Monitoring systems - what to improve and how?
Monitoring of EU-funded projects is always double-sided. Somebody monitors projects to obtain data, and somebody delivers data through monitoring. These two sides do not necessarily see the coin from the same point of view. And sometimes it is difficult even to flip the coin to get to know what the other side looks like.
Danish Design Centre has flipped the coin to view monitoring from the perspective of those involved in monitoring. How is the practice of monitoring experienced from a company, a cluster or a knowledge institution perspective - even from the perspective of the responsible business authority? What works well, what are real pain points felt by whom, and most importantly: what would be considered as an improvement?
As the national design centre, Danish Design Centre applies a design stance in any of its activities. Design means thinking systemically, appreciating the perspective and involvement of a variety of voices in defining what may be the best solutions forward. In EmpInno project, we have invited companies, clusters, knowledge institutions and the national business authority to present their view on what works and what they would like to change, when talking about monitoring EU-funded projects, and also what would be perceived as improvement. Out of this exercise, we have extracted a catalogue of ideas for improvements, some easily established, others requiring both resources and a big deal of time and engagement.
One of the more interesting points was that the majority of those being asked mentioned a better relation between the strategy implementer and strategy owner as an improvement. How do we become team players and not just controllers, as one employee within the national business authority put it, expressing a need for knowing more about the content and successes of the projects. Prioritize good stories - or narratives - as one specific element in the reporting template was presented as one specific and easily implementable improvement.
Companies were requesting a digital solution to upload and give access to already uploaded documents and information. They were looking for time-saving solutions and systems with a high degree of data safety. This is much more difficult, requires a huge amount of time and financial resources, but is nevertheless regarded as an obvious improvement in the eyes of companies but also seen from the perspective of the business authority.
More of the strategy implementers pointed at clarity about what are ‘needs-to-have’ and ‘nice-to-have’ in the overall playing field of monitoring. Also, why the specific reporting claims were set and by whom. Some also pointed to the need for indicators more adaptable to the individual project and in better correspondence with the value that the project aimed at creating. This is where the invisible other side of the coin - or the other perspective of monitoring - really becomes clear: Project owners are fully allowed to set indicators and targets addressing the specific project and the value it aims at creating. As long as the basic indicators are included as well. But this is not well-known, and the strategy owners do not inform about this as well as the strategy implementers do not question the framework set by the strategy owners. This particular example represents one of more myths characterizing what is possible within the existing system. So, here an improvement would be creating clarity about the flexibility of the existing system rather than expanding the system with more and different indicators.
The key aspects from the process in Denmark can be boiled down to more and better dialogues to create trust and clarity. Digital tools to ease the reporting may even be seen as a means to releasing resources to achieve this ambition. Except for the digital tools, the improvements seem fairly easy to implement.
Flipping the coin and taking a look at the monitoring practice from the perspective of those being involved reveals a picture of both pain points and also potential solutions of which some would be easy to implement. What remains to be mentioned is that none of the stakeholders involved in the process in Denmark referred to any of the overall objectives set by the Smart Specialisation Strategies, which form the overall European concept for ensuring valid spending of the structural funds. What may that tell us? That, although it is clear that monitoring concerns creating the best possible impact for those benefiting from the activities, an understanding of the big WHY seems to be absent. So, when considering that monitoring also concerns assessing if the funding leads to the ambitious goals set at EU level, this greater picture is not detectable from the perspective of the coin represented by the strategy implementers.
Compiled by: Aase Højlund Nielsen, Head of Office / Strategic Fundraiser, Dansk Design Center, May 2021
Regional Innovation Strategy - SmartLAB workshops
Activities related to updating the Regional Innovation Strategy are currently being implemented in the Lubelskie Voivodeship. These activities are part of the evaluation research entitled "Strategic directions of economic development of the Lubelskie Voivodeship in the context of the regional innovation strategy" conducted by the Marshal's Office of Lubelskie Voivodeship. Workshops were held on new materials in solar energy (including new generation materials increasing the efficiency and durability of photon ICT, December 17, 2020) and Green and white biotechnology - including meeting the demand for raw materials for the food, medical, chemical and energy industries, etc. new products: biofuels, biological building materials, biogenic plastics, bio-surfactants, etc. (December 21, 2020). The meetings were attended by Ms Małgorzata Gałczyńska from the Foundation for Lubelskie Development, Coordinator of the Lublin Eco-Energy Cluster and a partner in the EmpInno Monitor S3 project.
The aim of the evaluation research is to define strategic directions of economic development of the Lubelskie Voivodeship based on the scientific and technological, economic, educational and institutional potential in the context of updating the areas of smart specialization of the region. In addition, research is carried out in order to develop the Business Technology Roadmap for 7 selected directions of scientific and economic development of the Lubelskie Region.
During the meetings, Ms Małgorzata Gałczyńska suggested, among others, that when defining strategic directions of economic development, the opportunities related to the development of energy clusters should be taken into account, the aim of which is to achieve energy independence of gminas and poviats based on local renewable energy resources, the development of biogas and biomethane production and the development of a circular economy.
Compiled by: Małgorzata Gałczyńska, EmpInno Monitor S3 project coordinator/ specialist RIS3, the Foundation for Lubelskie Development, March 2021
Design Thinking method - an effective communication tool in the RIS3 monitoring
The effectiveness of the monitoring activities of regional innovation strategies largely depends on the access to information and the quality of this information. Information is provided, among others, by end users, such as: entrepreneurs, research and development entities, universities, business support organisations and local governments operating within regional innovation ecosystems.
Bearing in mind these conditions, the Lublin Foundation for Lubelskie Development organised three workshops, during which it tested the use of the Design Thinking method as a tool for obtaining information from end users useful in the process of monitoring RIS3 in the Lubelskie Voivodeship. During the workshops, which took place on September 2-4, 2020, participants were looking for new solutions, methods and ways of obtaining information from end users, and also consulted the concept of the functionality of the mobile phone application "RIS closer to us". The workshop was attended by 12 regional experts, including representatives of the Marshal's Office of the Lubelskie Voivodeship - the owner of RIS3, scientific and research entities, enterprises, business support organisations and local governments.
Experts have identified, among others, weaknesses of the current RIS3 monitoring process, they proposed the most important qualitative indicators useful in the RIS3 monitoring process that are realistically possible to obtain. They also indicated the directions of modification of solutions, methods and ways of obtaining information from RIS3 stakeholders. As a result, a report containing input data for the RIS3 monitoring system was developed. The report was submitted to the Marshal's Office of the Lubelskie Voivodeship.
Bearing in mind the feedback obtained, it should be considered that workshops using the Design Thinking method are an effective form of dialogue with RIS3 stakeholders, and the feedback from participants can be used in the process of improving RIS3 monitoring in the regions.
Compiled by: Małgorzata Gałczyńska, EmpInno Monitor S3 project coordinator/ specialist RIS3, the Foundation for Lubelskie Development, March 2021
RIS closer to us
Suppose you want to monitor your region’s economic changes and identify specific growth areas - without meeting directly with stakeholders, like the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic demands. In that case, you can do so through online communication, drawing from our experience.
The Foundation for Lubelskie Development in cooperation with the Marshal’s Office of Lubelskie Voivodeship engaged in the development and testing of tools for direct contact with RIS3 stakeholders as part of RIS3 monitoring. The challenge was to develop tools that would provide more qualitative information from RIS3 stakeholders to monitor the strategy in Lubelskie Voivodeship. Tools that enable direct dialogue with RIS3 stakeholders must be attractive from end-users’ points of view. They will also provide feedback at any time and anywhere without the need for direct contact. The fulfillment of these conditions became particularly important in the era of the Covid-19 virus, which radically limited direct communications.
To ensure a safe and direct dialogue with RIS3 stakeholders as part of RIS3 monitoring, the Foundation for Lubelskie Development, in cooperation with the Marshal’s Office of Lubelskie Voivodeship (Lublin Voivodeship), has developed an electronic communication tool the “RIS closer to us” module. The device is available at https://ris.fundacja.lublin.pl/ in Polish.
The “RIS Closer to Us” module enables the management of questionnaires completed by RIS3 Stakeholders. Having this information improves the RIS3 implementation, which determines the use of EU funds support to develop innovation. Through completing the questionnaire, the RIS Stakeholders and the Regional Innovation Strategy are closer to the public. Asking questions makes users active participants in the RIS3 monitoring process and evaluates their activities as part of its implementation in the Lubelskie Voivodeship. Survey results are transferred to the Marshal’s Office of Lubelskie Voivodeship to analyze them and consider the results in improving RIS3 monitoring.
The “RIS closer to us” module also can send notifications to e-mail about new events added. The Events Tab contains information relevant to the achievement of RIS3 objectives, including information on current events (conferences, seminars, workshops, training), competitions, calls for proposals, legal regulations. Permanent access to up-to-date information increases the attractiveness of the module for Users. It is an incentive element to fill in the questionnaire and follow the news related to the RIS3 implementation.
The “RIS closer to us module” also has a function for asking questions related to the implementation of RIS3. The questions sent by RIS Stakeholders are answered by RIS3 experts directly involved in the implementation of RIS3 in the Lubelskie Voivodeship.
Marshal’s Office of Lubelskie Voivodeship - the owner of RIS3 in the Lubelskie Region - placed the link to the module on their website. The “RIS closer to us” module was developed as part of the Monitor S3 project - EmpInno Monitoring Smart Specialization Strategies. The project received support from the Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme under Priority I Potential for innovation, Measure 1.2 Smart specialization. The project is co-financed by the European Union under the European Regional Development Fund.
Compiled by: Małgorzata Gałczyńska, EmpInno Monitor S3 project coordinator/ specialist RIS3, the Foundation for Lubelskie Development, December 2020
4th Innovation Forum as part of the Innovations in the Agri-food sector
On November 26, 2020 the fourth edition of Innovation Forums as part of the EmpInno Monitor S3 project took place in the Lublin Conference Center. This time, during the conference, interesting solutions for the Agri-food sector in the region as well as innovations and the latest technological achievements of Lublin scientists were presented. Due to the epidemic situation caused by pandemic of the virus SARS-CoV-2, the meeting was hybrid - the invited guests debated in the studio of the Lublin Conference Center and interested listeners were made available on-line transmission.
The invited guests from the University of Life Sciences in Lublin presented innovative activities in the food sector and Agro in various types of innovation. Product and process innovations were distinguished as the two main types of innovation. Consumers' preferences in the food market were considered to be one of the main factors determining the success of innovation. The University of Life Sciences in Lublin has a lot to offer to the Agri-food sector.
