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Reporting Creative Embassy MUC-AMS 2022-2024 kick-off

At different locations in Munich,
11 October 2021

On October 11, after a year of preparations and sessions, online a Dutch delegation traveled to Munich to officially kick off the second phase of the ‘Creative Embassy MUC-AMS’. 

Alderman and deputy-mayor of the city of Amsterdam Victor Everhardt, and Head of Department of Labor and Economic Development and city councilor Clemens Baumgärtner of the City of Munich together with numerous supporting partners signed the Letter of Intent to continue the cooperation between both cities. The goal of the cooperation is to stimulate innovation, strengthen the creative industry, learn from each other and inspire. Munich and Amsterdam, therefore, aim to develop cross-country field labs in specific topics. 

This aftermovie shows an impression of the day. Read further to learn more about the outcomes of the day.

Signing the Letter of Intent

The signing ceremony was opened by Frieke Meijer-Schepman, Innovation manager of the Department of Labor and Economic Development, and Carina Weijma business development manager Germany for the Dutch Topsector Creative Industries. The Creative Embassy offers an opportunity to give creative companies in both countries a kick start, and to reach business as well as research goals. 

Jann de Waal, chairman of the Topteam Creative Industries in the Netherlands reflected on the creative collaboration of the two cities Munich and Amsterdam since 2017. Victor Everhardt and Clemens Baumgärtner stressed the value of this collaboration. After the signing ceremony, Iskander Smit, chairman of the Cities of Things foundation, introduced the new paradigm of the concept ‘Cities of Things’, and the first ideas for a first field lab with the same name ‘Cities of Things’.

Visiting Munich Urban Colab

In the afternoon the Munich Urban Colab, one of the Munich partners, showed us their vibrant startup hub that was opened last April. The building hosts multiple startups and is designed to be open for interactions. The municipality is also using part of the building to connect to young entrepreneurs, which is quite unique and delivers new connections. After the visit at Munich Urban Colab, we headed to the Creative Hall at the Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship of the Hochschule München University of Applied Sciences to have a workshop with participants from the Dutch and Munich creative industries. It was the first time after two years to meet each other in person and exchange ideas.

Workshop field lab Cities of Things 

Prof. Ben Santo, dean of the Faculty of Design welcomed all MUC-AMS attendees to the Hochschule München University of Applied Sciences. Iskander Smit introduced the Cities of Things paradigm, as well as the first ideas from three of the Dutch consortium partners on a so-called Shared Resources Neighborhood Hub. 

Goal of the workshop:

  • To get a mutual understanding of the challenges that can connect both cities and reflect on the idea of a Neighborhood Hub from all participants
  • To hear which contribution each participant is able and willing to provide 
  • Make a wish list which preferred partners / organizations in both cities should be connected to reach business goals (drivers) and research opportunities 

Input from the MUC-AMS participants: what are important topics to address?

  • Mobility; for example, last-mile delivery, but also public transportation. The city beyond cars
  • Energy: insights use of energy by citizens and companies, self-organised production
  • Sharing of goods like tools, books, etc.
  • Inclusiveness and connecting generations, old and young, relations between people. To get in touch again. Use existing social connections to build upon
  • Use cultural activities like making music or art, and food together
  • Garbage collection
  • Public space in a city with an intelligent cloud layer
  • Drone technology to survey events or neighborhoods
  • Climate technologies on a neighborhood scale, reduction of CO2. Sustainable urban development. A green city. Which motivations of citizens to stimulate these, how to make it appeal? And barriers?
  • Health; social, physical, and mental
  • New work. How can we bring economic, environmental, and social problems together and find solutions? Including managing the stakeholders
  • Ethics are important. Data privacy
  • On the process: how to make scaling possible, what are the starting points for experiments. How to move from ideation to proposition, a proposition that is investible, and aims for realization. Viable business cases, both short-term as long-term. Who should pay for the social benefits? Be aware of commonalties as well as differences between Amsterdam (NL) and Munich (D).
  • Start small and approachable, pay attention to the communication and acceptance by the public, activating a community. Find a local hub like a library. Build a learning ecosystem
  • The connection between different services in one service (app)

