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European Innovation Council

Haarlem (Netherlands)

The European Rising Innovative city - winner: Haarlem (Netherlands)

Image of a river in Haarlem (Netherlands) alongside green and medieval buildings on the banks.

Haarlem is a beautiful historical city situated in the West of the Netherlands, in the heart of Europe with a strong sustainable and social ambitions.

Why is the City of Haarlem an Innovative City?

Haarlem has a lot of ambitions and challenges such as an aim to procure 100% circular in 2030, 100% Natural gas free in 2040, 100% climate neutral in 2050, sustainability and achieve EU Green Deal goals, different social and economic challenges. Until 2030, the city aims to build 10,000 homes in a pleasant, green neighborhoods.

How do they work together?

As many European cities, the City of Haarlem would like to be natural gas free as soon as possible. An important step was taken by innovation procurement of local produced sustainable energy on an alternative energy marketplace. The energy marketplace provides access to the wholesale market and directly to the market of local sustainable producers. The matching algorithm of the energy marketplaces searches for the best possible match with a sustainable producer. These matches on the marketplace are managed by a market player and are available to the municipality in one environment. Who can become a supplier of the local energy market? Local energy producers of solar parks and wind turbines but also citizens of the City of Haarlem or small companies who produce with their solar panels more energy than they can use.

As part of the sustainability agenda Haarlem aims to be fully disconnected from natural gas (main source for heating) in 2040 and provide sustainable alternatives. Together with a team of leading technical university Delft (TU Delft) citizens of the Ramplaan neighbourhood (400 households) have taking on this challenge themselves. They have come up with a ground-breaking solution based on solar energy and a clever network of installations for transport, storage and intelligent distribution. In doing so they were able to create a small-scale district heating for and by the neighbourhood. The project has shown that the construction of a neighbourhood heating network is technically and financially feasible.

How does the city stimulate each other?

To accelerate the growth of highly innovative start-ups and SMEs and in order to create an environment that stimulates resources and talents, the City of Haarlem created an Innovation Procurement Brokerage platform, driving innovation demand through innovation public procurement.

The City of Haarlem aims to have access to innovations of the future. Innovation-oriented procurement stimulates the market to develop and deliver innovative solutions. Start-up in residence program helped to address challenges such as prevention of the food waste Gemeente Haarlem.

How does it keep it green?

The City of Haarlem is working on making the food system more sustainable. Together with the Free University of Amsterdam (VU Amsterdam), European organisations, the City of Haarlem work on Living Lab Haarlem. Within this, various parties are working on making the food system more sustainable. This includes stimulating biodiversity, sustainable and healthy food choices and reducing food waste. Haarlem also works together with citizens, entrepreneurs to make Haarlem's food supply more sustainable in Haarlem Food Future. They focus on food education, combating food waste and more space for urban agriculture.

Central to the innovative practices for the City of Haarlem is enabling citizens and other stakeholders to take part in shaping their own environment and using the purchasing power of governments to create the biggest impact as possible. The City of Haarlem believes in partnership, participation and cooperation. Residents of Haarlem can put forward their own idea via the so-called ‘’Right to Challenge’’.

To better understand the needs and wishes of the inhabitants of Haarlem for urban green, the City of Haarlem stimulates inhabitants to present ideas for more urban green in their neighbourhood. Inhabitants, together with an appointed professional gardener, can realise their ideas to replace covered areas such as surplus sidewalks for urban green spaces.

How does the city facilitate mutual learning and exchange?

The City of Haarlem plays an active role in mutual learning, knowledge exchange and collaboration on the European level through coordination of the broad network of the Urban Agenda Partnership for EU, developing and providing free of charge E-Learning and Courses for other European cities and organisations and through exchange and sharing of best practices, tools and roadmaps. The City of Haarlem is very active on the regional level, too. Haarlem is collaborating with Metropolis Region Amsterdam.

Youth is our future! The City of Haarlem stimulates talents and facilitates development and experimentation with innovations by young people.