Rotterdam one of the 50 champion cities of the 2021 Global Mayors Challenge

Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced the 50 champion cities that are elevating the most important innovations generated in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, and Rotterdam is among them.

Rotterdam's idea is to incentivize private-sector and citizens' engagement in employment initiatives by introducing digital tokens (Rikx) that monetize social impact generated by entrepreneurs, NGOs, and other private stakeholders -similar to the carbon market. It takes private-sector engagement in social problem-solving to the next level through a new marketplace that can quickly scale up. 

Kudos to the great Gemeente Rotterdam, Kris Luijsterburg, Michiel van Keulen, Murat Altunbas, Hendrik-Jan Bosch, Wouter Vos and the Rebel. It has been a pleasure working together and we look forward to the next phase! 

That kind of collaboration with cities is not new for UpSocial. In 2013-2014, we helped Barcelona ein t'he Grand Prime of the Bloomberg Mayors Challenge with the design of the Vincles proposal. The idea was to create collaborative care networks for lonely people in the city. That was a great collaboration with Josep Maria Miró i Pascual, Jordi Tolrà and the Barcelona City team.

The Rikx project

Unemployment in Rotterdam is double the national average and rising, but public budgets have been stressed by the pandemic, limiting funding for employment programs. 

The city has been working for some time to boost jobs for vulnerable residents by putting hiring requirements on employers the city does business with; now, city leaders want to see if using digital tokens to create a marketplace to monetize social impact could advance that goal by giving companies another incentive. Rotterdam’s idea has strong potential because it builds upon past prototyping efforts and takes private-sector engagement in social problem-solving to the next level through a new marketplace that can quickly scale.

The price 

The 2021 Global Mayors Challenge gives 50 champion cities access to world-renowned experts in innovation and data to help them improve upon their ideas. Fifteen grand-prize winners will then receive $1 million each to begin the implementation of their breakthrough ideas.

The 50 cities hail from 29 nations on six continents. They emerged from a highly competitive applicant pool: Mayors from 631 cities in 99 countries submitted their most promising ideas for consideration. The finalists were elevated based on four criteria: vision, potential for impact, feasibility, and transferability.