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November 11, 2021

Wrapping up Growing Green Cities Lab

#green cities



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Svitlana Khrystenko

Innovation Programme Manager & Service Designer

About the programme

Growing Green Cities Lab is a six-month programme organized jointly by SYNCHRO SPACE, the Embassy of the Netherlands in Ukraine, and WorldStartup. The main goal of the programme is to help the municipality of Rivne to solve its sustainable challenges by providing them with scouted solutions from Dutch and Ukrainian startups. It was a great challenge for us to organize such an international programme fully online and we are proud to share with you our results and plans for the future.

Challenge definition

For this programme, we worked closely with city representatives of Rivne, Ukraine. They showed a strong interest and dedication that led to a better understanding of the problem. We started in May 2021, where we organized a challenge definition workshop. There we looked at the needs of the city, defined main target groups with pain points, looked at potential solution areas, criteria for the solution, and composed challenges for two topics. The two areas were: cleaning water resources in the city and developing an infrastructure for people on small mobility vehicles. Both of the topics are connected to the Green Trail Project - a local project that developed a path that lays throughout the city and region. Right now there is a problem with the polluted environment in the city. This local project aims to transform part of the city in a way that it will become more sustainable, greener, and healthier to live in. After such a transition, other parts of the city will be transformed. That will lead to a higher standard of living and a healthier environment.

Scouting for startups

Our programme would not be successful without talented startups that participated in it. During summer we scouted three impressive startups. For the water topic, we started working with L-Sonar. It is a Ukrainian startup that makes floating water decks that have cleaning equipment underneath them. Additionally, they see organizing events, concerts on the water decks. This solution can clean the water and improve the social life of citizens.

For the second topic related to mobility infrastructure, we combined two solutions. The Dutch startup TILER produces wireless charging tiles for electric vehicles combined with the Ukrainian startup MoveOne that locally develops scooters with quick charging. We envisioned a combination of the two because this is how we could tackle a problem with all the small vehicle transportation in the city.

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WorldStartup visits TILER at their office in Delft

During the programme, startups received different types of support from WorldStartup and SYNCHRO SPACE. They had several dedicated workshops and mentor meetings before preparing for the final pitch in front of the municipality and potential partners.

Mountain of Tomorrow workshops

The first stage when working with startups was to see where they were at that time and plan where we can bring them with this programme. All of the startups had one Mountain of Tomorrow session. There we looked at today's challenges, set project goals and discussed the ultimate future ambitions for startups and built the detailed roadmap of the implementation. Together with Rivne municipality representatives we discussed their solutions and agreed on implementation plans.

Working with experts

After the Mountain of Tomorrow workshop, we defined what type of support the startups need to implement their solutions. They showed a need in talking to experts in specific fields to make their solutions stronger and more suitable for the challenge. All the startups met with dedicated mentors and had a chance to get answers to their questions on nuanced topics.

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For the mobility topic, the startups met with a Ukrainian architect/urbanist Iurii Kaygorodtsev that helped them to create a vision for combining the ideas and presenting them as one concept in Rivne. The teams also had a meeting with the city representatives where they received answers to questions related to the city's needs and vision for the future. The startup Sonar met Esther Eggink and Kateryna Pylypchuk. Esther was very helpful in the process of setting their priorities and sustainable goals. With Kateryna’s help, they evaluated their business model and tailored it for the challenge. Additionally, all of the Ukrainian startups had a session with Linda van Egmond, where they received desired tips & tricks for entering the Dutch market. All of the sessions were eye-opening for the startups. With the help of experts and our support, they were ready to pitch their ideas in front of the Rivne municipality and other potential partners in Ukraine.

Final pitch event in Rivne, Ukraine

On the 7th of October, there was the final pitch event for the selected startups. Among representatives of the Rivne Region, startups and interested stakeholders, there was Jannes de Mol - Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Ukraine. The startups presented their solutions and participated in Q&A sessions with potential partners and stakeholders. In addition to presenting solutions, the event also involved leading experts and innovators to discuss green city development. During the opening, the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Ukraine Jennes de Mol, the Head of Rivne Regional State Administration Vitaliy Koval, the Mayor of Rivne Oleksandr Tretyak, and the Rector of NUVGP Viktor Moshinsky spoke about innovations as a driver of development and the importance of their implementation.

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“I am very glad that today in the city of Rivne we can talk about things that are extremely necessary for our city and country. Yes, the climate is actively changing, and only in the last six months have we seen how quickly humanity needs to respond to these changes. Now it is important to unite the efforts of all branches of government, scientific potential, technological potential to save our water sources and work as much as possible with the minds of people. ”

- Mayor of Rivne Oleksandr Tretyak

The closing remarks were given by the team of WorldStartup and SYNCHRO SPACE who worked on the implementation of the Growing Green Cities Lab.

“The solutions presented today will help the Rivne region to be one step closer to a sustainable, green, ecological, comfortable future. ”

- Alissa Ban'kovskaya, CEO SYNCHRO SPACE.

Future plans

We have many exciting steps to take ahead in the Growing Green Cities Lab programme. During Spring 2022 we will participate in the Floriade event in Almere, Netherlands. There, together with our partner SYNCHRO SPACE, we are planning to create a digital city experience for all visitors. We want to promote green city development and inspire people to join this movement. How? Not sure yet, but with this partnership and team we are confident that it will be worthwhile again. Drop a line if you want to be involved.

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