Loading

Tech Revolution : Schiedam

“The main takeaway is that it’s not about the building, it’s about the ecosystem. Through involving our stakeholders in onsite expert sessions, we have established a community. This will help us grow and innovate together with the businesses.”

Schiedam is a picturesque city with canals and tall windmills in the west of the Netherlands. Historically Schiedam’s economy has relied on traditional industries such as ship building and distilleries. To secure Schiedam’s future viability, the city’s economic development team is focused on transitioning to a more modern and diverse business base. The Municipality team has worked closely with colleagues in the Rotterdam–The Hague metropolitan area to consider the region’s economic and social outlook. They’re aware of a significant sense of urgency to respond to a world in transition and to anticipate what change is required.

The city has adopted the regional Roadmap Next Economy plan, developed with Jeremy Rifkin, an American economic and social theorist, which has a strong emphasis on digitalisation, including:

• Smart digital transition: automation, robotization, artificial intelligence, blockchain

• Next education: next labour market, next skills, organisational adaptability, flexibility

• Next society: Tech meets neighbourhood, grassroots economy.

The TechRev Programme

The Schiedam team was able to identify the gaps they had in their economic development plans and tailor this to what they wanted to learn and adopt from Barnsley and other TechRevolution partners. Examples included the ways in which their business-facing Key Account Managers operated and the objectives and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) they included in their yearly plans and budgets.

The transfer of the Good Practice occurred in a number of ways from Barnsley to the Schiedam team, through:

● A visit of Key Account Managers to Barnsley, which showed that the two cities had a lot in common in the way they worked and identified areas for development.

● Gaining an appreciation of the Digital Media Centre operations, enabled the team to apply their learnings to the ONS building in Schiedam, to develop it as a digital innovation hub in the central SchieDistrict.

● Transnational meetings in Barnsley, Vilanova i la Geltrú, Tallinn and Piraeus, the team talked to experts and network colleagues about the need to prepare their cities for digitalisation and the resulting opportunities for economic development.

As a result of an expert session about Enterprising Barnsley’s business support services, the team was inspired to create a landing page for Enterprising Schiedam and develop a tool for business support.

● Online Landing-page for Entrepreneurs – Providing information about the Schiedam ecosystem and links to resources such as an expert advice desk, co-working space, a marketplace for finding innovation partners and purchasing platform for doing business with the municipality.

● Account Intake Tool – The team is developing a digital conversation tool to capture details during in person or online meetings with prospective entrepreneurs and start-up businesses. They took a co-production approach with users, involving design thinking and prototyping. The intent is to help businesses to innovate and become part of a growing and sustainable ecosystem.

URBACT’s tools and methodologies have influenced the transfer in a number of ways. The concept of the ULG has helped the Municipality to involve stakeholders in a creative and dynamic way. In particular, having an external coordinator to design and adapt the ULG process for local needs has been a key success factor. In addition, the exchange of good practices and experiences at the transnational level has been hugely beneficial in discussing the inevitability of the digital revolution and how cities can respond proactively.

Outcome: Second Innovation Centre!

A number of learnings and pilot activities have been applied in Schiedam through the Transfer Process – the central theme being innovative ways to work better with stakeholders.

1. Expert Sessions

The team brought in an external consultant, Haydee Sheombar, an expert in digital transformation and smart cities, to lead the URBACT Local Group (ULG) and shape the dialogue with public and private sector stakeholders which has been very productive. As a result, instead of arranging generic meet-ups, Haydee Sheombar organised specific Expert Sessions with regional entrepreneurs and businesses. Success of the sessions was influenced by 3 factors: a clear problem owner, participation of relevant stakeholders and agreement on the next steps. The experience of running them has informed the city’s business focused products and services to improve the customer journey.

2. ONS Building : Business and Start Up Hub

The Transfer Process has accelerated the development of the ONS Building in Schiedam’s central SchieDistrict as a digital innovation hub. It’s a home for start-ups, meetups, and provides space for the Expert Sessions. In addition, the intent to offer life-long learning programmes for the community going forward is designed to future-proof the longer-term impact of the transfer knowledge.

3. Prototypes of Business-Facing Tools

As a result of an expert session about Enterprising Barnsley’s business support services, the team was inspired to create a landing page for Enterprising Schiedam and develop a tool for business support. Our Online Landing page for Enterpreneurs provides information about the Schiedam econsystem and links to resources such as an expert advise desk, co-working space, a marketplace for finding innovation partners and purchasing platform for doing business with the municipality. Our team is developing a digital conversation tool to capture details during in person and online meetings with entrepreneurs and start up businesses, taking a co-production approach with users, involving design thinking and prototyping. The intent is to help businesses to innovate and become part of a growing and sustainable ecosystem.

Concluding Thoughts

From their involvement in TechRevolution, Schiedam’s Municipality team has more strongly grasped how they can leverage the potential for digitalisation as the most important source of future growth, innovation and new entrepreneurship. They see clearly the opportunity for digitalisation to help address societal challenges, including in healthcare, mobility, energy and food safety, and to support the upward mobility of its citizens. Their improved links with stakeholders provides a strong platform for developing Schiedam’s city vision, and makes it well placed to embrace the digital revolution and opportunities of the Next Economy.

Learning Log