaar ervaring met de begeleiding van YIMBY Arnhem! "In de periode 2013-2020 zie je dat nieuwe stadsboeren starten met een YIMBY moestuinbak en doorgroeien naar een biologische voedseltuin". https://lnkd.in/eYbrQiH
What happens to the plastic and paper that you’ve carefully sorted into separate bins?
Many of the products we recycle today are essentially downcycled. While this generally helps to preserve the life of raw materials and some of the value that went into creating them, there might be better ways to do it.
Find out more about the nuances between recycling, downcycling, and a truly circular economy, in this article.
NS, RET en HTM laten
hun landelijke MaaS-platform bouwen door Siemens Mobility. Het platform maakt het mogelijk om een reis met verschillende vervoermiddelen in één keer online te plannen, boeken en betalen. RET-directeur Maurice Unck namens Rivier, de joint venture van de drie partijen: “Na de pandemie verandert ons reisgedrag.
We reizen, werken en leren flexibeler: in tijd, plaats en keuze van het
vervoermiddel. Daarom investeren we juist nu in de beste reismogelijkheden voor de consument. We willen de drempel verlagen om een reis met meerdere
vervoermiddelen eenvoudig digitaal te plannen, boeken en betalen. Daarom roepen
we alle Nederlandse mobiliteitsaanbieders op om zich aan te sluiten.”
Naar verwachting zien
in het najaar de eerste apps van MaaS-providers het licht waarmee consumenten
hun multimodale reis in heel Nederland kunnen plannen.
Stel: je wil
graag bij een vriend, een klant of iemand anders op bezoek en gemakkelijk weten
hoe je daar het snelst bent en hoeveel dat kost. Hoe krijg je dat voor elkaar?
Je kunt kijken of er files zijn, een deelauto boeken, uitzoeken of het OV goed
werkt, nadenken over de fiets als alternatief en meer. Maar een reis
samenstellen waarbij deze verschillende vervoermiddelen van
mobiliteitsaanbieders optimaal worden ingezet, moet je nu nog helemaal zelf
doen. Dat is best een complexe puzzel die veel mensen liever overslaan. Terwijl
juist de combinatie van vervoermiddelen je als reiziger veel tijdwinst en
bewegingsvrijheid oplevert. Daarnaast helpt zo’n combinatie onze infrastructuur
zo goed mogelijk te benutten.
Reisopties in één
keer zichtbaar, één keer afrekenen
Met het nieuwe platform
is het straks voor consumenten veel makkelijker om gebruik te maken van
beschikbare vervoermiddelen. Het platform kan verbonden worden met al bestaande
apps van MaaS-providers zoals de NS, RET, HTM. Maar het platform kan ook andere
bestaande apps en nieuwe apps bedienen. De snelheidswinst zit ‘m erin dat alle
afzonderlijke vervoersmogelijkheden op de route in één keer inzichtelijk
worden. Maak je bijvoorbeeld graag gebruik van een deelscooter of reis je
liever per trein of metro? De app houdt rekening met ieders persoonlijke
voorkeuren en past het advies daarop aan. Bovendien is er geen gedoe met
verschillende vervoersbewijzen en de betaling ervan: ook dat regel je heel
makkelijk vanuit je favoriete app of website.
Toegankelijk voor alle mobiliteitsaanbieders:
willen de mobiliteitsdiensten van zoveel mogelijk aanbieders in Nederland
samenbrengen. Of het nu gaat om taxibedrijven of deelfietsen, e-scooters of
zelfs particuliere automobilisten. Hoe meer partijen hun diensten aanbieden,
hoe beter het écht mogelijk wordt om heel Nederland digitaal te ontsluiten.
Aanbieders profiteren van het gemak van eenmalig laagdrempelig aansluiten en
hebben direct een landelijk bereik te met een platform dat doorontwikkeld is om
de klantbeleving te optimaliseren. Daarom roepen de initiatiefnemers alle
aanbieders op om zich aan te sluiten.