In our very first Scientific Conference, this 16-18 February, we explored and discussed how cities can transform their systems, to become more livable, resilient and sustainable, while offering economic stability.

What does our 'Reinvented City' look like?

The third day of the conference was kicked-off by AMS Institute's Managing Director Kenneth Heijns. Today revolved around the theme ‘Reinvented City ’. To elaborate on this topic, Kenneth gave the floor to Carolien Gehrels (Global Director Energy Transition at Arcadis).

In her experience, when talking about a reinvented city, we have to fast forward to 2050 and envision what our future city looks like and needs many years down the line. However, we also have to look back to see what is needed right now. To support her statements, she gave concrete examples about innovative projects that are implemented in cities like Rotterdam, Eindhoven and The Hague.

“When you want to reinvent the city, you need to co-operate with scientists, artist, engineers, and people in the neighborhood.”

Carolien Gehrels | Global Director Energy Transition | Arcadis

Scientific Conference

Day 3 | The Reinvented City

Scientific Conference

Day 3 | The Reinvented City

Releasing the Untapped Potential

The last keynote speaker of our Scientific Conference was Anna König Jerlmyr (Mayor of Stockholm). She started off by answering a few burning questions from Kenneth Heijns, like how the toolbox of a mayor looks like to reinvent the city. She stressed the importance of engaging citizens to bring more value into cities.

Furthermore, she explains that the pandemic is an example how nothing is certain and societies can rapidly change. Although it is now easier than ever to work remote, and be more creative in that sense, it is still important to engage with each other in real time. Taking into account her own cultural background, she illustrates that for example Swedish people can be naturally shy. She tells us it is therefore important to start facilitating at a very young age - hence to start with our future generation.

“Cities are always changing and tranforming. We as politicians need to facilitate change and be agile. Often this doesn't come naturally. We need to send a strong message to ask for innovation and solutions.”

Anna König Jerlmyr | Mayor | Stockholm

Human interaction is what makes a city

We were honoured to have Carlo Ratti (Director of MIT Senseable City Lab) reflect on the inspiring keynote by Anna König. Fun fact: especially so when we figured it was 4am when he checked in with us and he told us that he was not fully caffeinated, which our attendees didn't notice at all as he enthusiastically gave his presentation.

Carlo agreed with Anna on that flexible working has a lot of advantages, and emphasized that the value of interacting on a physical level. For example, during lockdown there was an 80% reduction in weak ties connections.

Ultimately, human interaction is what makes a city a city. In physical space, we are forced to bump into people we who think differently. It was a great interaction between Carlo and Anna who had an open discussion where they could freely comment on each others thoughts. Anna told us that they already know each other, what a small world it is after all!

Reinventing cities: what role does governance play?

We ended the morning with a dynamic panel discussion between Eefje Cuppen (Institute of Public Administration), Pepijn Duijvestein (New Economy), and Pallas Agterberg (Alliander). In order to 'reinvent our cities', what do we need in terms of governance instruments, rules and regulations and perhaps new norms and values? How can we make processes, but also technologies inclusive and how can we make things easier instead of more complex when citizens, or companies, want to make a difference?

Scientific Conference

Day 3 | The Reinvented City

Scientific Conference

Day 3 | The Reinvented City

The Next Steps: reflection and looking forward

We concluded this inspiring morning with AMS Institute's Scientific Director Eveline van Leeuwen reflecting on the past three days of the Scientific Conference and the themes that we covered: the future city, the integrated city and finally the reinvented city. Together with Caroline Nevejan (City of Amsterdam), Emile Reiding (Metropoolregio Amsterdam), and Titus Venverloo (MSc MADE alumni, AMS Institute).

So, how do we move towards a reinvented city? The conclusion: clearly, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. First of all, because cities are different in terms of their history, geographic context, and socio-economic characteristics. Also, there is not one blueprint we can lay out over our cities.

To be resilient, we need both small-scale and large-scale solutions, technical and social innovations, both inside the city, the region and further away to produce for example healthy food, or create a robust energy system. We need an integral approach, big stories that move us and trust. We should move from 'bigger and better' to 'different and better'. And last but not least, we should dare to share!

“At AMS Institute, we work on 'Reinventing the City'. To achieve this ambition, AMS Institute plays a crucial role in initiating innovation and establishing connections in cities all over the world between research and innovation, education, and entrepreneurship. By realizing synergies between experts with various interdisciplinary backgrounds, the institute jointly creates scalable solutions to tackle the city’s most pressing urban challenges.”

Rewatch sessions @

With over 50 presentations, workshops and special sessions, it's a tough task to choose. Missed out on an interesting presentation? We've got you sorted! You can now access the sessions online. Each conference day, the City's Chief Science Office shares a selection of presentations on the platform of Videos of these sessions are recorded every day and put online as soon as possible. They are accompanied with a short article. is a digital platform for research, knowledge, and innovation about Amsterdam and the metropolitan area. The goal of the platform is to share knowledge, to show relations between different kinds of knowledge, and to work together in research projects. is part of the sustainable knowledge infrastructure of municipalities, universities (of applied sciences) and other stakeholders in the Amsterdam metropolitan area.


Conference Community reflections | Day 1

Scientific Conference | Day 1 | Community reflections


Conference Community reflections | Day 2

Scientific Conference | Day 2 | Community reflections

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