In April 2013, the City of Amsterdam launched the AMS design contest to attract international submissions for a world-class institute in the field of applied technology. The purpose of this design contest was to solicit plans and designs from experienced participants interested in realising a new technical institute (with the ‘AMS Institute’ as working title). The key target groups were knowledge institutions and companies conducting R&D in technology.

“We are continually looking for opportunities to attract and retain talent, knowledge and businesses for the city of Amsterdam and to ensure connections to other cities,” states Alderperson Carolien Gehrels (Economic Affairs). “This allows for economic growth and creates valuable jobs. In this respect, the technical institute can play an important role.” The city government will decide on an investment of between 20 to 50 million euros for the new institute.

Amsterdam Institute of Advanced Metropolitan Solutions

To launch a new technical institute, a consortium of academic and industry leaders will join forces to build a new, world-leading public-private institute that will engineer talent and create new metropolitan solutions. In this proposal, TU Delft, Wageningen UR and MIT form the academic core of the institute. They will also partner with industry leaders in the field, for example, Accenture, Alliander, Cisco, IBM, KPN, Shell and Waternet, plus research groups such as Amsterdam Smart City, ESA and TNO. The City of Boston has already expressed a commitment to engaging in collaborative work with Amsterdam in the area of the ‘Living Lab’.

Chairperson Dijkgraaf: “The entire jury is very enthusiastic about the innovative submissions received for the AMS design contest. We would like to compliment the City of Amsterdam for taking such a ‘bold step’ by launching this process and we expect that it will have a significant impact upon the future of the city. To ensure this, the jury would encourage the City of Amsterdam to fully support the winning initiative. The jury also believes that the approach taken by the City of Amsterdam by initiating this contest could also be successfully leveraged in other industries or clusters.”

The other submitted proposals included: The Amsterdam Institute of Health and Technology, Amsterdam City Technology and The Center for Urban Tech Acceleration. The consortium NexusLabs opted not to submit a proposal for the second round of the contest. It has instead decided that it requires more time to realise its plans, and hopes to continue discussions with Amsterdam in another context.


The City of Amsterdam will now begin negotiations with the top ranked consortium to explore the realisation of its proposal. A signed ‘final contract’ is subject to approval by the City Council.

Due to the overall quality of the submissions, it is possible that the City of Amsterdam will support the realisation of more than one proposal. As such, negotiations with all participating consortia will take place, in order of their ranking by the jury.

Jury members

Members of the jury include: chairperson Robbert Dijkgraaf (a professor at Princeton University), Claire Boonstra (founder of Layar), Tanja Cuppen (Executive Vice President at Rabobank International), Wiebe Draijer (president of the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands) and Wim Kuijken (Government Commissioner for the Delta Programme).