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With more than 9,000 square meters of available space, the new Lola Lik cultural hub is encouraging everyone in the city of Amsterdam to get involved. Located in the main building of Amsterdam’s former Bijlmerbajes prison, the hub is next to the Wenckebachweg refugee center. The name of the creative space is a play on the Dutch word Lik, which means prison as well as lick of paint. Thus citizens and refugees are being invited to add their own personal touch by getting involved in a variety of ways.

Social enterprises, artists, craftspeople, vocational trainers and event organizers are already working together to help accelerate the integration of refugees through education, entrepreneurship and work. So far, a kick-boxing school, language school, sewing workshop, screen printing studio, museum and cinema are available, as well as a restaurant that is open to the public.

Smart cities recognize the value of diversity and projects ranging from real-time language translation apps to on-demand home delivery of specific cuisines are making the most of incoming skills and knowledge while providing new ways for locals and newcomers to connect. How could similar creative approaches be used to help alleviate the housing crises faced by both locals and refugees?

On average, more than 70 million startups have opened globally each year for the past 30 years. Running on small budgets with the need to be agile in their spending, the proliferation of startups has lead to an increase in freelancers. Here at Springwise, we have written about a number of innovations that support those launching their freelance career. This co-working space offers free desk space in exchange for online content, these telepresence robots allow remote graduates to get valuable work experience in New York, and this platform posts project work on a first-come, first-served basis. Now GigRove lets freelancers find startup businesses they can work for abroad, in exchange for accommodation (and sometimes even food).

GiGrove allows freelancers to enjoy one of the primary perks of the job: the ability to work away from the office. Users can enter their skills – graphic design, programming, accounting or social media management and find a business or startup requiring their skills. Alongside this, startups access a diverse pool of global talent and get work done cheaply. The site opened up in beta last summer and currently boasts over 20,000 active users. This roughly breaks down to around 5,000 startup hosts, and nearly 17,000 traveling freelancers, spread across 130 countries. At the moment, users are mostly pre-seed and seed-stage tech startups, covering all sorts of different fields from fashion and healthcare to transportation and fintech.

There is currently no set price for an exchange, leaving users responsible for making an agreement themselves. So, as with so many digital platforms, the assessment of risk and authenticity is mostly the responsibility of the users. As CEO Marko Islamovich explains, GigRove “encourage startup hosts and traveling freelancers to talk more deeply about the project and evaluate whether they are a match. But any time, we may ask startup hosts to upload supporting documents if we happen to believe that there is something suspicious with their listing.” With an increasing number of collaborative consumption platforms requiring authentication of some kind, are there ways these services could join forces to solve the problem?

Using a small icon in the lower left hand corner of the screen, the Dannon yogurt company’s new ad campaign asks customers to text a number to receive a coupon for a buy-two-get-one-free deal. The ad is running on a variety of United States television channels, including TLC and Hallmark, until the end of March 2017.

Once customers text the word Dannon to the required number, they receive a reply that contains a link to the coupon. The coupon is then downloadable from

Entrepreneurs and innovators are finding ways to make traditional media outlets more interactive. This app allows viewers to watch, and comment on, their favorite shows with friends, and a drama that recently aired in Germany amended the ending based on viewer votes. How else could marketers work to connect mobile and traditional media?

As smartphones become ubiquitous, an increasing number of services are becoming available on-demand. We’ve recently seen apps that enable users to arrange fuel delivery, avoiding the need to stop at a petrol station, view houses without organising a visit with an estate agent, and order snacks 24/7. The latest service to follow this trend is car-washing: enter WashMyWhip.

WashMyWhip is an on-demand, eco-friendly car-care service. Users download the free app and drop a pin on their car’s location. They can then book a convenient time, select a service – an outside clean at USD 20, an inside and out clean at USD 30, or full detailing at USD 120 – and a ‘WashPro’ will arrive. The company builds a number of improvements into the car-washing industry. Perhaps most obviously, it’s more convenient for consumers. It’s also significantly less wasteful. Where traditional car washes can waste 50 to 100 gallons of water, WashMyWhip uses a waterless system that consists of lubricants that raise the dirt, clay that breaks it down, and wax that makes sure a car stays shiny and protected. It also represents an significant improvement to those washing the cars. Car-wash employees are typically overworked and underpaid. “WashPros” have the ability to manage a flexible schedule and earn both salary and commission-based pay. The service has cleaned more than 5,000 cars to date, saving between 250,000 to 500,000 gallons of water and has plans to eventually expand to other car services, such as battery and tire changes, wiper blade and windshield replacements.

WashMyWhip is useful to individual clients but the company see real opportunity with corporate clients that manage fleets of cars and have developed a web application that can manage their inventory for car care. Despite having only launched in summer 2016, the startup has already secured a partnership with Xchange Leasing, an Uber company, as its preferred car-cleaning provider. Will fleet managing companies want to bring such an important service in house?

Using transparent PVC material that inflates to cushion each individual egg, Taiwanese company Happy Egg promotes cage-free eggs. The company is based around six ideas: friendliness, happiness, freedom, sunshine, fertility and water. In order to emphasize to customers the health of cage-free eggs, the new style of egg carton is clear, symbolizing the freedom of air.

Eggs are available in purse-shaped packs of three or individual packs themed around local festivals – birthdays, Christmas and Chinese New Year. The company is expanding its campaign with the forthcoming publication of three books, including a cook book and a compilation of cage-free egg producers. The books will also be packaged in inflatable, clear plastic.