The second part of the 4th Innovation Forum was a discussion on the place of innovation in the Agri-food sector in the Regional Innovation Strategy of the Lubelskie Voivodeship, which is currently being updated. The "Analysis of detailed issues carried out by the Lublin Center for Research on Innovation of the Marshal's Office in the field of smart specialization areas of the Lubelskie Voivodeship" was presented. As part of which a list of detailed issues grouped by category and subcategory, constituting the basis for reformulating the areas of smart specialization in our region was developed.
Entrepreneurs and on-line listeners also took the floor. It was emphasized how important is cooperation between science - business - business environment institutions. In activities in the Lublin region, much more cooperation between entrepreneurs and universities is needed,
in order to shorten the supply chain to be able to create more and more innovative products.
On the basis of the talks on departing from the broad understanding of the bioeconomy area during the update of the Regional Innovation Strategy of LV until 2020, for more detailed issues. There was also the concept of introducing the area of "Agriculture 4.0.", which would integrate many issues regarding the personalization of agricultural production with the use of solutions from various fields, not only agriculture itself, but also engineering and IT, for better farm management.
During the discussion, there were also new platforms for cooperation between the University of Life Sciences and entrepreneurs from the region in the field of, for example, the production of functional food, biodegradable packaging or preservation technologies without artificial substances or even on natural preservatives. On the part of entrepreneurs, there was also a suggestion to meet the increasingly popular vegan products, the production of which in our region has quite a strong position and great potential. And to include this issue in the updated Regional Innovation Strategy, which would allow entrepreneurs and universities to reach for EU funds from this range.
The 4th Innovation Forum is behind us. But thanks to it, many new topics were born, both for cooperation in the science-business line with the support of the Marshal's Office of the Lublin Province in Lublin, and for the implementation of the EmpInno Monitor S3 project, including the new topics for the next Innovation Forums, to which we invite you now!
Compiled by: Malgorzata Brodzicka, Lubelskie Voivodeship, Dec 2020
Preparing a company inquiry as a part of the RIS3 monitoring system
Given the need to include more qualitative information in the RIS3 monitoring system in the South Savo region, the South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences Xamk worked out a webropol-survey via e-mail for companies. It was planned in collaboration with the Regional Council of South Savo. The starting point of the inquiry was to get more detailed information about indicators like the needs, points of interest and future visions of businesses than it was so far available. In the following, a few observations are described based on our experiences while preparing the survey as a part of the RIS3 monitoring system.
On one hand, the purpose of the survey was to provide relevant information to support the monitoring of the smart specialisation strategy. On the other hand, company representatives needed to find it useful and inspiring enough to participate. In other words, the inquiry should tap into areas of interest among those whose feedback is appreciated. At this point, the covering letter played an important role. It was to convey the message of true interest in helping companies in the region to success in their businesses.
When preparing the webropol-survey the first question to be answered by ourselves was “How do we make sure that the ambitions of the funding programmes match knowledge, resources and needs amongst businesses?” Thereafter, it would be all about the art of asking right questions, which can be a tricky process. The old truth of “You’ll get what you order” applies also to inquiries. Above all, it is important to bear in mind that the questions are easy to answer. This involves several issues to consider: company language vs. public administration language, questions relevant from the big and smaller company’s point of view, length of the survey, anonymity of the survey, selecting between different types of questions – a choice/multiple choices from a list of given options, scaled and open questions about attitudes and opinions. At this point, it is also noteworthy to define the background information carefully in order to enable survey analysis and report on different levels of interest like the area of smart specialisation strategy, sub-region or company size. Further, while working out the questions it is important to keep in mind that a survey providing qualitative information focuses on perceptions of company representatives and facts, which are often impossible to collect from the official sources.
The companies were identified in accordance with the smart specialisation strategy of South Savo via a company database-service on the grounds of official industry classification. Consequently, companies within the sectors of wood, food, water and related digital services were included according to the value chain thinking. However, as an e-mail address is not a compulsory information when registering a company in Finland, those were missing to some extent in the database. It meant looking for the missing e-mail addresses of companies in different webpages by using the company name or business ID in the search. Most easily, the addresses were found in companies’ own websites, when those existed. Still, in many cases, the company Facebook turned out to be the best source for e-mail addresses.
After careful preparations in cooperation with the strategy owner, the inquiry was sent forward to a wide range of companies in top priority areas of South Savo's smart specialisation strategy –FOREST (New Products for Forest Biomass and production processes), WATER (Clean Water Technologies and Concepts), FOOD (The food chain's cleanness and security) and related DIGITAL services.
Further information of RIS3 in the region of South Savo: https://www.esavo.fi/resources/public//Tietoa-Etela-Savosta/Julkaisut/Julkaisut%202018/Smart%20Specialisation%20Strategy%20of%20South%20Savo%202018_2021.pdf
Copyright @ Sinikka Mynttinen, Xamk
Leader of Innovations
Leader of Innovations 2020 were chosen via online voting. Among the winners are micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. All the awarded are united by innovative solutions, effective use of EU support and establishment in the Poland Lublin region. It was the competition’s 4th round.
„Leader of Innovations” is a contest of the best and the most innovative companies from Lubelskie Voivodeship. Contestants in a special way contributed to the development of the whole region through their innovative activities and products.
On October 29, 2020 during the conference summarizing the activities implemented by the Lublin Enterprise Support Agency (LESA) the results of the Innovation Leader competition were announced. The competition purpose is to promote innovative projects and modern solutions implemented thanks to the support from the Regional Operational Program of the Lubelskie Voivodeship for 2014 -2020.
The competition was organized as part of the European Funds Open Days. The awards were granted in four categories, in line with the smart specializations of the Lubelskie Voivodeship: bioeconomy, medicine and health, IT & automation and low-emission energy.
This year's formula of the competition has been changed. The final twelve were selected by the award committee and the selection of the finalists was determined by the following criteria: the company's impact on the recognition of the Voivodeship, the level of innovation and competitiveness and an increase in employment through the implementation of an EU project. Companies with traditions were additionally taken into account.
Also, four winners from four categories were selected solely by the Internet users, who had been invited to vote from 5 to 16 October via the Lublin European Funds Facebook profile. At the next stage, out of the seventeen Laureates of the 4th edition of the competition, the award committee chose the Laureate of the special prize - "Leader of Leaders 2020", which was received by Henryk Kartaszyński for the project PRO-PROJECT development.
The PRO-PROJECT development is about launching the production of the innovative Pro-CT mk II phantom for quality control of tomographic devices. Phantom Pro-CT mk II is used to control the quality of diagnostic devices used in computed tomography. Thanks to such products, Pro-Project provides life-changing solutions that improve quality in the medical device industry, giving patients and professionals the confidence of correct diagnostics. So, for example, it makes sure that a mammogram does not miss a small breast cancer.
The Pro-Project company is based in Okszów and is the only one in Poland that produces devices for testing, diagnostic equipment used in dentistry, radiography, fluoroscopy, angiography, mammography, computed tomography, magnetic resonance, nuclear medicine, ultrasonography and radiotherapy. The company is already a world tycoon. It is dynamically developing not only in the domestic market, but also in the international arena. This is evidenced by the obtained patents and an extensive distribution network in over 110 countries, as well as numerous awards for the conducted activity.
Riga Planning Region Takes Local Outputs to New Regional Development Program
EmpInno Monitor S3 partner in Latvia – Riga Planning Region - have begun to elaborate the new regional development planning document – the Regional Development Program 2021-2027. The Regional Development Program is the most important regional medium-term planning document in Latvia that includes future development priorities and lists measures and instruments that allow to implement the long-term development goals.
Practical advancement of the new regional planning document started in September 2020 and it is expected that the programme will be drafted as soon as in spring / summer of 2021 to ensure that it is well aligned with the national development planning documents, such as the National Development Plan (NDP) for Latvia 2021-2027 and the Operational Programs associated with NAP.
EmpInno Monitor S3 expert at Riga Planning Region Ilgvars Francis was appointed a coordinator one of the five thematic or priority areas of the new development programme - “Competitiveness”. This priority area will address issues related to overall economic growth, innovation and specialisation on local or regional levels by identifying future growth sectors that have or will have enough potential to produce goods and provide services with high added value as well as encouraging changes and growth in sectors with significant horizontal impact that could contribute to transformation of the regional economy.
This allows to establish direct linkages between EmpInno / EmpInno Monitor S3 and the official regional development monitoring system. Given that all previous regional development programmes had not addressed issues related to the introduction and monitoring of smart specialisation processes explicitly, the added value of the project outputs becomes even more important.
All regional development programmes in Latvia must consist of at least three main parts – 1) the strategic part that describes the existing situation and identifies priorities, 2) the action (investment) plan that should be aligned with identified priorities and 3) the monitoring and review system, which must be developed to measure changes over time. As well, all local (municipal) development programmes must be consistent with the development programme of the respective planning region.
During the implementation of EmpInno and now as part of EmpInno Monitor S3, the Riga team strives to introduce the RIS3 approaches, including monitoring techniques, to the regional and local levels of administration simultaneously searching for ways how to become a systemic part of the national monitoring system. Apart from becoming a part of the RIS3 stakeholder community and involving local municipalities, several analytical tools have been developed to allow for better understanding of RIS3 processes in Riga region and to form the basis for the RIS3 monitoring on a regional level. It started with the elaboration of an analytical review on the implementation of smart specialization strategy in the Riga Planning Region, which included an extended description of all priority ecosystems and their participants by location. Then continued with the online analytical platform that allows mapping of the added value produced by all relevant enterprises represent the core branches within the five priority sectors at the national and regional RIS3 strategy.
The latest EmpInno Monitor S3 local outputs are the maps and datasets that contain spatially disaggregated data on the processes of change, such as a number of enterprises by the sector of economy in RIS3 priority areas, the annual turnover of enterprises by the sector of economy in RIS3 priority areas, a number of employed persons by the sector of economy in RIS3 priority areas as well as many other performance indicators, more than 30 maps and datasets in total (Figure 1). These efforts allow to integrate the regional innovation monitoring system into the overall development monitoring framework.
Figure 1. Example of the RIS3 monitoring Maps and Spreadsheets
Two types of monitoring reports will be elaborated within the scope of the supervision and monitoring of the new regional Development Program: 1) a simplified annual report on the processes within the region and 2) a broader report once every four years before the municipal elections (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Elaboration of Regional Development Program monitoring reports
The Riga Planning Region has started the public consultation process and meetings with regional stakeholders (Figure 3) and expect that these initiatives will continue until the end of EmpInno Monitor S3 and even further on as new funding sources become available. There are already certain plans and projects that would allow to monitor different indicators of change until 2027.
Figure 3. EmpInno Monitor S3 / Regional Development Program 2021-2027 Stakeholder Meeting at Riga Planning Region in October, 2020
Compiled by and for further information, please contact: Ilgvars Francis, Project Expert at Riga Planning Region , Ilgvars.email@example.com , + 371 29 229 690 , www.rpr.gov.lv . Oct 2020.
