design thinking for urban development

Client Stifterverband

Start-Up Your City: Cities go ahead

A Design Thinking Workshop for Cities in Cooperation with the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft e.V.


To remain viable as a location, cities – like companies – must show flexibility and a spirit of innovation. Many large companies can be inspired by start-up companies. They try to break down sluggish structures, processes and decision-making processes by means of agile methods and design thinking in order to increase their innovative power. Complex challenges can be mastered professionally; diverse, also competing, interests and perspectives are brought together creatively and productively. The challenges for cities are also complex and are becoming increasingly difficult to master within the current urban structures. Too often, the diversity and diversity of urban stakeholders in business, society and science are countering a creative and progressive response to urban challenges.

When cities learn from start-ups, there is an opportunity to bring together the diversity of urban stakeholders – but also their wealth of knowledge and competences – so that synergy effects can be exploited and friction can be brought into a productive dialogue. Combining design thinking with the findings of innovation research, it is possible to create tailor-made solutions for a wide range of challenges, as well as stimulating a better culture of innovation in the city.

Cities that have succeeded in using such a start-up mentality for their innovative capacity are provided by an inter-governmental cooperation and knowledge partnership, an unbureaucratic public administration, a reservoir of qualified workers, supporting infrastructures and services. In other words, they create an environment in which one is fond of living and in which people can think and act entrepreneurially and contribute their diverse potentials.

design thinking in the (city) administration?

Design Thinking in the (city) administration? In the design thinking workshop, in cooperation with the launchlabs with the Founders’ Association, 20 representations of different institutions from four German cities were invited to the launchlabs Innovationsloft in Kreuzberg. In addition to infrastructure and the question of location, structural cooperation within the relevant departments was also an important issue. Through the cross-functional composition of the teams from different institutions and areas of responsibility, interdisciplinary cooperation was achieved in short sprints and joint feedback loops. In addition to the methodology expertise of the launchlabs, the Stifterverband contributed important findings of the science statistics on the topics “innovation” and “urban development with knowledge”.

Urban Safari

To initiate the workshop, the launchlabs guided the participants in the course of an organized city safari along the former Mauerweg to the nearby Moritzplatz in Berlin-Kreuzberg. At three different points of contact, inspiration was gathered around the theme of urban development in the historical example of Berlin and the exchange of experiences between the cities was promoted.

Conclusion of the participating cities?

Conclusion of the participants was, among other things, that design thinking in cities can be used as a participatory format with citizens and at the same time act as a “green carpet in the administration”. The structure and the time management of design thinking help and discipline to generate solutions in the iterative design process.

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