Sustainability in the food business is an on-going project, especially as millions of people continue to starve while produce is wasted elsewhere. Projects working in all areas of the industry are making a difference, like this organic restaurant that promotes farm-to-table eating and this no-waste edible emergency drone. How could successful solutions be better connected in order to scale up for wider use?

CitySwipe is Downtown Santa Monica Inc’s opinion gathering app. The non-profit organization manages the center of the city and is using the app as part of the local government’s consultation on its Downtown Community Plan. The plan provides proposals for the area’s next 20 years of development and includes strategies for increased accessibility and affordable housing and improved public spaces.

The original plan had been to close the consultation period in early 2016 but in order to better reach and interact with as many locals as possible, the review was extended to early 2017. Like Tinder, users of the app swipe left or right depending on their views. Questions are either Yes or No or “Which do you prefer?” and each question is illustrated with a photo. There are 38 questions in total ranging from building design and public art to outdoor concerts and parking. Additional information is gathered by asking users to provide their location and preferred method of transport.

Mexico City recently conducted a city-wide consultation on its new constitution, and Oslo, Norway, is using an app to involve school children in redesigning safe public walkways and cycle paths. How could city officials use the structure of successful public consultation campaigns to provide information updates on the progress of projects?

Spotted: CoverGirl claims to have developed the world’s first chatbot influencer campaign. Coined KalaniBot by its developers – The Amplify and Automat– the chatbot is designed to authentically mimic the personality of Kalani Hilliker, an American dancer and social media influencer. Using artificial intelligence (AI), the developers were able to use custom video tutorials to create one-to-one conversations with users while also sharing beauty focused tips on CoverGirl products if a user desired a particular look. 

The CoverGirl campaign is still underway, but its creators advise that KalaniBot will only get smarter the more fans begin to interact. The chatbot was built on the KIK messenger app, whose largest audience base is made up of young teens. However, Ukonwa Ojo, senior VP at CoverGirl, believes: “beauty should be approachable and accessible to all. So, we’re excited to tap into the power of bot technology to have more personal and dynamic conversations and interaction with fellow beauty enthusiasts about trends, how-tos and our diverse portfolio of products.”

We have covered some interesting broadcast innovations such as this Californian drought-themed radio station that encourages listeners to take short showers, and these sidewalk listening posts that broadcast album previews. Now, in Cairo’s undergrounds stations, Kemet Radio is broadcasting short, educational radio programmes for travellers to listen to while they wait at the platform.

Kemet is a hieroglyphic word meaning the black land, referring to the Nile soil. The service began to hit the airwaves three months ago. It’s mission statement according to Ahmad Meshal, the executive officer of the radio service, is to use the metro public address system to spread culture among the passengers, developing passengers’ awareness of the country’s history and traditions. Up to five million people use the Cairo metro every day, making it an ideal platform for spreading messages. Each broadcast is short, not exceeding six minutes – the usual interval between trains. Programming includes listings highlighting Egypt’s folk arts, cinema, cuisine, mini-dramas and economic development. Editorial policy excludes divisive issues, choosing only topics that will unite the country’s diverse population. The radio service runs for 18 hours starting from 7 in the morning. Since its launch in October, the broadcasts have been limited to stations, but there are plans to make transmissions available on trains too.

The Egyptian government has recently disclosed a plan to increase Cairo’s metro ticket price, revealing that the service incurs an annual loss of around EGP 350 million. The radio is educational but also offers the possibility of future revenue through advertising. Will underground services in other cities adopt the idea?

Loyalty points systems are expanding rapidly, and the recent partnership between financial services company FIS and payments solutions companies Verifone and Modo provides customers with a new option when shopping. In thousands of outlets across the United States, shoppers are now able to pay for products with credit card loyalty points. There is no restriction on what can be bought with the points. Merchants that use Verifone credit card terminals can set up the points redemption app, which will then ask customers how they would like to pay.

Modo’s chief executive says that nearly USD 16 billion worth of loyalty points expire each year. The FIS network includes more than 3,000 banks across the country, so customers with a credit card from any of them will be able to access and use the new payment option.

A number of app-based personal financial innovations are helping consumers maximize their income. This app tracks credit card spending to help customers maximize the rewards they earn, and this app teaches accountancy through online creative learning tools. How could the efficiency of mobile banking be adapted for customers that are not yet online?

The drawn out process of organising a funeral is the last thing most people want to deal with when they have recently lost a loved one. Way back in 2010 we saw this digital platform that helps the bereaved with the admin surrounding organising a funeral. We live in a world where smartphones have made most services on demand – films, taxis and food to name just a few. Now funerals have been added to the services available at the tap of a screen.

Umer allows bereaved Russians to plan the funerals of their recently-departed friends and relatives through an app. Umer, meaning “he’s dead” in Russian, is set to launch in the next couple of months. Users simply type in the deceased’s name, date of death, religion, and address and are offered a choice of local cemeteries, funeral directors, along with pricing information. Some interesting features include the option to choose between cremation and burial, and the chance to pick out the headstone. Once those choices are made, the app puts the bereaved directly in contact with an operator who finalizes the arrangements and provides all the requisite paperwork that one needs after a death.

We recently wrote about this Indian company making religious services bookable through an app. Is it just a matter of time before more religious services become available on demand?