* Picture: Example of the RIS3 monitoring Maps and Spreadsheets.
Innovations in practice
On 20th of October 2020 during The VII National Scientific Conference "Innovations in practice" EmpInno Monitor S3 project partner Malgozata Brodzicka was talking about the EmpInno project. The main aim of the conference is to popularize the importance of new scientific achievements, as well as to exchange experiences and integrate students, doctoral students and young scientists. The result of participation in the event is the opportunity to establish contacts with entrepreneurs, create interdisciplinary teams and define areas of their possible cooperation. During this conference, the Marshal's Office of the Lubelskie Voivodeship had its panel about the voivodeship, initiatives taken in it, including international projects, of which they are a partner, so that there could not be missing information about The EmpInno and its influence.
The panel of the Marshal's Office was aimed at disseminating knowledge about The Interreg projects, including the Interreg Baltic Sea Region, and EmpInno Monitor S3 as well, among the RIS3 interests to increase the level of innovation and competitiveness of the region. The audience was able to see the benefits of them directly and indirectly from Interreg projects and how they can improve the implementation of RIS3, which determines the direction of EU funding support for the development of innovation and helps us gather information on the support of the RIS3 monitoring system.
Compiled by: Malgozata Brodzicka, Marshal's Office of the Lubelskie Voivodeship. Oct 2020
*Picture: A screenshot of the online broadcast.
Partners enable their regional conditions for a Smarter Europe
Despite grand challenges and uncertainties such as COVID-19 and discussions in the “big politics” (e.g. “Next Generation EU”, Multiannual Financial Framework, Rule of Law, Brexit…) the EmpInno Monitor S3 partners continue with their work towards a more innovative, Smarter Europe.
While it is evident that smart specialisation strategies become more and more rooted in innovation policy thinking and routines of regional and national actors, the future cohesion policy in the 2021-2027 puts high emphasis on smart specialisation again. As first of the five Cohesion Policy Objectives, a “Smarter Europe” shall be achieved by promoting innovative and smart economic transformation. To secure this, “good governance of national or regional smart specialisation strategy” must be in place. This is a so-called enabling condition for smart specialisation. Enabling conditions are what previously used to be ex-ante conditionalities: aspects a country or region must fulfill to receive EU funding.
Good governance of a national or regional smart specialisation strategy is defined by and reflected in seven fulfillment criteria, at least three of which the EmpInno Monitor S3 project explicitly addresses and improves:
3. Monitoring and evaluation tools to measure performance towards objectives of the strategy (A monitoring and evaluation system is in place to collect information on the implementation of smart specialisation priorities.)
- The overall objective of EmpInno Monitor S3 is to develop and test innovative monitoring elements and thereby to improve the monitoring systems of the smart specialisation strategies in the seven partner regions and countries.
4. Effective functioning of the entrepreneurial discovery process (The EDP is an interactive and inclusive process in which actors from business, research, civil society and public administration (=quadruple helix) identify specialisation priorities (or remove them if evidence shows no progress). This is an ongoing process, where all stakeholders are adequately represented.)
- Activities by several project partners (e.g. see here) are directed to a higher engagement of stakeholders not only in monitoring but involve them stronger in the RIS3 implementation, to sustain the EDP. In addition, many partners test elements how to include more qualitative information in the RIS3 monitoring process.
7. Measures for international collaboration (Measures to engage regional stakeholders (universities, RTOs, SMEs, clusters) in participating in and developing EU or international value chains are being developed/promoted.)
All in all, the EmpInno Monitor S3 contributes with the project activities to achieving the enabling condition “good governance of national or regional smart specialisation strategy”.Photo by Christian on Unsplash.
- Already in the predecessor project EmpInno the partners mobilised their regional stakeholders towards internationalisation activities with their pendants from other partner regions, e.g. with delegation trips for maritime industry companies or adapting and applying good practices of SME empowerment tools such as “breakfast for innovators” from other regions. These induced activities can build upon the established relations among the partners and thus can continue.
Design as a means to improve S3 monitoring?
Danish Design Centre is Denmark’s national design centre that promotes the use of design in public and private innovation. But we also apply design in-house to most of the activities we work with - we are not only thinking design, we are doing design. So, what do we mean by design?
Design is the thinking and acting behind improvements that create value for people. It is about designing new solutions that include the perspectives of the users or the customers. Design methods can be applied in numerous contexts and situations - it is an inclusive, creative, and systematic approach that opens up for identification of solutions beyond the immediately obvious.
Questioning the existing
The question we pose regarding the main challenges behind Empinno Monitor S3 could sound like this: How might we monitor economic progress and development in a manner that is flexible and adaptable towards changing circumstances?
We all know that times change - we read about it all the time; we hear about the lack of qualified labour, remembering that it was the complete opposite a couple of years ago following the financial crisis: unemployment and a lack of jobs. People and companies must change continuously - we need to reduce the amount of CO2, we need to reuse our waste, our materials, we need to become more green or more digitalised.
EU’s structural funds support all these transitions, but sometimes we need to take a moment and consider what needs to be changed and why. For instance, it does not make sense to support companies in creating more jobs if we have a situation with a lack of qualified labour. So how might we make sure that we spend the EU-funds in a wise and adaptable way? And, in this context, how might we identify monitoring indicators that support wise and adaptable spending?
This is the challenge in a nutshell.
Of course, there is no immediate solution. The problem or challenge is a complex one, forcing us to consider our approach to the problem itself as carefully as the potential solution. Or, as Albert Einstein said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions”. The optimal situation would be to identify indicators that nudge people and companies in the right direction, always considering what that direction is, at the moment of reflection. How do we do that?
Not easy, and perhaps not possible at all. But using design methods might be a start, for example by applying an approach from the design DNA, an inherent part of the work of Danish Design Centre.
In practical terms, it would include a two-step approach:
- Understanding: How do different stakeholders - business operators, clusters, business agencies, and companies - view the monitoring practice as it is being performed today? What are the pain points? And what do they perceive as gain points?
- Developing: Identify potential new or improved indicators of monitoring based on a design approach
Will it work?
In a complex domain like monitoring European smart specialisation strategies across regions and countries, nothing can be taken for granted. The framework is quite strict and Denmark is not alone, so monitoring indicators need to fit with a European practice to provide comparable measures across countries. But we may confront what is possible and acceptable within the set framework, and eventually also identify new or improved indicators which make sense for those needing them as well as for those working with them.
Looking into the future
The mission is therefore to create insights and reflections which may feed into future monitoring practice and lead to improvements. The vision, if we want to aim high, is monitoring indicators that are adaptable and make sense for those needing them as well as those working with them, at any given time. Perhaps this is like putting a man on the moon: Demanding, at times even perceived impossible, but rewarding when it happens and with significant, positive side effects that the world is still benefitting from. We do not need to aim that high with S3 Monitoring, but our common ambitions could lead us further than we might think.
* Caption under the picture: The Danish Design Council together with Danish Design Centre, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation and Design Museum Denmark, conducted a survey of Danish design in order to identify its exact characteristics – its DNA, so to speak.
Compiled by: Aase Højlund Nielsen, Dansk Design Center. March, 2020.
How to get more qualitative information from RIS3 stakeholders?During the implementation of the EmpInno project, it was found that the existing systems for monitoring regional innovation strategies (RIS3) lack key qualitative information provided by end users, including innovative entities such as companies, R&D entities and other stakeholders of the innovation ecosystem. Responding to these needs, the Foundation for Lubelskie Development within the EmpInno Monitor S3 project has planned activities whose main goals are to develop new solutions and methods of obtaining information from end users (RIS3 stakeholders) in order to increase the quality and effectiveness of the RIS3 monitoring system.
In March 2020, the Foundation for Lubelskie Development carried out a procedure for the selection of providers for the development (design, implementation and launch) of the "RIS closer to us" module and for developing a mobile application functionally consistent with the module. The module will be created on the subdomain www.ris.fundacja.lublin.pl and will be used to managing surveys to be completed by users - stakeholders of the RIS3, such as: business environment institutions, research and development units, universities, local governments and entrepreneurs. A link to the module will be placed on the website of the Marshal's Office of Lubelskie Voivodeship - owner of RIS3. The basis for developing the module will be a survey, the content of which will be consulted during workshops based upon the design thinking method, which will be organized by the Foundation for Lubelskie Development in March and April, 2020. The workshops will be attended by experts from RIS3 interested parties: representatives of the Marshal's Office of Lubelskie Voivodeship, R&D entities, universities, business environment institutions, local government and entrepreneurs. Conclusions from the workshops and recommendations will be forwarded to the Marshal's Office of Lubelskie Voivodeship. They will be able to be used to: increase the quality and effectiveness of monitoring methods of RIS3 in the Lubelskie Voivodeship. During the implementation of the above tasks, the Foundation for Lubelskie Development will work closely with the Marshal's Office of Lubelskie Voivodeship, the owner of RIS3 in Lubelskie Region.
Compiled by: Małgorzata Gałczyńska, Project Coordinator, Foundation for Lubelskie Development. March, 2020
Boost science-business cooperation with new instruments in LubelskieTo increase the level of innovation and competitiveness of the region, the Gov-Lab project held a Demo Day in Warsaw, Poland. A designing team of the Lubelskie Voivodeship attended and worked on solutions for the region. During the event instruments were developed and presented for designing tools in the form of a public service being addressed to entrepreneurs.In Lubelskie Region, the designed instruments shall improve the cooperation between science and business. It will be implemented as a public service, assuming measurable benefits for all partners involved in this process, i.e. direct results of science-business cooperation. In this way the new instruments will advance the smart specialisations in the Lubelskie Region. Therefore, the target group will be the entrepreneurs who base their activities on innovative solutions (technological enterprises), but also scientific units / research workers as well as local government administration units, associated with the Lubelskie Region. It will be a response to challenges in the area of incubation and transfer of innovation identified in the Region. These challenges consist of challenges of a strategic nature (involvement of scientific potential in the process of entrepreneurial discovery) as well as operational and environmental (combining Business and Technology Roadmap with an acceleration program).
During the Demo Day workshop, the designing team from the Marshal’s Office of the Lubelskie Voivodeship presented a solution in the form of "Technological pilot". It is a solution based on the available resources of the Marshal's Office, including employees of the Business Lubelskie Branch. The technological pilot will have the task of diagnosing the technological needs of entrepreneurs and networking - connecting entrepreneurs with scientists who can support them in the implementation of diagnosed needs. This will also facilitate cooperation between entrepreneurs and scientists to support entrepreneurs in meeting their technological needs, which will help to use achievements of the science sector. This in turn will contribute to a greater use of the scientific and technological potential of the Region.
