SIWT#6: 18 stops around the dutch world of social innovation

Last update on April 17, 2014.

SIWT#6: 18 stops around the dutch world of social innovation

When one thinks of the Netherlands it’s often tulips, windmills, wooden shoes, a certain, shall we say, liberal attitude toward herbal medicine, and canals that come to mind. But there are many more things that characterize this great country. Did you know that they were the first country in the world to legalize same sex marriages? Or that Gin was invented in the Netherlands? I’m sure I speak for many a gin and tonic lover when I say thank you for that!

 

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that such a forward looking country is involved in some pretty cool social entrepreneurship projects. So, from the country that produces 70% of the world’s bacon, I present to you the 9 most interesting projects and 9 organizations and incubators that we have chosen! Believe me, it was tough to whittle down the list!



My selection of 9 inspiring projects in the Netherlands :

 

1.  Tempohousing is now part of Keetwonen’s sustainable campus and offers its students relatively cheap housing in freight containers. Keetwonen is five floors made up of 1000 cargo containers that can be stacked, are portable and best of all, are reusable. It’s an innovative project that answers the housing shortage in the city on a student budget! It can also be implemented anywhere.

 

2.  Je Eigen Stek means “your own place” in dutch. It’s a self-managed housing space in Amsterdam by and for the homeless. There, they can use their own experience and expertise to help out around the house and resolve their problems. Social workers are present to facilitate the process, but only if needed because it’s really more about self-management and empowerment. Like former homeless father Jamal Mechbal says, Je Eigen Stek gives people the precious chance to help themselves.

 

3.  Taxi Electric, like its name implies, is a taxi service that provides its service with electric cars. Environmentally friendly and equipped with wi-fi, you now have a legitimate excuse to take a taxi from the airport in Amsterdam!

 

4.  WakaWaka is the project of two Dutch social entrepreneurs that are literally bringing light to communities in need, and their solution is sustainable! Together they developed WakaWaka Light and WakaWaka Power, low-cost solid solar powered lamps and chargers that are extremely useful for both developed countries and the developing world. Take that, Shakira!

 

5.  Ecofont is a very green font, yes, font, developed by SPRANQ to reduce ink consumption when printing. You can also buy a whole application set that inserts tiny holes in other fonts to create the same effect. The legibility quality stays the same but the ink needed to print it is reduced by 15%.

 

6.  Sustainable dance floor is...a sustainable dance floor! First implanted in Rotterdam’s Club Watt, this dancefloor generates electricity, or more precisely, it’s the people dancing on it that create energy converted into electricity. This electricity is used for the club’s music and lightning, all while people are having fun, as long as there’s good music of course!

 

7.  Solar Curve is a bus shelter that also serves as a charging station for electric buses. They can charge en route in 2 or 3 minutes while passengers get on and off the bus. The project is still a concept but it nonetheless won the contest of the dutch municipality Hertogenbosh to find an innovative design for bus shelters.

 

8.  Mine Kafon is afghan born Massoud Hassani’s graduation project at Eindhoven’s design academy to save lives. Still in development, it’s basically a low-tech, cheap, wind-powered minesweeper the height of a grown man that sweeps the floor in search of landmines to deactivate. Mimicking the footsteps of a human being, Mine Kafon is easily reparable and a lot safer.

 

9.  The Dutch cycling infrastructure in general is a great example of social innovation applied to everyday life: commute! As a highly innovative and flat country, the Netherlands strongly encourages its citizens to adopt sustainable commute practices, especially in terms of bicycling. Children go to school by bike all year long and school trips are often done by bicycle. Cycle friendly infrastructures are also kind of a dutch emblem. Helped by an organized urban planning system, numerous cycle parking spaces are seen throughout the city, some roads, even in industrial neighborhoods, are only accessible to bikes and even special cycle garbage bins are installed on bike routes. Children learn biking traffic rules in grade school and are required to take a theory and practice test. Dutch biking is really a way of life, that can surprisingly or not fashionable, even in its equipment, transforming bicycle-building and bicycle-riding into a sustainable art.



 

My selection of 9 organizations, incubators and dutch networks :

 

1.  Triodos Bank, based in the Netherlands with branches in Belgium, Germany, Spain and the United-Kingdom, is a real pioneer in ethical and sustainable banking. Through its “three-way approach” (people, planet, profit) it only lends money to businesses, organizations and people that are working to make a positive impact in society, like social enterprises, fair trade initiatives or organic farms.

 

2.  Kennisland is an independent social innovation think tank that promotes collaborative work, advises on technology and new business models, develops experiments and initiates change in society, tackling issues in many fields including culture, education, copyright, creative economy and governmental activity.

 

3.  The Social Innovation Safari is a “two week immersive learning experience where designers, social workers, academics, entrepreneurs, researchers, and practitioners from around the world work together to problem solve real-life social issues” not in the jungle though! Developed in collaboration with Kennisland, the international development organization Hivos and the University of Amsterdam, the Safari is a real learning adventure to initiate change.

 

4.  GreenWish’s team is composed of differents experts and consultants in social innovation that support sustainable and development initiatives in the Netherlands. Their area of work goes from helping and coaching active citizens in implementing their social project, to assisting enterprises in becoming more suststainable. They can even advise municipalities, provinces and ministries on different innovation techniques and on what’s going on in the Netherlands in terms of social projects.

 

5.  Knowmads is a platform and a school where students work collaboratively on assignments throughout the year for designated partners, always creating a win-win project both for the partner and the student. A lot of startups were actually created after passing through Knowmads, as the school strongly encourages students to develop their personal project.

 

6.  Co-Pilots develops and facilitates social innovation projects started by inspirational organizations or entrepreneurs, through different workshops and co-creative sessions. These projects have to be sustainable, empower communities in some way or foster creation and design.

 

7.  Oranje Fonds is the largest social welfare endowment foundation in the Netherlands, already helping almost 7000 social initiatives with 32 million euros. It supports projects that target community participation, like small-scale initiatives, languages programs and youth mentoring.

 

8.  Social Innovation Journey offers workshops to professionals that want to bring social innovation in their company composed of unique individuals. Through collective intelligence and with the help of community building tools and specialized creativity exercises, different organizations can address social innovation practices according to their own structure.

 

9.  ACE Amsterdam (Amsterdam Center for Entrepreneurship) offers educational programs on entrepreneurship for students, researchers and even entrepreneurs to generate innovation. They also developed ACE Venture Lab, a specific incubator for science based startups and technology enterprise at any phase of the process.



Here you go, I hope you enjoyed this social journey! This dutch list is not at all exhaustive, and I invite you to share in the comments below other projects and organizations that you know and that inspire you. Don’t hesitate to filter the Imagination for People search engine by “country” to discover other initiatives from the Netherlands or anywhere else.

 

You can follow the Social Innovation World Tour on Twitter and contribute by using #SIWT.

 

Our next stop? Mexico!





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