Our paper will focus on the role of iconic occupiers in development of the Rotterdam Innovation District. This area combines two distinct port areas, RDM Campus and Merwe-Vierhavens (M4H). We will analyse the two approaches of redevelopment of these areas using the conceptual model of multi-helices. These approaches resulted in different preliminary results: a firmly organised redevelopment project resulting in a campus environment versus a loosely organised organic redevelopment process resulting in several lab like innovation environments. We characterise the redevelopment of the RDM site by the Triple Helix of university-industry-government relationships fostering innovation. The M4H area as a less preplanned redevelopment is following the Quadruple Helix, blending in the perspective of civil society in knowledge production and innovation, and the concept of the Living Lab.

Certain occupiers are positioned as network builder. These are perceived to be good examples for the branding of M4H or their innovative character are called ‘area ambassadors’. Two of these are regarded as world famous brands and for that as ‘iconic’ occupiers of the area. This in contrast to the iconic buildings that feature the Rotterdam skyline. Studio Roosegaarde creates interactive designs exploring the dynamic relation between people, technology and space. Atelier van Lieshout is a multidisciplinary firm that operates internationally in contemporary art, design and architecture. By collaborating with these iconic end-users the City Ports organization wants to direct more attention to M4H, to create a stronger image for the area and to benefit from the extended network of these users. Previously, we published our preliminary findings on the arrival of Studio Roosegaarde in the area in 2015. Our paper will evaluate the role of Studio Roosegaarde as network builder for the area up until mid 2017 and we will make a start with describing and understanding Atelier van Lieshout’s iconic role.

Next to interviews and desk research, we aim to research the network in M4H and RDM using Actor-Network specific methods. And we will put forward an analysis of the role of our own institution, the Rotterdam University of Applied Science, in developing the Rotterdam Innovation District. The university is a prominent actor filling in the university-part of the Triple Helix at RDM and is currently exploring a greater involvement in M4H including the recent opening of a student hub in the area.