Gov-Lab is the next stage of supporting the Region's innovativeness planned in the RIS LV 2020 and initiated by pilot programs based on inspiration of good practices and testing new solutions in the environment of umbrella initiatives. According to the RIS LV declaration, the regional innovation laboratory, in the GOV-LAB formula, will serve "... a systematic search for solutions (directions and types of activities as well as specific projects) that will better adapt directions and interventions to the changing needs and challenges related to regional development of smart specialization areas." Bearing in mind how important the role in this process is entrepreneurial process of discovery (EDP) it is also a set of specific tools - instruments combining the supply and demand side of innovation. Bussines Model Canvas, QuickLook, DesignThinking, technology readiness maps (BTR), due diligence or proprietary solutions such as NLab (acceleration program under cooperation in the Lubelskie Voivodeship - Nevada) are solutions supporting entrepreneurs that require inclusion in the public service design process, which will serve to increase the level of innovation and competitiveness of the region.In this way, Marshal's Office of the Lubelskie Voivodeship will gather information on the support of the RIS3 monitoring system based on the above-mentioned activities.
Compiled by: Malgorzata Brodzicka, Urząd Marszałkowski Województwa Lubelskiego w Lublinie, Departament Gospodarki i Wspierania Przedsiębiorczości, Lubelskie Centrum Badań nad Innowacyjnością. March, 2020.
Establishing aligned interests and common ground with the strategy owner
In Finnish innovation system regional authorities, i.e. regional councils, are responsible for building regional innovation strategies. The Regional Council of Satakunta has together with region’s stakeholders formed a future vision based on smart, inclusive and sustainable growth through pure vitality and people-oriented solutions. Satakunta's smart specialisation strategy is based on the existing regional expertise, and process of the Satakunta regional program is tightly connected to the smart specialisation approach (RIS3). As a funding authority, Regional Council of Satakunta also coordinates the implementation of S3 –themes and creates synergy between f.ex. ERDF and ESF projects. Region’s strategy is implemented by expert organizations, educational institutions and business developers.
”Aim is to enhance the organisational capacities of innovation intermediaries to utilize the RIS3 and also strengthen regional and international collaboration, support development of research infrastructures and the development of new innovative ideas, support development of new companies, renewal of industries and shared vision for the region future”, explains Director of Regional Development Mrs. Katja Laitinen from Regional Council of Satakunta.
Regional business support company Prizztech works as an innovation intermediary, bringing together companies, SMEs, public sector actors and other innovation actors. As an impartial non-profit organization, Prizztech shares best practices and experiences among regional innovation networks. Evaluation and continuous improvement are important elements of regional innovation work, and Prizztech also provides feedback for companies and regional authorities concerning RIS3 activity. Another important task is to promote regional RIS3 work at a national level.
Altough Regional Council of Satakunta and Prizztech have different roles in the regional innovation system their also have clear mutual interests. Both organisations are deeply committed in promoting the positive development of the Satakunta region and have over the years found ways to effectively align their interests for that purpose. When preparing or implementing new development project Prizztech always reflects the aims of the project to the goals of the Satakunta's smart specialisation strategy.
”There is also very low threshold for contacting the personnel of the Regional Council of Satakunta. This works both ways, as Prizztech is always ready to share it’s knowledge, insights and networks in order to foster the regional innovation policy”, says Advisor Sami Leppimäki from Prizztech.
All in all, the cooperation between strategy owner and implementor is in very stable common ground in Satakunta region.
Compiled by: Sami Leppimäki, Prizztech 20.12.2019
Caption under the picture: Annual Match Industry event organized by Prizztech in cooperation with Regional Council of Satakunta is a networking forum for companies and stakeholders.
Interactive RIS3 on-line platform Riga Planning Region
Are you working in the field of regional planning, business development and RIS3?
Do you need to monitor ongoing economic processes of change in your region and to identify certain growth areas – preferably without much staff and time effort?
What if you could do it now, right away and with only one tool?
Riga Planning region, a regional development authority and Smart specialization strategy implementer on a regional level, developed an interactive RIS3 analytical online platform that uses spatially disaggregated socio-economic phenomena and data of companies and industries to graph not only the existing ecosystem of the Region of Riga. By mapping all companies (exceeding a yearly turnover of 150 000 EUR), their products, services and added value to specific RIS3 priority sectors (instead of merely quantify companies within specific sectors), the online tool allows as well to
- illustrate the location of real clusters of economic activity and their “weight” within the ecosystem
- indicate current strengths and weaknesses of existing RIS3 ecosystems
- identify economic development trends in the region
- and ultimately help to develop suggestions for certain sector growth policies on regional and local level.
In Riga, the newly developed tool and its integration into the organisation’s daily routine already assisted regional and municipal staff members with more practice-related knowledge on RIS3, its local implementation and potential growth and/or support areas. Furthermore, the tool has been successfully supported the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development of Latvia as part of the current administrative reform of Latvia scheduled to be finished in 2021.
By adding and comparing various and more recent socio-economic data on different layers (and beyond the RIS3), Riga Planning Region intends to strategically develop the tool into a more dynamic representation of economic processes which further strengthen the organisational capacities of RIS3 specialists and support the regional decision-making processes.
The RIS3 analytical online platform has been developed as part of the Interreg Baltic Sea region programme project EmpInno and will be further used and developed within the succeccor project EmpInno Monitor S3. The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development of Latvia supported Riga Planning Region by providing the state co-financing to implement the EmpInno Monitor S3 project but also by becoming an official associated partner of Riga Planning Region in the project.
Compiled by: Ilgvars Francis, EmpInno Monitor S3 project expert at Riga Planning Region. Riga, 4 December, 2019
Partner meeting in Rostock
EmpInno Monitor S3 lead partner Rostock Business and Technology Development GmbH hosted the 1st project meeting in Rostock, Germany, 15-17 October 2019.
EmpInno Monitor S3 project’s main objective is to “develop and test innovative monitoring elements and therefore to improve the monitoring systems of the smart specialisation strategies”. The project will cooperate with the BSR S3 Ecosystem platform.
During the 1st project meeting all partners presented the current state of their S3 monitoring system and the need for adjustment. Then there were discussions on RIS3 monitoring challenges, which was followed by the interactive working session and all partners worked on concrete ideas of their testing approaches/tools in order to specify the activities in the RIS3 Monitoring Testing Plans.
SPARK Demo CRM system
SPARK Demo is the business support structure for entrepreneurship in South Estonia, created in 2016 under the leadership of Tartu Science Park and with the support of the city of Tartu. The demo hall, located in the downtown area of Tartu brings together the most successful manufacturing companies, exporters, image-makers, employers, brightest startups and business support organisations in southern Estonia. SPARK Demo’s desire is to bring different parties together to spark collaboration, new ideas and create new opportunities and solutions.
In 2019 we have hosted more than 6000 visitors from 46 different countries to whom we presented more than 40 companies and their awesome solutions from South- Estonia. We organised or co-organised more than 100 events (workshop, seminar, networking, etc.) for entrepreneurs. We are an active member of Tartu startup ecosystem providing support to different organisations and events such as sTARTUp Day and Tartu Entrepreneurship Week.
The feedback both from partners and visitors is very positive – thrilling, exciting, intimate, inspiring, comfortable, and inviting are just some examples of the kind of feedback we have received. In addition to the physical environment, the synergy generated between the various partners and business units and support structures plays a role in the positive atmosphere of the centre.
SPARK Demo CRM system
The current system does not allow tracking of contacts that originate from SPARK Demo rooms/ events. System is crated for the companys to get quick and easy contact. Query capability for the person visiting SPARK Demo center. Contact traceability for the SPARK Demo center and its staff
Phase I of the project was finished in the middle of October 2019 when we finished the kiosk system and from then we will take 6 months to monitor the results in order to receive valuable input for the developing of phase II and III. Monitoring Phase I solutions will give us feedback on the query system itself as to how easy or hard is it to use and also how often and from kiosk or web is the query coming from.
I. The Creation of the query kiosk (Done) + web
a. Aim: Possibility to send querys II. Pipedrive overview (In que)
a. Aim: Total overview of the communication and results III. Improvements (In que)
a. Aim: Fix arising problems
• Google Analytics - Track the start of a contact from three locations (Kiosk, Web, QR)
• Pipedrive - Provides an overview of the interaction of the resulting contacts through autoresponder replies
• Newsletter - Allows you to add customers to your newsletter
• Better information management
• Possibility to market this as a service
• Value offer for SPARK Demo exhibitions
• Business development
• Widening contact network
Compiled by: Rasmus Haugasmägi, SPARK Demo. Tartu, January, 2020.
Industrial Transition (ELMO2) - Implementation project in South Savo
South Savo Finland S3 strategy owner comment:
"I had a privilege to participate in the EmpInno Monitor S3 project meeting in Rostock Germany in October 2019. As the Smart Specialisation Strategy owner, the South Savo Regional Council has high expectations towards the co-operation and results obtainable from EmpInno Monitor S3 project towards our Smart Specialisation Strategy monitoring system.
The meeting in Rostock enabled me to connect with the entire EmpInno Monitor S3 project team. Furthermore, I obtained valuable knowledge from the other regions involved in the similar work. Following the face-to-face meeting, the work has continued at the local level. I look forward to continuing the work with EmpInno Monitor S3 project to meet the targets set in October 2019."
Sincerely, Riikka Tanskanen, Project Manager, South Savo Regional Council, Finland
Developing a RIS3 monitoring tool - RELOS3
EmpInno Monitor S3 project partner Tartu City Government will be entering the implementation phase of the Interreg project RELOS3 in January 2020, where one of their actions is directly linked with the EmpInno Monitor S3 project aim that is 'Developing a RIS3 monitoring tool'. We will be keeping a close eye on their developments in following through this action.
Have a quick look at the press release from last Thematical Workshop the RELOS3 project partner had before presenting their final Action Plans to the Joint Technical Secretariat.
RELOS3 - ready for Second Phase
Each Interreg Europe projects consists of two phases: the first phase in which knowledge is exchanged and all partners draft an Regional Action Plan that defines the learnings and the second phase that actually implements these Action Plans and monitors progress. After three years, RELOS3 is now ready for that second phase, that will start in January 2020.
In order to make final preparations for this milestone, a two-day Technical Workshop was recently held in Groningen, the Netherlands.
During these two days, the mutual exchange continued by peer review, from inside the project but also from other Interreg Europe projects. We also learned about lessons from previous cooperation projects by expert consultant Tako Popma, who concluded in his research that especially the involvement from key stakeholders and decision makers are essential to keep the momentum going.
The workshop ended with a joint session with sister project BeyondEDP, learning about the latest developments in the Northern Netherlands such as the development of Hydrogen Valley and RIS3 in general, with input from Mathieu Doussineau from the Joint Research Centre in Seville.
