Celebrating 1 year at the WorldStartup Lab

The WorldStartup Lab as a separate business idea have started to develop through various Lab projects in the last 1-2 years until it officially became a reality with the first big programme - 5G Lab in partnership with T-Mobile NL (September 2019 - February 2020).

The goal of the WorldStartup Lab is to provide a creative space in the early stages of understanding a challenge or coming up with an innovative solution individually, with a team or within a bigger entity. It is crucial to have the right conditions and ecosystem when performing business design exploration.

5G Lab

The 5G Lab stretched just over 5 months, covering 9 exciting public live meetups based on our business design approach - Inspiration, Problem first approach, Ideation, User-centred & Context design, Prototyping, Testing, Concept development, Business set up and Pitching.

We were pleased with the great interest throughout the workshops. Many teams came together and worked on ideas to utilize the new 5G technology in a sustainable way. The winner was team EvacDroit; creating a smart evacuation system for buildings in case of emergency. Unfortunately, they couldn’t enjoy their big reward of presenting at the Mobile World Congress Barcelona in Feb 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

As soon as the news of the pandemic hit, we could foresee that this could bring challenges for many startups and established businesses while also creating new opportunities for entrepreneurial minds around the world. Going online was not a question. We knew we had to do it eventually and this gave us the extra push to dive right into it. In under a month most of our key activities were migrated to Google Meets and collaboration whiteboards on Miro - our new favourite powerful online tool.

The core goal for the WorldStartup Lab in 2020 was taking the opportunity to shape our own methodology for creating and supporting impactful entrepreneurship in its earliest stages.

Except that now we had to do in a very limited timeframe and in a fully online format - a completely new experience for our facilitators team.


Urgent and completely digital was also the setup of the ResilientSociety platform of the collective. It was an honour to be part of such crucial projects in tackling Corona-virus challenges as well as helping businesses pivot and sustain themselves and others during the lockdown.

Lab mission: “Bringing together creative minds to establish purpose-driven teams with a need for business exploration.”

We have woven our values and best practices in every business design service we offer:

As part of the collective and participating in many collaboration projects, we practice what we preach - co-creation is the future of sustainable innovation. For us it has been a pleasure to connect with so many impact-driven people and businesses to aid them in creating their own stakeholder ecosystems.

Innovation Garden

WorldStartup Lab in collaboration with Border Sessions organized two ideation workshops as part of the Japanese online business festival “Innovation Garden”. Such experiences bridge the gap between countries and languages in order to solve challenges applicable worldwide, especially the ones caused by the pandemic. The workshops were facilitated in English and translated to Japanese in real time to ensure a diverse audience for the co-creation brainstorming sessions.

Hackathon for Good

In November, we launched the 3rd edition of Hackathon for Good. Together with the Municipality of The Hague, Dutch National Police, EVE private court, and The Hague Legal Tech Alliance, we supported 27 teams in competing for the hackathon prize - establishing a startup and obtaining post-hackathon support by the challenge owners.

Lab practices: “ Providing opportunities and insights through workshops and guidance to create viable business products and services, within a supportive problem-solution-fit ecosystem.”

One of our core values is to set our programs and initiatives within a problem-solution-fit ecosystem. We have always been saddened by the sight of innovative projects gaining momentum during a program and then dying out solely due to the lack of a follow up support structure. This is essential especially for ideas within a more conservative context and for first-time or young entrepreneurs.

Of course, when it comes to entrepreneurship, we believe that there is no failure - everything is a learning experience. Our Lab approach is based on understanding the context and the stakeholders involved. Starting small so you can prototype and test-test-test, in order to build a sustainable plan for implementation and operation. All this comes hand in hand with creating stronger team-bonds and a focus on motivation to tackle pressing issues.

Co-CreateMyCity South Africa & The Netherlands  

“Co-CreateMyCity The Netherlands & You” has started as an initiative of the Dutch Embassy in South Africa to provide entrepreneurial programs for students. Three proactive teams, tackling challenges in Agriculture, Water management and Transport, participated in the condensed and very hands-on program with our facilitators in collaboration with Noorderwind.

In about a month (November 2020), the students refined their ideas, gathered valuable insights by performing user involvements and embarked on developing their prototypes and business plans. The transportation solution of the “WeMovers” team was met with very high hopes and strong support at the stakeholder pitch event.

Summary list 2020 projects:

• 5G Lab with T-mobile

• AI in Healthcare Lab with AI Lab

The Big Blue Mission Mothership

• Futurepreneurs workshops

• Route 23

Innovation Garden Japan with BorderSessions

• Co-CreateMyCity South Africa with Noorderwind

• Energie uit de wijk Edition 1 & 2 with Outside Inc.

DCHI Humanitarian Acceleration Programme - Redesign methodology for sustainable innovation with Outside Inc.

A big thanks to all who encouraged us and went through our business design approach! We are amazed by your achievements and humbled by your positive feedback.

“I am writing this email with my sincerest gratitude as the experience that you guys from WorldStartup project gave me was outstanding.”

“It has been a great journey, and we learned a lot throughout the process. Thank you for everything.”

- Co-CreateMyCity students

“This is a game changer and we will work together in the next year” - City of Capetown about team WeMovers

“Big thanks for the organisation! Great to see that even an event like this Hackathon can be facilitated online. My compliments!” - Challenge Owner

“Thank you for joining us yesterday early morning. I had a very exciting time!! I think that the tool called MIRO created a sense of unity among the participants.” - client in Innovation Garden brainstorm

Going forward into 2021

Expanding team

After having so many exciting projects going on, it was time to expand. We welcomed Svitlana Khrystenko from Ukraine as a workshop facilitator. She joined the core team of Daniël Steginga - Lab Founder & Director, and Milena Ninova - Lab Programme Designer and Facilitator. We are very excited to grow our team and our international outreach.

New projects

In 2021 we will be working on at least five main services: workshops, student programmes, hackathons, post hackathons, and support programmes. With those in mind, we plan to start the development of new exhibiting services and materials. Stay tuned!

The Hackathon for Good will have a new edition this spring which we are currently working on which will include at least one challenge about Drones.

We will also be facilitating a ideation programme for the municipality of The Hague about mobility and specifically about the usage and storage of bicycles around the Central Station.

Through a series of workshops, we will also help the TU Delft with creating a research agenda for the global south related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Together with Outside Inc, we will help the teams from the Energie uit de Wijk challenge achieve their goals in implementing their sustainable energy projects.


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