Icon info
Research Ecosystems
Creating smart ecosystems
Research projects
Connected River

Creating smart ecosystems

Connected River

Connected River aims to boost capacities of multi-stakeholder ecosystems to deliver services that guarantee safety, accessibility and liveability of shared waterways and waterfronts in the North Sea Region (NSR).

Type project Interreg North Sea
Project partners Netherlands: Rijkswaterstaat, Municipality of Nijmegen, InnoValorAdvice, Port Pay - Belgium: Flanders Environment Agency - France: Port of Lille, International Association Cities and Ports - Sweden: Ecoloop - Denmark: Municipality of Vordingborg - Germany: Hamburg Port Authority, Logistics Initiative Hamburg, Digital Hub Logistics Hamburg
Duration January 01, 2023 - December 31, 2027
Contact person Wouter Van Bockhaven, PhD

Waterways and waterfronts (ww&wfs) are vital for the NSR’s economy, ecology and quality of life. This multiple interest leads to issues like conflicting use, accidents and pollution. Such issues increasingly occur in shared ww&wfs of the NSR. This is caused by growing pressures exerted by urban development, commercial, recreational and other activities.

Traditionally, responsible authorities apply a static approach to respond to such issues and pressures. This worked and still works well for their typical tasks, like water management. However, they experience that it is unfit to rapidly respond in a fast-changing environment. To address this common challenge, some authorities are exploring new, innovative methods of working and introducing digital/smart solutions. Yet, they do so separately and only in larger cities, less so in rural areas. There is a huge opportunity to share knowledge and experiences between countries and between urban and rural areas.

Connected River ecosystems

Guarantee safety, accessibility and liveability of shared waterways

Connected River (CR) will untap this opportunity. It aims to boost capacities of multi-stakeholder ecosystems to deliver services that guarantee safety, accessibility and liveability of shared ww&wfs in the NSR. It will do so by bringing diverse partners and stakeholders together in 3 pilots that take place in 6 pilot areas.

The project will last for 48 months, during which we will run 3 pilot rounds with the 6 pilot areas: Nijmegen, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Vordingborg, Lille, and Kleine Nete. Based on the pilots’ lessons, CR delivers a playbook (strategy) to maximize uptake and transferability of the Flow Forward approach. This sets out the values, processes and procedures for a fit-for-future response to challenges that shared ww&wfs face. CR partners also make roadmaps on how to integrate the playbook into their innovation strategies.

By connecting its multi-stakeholder ecosystems transnationally, CR stimulates interaction between rural and urban partners. Reciprocal benefits will accrue from this. Rural partners in CR benefit from knowledge and experiences of urban partners with ecosystems, innovation and digital/smart solutions. Urban partners benefit from lessons from the pilots in rural areas, where the path from innovation to uptake is quicker (as challenges and stakeholder relations are less complex).

The project aims to boost multi-stakeholder ecosystem capacities in delivering services that guarantee safety, accessibility and livability for shared waterways and waterfronts in the North Sea Region by:

  • creating pathways to mobilize (new) stakeholders
  • breaking through static problem solving
  • accelerating the uptake of digital / smart solutions


Connected River commercial vs recreational use

Blog: River-lution: harmonize social, ecological, and economic interests

In summer, the calm waterways of the North Sea Region teem with canoers, providing a serene break. Yet, below these peaceful vistas, waterway authorities grapple with aligning social, ecological, and economic concerns.

Read the blog

Host partners, conducting pilots

Approach Partners, providing methodologies

Solution partners, providing concrete solutions and technologies

Register for our newsletter

Receive updates for the topic of your choice.

Learn More

A question about this project?

Function Professor strategy & innovation ecosystems, researcher expertise center Smart Ecosystems & Networks

A question about this project?