Meet Deputy Mayor Karsten Klein:

"We have a better story to tell than other cities"

We’re excited to share a series of articles from the bookazine Welcome to ImpactCity The Hague. It positions the City of The Hague as first impact hub of its scale in the world by showcasing a variety of The Hague-based impact startups, knowledge institutions, local government, and investors. We’ve summarized some of their impact stories for you below. What’s yours?

The Hague Deputy Mayor Karsten Klein looks to the future confidently. He is convinced that the city’s ‘Impact Economy’ approach will serve the city well. “For me, there can be no discussion that we will continue on this path,” he says. He gladly reflects on the city’s economic policy and its fruits.

The Hague is an impact hub where ‘innovative enterprises with substance’ feel at home in being able to realize their ambitions. Deputy Mayor Karsten Klein is glad to see that the city’s Impact Economy program is bearing its fruits. According to him, this is only the beginning. The end of the adopted long-term approach is not yet in sight.

Peace, justice and security

‘Peace, justice and security’ are concepts that many nowadays associate with The Hague. For many, the holy trinity represents the plethora of governmental and semi-governmental institutions that call the city home. Nonetheless, the Deputy Mayor would prefer that, in a few years’ time, one thinks about the city’s business activity in the same context.

Karsten Klein explains, “We are the world’s second United Nations city. Previous municipality executive boards have successfully made efforts to attract institutes and non-governmental organizations. The next step is to ensure that a business environment is developed around this. That’s what we’re doing now.”

“With ‘impact’, we have chosen for a niche in which we, as a city, have a better story to tell than other cities” – The Hague Deputy Mayor Karsten Klein

A better story

In this way, The Hague stands at the beginning of a new phase. Although Deputy Mayor Klein definitely detects an entrepreneurial spirit in the city, it turns out that the image of ‘a city of civil servants’ is fairly persistent. And this isn’t entirely unjustified, according to him, as he was confronted with the vulnerabilities of a government city during years of economic crisis.

Cuts in government spending had repercussions on employment and, as a result, on the local economy. This has to change. Karsten Klein explains, “We have put a long-term policy strategy in motion that focuses on two aims: making ‘impact’ more corporate and increasing tourism.”

Impact hub The Hague

Both sources benefit from greater brand awareness. That’s why one of Karsten’s other portfolios, ‘city branding,’ is being used in an attempt to put impact hub The Hague on the map. He says, “We have a lot to offer companies, more than just institutions in the areas of peace and law. We are an extremely multicultural city, have beaches with a lively surfing scene and good catering.”

“In addition, with the new Education and Culture Center, we are working to lift cultural entertainment to an international level. We also have two airports close by, Schiphol and Rotterdam/The Hague. The Hague Security Delta is developing strongly and there are good educational institutions,” he adds.

A better story

“With ‘impact’, we have chosen a niche in which we, as a city, have a better story to tell than other cities. Nevertheless, it is still the case that many foreign companies think about Amsterdam in the first place, because most people have been there at some point, as a tourist,” he adds.

The Deputy Mayor personally participates enthusiastically in promulgating these activities. He doesn’t waste a moment in pointing out to people the special features of the ‘ImpactCity’ that The Hague has become. In order to be true to these promises, much effort is being made to create an ideal startup environment.

And he doesn’t leave it at this. The municipality is being true to itself by making an explicit effort to increasingly invite impact entrepreneurship into its processes. The city’s governmental accelerator program Startup in Residence The Hague aims to kickstart startups and connect them to the city to encourage collaboration. 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.

Read more in Welcome to ImpactCity The Hague. The publication exposes our beautiful city’s flourishing impact ecosystem. It showcases a variety of local impact startups, change makers and social entrepreneurs, as well as innovative collaborations and initiatives. The Hague represents the first impact community of its scale in the world – and it’s ready to inspire others to follow suit. The bookazine is hot off the press. Order your personal copy today, free of charge.