Comment from a visitor
Marilin Kroon from Tartu City Council remarked: “The participatory workshop highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of the plans in an interactive way. The peer reviews and observations of the partners were the best way to further develop the plan and point out weaknesses. Discussions and feedback were really useful for completing our Action Plans and preparing for phase 2 of the RELOS3 project.”
Website will be a reference point going forward
The project’s website at www.relos3.eu will be essential for keeping track of all the documents that the partnership has produces. It will contain all the Regional Action Plans, all newsletters, conference reports and all other products.
Last but by no means least, the website also contains the results of three years of research collected by the Sant’Anna School for Advanced Studies, published in a volume called: “Smart specialisation: reappraising the local dimension”, with contributions and case studies from numerous expert authors. The direct link is: <https://bit.ly/2sxygL2>
For more information, please feel free to contact Wian Stienstra, Communication Manager of the project, at +31 643 068 985, or by mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The project has a website: www.relos3.eu and is found on Twitter: @relos3eu
*Caption under the picture: Participants taking part in the peer review of each other’s Action Plans.
EmpInno issues recommendations and finalises activities… to continue two years with "Monitoring S3"
The EmpInno project has issued two sets of recommendations, one for innovation intermediaries and one for authorities responsible for smart specialisation strategies. Based on the project experiences and exchange, the partnership provides hands-on guidance and derives lessons learnt for other strategy implementers and strategy owners for a better implementation of RIS3.
Downloadable versions can be found here.
The EmpInno project finalises its activities in April 2019. A short snapshot of outputs and results is below. Nine partners continue to cooperate in an extension stage project. They will develop and test innovative monitoring elements and thereby improve the monitoring systems of the smart specialisation strategies.
- Each project partner organisation produced an organisational coaching tool to increase its capacity to work with the RIS3. You can find these outputs which serve as examples for different kind of organisations, ranging from internal competence mapping to factsheets on smart specialisations here.
- In each partner region a RIS3 feedback paper is produced to provide feedback and recommendations from the project activities and experiences to the regional strategy owner to improve the RIS3. Feel free to approach the partners for learning about their findings and feedback.
among companies and innovation actors led to transnational synergy effects, for
example through joint transnational delegation trips or the adaptation of
successful good practices of R+D transfer workshops from one region to another.
The partners joined forces in the six priorities ICT, Maritime Industries, Food, Energy, Advanced Materials and Health, Life Sciences and Biotech in which the partner
regions have overlapping strengths. For each of these six priorities a Synergy and Empowerment Concept is produced to allow other
innovation actors to adapt and implement good practices and lessons learned. The concepts can be found here.
- The highlights of successful good practices for R+D transfer, SME Empowerment and Matchmaking can be found at http://www.empinno.eu/good-practices .
- Learning also in the future from each other about RIS3 related topics is the core of the network of transnational RIS3 specialists (www.empinno.eu/network). The partners stay in contact and carry out joint activities. This happens on a strong basis of cooperation during the project – where the partners discussed about common issues of RIS3, exchanged good practices of regional innovation policy instruments and learned about the smart specialisation strategies from each other.
3rd Innovation Forum on Healthy Food and Forest in Lubelskie, Poland
On 13 April 2019, the Marshal's Office of the Lubelskie Voivodeship organised the 3rd Innovation Forum entitled “Lubelskie Region – healthy land of food and forests” in Lublin, Poland. Implemented under the EmpInno project, entrepreneurs, researchers and guests from companies, institutions and scientific-research units were invited to exchange and discuss market experiences and innovative approaches of the Polish food and forest industry and market. The forum was divided in two parts: The first part was dedicated to high-quality food products such as functional food with pro-health properties based on natural ingredients and the access to and market opportunities on the national and global market. The participants were inspired by the EIT Food good practices, ways of certificate receipt on national and international level and effective and open innovation ecosystems at the regional and interregional level. They learned why clusters are an important element of accelerating the development of micro and small family enterprises. After the presentations, the discussion panel focused attention on several aspects such as: the of producers and consumers in the field of food safety, strengthening the brand of Lublin berry species, closer linkages of research and fruit practices, improving competitiveness on the processing market, pro-health activities based on personalised food, healthy products with the so-called "clean label", or industry integration and ways to increase the Polish organic food market.The second part of the forum was dedicated mostly to the forest industry and market. Representatives from the Institute of Soil Science and Plant Cultivation in Puławy and guest speaker Dr. Kesheng Shu talked about the European Union's approach to biotechnology, flagship projects including those implemented under the Horizon 2020 programme. Successive speakers talked about bottom-up initiatives on energy independence, agroforestry and the European waste wood platform. During the entire Innovation Forum, the guests had the opportunity to try regional products and familiarise with the international projects implemented by the Marshal's Office of the Lubelskie Voivodeship.
Further information: http://invest.lubelskie.pl/pl/aktualnosc/iii-forum-innowacji
Copyright © Marshal's Office of the Lubelskie Voivodeship
Improved reference group-approach for innovation governance processes in Gävleborg, SE
Region Gävleborg shared their Good Practice of enhanced use of reference groups for stakeholder governance in innovation processes with the EmpInno partners.The region built the first Electric Road System (ERS) in the world on a public highway for heavy transport 2016 (E16 outside Sandviken). Building the ERS has required collaboration between many stakeholders from the public sector, the business sector and the academy in a triple helix context. One of the most important parts of the collaborative leadership has been the involvement of the reference groups in the innovation process.
Reference groups have been a standard tool of project management for decades, but are seldom used to its full potential. The involvement of reference groups in the ERS innovation process has taken the tool to another level and is now a central part of the stakeholder governance. The reference groups are divided into certain areas of expertise for example risk analysis, road security, emergency rescue, business models. The core work group with the central stakeholders is called “the family”. Each of the participants has been handpicked which has been a prerequisite for successful use of reference groups. The motivation and driving forces behind every participant have been analysed to create win-win for everyone. A long term relation trust building approach is used by an open and transparent way of informing and discussing what is going on in the project. By being personally chosen to a workgroup where creative input and critical questions from everyone is valued the stakeholders feel included in the innovation process.
The results have been critical contributions of knowledge, supporting attitudes to the innovation process and the stakeholder´s addition to the projects storytelling about the ERS as an important break-through for a more sustainable transportation system that creates a more profitable business for everyone. Nearly half of the carbon dioxide emissions in the region of Gävleborg come from transportation and most of all from heavy transportation connected to the industry. A full scale ERS deployment on proper roads creates a “green transportation system” and will have a substantial effect on the carbon dioxide emissions. The electricity in the region is nearly 100 % fossil free. Many of the actors in the reference groups therefore have a sense a pride for being a part of a world breakthrough innovation process with a potential for a structural transformation.
Further information: http://www.regiongavleborg.se/elvagCopyright © Region Gävleborg
Merry Christmas and a good start into the New Year!
A full year of transnational exchange, local activities, developing outputs and preparing the final conference (6th/7th March 2019) lies behind us. Now it is time to rest, spend time with your beloved ones and let innovation policies and smart specialisation strategies make a pause. With full energy we are back in January 2019 to finalise the project and share with you the achievements.
The EmpInno partnership wishes you a blessed Christmas time and a good start into 2019!
Innovation exchange in Kujawsko-Pomorskie – EmpInno partners share their expertise on food industries
On the 14-15 November 2018, the Marshal Office of the Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship organised a delegation trip for EmpInno partners and stakeholders to the Kujawsko Pomorskie Region, Poland. The agenda provided a combination of several visits to innovative companies in the region and of participating as experts in the Fifth European Congress of Agribusiness Managers in Łysomice.
During the first day, the participants visited a series of companies active in the food industry sector and considered as innovative food producers and/or marketer of high-quality and healthy food products. Beside the possibility to learn about specific products or innovative production and marketing processes, EmpInno partners had the chance to exchange visions and ideas of how entrepreneurs can be part of regional innovation transfer and strategies. A practical example of how innovation transfer can be organised between academic institutions and entrepreneurs was given by the University of Science and Technology in Bydgoszcz (UTP).
On the second day, EmpInno partners and stakeholders participated in the Fifth European Congress of Agribusiness Managers in Łysomice. The Congress is a two-day event for representatives of various enterprises in plant and animal production business, representatives of the agri-food processing sector and individual farmers. Beside being a stage for current trends in agriculture, production techniques and processes, the Congress also serves as a platform for innovation and knowledge transfer from the scientific community to the agricultural producers and entrepreneurs. Thereby, food security or environmental protection are among the topics that are transferred and discussed. EmpInno partners contributed by presenting good practices of innovative solutions for producers and farms based on the transnational exchange within the EmpInno partnership.
Smart and outstanding for innovation – EmpInno in South-Ostrobothnia, FIHeading towards the final project phase, the 15 project partners came together at the 9th project meeting in Seinäjoki, Finland from 9-10 October 2018. The hosting partner Regional Council of South-Ostrobothnia showcased its strengths with a two-day programme that illustrated the outward orientation, entrepreneurial mindset and openness of its region. The partners shared their drafts e.g. of organisational coaching tools and feedback papers which help improve the regional smart specialisation strategies in the partner regions. Besides getting closer to the project outputs, the partners also discussed about how to communicate the EmpInno results. A major opportunity to do so is the final conference from 5-7th March 2019 in Potsdam/Berlin, for which a pool of ideas was brainstormed.Read more See related news
The good practice of regional innovation policy instrument “Epanet University Network and University Consortium of Seinäjoki” was lively presented and certainly inspired several partners to consider joining scientific forces, based on a close triple helix cooperation between industry, university and governmental entities – also in less central cities and regions. Inspirational was also the general discussion about policy traps and different sources of power for implementing the RIS3 that was introduced by a keynote speech of Prof. Markku Sotarauta (Tampere University), entitled “Regional (Place) Leadership and Implementation”.
Finally, the partners learned about the smart specialisation strategies from the two Finnish regions Satakunta and South-Ostrobothnia (available in the documents section) – including also their relations with other strategies like the regional programmes. This again underlined the different strategic contexts in which all RIS3 need to be considered when discussing e.g. about how to improve or monitor the RIS3. Finnish regions like the two presented are considerable smaller (e.g. less than 230.000 inhabitants) than e.g. the Baltic countries – nevertheless, they have their own smart specialisation strategy and other strategic programmes in place.
Picture: REM Consult
How to support and fund the process from a discovery to a bio-business?
On 28th/29th August 2018 the EmpInno partner Tartu Science Park organized together with the Tartu Biotechnology Park an R+D transfer workshop for biotechnology companies. The overarching topics were: "How to support and fund the process from a discovery to a bio-business" and "Precision Medicine’s impact on clinical diagnostics: Precision Diagnostics". In the Southern Estonian Smart Specialisation Strategy biotechnology is one of the smart specialisations of Tartu and South Estonia.
