Government as a Bridge for Innovation (GaaP)

How might we boost Haarlem’s and Zandvoort’s entrepreneurial climate via technology?

As part of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, currently one of Europe’s top 5 economically strong regions and projected to reach top 3 by 2025, the Municipalities of Haarlem and Zandvoort aim to be an entrepreneur-friendly region. Through this project we collect insights on the needs of local entrepreneurs and explore how technology might be utilised to best support and connect with them.

In the last months following the outbreak of COVID-19, more than 5,000 entrepreneurs have sought financial help at Haarlem and Zandvoort municipalities. The overwhelming majority of them had never been in contact with the municipality before. This striking number of professionals that would normally have no contact with their local municipality illustrates a missed opportunity to foster entrepreneurship in the area. It also sheds light to a deeper issue: the limited communication channels between local government and local entrepreneurs, whose interaction revolves only around bureaucracies for businesses, such as licensing.

Through this project, the two municipalities aim to discover how their role can change from merely a practical facilitator to a trusted advisor that actively nurtures the entrepreneurial climate of the area through supporting services and partnerships. This project is the third of a series of 4 prototypes, part of ‘Government as a Platform’ (GaaP), a digital transformation initiative for the public sector commissioned by the Municipality of Haarlem and the Union of Dutch Municipalities (VNG).

This project focuses on the Sustainable Development Goals:

Conceptual proposal

Through a holistic communication strategy that aims to nurture stakeholder interactions in Haarlem and Zandvoort, we redefine the role of local government as a trusted advisor for local entrepreneurs. Empowered by technology the municipality becomes a facilitator and orchestrator of the rich local entrepreneurial ecosystem.

An entrepreneurial ecosystem is a blend of social, economic, cultural, and political components within a region that directly or indirectly support business opportunities and growth. The better you know your entrepreneurial ecosystem, the better you use the resources out there, and the more likely your business will grow. However, for most of the entrepreneurs this ecosystem is unknown and the role of the municipality is limited. Thus, through this project we worked on how the role of the municipality can be reviewed from merely a practical facilitator to a trusted advisor that actively nurtures a strong and interconnected ecosystem to foster innovation and business growth.


Strategy outline


Let’s have a look at some of the proposed features!


Ecosystem services overview


Discussion forum


Announcement channel