Startup in Residence behind the scenes:

Building bridges between governments and startups

Governments can learn a lot from the innovative and flexible way of working of young and dynamic companies. And by supporting a promising startup, the government can give the economy a technological boost. So there are a lot of advantages to bringing these parties together. By collaborating on social, environmental and technical issues, impact can be made with the aim of making the world a better place.

For this blog we spoke to Arinda van der Meer, the program manager of Startup in Residence The Hague. For the past 3.5 years, Arinda has been the driving force behind this fast-growing program. We share some of her experiences and take a look at the missions and goals of the Startup in Residence program.

The birth of Startup in Residence

Startup in Residence is a concept that originated in San Francisco. The government realized there were many startups in the city whose potential was insufficiently called upon, while their creativity and innovations could actually be used to solve social, environmental and technical problems that had arisen in the city. This way, the city’s economy is stimulated, it becomes more attractive for new entrepreneurs, and perhaps more importantly: impact can be made on a larger scale.

Arinda: “What we do is look for problems that the government runs into and then we ask startups to come up with solutions. We focus specifically on startups because these small companies could use a helping hand to get off the ground and because they tend to solve problems in an innovative way.”

The bridge between startups and governments

Arinda states that the most important thing a startup needs is a large launching customer that is willing to grow with them. A municipality or the government can play that role, but it is often not so easy to work with the government.

That is why Startup in Residence was established. The program acts as a bridge between the two parties. They do this by making procurement procedures easier, more flexible and transparent. To find potential startups, SIR runs “Challenges”: these are issues that the government has for which startups can propose solutions. In addition, startups receive tailor-made support from SIR to set up their business and they are guided within the government by an official who helps realize the project: the “Challenge Owner”.

Startup in Residence’s development 

The program is now almost 4 years old and has grown out of its infancy. More and more branches of the government are joining, including the Ministry of Justice and Security, the Province of South Holland and the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. Arinda: “Joining forces is much more effective. This is also advantageous for startups, because we will have more challenges and therefore more startups. It’s interesting for them to help each other and become part of a community. 

As knowledge and costs can be shared between more parties, a considerable improvement in quality can be made for everyone. In addition, we have learned that for some challenges we really need the support of a ministry or province to work together on a pilot. With the help of multiple parties at multiple levels, more impact can be made and that is ultimately what matters. ”

Arinda’s vision for the future is to have a platform where different government departments can publish their issues, wishes and concerns. Other agencies can then identify whether they struggle with the same challenges. This way cooperation with startups can be larger, investments from the government are used more efficiently and more impact can be made. The Startup in Residence program is already moving in this direction as more and more government departments are joining and are ready to submit new challenges next year!

Innovative startup? Register and participate!

Are you part of a startup with innovative ideas and do you want to participate in a SIR challenge? Registration for the next program will start in November! Keep an eye on our socials for new challenges.