The inspiring idea of the workshop was how to create a business from science ideas and bring the academic knowledge into practice. The presentation covered a range of aspects in clinical diagnostics/prognostics. Emphasis was put on oncology, including current global scientific trends, needs to be identified, developing and establishing key partnerships, market landscape, funding possibilities for SMEs, etc.
In addition, and as part of funding and related to other aspects, presentations and discussions were held on the EIC|SME Instrument Program by providing examples and other relevant European Commission platforms as well as private funding possibilities for commercialisation of scientific knowledge. The lecturer was Iordanis Arzimanoglou, Senior Advisor to Genetic Diagnostic/Biomarker SMEs & Registered EASME|SME Instrument Business Innovation Coach.
Many companies used the opportunity to have one-on-one consulting with the trainer (each 45 minutes). On the second day meetings were held in the Tartu Biotechnology Park incubator and the Estonian Genome Center, as well as company visited.The target groups of the workshop were the local life science (biotech) entrepreneurs and scientists in Estonia.Picture: Tartu Science Park
Organisational coaching tool developed in Riga Planning Region
The EmpInno partner Riga Planning Region has finalised and set-up its “interactive RIS3 analytical online platform”. It comprises and demonstrates data and other information that relate to the implementation of the Latvian smart specialization strategy. Moreover, the platform tool provides for better understanding of the existing ecosystems and allows for further analysis of the RIS3 processes in the region.
This newly developed tool serves as assistance to regional and municipal staff members working in the RIS3 field, for instance, development planning and entrepreneurship officers. Its integration into the organisation’s daily routine enables regional and local RIS3 specialists to get better equipped with more practice-related knowledge about the RIS3 and its implementation possibilities on the local level. A proper understanding and use of data helps to identify certain growth areas or places that might require additional support. Five priority branches of the smart specialization strategy of Latvia have been mapped and analysed: 1) bio-economy, 2) bio-medicine, medicine technologies, bio-pharmaceuticals and bio-technologies, 3) information and communication technologies, 4) smart energy and 5) smart materials, technologies and engineering systems.
In order to popularise the platform and ensure quick access, it will be placed on the internet page of Riga planning region. Other activities related to the dissemination of the organisational coaching tool include regional RIS3 seminars and discussions. Riga Planning Region is functionally a second-tier municipality whose task is to co-ordinate regional development processes in the fields of regional planning and support to entrepreneurship and by doing so it co-operates with 30 local municipalities and other external stakeholders. Five planning regions exist in Latvia, of which Riga Planning Region is by far the largest both in terms of population and economic activity.
In EmpInno, each project partner develops a specific organisational coaching tool that enhances the internal capacity to apply the smart specialisation approach. Thus, 15 distinct approaches are followed and institutionalised in the partner organisations how to better work with the RIS3.Picture: Screenshot Riga Planning Region
Offshoreenergy.dk inspire Finnish-German Offshore Wind study-visitors
Offshore wind study-visit delegates from the Satakunta region in Finland and from Rostock in Germany had a tight schedule as they were welcomed in Esbjerg by Offshoreenergy.dk end May 2018. The study visit was organized as part of the Interreg Baltic Sea Region programme funded project EmpInno aiming at enhancing the innovation capacity and business growth within small and medium sized regions and cities. Thus, topics of interest for the study visit included: How has Esbjerg developed into a hub for offshore wind in the North Sea? How is the innovation eco-system around Offshoreenergy.dk organised? And what kind of public support is offered to the offshore energy industry in Esbjerg?
The study visit kicked off in the Town Hall where the Mayor of Esbjerg, Jesper Frost Rasmussen, welcomed the delegates and stressed the vital economic importance of the offshore industry in Esbjerg. All of which became even clearer as the delegates met with companies such as Vattenfall Renewables Wind, Atkins Company, Ocean Team Group and Blue Water Shipping and went on a guided tour around the port of Esbjerg.The Finnish delegation was composed by companies, the City of Pori and business development managers who are jointly working on establishing an offshore wind cluster in Pori that can act as a servicing hub for e.g. the Tahkoluoto Offshore Wind Farm – Finland’s first ever offshore wind park from 2010.
Accordingly, attention was high when Vattenfall Renewables Wind presented to the delegates what demands and expectations the company holds towards suppliers to their wind parks and when Offshoreenergy.dk CEO Glenda Napier explained the structure and activities of the Danish offshore wind innovation ecosystem.Marko Lehtimäki from Pori Business Development also took part in the study visit and got some valuable impulses with him back home: “It is obvious that Denmark, and especially Esbjerg, has vast experience within offshore wind. There are good conditions for companies and some cooperation structures in place among the different actors in the value chain that makes the industry here both innovative and robust”. Marko continues with a reflection on where Pori is today in comparison: “Of course it takes time to establish a business environment as professional as in Esbjerg. We need to enhance our effort to bring all our offshore wind stakeholder – public as well as private – closer together to establish trust and cooperation. This visit to Esbjerg certainly has given valuable input to do so and among us delegates there is now an even stronger team-spirit to do it together”.
The German delegation with the participation from Rostock Business, Wind Energy Network and a number of companies were especially interested in the transition Esbjerg has been through from being Denmark’s fisheries port number one, over tapping into offshore oil and gas industry in the early 1970s where the first oil was drilled from Dan-field in the North Sea to becoming an offshore energy metropolis from 2002 where the first large scale offshore wind park Horns Rev I was put in place in the North Sea. Ever since Esbjerg has been European leader in handling and shipping of offshore wind turbines.Andrea Reimer from EmpInno project lead partner Rostock Business and Technolog Development adknowledges: “The way Esbjerg and its many different actors have managed to create this offshore fairytail is exemplary. It takes dedication, skills and cooperation. We all certainly can learn a lot from that when it comes to business development”.Picture: SDEO - South Denmark European Office
12 start-ups designed their way to business development
Idea cube, customer journey map and industry map were some of the tools presented for 12 start-ups in Kaunas on June 13th when they took part in an interactive workshop on designing their way to business development. Through the six hours workshop, walls and tables were gradually covered by colorful post-its, stuck to large printed tools on paper sheets. For many of the start-ups, working with design methods was a new experience, creating new and valuable insights into their own business and which options were the most interesting to proceed with on the journey towards becoming a sustainable business. Thomas Holst Madsen, Senior Design Consultant from D2i – Design to innovate, facilitated the journey through the different design tools and approaches to business development.
The workshop was organized as a co-working activity between two of the EmpInno partners, Kaunas Science and Technology Park, Lithuania, and D2i – Design to innovate, Denmark. D2i aims at implementing smart specialisation strategies on design in the Region of South Denmark by using design methods in creating growth in enterprises within all sectors. In Kaunas, methods used by D2i on local and regional companies in Denmark were tested for the first time on non-Danish ICT start-ups, giving D2i important knowledge and feedback on how their approach to implementing smart specialisation strategies works in different environments.
For both the Lithuanian and Danish partner, the collaboration on developing and conducting the workshop forms part of internationalising their activities by providing enterprises the possibility of getting in contact and cooperate with organisations and enterprises across borders.
Picture: D2i - Design to innovate
RIS3 - Status-Quo and renewal processes in EmpInno partner regions – project partners meet in Kaunas, LT
On the 12-13 June 2018, the Kaunas Science and Technology Park (Kaunas STP) hosted the 8th meeting of the EmpInno project in Kaunas, Lithuania. All EmpInno partners from across the Baltic Sea Region took the chance to enhance their knowledge about implementation processes of RIS3 in their region and beyond. After some warm welcoming speeches from Tomas Černevičius from Kaunas STP, from the Leadpartner and a status-quo report of the overall project, the project partners exchanged their knowledge on how communication mechanism have been or should be implemented by strategy owners to get feedback from innovation intermediaries and further innovation actors regarding the implementation of RIS3. Three presentations of feedback mechanism from regional authorities in Satatunka Region (Finland), Östergötland Region (Sweden) and South Savo Region (Finland) enriched the knowledge exchange. Subsequently, an intensive working session on synergy and empowerment concepts to foster R&D transfer, economic cooperation and more outward mobility among innovation actors, SMEs, start-ups and researchers in the frame of RIS3 has been conducted. In this context, Kaunas STP from Lithuania and Prizztech Ltd. from Finland presented good practices from their own organisations. Kaunas STP presented “Breakfast for Innovators”, an regular event to connect relevant stakeholders in specific economic sectors and RIS3 areas and to foster R+D transfer by providing a platform of innovative knowledge transfer. Prizztech Ltd. presented the initiative Robocoast in the Region Satakunta in Finland that combines a range of regional initiatives with regard to industrial renewal, and which is acknowledged a digital innovation hub from the EU Commission. From Ieva Penelytė, Research and Higher Education Monitoring and Analysis Centre MOSTA and from Henrik Paape, advisor for the Department for Technology at the Ministry for Economics, Labor and Health in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the participants learned about the experiences in setting up and implementing RIS3 in Lithuania and Germany. Finally, the first day of the project meeting ended with a visit of the networking event “Kaunas Growing Business Awards (KAVA)” for the most successful Kaunas business product or service (see picture).
On the second day the meeting started with a presentation of Heli Kurikka from the University of Tampere about the progress of renewing the RIS3 in the region of South-Ostrobothnia, Finland. A general discussion and working session followed under the motto “Strategy revolution or evolution: the future of RIS3 in your region?”. The EmpInno partners discussed the situation in their own region regarding the need or already initialised renewal process of RIS3. In general, the renewal process was seen as incremental by most regions and next steps of updating the respective RIS3s were discussed. The meeting came to an end with encouraging words by the project management team about the impact of the EmpInno project on initiated transnational partnerships and their support of the implementation of RIS3 in the EmpInno partner regions. In the afternoon, a study visit to historical sites in Kaunas City Center / Old Town concluded the meeting.
Picture: Kaunas Science and Technology Park
Going Global - supporting SMEs to develop internationalisation strategies
In the first half of 2018, the EmpInno partner Regional Council of South Ostrobothnia together with XPort Finland – a business development company specialising on consulting services for export activities – launched a series of development clinics for SMEs all over the region. Main goal of this SME empowerment tool is to help SMEs developing innovation capacities and higher competitiveness beyond the regional market and improving their outward orientation.
During several days in February, more than 30 representatives from local SMEs had the chance to discuss key topics of exporting strategies. Besides addressing specific resources, approaches and methods to expand to global market levels, the participants developed together with local experts tailored internationalisation strategies and started to take first steps of going global.During May and June 2018 the same companies met again for several follow-up sessions to exchange experiences and discuss their main challenges but also success factors of implementing their internationalisation strategies.
Design thinking inspires stakeholders in the transition to a circular economy
The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals reflect in many ways a circular economy and circular thinking. But how is it possible to combine these two domains? How can the Sustainable Development Goals be the direct starting point for the transition to a circular economy?
