Government branches join forces for a new edition of Startup in Residence

The Municipality of The Hague, Province of South Holland and the Ministries of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality join forces in the upcoming Startup in Residence (SIR) challenges. Together they have the opportunity to tackle larger, more complex issues and will be able to better scale up the startups’ innovations. This adds a new dimension to Startup in Residence, because the government together with startups will be able to make more and more impact.

For this blog we spoke with Arinda van der Meer from the Municipality of The Hague, Fianne Smith from the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, Nicole Goossens from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, Margo Stam from the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality and Duncan Waardenburg from the Province of South Holland about their expectations for and the challenges of the coming season!

Why a cooperation between different government branches is so valuable

With the Startup in Residence program, governments seek collaboration with innovative startups to find new solutions to social and technical problems. For the newest edition of Startup in Residence, the decision was made to join forces to make substantially more impact. “It is almost impossible to solve important problems alone, but when different organizations start working together, large themes come within reach,” says Arinda van der Meer of the Municipality of The Hague: “The problems that arise are complex and usually don’t adhere to just one part of the government. For example, the Province may encounter a problem for which they need to run a pilot in a municipality. By working together, challenges can be expanded considerably.”

For a startup taking part in the program, there are more possibilities to scale up within the various authorities and their networks. In this way, SIR creates opportunities for young companies to grow quickly. Duncan Waardenburg of the Province of South Holland says: “The province, municipality and ministries together have many connections. The startups from our first SIR program, for instance, are invited by us to all kinds of events that can contribute to their growth. We bring them in contact with other provinces and potential customers.”

Making more impact together

Ultimately, the main goal is to make more impact. According to Fianne Smith of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, Startup in Residence fulfills this goal in various ways: “First, by asking startups to develop innovative solutions for social and technical issues. This allows for results that a government could never have come up with. These kind of solutions really help to make a difference.”

Furthermore, one of the goals of SIR is to simplify cooperation between startups and the government. Fianne: “We really want small businesses and startups to respond to the assignments we put out in the market, but that never happens because the normal procurement documents are 50-200 pages long and extremely complicated. A company needs a legal department to properly respond to something like this. We have simplified the Tender to a 3-page document. That is totally unique! In the document we describe a problem that we encountered and ask startups for their own solutions, instead of outlining a specific solution. This way we open our doors for startups that help us innovate the Netherlands!”

Growth and development within the government

Nicole Goossens from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy explains that the program also makes an impact within the government: “Another benefit of the program is that civil servants better their own working processes by working together with startups. They’re introduced to what we call: “the startup way of working”. This is a more interactive, creative style of working. In which you learn to adjust faster to new situations, switch between topics more quickly and adopt new solutions more easily. We think that people who work for the government can benefit greatly from learning to apply this way of working.”

Margo Stam from the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality adds: “I noticed that when you step off the beaten track, there is a lot of movement, the creative energy is flowing. A startup recently said to me: “If you are faced with a challenge, invite startups! They solve it for you!” This way you create a growing group of civil servants who are more open-minded and dare to take more risks. As a result, the government is slowly starting to innovate, an important factor for growth and development.”

Shared challenges

Many of the new challenges therefore arise from a shared problem. For example, the Province of South Holland and the Municipality of The Hague are looking for a solution for noise pollution and litter in Scheveningen. Duncan Waardenburg: “A new 5G infrastructure has been installed in Scheveningen and we want to see how we can solve these problems with this super fast internet. That will be a collaboration between multiple organizations and in this way we can use Startup in Residence to discover the possible applications of this new technology together”

The new SIR challenges cover various themes. Examples of themes are: citizen participation, circular economy, modern employership, logistics, digital inclusion, and real estate sharing.

Sign up your solution
19 new challenges have been launched for the new SIR program. Are you curious about the challenges and want to help make an impact? Sign up your solution before January 17th via