Some really cool news we wanted to share: our very own Founded in Groningen Public Lead Lian de Boer has been nominated for public servant of the year. She has made it to the national finals, ending up in the top 12. The nominees come from all levels of Dutch government, both national and municipal and are nominated for their outstanding performance. Time for a chat!
Lian is the Public Lead in our team and also works as an Economic Affairs Advisor for the City of Groningen. She is responsible for facilitating connections and innovative collaborations between entrepreneurs and the City, for example with our Startup in Residence program.
Were you surprised?
“Very! I didn’t even know I was nominated until I received an email saying that I ended up in the top 100. It really made my day! But before I ended up in the finals, I was sort of expected to campaign for a place in the top 12, but it just feels a little weird to campaign for yourself and get people to vote for you.”
But fortunately for you, a few entrepreneurs decided to campaign for you. With your face on a huge roadside LED screen, for example.
“Haha, if I’m being honest, my first reaction was ‘oh no…’ But after the initial shock, it just made me so happy. They launched a website with testimonials from different entrepreneurs and made sure I was voted into the final top 12. It’s one thing to be nominated by your co-workers, but to be nominated and helped by the people you’re actually working to help, I can’t begin to describe just how proud that makes me.”
Why were you nominated?
“I believe part of the City’s job is to actively help our entrepreneurs, not limit them. That’s because they’re the ones creating jobs and their innovations have the potential to make the world a better place. You don’t want them to have to navigate through a maze of bureaucracy or regulations, so my job is to help where I can, connect them to the right people and create opportunities to collaborate. Startup in Residence is an example of that, where we changed the City’s normal purchasing policy to give local startups the opportunity to have the City act as their launching customer. I think that’s part of the reason I was nominated.”
When will we get to celebrate?
“Haha, hopefully on December 15th. The voting has closed, so now it’s up to the judges to decide the winner. There’s also the public choice award, for the civil servant with the most votes. Winning that one would be more than enough for me, because I’m doing it for the entrepreneurs, not for myself. But we’ll see what happens!”
Our team members Lusanne Tehupuring and Max Papo were also part of the guerilla campaign launched by entrepreneurs. “We all had so much fun coming up with the campaign”, Max says. “We surprised her during the 20voor12 podcast. And just seeing her reaction when she saw herself on a giant LED screen was not just really funny, it made all the effort we put in totally worth it! The fact that so many entrepreneurs thought it was a great idea and enthusiastically offered to help out, just goes to show that she really deserves this nomination.”