In Kolding, Denmark, the EmpInno partner D2i – Design to innovate presented one way to get started. It happened at Wasteland, a series of local events focusing on circular economy and targeting public stakeholders. 30 representatives from local authorities and business support agencies participated in an interactive workshop, using design methods to turn an abstract topic into a subject with concrete action possibilities.
Design thinking and design methods are relevant approaches when it concerns issues of big complexity, for instance how to create sustainable development and support the transition to circular economy. D2i – Design to innovate is one of several clusters in the Region of South Denmark implementing the regional smart specialisation strategy. By combining knowledge and competences on design and design methods, D2i provides public and private stakeholders with methods for innovation and strategy development, also when it concerns a complex area like circular economy.
The aim of this particular workshop was to inspire public stakeholders to work with alternative methods in reaching some of the goals set at political level. The participants obtained a practical and hands-on knowledge of the value that design thinking can bring to complex issues like circular economy and sustainable development. They learned that abstract concepts and issues can be turned into concrete and approachable topics through design thinking. In that sense, the workshop provided them with a first basis of implementing the smart specialisation strategy or at least a better understanding of how it can be implemented in a way that makes sense.
As an EmpInno activity, this workshop forms a concrete example of how strategy implementers like D2i – Design to innovate work together with strategy owners (policy makers) and other strategy implementers (business support agencies) on supporting the implementation of the regional smart specialisation strategy.
Picture: D2i - Design to innovate
Innovation Forum Lubelskie – Healthy Food in Regional Quality of Life
On 13th April 2018, the Marshal Office of the Lubelskie Voivodeship organised a regional INNOVATION FORUM with the title “Healthy Food in Regional Quality of Life”. The meeting was conducted by the Lublin Centre for Research on Innovativeness as part of the EmpInno project and included 65 representatives of both companies and research units. Two working groups (food and health) formed within the Council for Innovation in the system for the RIS LV 2020. Their main task is to create recommendations and development plans for specific topics for the Board of the Region. Specifically, it is important to determine in which direction the development of healthy food and quality of life should go. Choosing the two topics of the Forum is not accidental, because innovations are born at the intersection of various specialisations and sectors. A one-way approach does not guarantee that specialisations will be developed.
Dorota Skwarek, the Deputy Director of Department of Economy and Foreign Cooperation at the Marshal Office of the Lubelskie Voivodeship in Lublin, presented the tools to support the implementation of the above topics within international projects implemented by the Lublin Centre for Research on Innovativeness (including SmartWatch, Elise and EmpInno). She underlined the membership of the region in ERRIN and ERIAFF network (as an observer). The meeting is an inspiration for further actions, a starting topic for further meetings. Subsequent speakers characterised the EIT FOOD Community and AgroBioCluster. They also presented trends and dietary directions in the world, discussed the impact of proper diet on human health and its role in treating many ailments. Emphasis was placed on the importance of innovations in the food sector. Furthermore, the definitions of functional food and organic farming were discussed.
In the second part of the meeting panelists discussed the possibilities of cooperation between science and business. They also pointed at the challenges and legal restrictions that producers must face. The growing demand of regional customers on organic food and consumers' eating habits were mentioned. The panel also discussed the biodiversity of the region based on knowledge, potential, practice and natural resources. At the end of the INNOVATION FORUM the participants had the opportunity to talk, exchange knowledge, experience and contacts during a networking lunch.
EmpInno bears fruit - Kaunas Science and Technology Park adapts "Breakfast of Innovators"
On 20th March 2018, Kaunas Science and Technology Park (Kaunas STP) launched the event “Breakfast of Innovators” in Kaunas, Lithuania, to support the exchange and cooperation between innovation actors, SMEs, start-ups and researchers. The concept is based on a good practice from Finland, where the EmpInno partner Prizztech Ltd. successfully initiated the Techno lunch “MatchIndustry LAB” in 2016 as a regular event. The aim is to connect all relevant stakeholders in specific economic sectors and RIS3 areas and to foster R+D transfer by providing a platform of innovative knowledge transfer.
The first “Breakfast of Innovators” in Kaunas was attended by 18 participants from 16 companies active in the Lithuanian energy sector, the Kaunas University of Technology and the Lithuanian Energy Institute. After an introduction by Kaunas STP, the largest Lithuanian energy company Lietuvos energija and its venture capital branch Contrarian Ventures presented technological solutions to current challenges of the energy sector and outlined relevant research fields. Furthermore, several SMEs and researchers took the chance for brief business presentations. As a first result of the platform, initiations of collaborations have been made between Lietuvos energija and two SMEs regarding the development of technological solutions.
In order to institutionalise the “Breakfast of Innovators” as a new platform of R&D transfer in the region not only for Energy related stakeholders, Kaunas STP is planning to continue the event also for other priority areas of RIS3. The next event already takes place at the end of April 2018. Focusing now on ICT, start-ups, SMEs and researchers will get the chance to meet both national and international most attractive employers in the ICT sector including NFQ Technologies, Intermedix and DevBridge.Picture: Kaunas Science and Technology Park
How to improve strategies together – EmpInno partners meet in Tartu, EE
On the 20-21 February 2018, the Tartu Science Park and the Tartu City Government organised the 7th meeting of the EmpInno project in Tartu, Estonia. All EmpInno partners from across the Baltic Sea Region were invited to the SPARK Demo Center to exchange their experiences on implementing the RIS3 in their region. After an introduction by the hosts and a status-quo report of the overall project, the project partners discussed of how RIS3 are communicated within different organizational settings. While Rostock Business and Lubelskie Voivodeship presented two different approaches to communicate Smart Specialisation Strategies within their own organisations, examples of how the RIS3 implementation is fed back to policy owners were given and discussed by four different partner regions. Two intensive working sessions on both meeting days covered the further development of relevant project outputs, namely the Synergy and Empowerment concept and the composition of recommendations for strategy owners and innovation intermediaries regarding successful strategies to implement and communicate respective RIS3 within their regions. Input of different roles and functions of RIS3 strategies as a regional innovation policy instrument was given by Jari Kohlemainen, University of Tampere, to inspire the discussion.
To frame the thematic focus of EmpInno and to give new impulses to the participants regarding the implementation and maintenance of RIS3-related organisational structures, presentations of RIS3 implementation processes were given by the Business Advisory Services Estonia for Southern Estonia and by the Region Gävleborg for Gävleborg County. A guided tour through the SPARK Demo Center, a study visit to Estonian Genome Center at the University of Tartu and three presentations of relevant initiatives in Tartu regarding the support of business development - ADAPTER , Tartu Biotechnology Park, European Space Agency incubation centre - completed the program.
Picture: By Pimpampoum - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 ee, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21619768
South Savo innovation stakeholders learn about the EmpInno progress
On 28th February 2018 the South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences (XAMK) Small Business Center of Mikkeli, Finland, and their associated partner Mikkeli Development Miksei Ltd invited local stakeholders to share experiences and progress on the implementation of RIS3 within the EmpInno project.
Sinikka Mynttinen, RIS3 expert from the Small Business Center, presented the organization’s good practices for how to improve the RIS3 implementation. For internal communication, the Small Business Center appointed a RIS3 expert, edited regional RIS3-informations and communicated them internally and via the organizations website. To foster the implementation in the region, information events by regional authorities, network meetings by industry branches and diverse events customized to the business needs of SMEs were organized. To facilitate R+D transfer and to promote co-operation between research and business actors, Sinnika Mynttinnen pointed out to regular meetings, workshops and international conferences, presented good practices of the EmpInno project in Finland and other regions and highlighted several matchmaking events as possibilities to expand business networks in the Baltic Sea Region. Other good practices for the empowerment of SMEs from other partner regions were also exchanged such as Hackathon events or the MI Lab event in Finland, the Tartu Mobile Monday in Estonia or the SHOPA-workshop in Poland.Furthermore, other experts from different sections presented their perspective on the implementation process of RIS3. Tomi Heimonen from the South Savo Regional Council presented three regional specialisations: FOREST (New Products for Forest Biomass and production processes), WATER (Clean Water Technologies and Concepts) and FOOD (The food chain's cleanness and security). The research manager of sustainable wellbeing from South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences shared her experience on the S3 Platform Agri-Food and highlighted the networking opportunities and Horizon2020 partnerships initiated by the S3 Platform. Likewise, Kari Aalto, Janne Uusivirta and Sointu Räisänen from East & North EU-office called attention to S3 thematic platforms as networking opportunities and presented the Horizon2020 program as a successful opportunity to foster co-operations between research and business actors. They stated that companies and organizations in South Savo have received about three million euros from Horizon2020 funds so far.
Copyright @ Juulia Aschan
International Conference “Energy independence at the local level” and transnational “Energy Round Table” in Lublin
On 15th November 2017 during the 10th Lublin Fair for Energetics ENERGETICS 2017 (Poland) an international conference "Energy independence at the local level" was held in Lublin. The conference was organised by the Foundation for Lubelskie Development – the coordinator of the Lublin Eco-Energy Cluster in cooperation with EmpInno partners. At the event 110 people participated, including entrepreneurs, representatives of regional government, universities, research and development units as well as students. The participants became familiar, among others, with the idea of creating and developing energy clusters; the role of renewable energy sources in achieving energy independence at the local level; developing cooperation between different environments for achieving energy independence of communities and poviats, as well as technologies and innovations in the field of energy production and distribution management at the local level. During the conference Sinnika Mynttinen from the South- Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences, Small Business Center, presented Finnish experiences in developing cooperation between farmers and scientists to produce energy on local level. Dr Vytautas Šiožinys, UAB Energy Advice from Lithuania, presented the Renewable Energy Integration project, based on innovative IT solutions. Integral part of the conference were cooperative meetings (B2B) with the participation of Polish, Finnish and Lithuanian enterprises and institutions. The matchmaking events/meetings were organised by the Foundation for Lubelskie Development in cooperation with the Enterprise Europe Network Office managed by the Lublin University of Technology, Kaunas Science and Technology Park from Lithuania and the Regional Council of South Ostrobothnia from Finland. Twelve representatives of enterprises and institutions held fifteen B2B meetings during which they got to know each other and discussed possibilities of future cooperation.
Moreover, on 14th of November 2017 in Lublin (Poland), an "Energy round table" was organised by the Foundation for Lubelskie Development as part of the EmpInno Project. The main objective of the round table was to discuss the tools and methods of implementing smart specialisation strategies (RIS3) in the partner regions of the EmpInno project, as well as to identify the main problems in cooperation between research units and entrepreneurs. Representatives of enterprises, research and development units, universities, regional government and business organisations from Poland, Finland and Denmark attended the meeting. During the round table the areas of smart specialization were assessed regarding the scale of impact on the regional economy, the methods and tools for implementing the RIS3 were discussed, as well as possible solutions which can improve their implementation and effectiveness. The cooperation between science and business was also evaluated and ideas and projects that could improve this cooperation were also identified. Conclusions from the meeting will be delivered to the Marshal's Office of the Lubelskie Voivodeship, responsible for the implementation of the RIS3.
