City as a campus, region as a living lab
A small rural city without a university, Leeuwarden had to start from scratch when shaping its innovation ecosystem.
Fortunately, due to its historical relationship with water and agriculture, the city could rely on its highly-skilled water technology and agricultural sectors in setting up a system of ‘campuses’: meeting points where businesses come together with science, education and government. The campuses have been provided with a large ‘backyard’ to test their innovations in, combining the campus structure with a living lab approach. The WaterCampus, DairyCampus and the Energycampus have all developed into innovative hotspots, and many of their innovations are helping to solve global challenges related to water, agriculture and energy.
The campuses import resources, funds and talents from all over the world, perfect it with local knowledge and skills, and export these innovations to the global market. Due to their integrative character, their close ties to the city’s cultural identity, and the already existing frameworks for citizen engagement stemming from Leeuwarden’s year as European Capital of Culture 2018, the bar for bottom-up innovation is low in Leeuwarden.
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