Startup in Residence program 2017:

The Hague calls on startups to propose solutions for the city’s challenges

The second edition of The Hague’s governmental accelerator program, Startup in Residence, launches soon. On 18 April, the municipality will present the urban challenges for which it is seeking solutions. It is asking the startup community to propose innovative solutions. Startups are invited to submit their ideas by 30 May.

Altogether new solutions

The program is inspired by the notion that startups are perfectly positioned to come up with altogether new solutions to the problems the city faces. “The municipality is encountering urban problems. Many of them are ‘wicked problems’ for which we have no immediate solutions,” Arinda Van der Meer, municipal project leader of the Startup in Residence accelerator program, explains.

That’s why the program forges connections between startups and the municipality. Deputy Mayor Karsten Klein explains: “If we want to resolve some of the complex urban challenges we face, we have to be willing to go off the beaten path. That’s why we make an effort to bring in young entrepreneurs. Their fresh ideas and perspectives can help us to adopt a new outlook on our work”.

Ultimately, the municipality hopes to open up its system of public tendering to startups. And, thereby encourage innovation within its own ranks. “For the City of The Hague, the benefits are two-fold. We want to provide a breeding ground for experimentation and innovations of young entrepreneurs. At the same time, this approach can lead to more innovation within the municipality against a relatively low cost,” Karsten Klein adds.

What & when

The municipality has determined nine pressing challenges that will take center stage in this year’s Startup in Residence accelerator program. “The challenges range from liveliness in the Beatrix Quarter, the accessibility of Scheveningen during the annual fireworks festival, and encouraging home owners to make their homes as sustainable as possible,” Karsten Klein elaborates.

The nine challenges will be presented on 18 April. Startups are invited to come up with innovative solutions. In early June, all proposals will be examined by a professional jury and evaluated on their merits. In mid-June, the owners of the highest scoring proposals are invited to pitch their ideas to the jury in person. Right after, the winners will be announced.

The actual program runs from late August through December 2017. During this time, the selected startups will collaborate closely with the municipality. Also, they will be trained and mentored by the World Startup Factory. The end result will be a rough prototype by the end of the year. All prototypes will be presented to the public at the closing event in December of 2017.

Last year’s accelerator program

In last year’s edition of the program, a mobile application was developed to create a cleaner city. Displaced waste is a common nuisance among The Hague residents and collecting it is a costly effort. Startup Savana Solutions is currently in the process of finalizing the mobile application called MY CITY that enables residents to work together to achieve a cleaner city. “All it takes is a few taps on your phone and you’re off to contributing to a cleaner society,” Savana Solutions founder Prashant Shukla explains.

Michael Wilson, municipal officer for urban management, elaborates on what it was like to collaborate with a startup: “Our collaboration wasn’t always easy, but our overall experience was a positive one. I’m confident that the steps we took together will ultimately lead to the opening up of the municipality. It’s a change of mindset that we’re working on.”

Are you an innovative startup and interested in participating in this year’s Startup in Residence program? Stay tuned on Twitter.