Willem van Winden


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Willem van Winden, Professor of Urban Economic Innovation at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, posted

Can startups solve urban problems? An analysis of Amsterdam’s “Startup in Residence” programme

Can city administrations benefit from the entrepreneurial spirit of startups, and create better urban solutions with their help? In this paper, we critically assess the interplay between startups and city administrations for city-driven innovative public procurement or “challenge-based procurement” policy, taking Amsterdam’s Startup in Residence (SiR) programme as a case study. We describe and analyse this programme from two perspectives: i) the economic development perspective, i.e. does it promote startups and does it bring them new business opportunities, and ii) a governance perspective, i.e. does it bridge the gap between startups and the city bureaucracy; does it lead to a more innovative culture within city government.

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Willem van Winden, Professor of Urban Economic Innovation at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, posted

Can start-ups help to make the city more attractive?

Can start-ups help to make the city more attractive? Luis Carvalho and Willem van Winden (Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences) draw lessons from Amsterdam’s “Start-up in Residence” programme.

Amsterdam is exploring ways to engage start-up companies in the development of new solutions for urban problems and challenges, ranging from reducing bicycle theft, separating waste streams more effectively, or promoting alternative tourism. We analyse this new practice and its impact, by interviewing opinions and experiences of startups, city departments involved, and experts.

We derive recommendations for improvement and practical guidelines for other cities that may want to start a similar programme.

The results will be elaborated in a paper, to be presented at the prestigious RENT conference in Lund, Sweden. http://www.rent-research.org/rent-xxxi

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Willem van Winden, Professor of Urban Economic Innovation at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, posted

Smart city pilots: scaling up or fading out?

We studied 12 smart city projects in Amsterdam, and –among other things- analysed their upscaling potential and dynamics. Here are some of our findings:

First, upscaling comes in various forms: rollout, expansion and replication. In roll-out, a technology or solution that was successfully tested and developed in the pilot project is commercialised/brought to the market (market roll-out), widely applied in an organisation (organisational roll-out), or rolled out across the city (city roll-out). Possibilities for rollout largely emerge from living-lab projects (such as Climate street and WeGo), where companies can test beta versions of new products/solutions. Expansion is the second type of upscaling. Here, the smart city pilot project is expanded by a) adding partners, b) extending the geographical area covered by the solution, or c) adding functionality. This type of upscaling applies to platform projects, for example smart cards for tourists, where the value of the solution grows with the number of participating organisations. Replication is the third and most problematic type of upscaling. Here, the solution that was developed in the pilot project is replicated elsewhere (another organisation, another part of the city, or another city). Replication can be done by the original pilot partnership but also by others, and the replication can be exact or by proxy. We found that the replication potential of projects is often limited because the project’s success is highly context-sensitive. Replication can also be complex because new contexts might often require the establishment of new partnerships. Possibilities for replication exist, though, at the level of working methods, specific technologies or tools, but variations among contexts should be taken into consideration.

Second, upscaling should be considered from the start of the pilot project and not solely at the end. Ask the following questions: What kind of upscaling is envisioned? What parts of the project will have potential for upscaling, and what partners do we need to scale up the project as desired?

Third, the scale-up stage is quite different from the pilot stage: it requires different people, competencies, organisational setups and funding mechanisms. Thus, pilot project must be well connected to the parent organisations, else it becomes a “sandbox” that will stay a sandbox.

Finally, “scaling” is not a holy grail. There is nothing wrong when pilot projects fail, as long as
the lessons are lessons learned for new projects, and shared with others. Cities should do more to facilitate learning between their smart city projects, to learn and innovate faster.

(With a team of five researchers of the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS/HvA) we systematically analysed several smart city projects in Amsterdam. This post includes one of the key insights into the management of smart city projects. The report with all our findings will be published next week on the online platform Amsterdam Smart City).

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