First derived content and scope direction

The input from the workshop on 11 October showed a couple shared topics that could lead to the following directions for field lab projects within the concept of a Shared Resources Neighborhood Hub in the City of Things approach. Services are here orchestrated through intelligent objects and digital systems, with a different understanding of the relation of human and technology in context of AI and connected objects. The further outlines of the neighborhood Hub will be discussed in the next MUC-AMS meeting. The following directions come out from the input on 11 October 2021: 

  • Mobility & logistics (Less & efficient traffic and use of public space)
  • Food production in the city 
  • Health situation in the city & social cohesion 
  • Or a combination of these and other, not mentioned topics

Conclusions derived from the input of all participants focus on a local scale for the Cities of Things concept. For example, using the connecting power to strengthen local communities and offer a platform for developing services in the neighborhood by dwellers; to connect to the 15-minute city, and comparable to how an app platform on our phones created a new market and business place.

Criteria to choose directions / working areas

The field lab is part of a process of validated learning; the outcomes provide insights for further development, scaling and roll-out. It is important to define criteria to determine the choice for possible project topics. The most important criterium is that solutions should be beneficial for inhabitants in a certain area (‘wijk’, ‘Stadtquartier’) or even better in both cities Munich and Amsterdam and should have a positive impact on the neighborhood and the city. But there are more criteria, such as ‘there should be a business driver’, and ‘is there a budget or could a budget be raised’, followed by ‘there should be interest to test the possibility in both cities. After all we are talking about a field lab construction, including a testing period. This needs to be discussed in the next MUC-AMS meeting.

Next steps

Before starting prototyping and developing steps, we will this year jointly start with the formulation of a ‘playbook’ with both scope of the program, tracks and working groups, and the organizational form of the field lab. The workshop results will be discussed and put into concrete plans and actors. This playbook is to be approved by all participating Dutch and German partners. 

We strive to choose a scope for our common MUC-AMS roadmap, related to the input of all participants in this workshop combined with a step-by-step development process for the field lab. A field lab Cities of Things should have a practical approach: formulate goals, common business drivers, work in an iterative way, start, and ultimately scale. 

  • Phase 1: Define the playbook – context, workstreams, field lab format, planning
  • Phase 2: Prototype Cities of Things objects (scope) – existing projects or offerings of consortium partners as starting point for new cities of things product-services, testing out the success factors of human-tech relations 
  • Phase 3: Iterate the focus for a neighborhood hub – extend the findings of phase 2 into a neighborhood context, with combined hub functions work as shared resource hub. Showcase in cities, for instance using a platform like IBA

Conditions for a Roadmap towards a field lab

We shared the conditions for a cross-country cooperation, and the need to capture the intentions for the field lab in conducting a Roadmap together: 

  • A cross-country Roadmap for the development of a field lab should contain the scope (content oriented) of combined goals to contribute to Cities of Things concept, as well as the managerial steps to develop a roadmap. It includes a planning and GO/NOGO momentum, budget, roles, and tasks- approved by all participants. 
  • The field lab works with companies from both cities, as well as researchers, policymakers, administrators, and end-users, and inhabitants of both cities. 
  • Field lab projects connect with market players, government, knowledge institutes, and citizens.
  • We strive to contribute to solutions for living in the city, which are beneficial for both cities in the field of for example like mobility, health, and energy and which could also be beneficial for other cities worldwide.
  • We strive to support doing tests within the city area itself and to showcase all output.
  • The basic principle is that it concerns people-oriented solutions and that findings are communicated with stakeholders in a transparent manner.
  • Field lab projects will lead to possible solutions for the challenges both cities are facing.
  • The field lab cooperation aims at valuable results and next steps for both business and knowledge partners in both countries.
  • We will develop a way of working which is cooperative for both countries.
  • We strive to use key enabling design methodologies, to support that produced knowledge is reproducible.
  • Beyond Amsterdam and Munich, the municipal regions and even other interested Dutch and German organizations are welcome to join, if both partners agree.

Thank you and see you soon!

We thank all participants of the workshop for their valuable contributions. We will follow-up with all participants to see what their role can be. And we invite all to reach out if you think we should connect! We will organise a meeting in Amsterdam as soon as possible (regarding COVID-19.

Carina Weijma (Amsterdan, the Netherlands)
Frieke Meijer-Schepman (München. Germany)
Iskander Smit (Amsterdam, the Netherlands)