Enforcing the position of Rotterdam

For years Rotterdam was known as the city of Labour but  it has rapidly evolved to a hotspot for ambitious talent from all around the world. To enforce this position Rotterdam is organising the second edition of the Rotterdam100. The Rotterdam100 is a talent competition in which the most excellent students and young professionals work with leading companies to create innovative solutions for challenging business cases which are focused around the Next Economy. SMO created the Rotterdam100 with support of the municipality of Rotterdam.

An interview with the people behind the scenes
Sander van Beurden (Deputy Director, City Management Rotterdam) and Wim Wendt (Head of the Rotterdam 100 Comite and Director Consulting Services at CGI) and Noah Baars (projectmanager SMO) about the importance of this program.

Wim Wendt
Director Consulting Services at CGI

Sander van Beurden
Deputy Director, City Management

Noah Baars
Project Manager SMO

How does the Rotterdam 100 program work?
Noah: Only the best 100 students and young professionals will pass through the different jury encounters. Every year, out of over 350 nominated candidates only 100 are selected to participate in the program. In teams of four these talents are solving actual challenges that we are and will face transitioning to the Next Economy. During the final the team with the best solution and progress will win and can call themselves ‘’The Rotterdam Most Excellent’’. They win a trip to the international final of the Startup pitch competition Get in The Ring and recieve a recommendation letter signed by Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb and former prime-minister Jan Peter Balkenende.

Why is the municipality involved in a talent competition?
Sander: First of all the municipality of Rotterdam loves to welcome talented people to Rotterdam and let them enjoy the thrill Rotterdam has developed recent years. More important is the input of new fresh ideas to strengthen our efforts for the city and his inhabitants. New generations, have new ideas. The municipality can’t meet all Next Economy challenges it faces alone. It’s important to let other people – especially these bright students –  come with ideas, we perhaps didn’t think of. So, the Rotterdam100 is a very important initiative for the municipality of Rotterdam and I look forward to see the outcome of this competition.

Why are CGI and other companies involved?
Wim: We are always looking for the brightest young students to work on projects with our customers, which is really the focus on what the Rotterdam100 stands for, namely the Next Economy. Rotterdam as a region has a number of vulnerabilities such as high energy consumption, pollution, climate change impacts, health issues and the overall quality of life.  In addition the digital transformation is taking place in high speed in all market sectors and for that we aim to combine the best and brightest students and organisations working on challenging cases. Many people in Rotterdam are lowly educated or unskilled. What I like about the Rotterdam100, is that these issues are addressed to improve the resilience of Rotterdam through an attractive program format. By doing this we have formed an increasingly stronger Public Private partnership, a partnership where all participants contribute from their strengths to increase the value of the program for students, involved organisations and not least the city of Rotterdam.

Is the Rotterdam100 not just a recruitment tool for big companies?
Wim: No, of course most companies aim to select at least one student for their organisation but the Next Economy cases are the driving force behind this program.

The 6 Cases:  what and why
Noah: SMO is a foundation that tries to connect science, corporates and governmental  agencies to work on societal challenges together. With the Rotterdam 100 program we strive to enforce the position of Rotterdam as a hotspot for talent and build Next Economy solutions together. To maintain the position of Rotterdam, innovative ideas and talent are continually needed. This year KPN, ABN AMRO, Port of Rotterdam, ENGIE, CGI and The Municipality of Rotterdam all offer a case. In addition a foodbar startup named SOUNDIES, also offers a case bringing the total on six Next Economy cases with topics varying from the Bank of the future, circular economy and Internet of Things.

Why also a case from a startup?
Wim: There is a lot of traction between grown-ups and start ups and all involved companies are finding their way in that development. Students are more and more entrepreneurs, we aim to inspire them in both domains. 

See a summary of all cases below:

ABN AMRO – Bank in 2025 – [Bank of the Future]
What effect will increased automatisation and digitalisation have on banks, and what does this mean for staff, customers and consumer confidence?

CGI/City of Rotterdam – Traffic Nightmare as Opportunity – [Big Data and Traffic]
The Maas Tunnel – one of the most important traffic arteries of Rotterdam – will be closed for maintenance operations. The municipality of Rotterdam wants to find out whether big data can transform this potential traffic nightmare to new opportunities for the city of Rotterdam.


ENGIE – Run(ning) in Circles! – [Circular Economy]
How can ENGIE help Rotterdam, cornerstone of the Dutch economy and industry, in the transition to a circular economy?

SOUNDIES – David and Goliath –  [Product Development and Marketing]
Soundies started with a light, not-to-be-cooled product format which is gaining more and more popularity: food bars. What strategy would help Soundies in accomplishing its mission?

KPN – No Pain no Gain – [Internet of Things]
The Internet of Things offers unprecedented opportunities for reaching consumers and intelligent of satisfying existing needs. KPN wants to use the Internet of Things to make the transition from business to business, to business to consumer.

Port of Rotterdam – Swiss cheese the Next Opportunity – [Vacant spaces in the port]
The surface area of the port of Rotterdam is gigantic, but throughout it there are islands of unused space and empty buildings. The Port of Rotterdam is looking for a plan to utilize this space.

Can you explain the case of CGI and Municipality of Rotterdam?
Sander & Wim: We wanted to focus on an urgent problem (the closing of the Maastunnel) but also how new technologies can help us not only solving the problem but even make an opportunity out of it. For this creativity and inspiration is needed where CGI facilitates students in bringing a sound solution and the city of Rotterdam acts as customer and problem owner.

Based on what did you pick  the winning team during the 24 Hour Creation Battle?
Sander & Wim: We were inspired by the short term benefits of their solution but also of the effects when the proposition were to be further developed. Additionally, we saw some real potential in the students to delivery the best solution. We are curious about their progress which they will present during the Grand Final on april 20th. We invite everybody interested in the Next Economy to come to the final to hear about the solutions of the different talent teams. May the best team win.