Sofia Participated in the EU Cluster Weeks
“Why Sofia” with Genoveva Hristova-Murray, co-founder of MISSIA23 – the first createch space in Sofia

Study Trip to Amsterdam – One of the Mentor Cities in the Digital Cities Challenge Project


Due to the successful cooperation established during the participation of Sofia Investment Agency in the European Commission’s Digital Cities Challenge (DCC) project, our team was invited to a study trip to Amsterdam by the Amsterdam Economic Board and the Amsterdam Smart City platform. Our team got acquainted with Amsterdam’s business and entrepreneurial development and smart city projects and initiatives. Sofia is one of the participants of the DCC project alongside 40 other European cities. Amsterdam is one of the six mentoring cities in the program, due to its development in the fields of innovation, technology and digitization.

During the visit we had the opportunity to learn more about Amsterdam’s experience and successful policies in regards to digital and “smart city” transformation, and the development of sustainable environment for the everyday life of citizens and business.

Our team was welcomed by the Amsterdam Economic Board. AEB is the most important advisory body in the Amsterdam region in the economic field. The Board members are leading CEOs, academicians and government officials. AEB addresses complex urban issues through innovation and collaboration between the private sector, knowledge institutes and government organizations on the metropolitan scale. The Board works with decision-makers, innovation managers and change-makers in industry, universities and government to develop the smart, green, healthy Amsterdam of the future.

Our team was introduced to the ‘Tada – data disclosed’ initiative – a manifesto for the development of a handbook for a responsible digital city. The Manifesto is backed up by individuals, organizations and businesses engaged in responsible attitude and strict data policy. It is open to all stakeholders supporting the idea that data can contribute to tackling the major problems of modern cities, making them cleaner, safer, healthier and more habitable, but only by using them for the benefit of society.

The Economic Board also presented its work on the Triple-helix collaboration – an innovation model, where the business, academia and government collaborate dynamically, supporting innovation and city development, e.g. by implementing common strategies, bundling financial resources, focusing on smart specialization, etc.

The Amsterdam Smart City Platform presented its public policies in four key urban directions: Energy, Digital City, Mobility and Circular Economy. The organization unites citizens, municipalities and institutions in finding and implementing innovative ideas and sustainable solutions to urban challenges. More than 280 smart city projects have been implemented under the Amsterdam Smart City program so far and the platform is a community of 5 900 people and organizations committed to its activities. Amsterdam Smart City also shares its expertise with 482 cities from over 50 countries around the world.

Another interesting project is the City of Amsterdam’s City Innovation Exchange Lab (CITI XL), implemented with the support of the Technologies General Directorate of the City of Amsterdam. Through various incubator spaces, study centers and laboratories (the socalled living labs), the CITI XL project uses Amsterdam as a living laboratory for urban innovation. CITI XL works with multiple cities and their citizens to design, rapid prototype, test, implement and share innovative solutions. Some of the already implemented projects include a smart water meter laboratory, a smart camera lab, intelligent blue-green roofs that protect buildings from extreme weather conditions, among others. The CITI XL project of the City of Amsterdam is implemented with EU funding in the amount of EUR 4.8 million.

The team of B. Amsterdam – a 40 000 square meter space for startups, creativity, and education – introduced us to the entrepreneurial environment in Amsterdam.

Our team also visited The Amsterdam Innovation ArenA, which has the ambition to be one of the world’s most innovative and sustainable stadiums and Europe’s most modern one. The facility is located in the northeastern part of Amsterdam and around it, like a separate city within Amsterdam, and a developing area that functions as a Living Lab for ideas and technologies for intelligent cities.

Our team would like to express its gratitude to the Amsterdam Economic Board and Amsterdam Smart City for their invitation and the perfect organization of the visit, during which we were introduced to many examples of partnership between the municipality, the business and the citizens.

Our team is to visit Amsterdam again in May upon an invitation by the team of the Next Web Festival (TNW2019), dedicated to technologies and innovation in Europe. Also in May we expect representatives of the Municipality of Amsterdam to be our guests in Sofia during the WEBIT.FESTIVAL EUROPE 2019.