Thijs van Exel

Maker: Giorgos Gripeos




Advisor social innovation

Thijs van Exel

@thijsvanexelLinkedIn profile

Thijs van Exel specialises in designing innovation strategies and approaches, in which better outcomes for end users are the focus. He advises governments and other organisations and frequently performs as a speaker on these matters. Thijs has a number of publications to his credit, among which Accelerating Amsterdam’s Assets. Among other things, Thijs is project lead of the Policy Lab of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Kingdom Relations – an experiment around new forms of creating and executing policy, thus creating innovative solutions to tough challenges. Apart from that, he was co-founder of the first test ground for an Amsterdam City Lab in Amsteldorp (Dutch only).

His first years at Kennisland, Thijs mainly focused on innovating the cultural heritage sector (archives, museums, libraries). That happened mainly in the context of Images for the Future (Beelden voor de Toekomst) with the so-called Pearls++PearlsRead more at the website of Beelden voor de Toekomst.: compact innovation projects that explored new possibilities for digitised collections. Exploring new technologies, and also new ways of engaging with audiences. The power of this strategy lies in its speed and size: trying out new things in their intended contexts allows you to easily make gradual improvements and scale those parts that have proved successful. Starting small, but yielding significant impact.

Thijs applies that same logic to his other projects. He for example built a track record with social innovation in a diversity of contexts. One of the approaches that signifies that is the Social Innovation Safari: a one or two-week learning experiment in which international, multidisciplinary teams work on real social challenges. These teams develop prototype solutions and test these with the intended audiences.

Over the past year, Thijs was mainly involved in social innovation labs, in which governments collaborate with citizens, institutions and commercial organisations to get a better understanding of the effects of policy and surface actual needs and desires in order to arrive at working and supported solutions. The aforementioned LabSprint Amsteldorp, for example, is a test case for the city government of Amsterdam, trying to locate some of the early signs of the ‘decentralisation’ act by the Dutch government (transition of national health care tasks to municipalities). What effects will this have on the local elderly, which support structures exist and work, and what is missing?

Thijs is also an avid cyclist, and as a bike mechanic he fixes up classic road cycles for people as far as Berlin and Manchester.