The next edition of the The Hague Innovators Challenge was kicked off at Impact Startup Fest last month. Deadline for applications is 6 November. A professional selection committee will then move on to have a closer look at all contributions. We checked in with the committee members to hear how they value the competition and what they will look for in the applications.
“If we want to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, we need new ideas to tackle complex problems related to climate change and international security,” committee member Josje Spierings, project leader at the Centre for Innovation, says. “What’s more, I find it important that starting entrepreneurs are given a platform to present their ideas.”
Lieke Kempen represents the City of The Hague in this year’s selection committee. “The city’s startup program aims to encourage and facilitate experiment. We believe it helps new social impact innovations to come to fruition and allows talented startups to gain exposure. It is a vital component of a healthy ecosystem for startups and innovative businesses,” she explains.
Potential for innovation
“When I was asked to be part of this year’s selection committee, I didn’t think twice. I feel honored,” Tim Van Deursen, founder at last year’s winner Hack the Planet, shares. “In my field of information technology, there is tremendous energy and potential for innovation. An important factor for success is that innovators are given the chance to experiment, within a community of peers that is able to offer feedback.”
“The City of The Hague is making a sustained effort to create this kind of environment. It encourages creative minds to think outside of the box and to experiment. By organizing this competition, The Hague stresses the importance of innovation. Once more, it demonstrates that it understands what it takes to help startups rise up,” he adds.
Turning beautiful plans into reality
Social entrepreneur and investor Henk Velders pitches in: “It’s important that innovative initiatives aren’t merely encouraged, but are actually facilitated. This competition does just that. It encourages participants to fine-tune their plans but, once they do, it also provides the means for them to turn their plans into reality. As investor and coach, I often witness beautiful plans don’t take off, simply because of a lack of means.”
Maartje Maas, communications adviser at ASN Bank’s Voor de Wereld van Morgen, likes to stay up-to-date on new initiatives and startup developments. That’s why she’s glad to be part of this year’s selection committee. “Competitions and incubator programs make an important contribution to the growth and development of starting entrepreneurs. Especially local competitions, like the The Hague Innovators Challenge, enable participants to start building their local network and generate publicity right away,” she elaborates on the competition’s added value.
She adds, “We have been organizing the ASN Bank’s Wereldprijs for the past ten years. It empowers starting, sustainable entrepreneurs. I have seen the entrepreneurial value of this type of program with my own eyes. Even if you don’t end up winning, there’s still so much to learn, so many connections to make, and media exposure to gain”.
The selection committee will select a total of nine nominees that will continue to be in the running to become The Hague Innovator of 2018. Selected is based on five criteria: the proposal should contribute to solving a global social problem, it should demonstrate a healthy revenue model, the concept should be innovative in comparison, it should be feasible and scalable, and it should contribute to the The Hague ‘impact economy’.
Lieke Kempen shares, “Of course, I will take into account all formal criteria when evaluating the different submissions to this year’s competition. Nonetheless, I will pay extra close attention to the proposals’ potential contribution to the ‘Impact Economy’ that we envision for the City of The Hague. What’s more, existing collaboration with The Hague-based knowledge institutions and businesses gets bonus points in my book.”
“I get most excited about concepts that aren’t just about making life easier,” Hack the Planet’s Tim Van Deursen says. “When participants have thought explicitly about solving big global challenges, it just draws that extra bit of attention instantaneously.”
Josje Spierings will look for sustainability and scalability of the ideas that are being submitted by the participants. What’s more, “When there’s initiatives that deal with collecting personal data, I will pay particular attention to how they deal with privacy questions,” she says.
Henk Velders will look at the feasibility and long-term viability of submissions. And Maartje Maas says she will look for sustainability in the ideas presented. Also, she will look at the feasibility and at the entrepreneurial character of the plans and the participants.
Interested to submit your idea to this year’s The Hague Innovators Challenge? Read all the details and make sure to get to work: deadline for applications is 6 November.