What we do

Since 1999, KL has specialised in researching and designing social progress. We deploy various instruments, methodologies and change strategies to appeal more effectively to the collective intelligence of society. We continuously develop these on the basis of new insights. Each problem is different, and so our approach is too. You can read about a few of the services we offer to our partners below.


for inhabitants, innovators, unusual suspects

A challenge (contest) – usually linked to specific policy goals, and combined with a support programme – delivers a rich variety of innovative ideas and initiatives from across society: from residents, local authorities, business and education to social organisations. It is an instrument for crowdsourcing innovation, which first and foremost allows you to reach the unusual suspects. Policy and practice come together in concrete initiatives. Examples of challenges we have developed include a challenge for new school concepts in Amsterdam, a challenge to find and support radical innovators in the Netherlands, and the annual European Social Innovation Competition (EUSIC) for social innovators across Europe.

Learning communities

for teachers, social innovators, leaders in culture

We learn from books, from experts, from leaders in the field, but we learn the most from practice, from stories, experiences, perspectives and insights. This is why KL builds sustainable learning communities, based on mutual trust and openness. This involves bringing together everyone connected with a social problem, because this is the only way to identify the best opportunities for innovation and progress. This includes projects in education, such as InnovationImpulse Education and the Teachers’ Development Fund, social innovation, such as the Hivos Learning Community, and in culture, such as Leadership in Culture.

Social Labs

for municipalities, neighbourhoods, policy makers

Social labs are experimental spaces for social challenges. The social lab makes complex problems understandable by bringing together the perspectives of citizens, professionals and policy makers, and involves these groups in carrying out research, analysis and in developing problem-solving capacity. This delivers better results for the community, important insights for the system and a package of instruments for policy makers. Read more about our labs in, for example, Nijmegen, Dordrecht, Amsterdam, Schiedam, Hong Kong and Vienna.

Action research

for professionals, inhabitants, leaders of organisations, experts, policy makers

This dynamic, inclusive research method combines research, learning, experiment and change. People who are involved with the problem in various ways play a leading role, which results in a broad base of support: these include professionals, residents, leaders of organisations, experts and policy makers. We explore the problem together, develop solution trajectories through experiment, and also evaluate the effects of these together. Examples include action research into service to the community, flexworking in healthcare, the future of secondary education, better civic education at MBO (intermediate vocational education) level and a vision for a future care centre.

Pioneer programmes

for teachers, innovators in general

Kennisland believes you can learn to be a pioneer, and that potential pioneers who can benefit from support and connections can be found at every level of society. In 2002, Kennisland launched the Digital Pioneers programme for social internet pioneers. In 2008, Kennisland began the Education Pioneers (now known as the Teachers’ Development Fund (Leraren Ontwikkel Fonds, LOF)) programme, to allow teachers themselves to take the initiative in educational innovation again. Since then, Kennisland has set up various pioneer programmes within organisations, and supported pioneers who were selected via challenges.

Lobbying and agenda-setting

for innovation in education, social innovation, public domain, open data

Since our founding in 1999, we have argued that the socio-economic development of the Netherlands should be based on knowledge as a source of welfare and well-being: the Netherlands as a knowledge economy, as a knowledge land (“kennisland” in Dutch). Once this had gained a place on the political agenda, we increasingly focused on how to do it. In the years that followed, we lobbied for causes such as the modernisation of European copyright law, open government data, a strong public domain and open educational materials. We continue to work hard to put the importance of social innovation on the agenda, alongside technological innovation, and lobby for sustainable innovation in education.


for professionals like teachers, school leaders

Our Incubator approach offers professionals in the public sector, such as teachers and school leaders, an R&D environment to design, develop and most of all try out new ideas and interventions. At the same time, they work to develop their own innovative leadership and new networks. This ‘in-between space’ offers them the opportunity to learn from one another beyond the boundaries of teams, departments, organisations and sectors. This may be with educational professionals, or by tackling a specific problem such as the design of integrated children’s centres (integrale kindcentra, IKCs). In addition, an Incubator is often the start of a sustainable movement or improvement in the public infrastructure.

Leadership programmes

for organisations, education, culture

Together with leaders in education, culture and other sectors, we seek out what innovative leadership means. We discover strategies, tools and principles for learning and innovating in the context of the current developments in society. The emphasis lies on developing participants’ own capacity to lead innovation. We work with concrete problems from their own practice. Important results include: insights into their own leadership, concrete changes within their own organisations, new connections with society and other sectors and the emergence of a sustainable, learning community.

Solutions, inspiration, knowledge and tools

for everybody who can use it

KL has produced a rich collection of publications. We believe that publications should not be written to be filed away in a drawer, but that they should inspire, provoke, help or activate as many people as possible. We write our publications to be as accessible as possible, and share our accumulated knowledge, insights, approaches, methods and tools. They are published under an open licence, so others can build on our work. For us, knowledge is only valuable once it is shared. Read why we share our work openly here.

Deze tekst heeft een Creative Commons Naamsvermelding-licentie (CC BY) en is gekopieerd van de Kennisland-website. Ga voor de volledige versie met afbeeldingen, streamers en noten naar https://www.kl.nl/en/what-we-do/

This text has a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) and has been copied from the Kennisland website. For a full version with images, streamers and notes go to https://www.kl.nl/en/what-we-do/