The ‘Amsterdammers, Make Your City!’ challenge is a learning and development project that targets local initiatives which contribute towards innovation in the city. The challenge provides financial support, and a social innovation learning program, that guides bottom-up initiatives in creating a sustainable ecosystem of Amsterdam innovators in each neighbourhood.
In 2016, the European Commission chose Amsterdam as the European Capital of Innovation (ICapital) until November 2017. Winning the award proved that Amsterdam is currently the most innovative city in Europe, leading with smart, social and creative solutions that focus on improving the life in the city. Besides the honorary title, Amsterdam was also awarded a cash prize that would help the city continue on the path of innovation in developing local projects.
The ’Amsterdammers, Make Your City!’ (in Dutch, Amsterdammers, Maak je Stad! or AMJS) challenge is a result of that award. The project – initiated by the Amsterdam City Council, Pakhuis de Zwijger, Kennisland and Waag Society, with the support of Amsterdam Economic Board, Amsterdam Smart City and Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions, comes in the form of a challenge that aims to disseminate the innovation prize among the best grassroots initiatives that are actively involved in shaping their neighbourhood and the city.
In more concrete terms, the project called-out Amsterdammers to participate in the challenge by sharing their city-making practices. Thirty seven initiatives were selected to take part in the final development scheme, which offers a six-month learning programme on the topics of strategy and project organisation, communication and funding. This is coupled with the chance to win funding and participation in the network of the Amsterdam City Council, Amsterdam Economic Board and Amsterdam Smart City.
The AMJS challenge is focused on two themes – ‘Healthy City’ and ‘Talented City’, that are central in the project selection, alongside each project’s contribution to equal opportunities and inclusivity in the city. The impact of the project is to create new connections and collaborations between bottom-up initiatives and the knowledge institutions, industry and government, that together can create a new cooperative model for innovation.
The challenge is monitored from the start, as it represents a pilot process on how to handle the ICapital award at a local scale – by activating local initiatives, and European scale – by offering future innovation capitals a model of cooperation and funding dissemination.