Innovating Amsterdam ArenA

Amsterdam ArenA is the first stadium to launch a competition to invite innovation. The competition is part of the Innovation Arena which was launched earlier this year during Amsterdam’s smart city week, and corresponds with the stadium's aim to become the world’s most innovative and sustainable stadium. The best ideas, services and products shared on this online platform by startups, students or creatives can be tested and validated during events or football matches in the stadium. With over 50,000 visitors to each event, the Amsterdam ArenA offers one of the largest innovation labs in the Netherlands.

About the challenge     

The competition is launched in connection to the large-scale renovation of the Ajax stadium, which will start in 2016. Its objective is to improve the level of service, quality and sustainability, meaning entries can be submitted in categories like Safety and Security, Healthy food & Beverage concepts, Fan experience, Cleaning & maintenance and Connectivity. Entry to the competition will close early in March of 2016. Entered ideas will be evaluated by a jury consisting of innovation partners of the Amsterdam ArenA, after which the contestants will receive a brief review of the feedback. The best plans will be tested and implemented in the newly renovated ArenA with the help of the municipality of Amsterdam, Amsterdam Smart City, and the innovation partners Microsoft, Huawei, KPN, KPMG and TNO.


Henk Markerink, CEO of the Amsterdam ArenA, elaborates on the motivation behind the challenge: “Innovation cannot be achieved alone. The best creations are the result of a cooperative effort. Together with our partners, we offer innovators from around the globe a magnificent playing field.” When companies open their doors to startups, as Amsterdam Arnea also did during the Launchpad Meetups, they invite much wanted innovation, and contribute to the testbed and launchpad young companies need.

A tradition of innovation

The stadium has always acted in a tradition of innovation, says Henk Markerink. “To name a few examples, the construction of the stadium was funded through what is now known as crowdfunding; the so-called returfing technique was developed here; and we were the first stadium ever to introduce our own electronic payment system.” The stadium also has an impressive track record when it comes to sustainability. The stadium is net climate neutral with over four thousand solar panels on its roof. It uses district heating from the nearby city of Diemen and water from a nearby lake for cooling. With photovoltaic cells to be integrated in the new façade, rainwater collection for use in the toilets and an autonomous energy storage by means of gigantic batteries, Amsterdam ArenA can rightfully call itself a smart stadium.