New collab between KPMG and Johan Cruijff ArenA to accelerate innovation

KPMG and Johan Cruijff ArenA are expanding their collaboration with a new five-year commitment aimed at strengthening the ArenA in the further development of its innovation capability. In addition, KPMG and Johan Cruijff ArenA will develop innovation concepts in a field lab to make stadiums and cities worldwide smarter and more sustainable.


For a number of years, Johan Cruijff ArenA has served as a successful living lab, where ideas and technologies are developed and tested together with partners such as the Municipality of Amsterdam. This has led to innovative smart stadium and smart city solutions in the areas of mobility, accessibility, crowd management, livability, inclusiveness and sustainability, but also in the field of security and digitalisation.


Through the collaboration with KPMG, Johan Cruijff ArenA is able to further strengthen its innovation ecosystem and develop applications that enhance the experience of the stadium visitors. In addition, it will be possible to scale the living lab approach internationally and the stadium and smart city consulting services can be expanded.


KPMG supports the scaling up of innovation in and around the stadium and the development of ArenA’s strategy and governance. To enable scaling, KPMG is opening up its international network. Johan Cruijff ArenA is also able to transform into a more data-driven organisation through the collaboration.


KPMG and Johan Cruijff ArenA have been implementing innovation projects in the ArenA’s ecosystem since 2015. How the deployment of the innovation lab in Johan Cruijff ArenA can contribute to finding – and testing – solutions for the latest social distancing society, and the “back-to-normal” approach in the current circumstances dealing with COVID-19, is currently being investigated.


Driven by innovation

Henk Markerink, CEO of the Johan Cruijff ArenA, said:

Since the stadium opened, Johan Cruijff ArenA has been driven by innovation. The stadium is now internationally recognised as a state-of-the-art, multifunctional stadium and ArenA established the Amsterdam Innovation Arena in collaboration with the Municipality. A living lab for innovation that makes it possible to find solutions for safer and smarter cities. Recently, the scope of the innovation program has been broadened to include making a social impact.


KPMG brings in expertise and valuable tools, such as the True Value method. This allows the actual result of innovation to be measured in terms of economic value, social value and sustainable value for society. In addition, KPMG and Johan Cruijff ArenA will continue to actively search in the market for both corporate, start-up and scale-up partners for the innovation ecosystem, which will enable expansion possibilities.


This latest agreement will be an extension of last year’s Change the Game program: a global open innovation challenge with more than 600 active users and 190 submitted solutions from innovative companies


Edwin Herrie, Head of Advisory at KPMG, said:

In order to further strengthen the innovation ecosystem of the Johan Cruijff ArenA and to increase the value for all stakeholders, KPMG will use its worldwide network and broad expertise. We will further support the ArenA and its innovation partners in setting up and managing open innovation campaigns and a living lab to find and implement new innovative solutions. This will be an extension of last year’s Change the Game program: a global open innovation challenge with more than 600 active users and 190 submitted solutions from innovative companies. The program eventually resulted in 26 partnerships.


This is about jointly shaping solutions for challenges that transcend traditional businesses and supply chains. Some challenges go far beyond what companies can handle individually. To find effective solutions to these challenges, the power of open and joint innovation will be used, where people and planet come first. Our mission is to deliver impact together for a safer, more sustainable and inclusive society. We realise more than ever that our partners’ innovation efforts are needed to collectively achieve ‘real’ impact and make a difference for the new society. 


Living lab in India

Johan Cruijff ArenA has acted as a stadium advisor for years, is intensively involved in various UEFA European Championships and FIFA World Cups and is recognised as a leader in the sector.


The new agreement with KPMG also involves collaboration in setting up similar living labs around the world and offering consultancy services.


Markerink advised:

A good example is the recent agreement to help realise a living lab for a smart city initiative in India. This creates an environment where smart services are tested before they find their way to smart cities across the country. 


Hakeem Ziyech in action at the Ajax-Vitesse game at the ArenA back in 2016, which Ajax won 1-0. Images, courtesy: Johan Cruijff ArenA


Johan Cruijff ArenA

The Johan Cruijff ArenA is the National Stadium of the Netherlands, home to AFC Ajax and a match ground for the Dutch national football team. It also offers multifunctional accommodation for large-scale, national and international music and dance events, as well as for smaller scale meetings for (mainly) the corporate segment. It puts on events in close cooperation with several partners.


High-quality services, state-of-the-art facilities, security and optimal public experience form the most important strategic pillars. One of the world’s most sustainable stadiums, the Johan Cruijff ArenA is regarded internationally as a role model and consultant for modern stadium construction and operation.


The Amsterdam Innovation Arena serves as a living lab for developing innovative concepts for stadium management and event experience.


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