Amsterdam Innovation Trail

Featured image

Learning from the places you visit and directly applying this to your own challenges

Featured photo: Anke Teunissen - Smart Bricks CC BY <>

The Amsterdam Approach is famed for creating a comprehensive innovation ecosystem for addressing urban challenges. As the former European Capital of Innovation, Amsterdam aims to create a level playing field in which the municipality, corporations, knowledge institutions and citizens collaborate for innovation. But how do we actually do that in Amsterdam?

Social innovation-think tank Kennisland and design research agency STBY observed how many curious visitors are struggling to learn and benefit from the Amsterdam Approach. Translating the experiences and lessons to their own context proves to be difficult for many international delegations and organisations that are keen to learn. Therefore, Kennisland and STBY designed the Innovation Trail, aimed at learning from the places you visit and directly applying this to your own challenges. We help you to understand what you are going to do differently the moment you get back home, and how you are going to do it.

For many of the complex challenges that cities and societies face there are no easy answers. Luckily, there are many examples of people and organisations that have overcome struggles by creating new opportunities to address complex challenges and simply trying things out. We help you to learn from them, and apply your insights to your own organisation or initiative, using three principles:

  • Go where the action is. To learn from innovation approaches, you need to understand the context it is happening in and the people who are creating breakthroughs. Being innovative means broadening your perspective and going beyond your usual limits. We get you there with visits to social innovators around Amsterdam who broken through limits too.
  • Learn and reflect in context. Understanding the action is your next goal. Our guidance helps you to reflect on how other people innovate, and draw your own lessons from that. We create tools for you based on, for instance, the Experience Tour tool and Problem Definition tool, to work systematically and apply lessons to your own work immediately.
  • Tailor the Innovation Trail. Whether you are an industry, government or NGO delegation, whatever phase of the innovation spiral you are in with your work, we will customise your trail to allow for the learning goals you have. We can help you reframe problems, explore opportunities, and even aim for systemic change.

The Amsterdam Innovation Trail combines exciting visits with active learning and network opportunities. At the beginning and end of each excursion day, your team meets for preparation, discussion and reflection under our guidance. These small workshops are based on cases from the extensive practice of Kennisland and STBY of more than a decade, and introduce the tools you will work with during the visits. At the sites, teams are encouraged to use these tools to deepen their understanding of the initiatives and to foster conversations that go beyond a simple introduction, to look at issues such as new business models, impact claims and reframing mechanisms. The hosts of the sites share their stories, successes and challenges.

See an example of an Innovation Trail Kennisland and STBY organised for Finnish city makers from Sitra. The 4-day event was focused on ‘reframing societal challenges’, and was evaluated by the participants as “excellent”.

Based in a home for radical innovation Spring House, Kennisland and STBY are networked and tuned into the latest developments in (social) innovation in the Netherlands. We have a track record in creating learning environments for city makers, teachers, directors and many other players in society and industry. We combine this extensive experience with our deep understanding of dilemmas around (social) innovation internationally to create the Amsterdam Innovation Trail.

The duration of the trail can be anything from a day to five days, and topics can be thematic (health, data, smart cities, social innovation or circular economy, for instance) or process-focused (reframing, scaling, disrupting, for instance).

For more information on the possibilities of the Amsterdam Innovation Trail contact Tessa de Geus from Kennisland (<a></a> / +31 614153916) or Shay Raviv from STBY (<a></a> / +31 6 48579739)