Rotterdam launches Innovation District

During the well-attended Innovation Festival 2015, Alderman Adriaan Visser presented the new Rotterdam Innovation District. Together, the municipality of Rotterdam and the Port of Rotterdam Authority are launching the largest innovation workshop in Europe.

Photo: Jan van de Ploeg

Innovation Districts are areas in which progressive institutions and businesses are clustered and align themselves with start-ups, business incubators and accelerators. That is exactly what is happening in the Rotterdam Innovation District at the moment: the relocation of port operations to the West has created space at the RDM Rotterdam and in the Merwe-Vierhavens area for a rapidly growing innovation ecosystem for the smart manufacturing industry.

RDM Rotterdam houses a number of leading educational institutions and knowledge institutions, such as Albeda College and Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, and joined forces with Delft University of Technology and Yes!Delft. Together with businesses and students, they are working to find sustainable solutions in the disciplines of construction, mobility and energy. Merwe-Vierhavens (M4H) is currently an experimental living and working environment for pioneers in the medical technology, food and clean tech clusters. Innovative new products are envisioned and made here. Erasmus University maintains a strong profile in the area as well, through the presence of the Erasmus Center of Entrepreneurship (ECE).

Exciting examples
A few exciting examples of activities in the Rotterdam Innovation District are incubators such as SuGu Club and the Erasmus Center of Entrepreneurship. But it is also home to unique testing grounds such as the Lab op Straat (Lab on the Street) and Aqua Dock. Or consider Ampelman: the company that began as a start-up at the RDM Innovation Dock and has now become a global player. And this is where Artist of the Year, entrepreneur and designer Daan Roosegaarde succeeded in realising the first smog-free park. He describes moving his Dutch studio to Merwe-Vierhavens as 'an upgrade in the office building, the history and the context. ‘I want to be where things are being manufactured, where people have dreams and where crossovers are being realised.’

The Innovation District offers both mental and physical space to these entrepreneurs and investors, enabling them to contribute to the burgeoning new economy taking shape here in Rotterdam. The role played by the physical infrastructure on which the District rests is important as well. 'Businesses here benefit from round-the-clock digital and physical connection to the world,' according to Alderman Visser.

Source: Rotterdam Innovation District

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