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.
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.