Intensifying R+D transfer in the Lubelskie VoivodeshipIn November 2017 the Foundation for Lubelskie Development organised two workshops on the promotion of research and development cooperation between enterprises and universities in the regional smart specialisation renewable energy and improvement of energy efficiency. The workshops were attended by 29 representatives of enterprises, universities, research and development units, regional government and business organizations from the Lubelskie Voivodeship. During the two workshops, discussions on the development of R & D cooperation between entrepreneurs and universities were held. Two companies presented their experiences in cooperation with universities. Additionally, the University of Life Sciences in Lublin, the Lublin University of Technology and the Institute of Agrophysics of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Lublin presented their services, offers and possibilities of entrepreneurs´ participation in the HORIZON 2020 programme.Read more See related news
During the workshop, the participants discussed the possibility of adapting Finnish good practices in Lubelskie Region: a practice regarding the organisation of events during which participants are working in interdisciplinary teams to develop new solutions for existing industry problems, as well as the idea and assumptions of the Mobile Monday & Incubators @Tartu project. The idea of the project is to initiate and intensify cooperation between entrepreneurs and universities in searching for innovative solutions. During the workshops also the method of creative solutions for innovative products – design thinking – was presented. This methodology will be used in the next stage of project implementation for finding innovative solutions to problems hindering the development of cooperation between entrepreneurs and universities identified during R & D workshops organised as part of the EmpInno project in Lublin.
Companies and researchers team up to develop new ideas and enhance cooperation
Late December 2017 South Denmark European Office (SDEO) and TEK Innovation at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) organised two workshops to strengthen the cooperation between researchers and companies within the business areas clean-tech and robotics. The workshop concept as well as the learning from the interactive sessions between companies and researchers feeds into the EmpInno project as a good practice on how to “Engage and Motivate Small and Medium Sized Enterprises in Research and Innovation activities within the regional S3 framework”.
Prior to the two workshops SDEO had collected innovation ideas and challenges from the interested companies. On that basis TEK Innovation identified and engaged relevant researchers at the University of Southern Denmark. This meant that during the actual workshops the exchange between companies and research was very focused and concrete.
EU-consultant Erik Björklund from SDEO, one of the organizers of the two workshops, says:
“The purpose of these workshops was to highlight and demonstrate the opportunities for cooperation between TEK Innovation and companies as well as the possibilities to join forces within the European context and its programmes such as Horizon 2020”
Claus Amtrup Andersen from EURISCO, a company working with software development for energy systems based in Odense, participated in one of the workshops that according to him was a positive experience.
“The preceding work from the organizer to make relevant matchmaking between the participants was really good. The group I was in consisted of participant within the field of energy. That meant that it was easier and faster to find a case and to complement each other within the interest areas for both the academic world and the companies involved. The workshop was well prepared and relevant methods were used to facilitate and visualize the process” says Claus Amtrup Andersen.
On the outcome of the workshops, Eric Björklund from SDEO stresses:
“The feedback from both researchers and companies has been very positive. Eight concrete innovation project ideas were the direct outcome of the workshops and an agreement to continue cooperation on project development on an even more focused one-on-one basis. On top both TEK Innovation and we at the South Denmark European Office will work to help find funding to realise the innovation projects”.
For more information please contact Thomas Jensen, South Denmark European Office: email@example.com
Launch of Sustainable Energy Forum South Denmark
To become more knowledgeable on the Region of South Denmark’s smart specialisation area Sustainable Energy, the South Denmark European Office (SDEO) facilitated the establishment of the Sustainable Energy Forum South Denmark. The forum had its kick-off in December 2017 at a meeting in the Region’s headquarters in Vejle with the participation of representatives from the Institute for Energy Technology of Aalborg University Esbjerg, the Center for Energy Informatics and NanoSYD of the University of Southern Denmark, the clean-tech cluster CLEAN as well as the Region of South Denmark and South Denmark European Office (SDEO).
The forum is a result of SDEOs work in the EmpInno project and aims to bring together the competences and extensive knowledge in the Region of South Denmark, enhance cooperation and spur project development within the S3 area ‘Sustainable Energy’.
Halftime: 6th EmpInno Meeting in Lublin/PL
The 6th EmpInno meeting on RIS3 empowerment for innovation and targeted growth took place in Lublin from 13-15th November. In the capital of the Lubelskie Voivodeship – the biggest city of Eastern Poland – the EmpInno partners from all across the Baltic Sea region came together to make joint progress on the transnational project. After the warm welcoming speeches given by the Polish partner hosts in the Lublin Development Foundation and the Lubelskie Voivodeship the project partners discussed how the involvement of SMEs took place in the Entrepreneurial Discovery Process of the smart specialisation strategies and whether SMEs are involved now. Given that the project has reached halftime, the partners started to work on a first part of recommendations related to the involvement of the end-users, since sharing one´s experiences is crucial to creating synergies and to producing added value that can benefit also actors beyond the partnership. From the two Polish Voivodeships Lubelskie and Kujawsko-Pomorskie the participants learned about the experiences in setting up and implementing their regional smart specialisation strategies. The Lubelskie Voivodeship presented the interrelations with the Central Baltic project SMART-Watch that serves to reduce the gap in monitoring systems for RIS3. Finally, the first day of the project partner’s meetup thus ended with an insightful study trip to URSUS – an internationally operating Polish company which specialises in the manufacture of agricultural machinery, based in Lublin.
On the second day, the project partners were introduced to an internal workshop to work on the Business Modell Canvas. This instrument should inspire the project partners to further elaborate their organisational coaching tools to upgrade the capacity of working with the regional smart specialisation strategy. Finally, mutually enriching discussions took place in four of the project partners’ six smart specialisation areas (ICT, Energy, Food, as well as Health, Life Science and Biotechnology) for which regional stakeholders of the Lubelskie Voivodeship joined the project partners to establish contacts and networking. The meeting thus came to an end with many new ideas, diverse experiences and in-depth knowledge on the topic of RIS3. The next meeting will be held in Estonia in spring 2018 when the country is celebrating its 100th anniversary. What a great window of opportunity to continue cooperating and spreading the word on smart specialisation!
Copyright @ REM Consult
Design-driven innovation through the eyes of Southern Denmark
How can we find innovative solutions to a complex problem? And how can companies produce the right product or service making them more competitive? When there are multiple solutions and directions a ‘one size fits all’-way of thinking doesn’t exist – in this case design-thinking and design-driven innovation (DDI) can be the answer.
What is design-driven innovation
Design as a method can come across as elusive and perhaps difficult to understand but the benefits and possibilities there is in working design-driven easily outweighs the difficulties in learning a new method.Design-driven innovation is characterized by three things; 1. by taking its outset in user needs, 2. in working holistically one will cover all areas of the issue and reach a better understanding of all perspectives of the issue and 3. putting things into a future oriented perspective will entail that the product, service or solution will remain sustainable. These characteristics ensures that DDI touches upon the whole innovation process and the whole value chain and accounts for all perspectives and potential problems. Therefore, when working design-driven, a multidisciplinary approach is key. When covering the entire process there is a need for different competences from various fields. When including the manufacturer, the company, the worker, the researcher, the programmer and so forth in the innovation process it will ensure a more comprehensive approach to the issue thus creating better solutions.
Design and design-thinking offers a different approach, a range of methods, a mindset and a way to act and visualize issues, tasks, challenges and possible solutions. The method enables a company, organization or public entity to produce the right service, product or solution by following multiple paths, thus creating more growth and innovation. To give a clearer understanding of what characterizes DDI, let us look at some concrete examples.
When working design-driven you can expect to gain a new approach and new methods in the innovation process. When doing so it is also necessary to let go of some of the classic tools, such as result-based timelines and follow-ups that can kill the creative ideas and the innovation process.
Design as a ‘growth motor’
Southern Denmark has strong skills and actors in the field of design and the up-take of design and DDI by public authorities as well as companies and innovation actors has a positive impact.
The multiple benefits of design-driven innovation lead the Region of Southern Denmark to support the design cluster organization Design to Innovate (D2i) (partner in EmpInno) to strengthen the use of design as a way of creating growth within the region’s companies. The Region of Southern Denmark considers design as a ‘growth motor’ and thus an important enabler for realizing the regions smart specialization strategy.
Design is more than shapes, clothes and furniture - it is also a method. Design-thinking and DDI is exploiting multiple and different approaches and through that finding the right solutions to complex problems and not just ‘a solution’, as well as making companies more competitive because they manage to produce the right products and services.
- Future teaching (FUTE) is a EU-funded project where the Design School in Kolding as leading partner is working on incorporating design-thinking as a teaching-tool in Danish and European middle schools. The idea is that using design-thinking will create more inspiring teaching that will increase the students’ engagement in the teaching. Furthermore, the teachers that are educated in design as a method will experience a greater job satisfaction.
- Isover, an isolation company in Denmark, experienced a decline in demand because of the financial crisis but turned it around by going from ‘product sales to project sales’ with the help of D2i. This means that Isover now focus on the costumers needs working together with the costumers to find the right service and products for their need. The company in cooperation with D2i designed a service package, where they no longer just sell isolation products but instead are selling total projects including all material and related advice. By developing a new way of thinking and offering the right solutions for the costumers, the design process has made the company more competitive.
- The South Denmark European Office has facilitated a meeting within a network of the 22 municipalities in the region, with the purpose of creating a focus and share experiences in using design and DDI when creating public services or when engaging in European projects. When creating public services, it is obvious to take outset in the citizens needs and design offers methods to find the right solution and service. Therefore, SDEO wants to engage the municipalities in the region to think design into the innovation processes and into their projects.
Copyright @ South Denmark European Office (Linette H. Andreasen)
RIS3 - Tour the region in Kujawsko-Pomorskie
What are the smart specialisations of Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship? Where can I find funds for innovative projects? How to bring industry and science together? Answers on these questions as well as other practical information were available for participants of informational meetings held in Kujawsko-Pomorskie region. Since February 2017 Kujawsko-Pomorskie Innovation Agency meets local entrepreneurs and universities in different cities of the region spreading knowledge about smart specialisations and forthcoming calls for proposals.The purpose of the meetings is to disseminate information about smart specialisations as well as to present opportunities for financing projects based on smart specialisations. Within the workshop session participants discuss about possible network cooperation and preparation of new projects in the area of RIS3.
Starting from February, four meetings with about 80 participants were accomplished. There were mainly regional entrepreneurs, business support institutions and delegates of scientific units interested in the subject of smart specialisations or whose activity is part of the region's smart specialisations. All meetings were divided into two parts. The first theoretical part included presentations of representatives of Kujawsko-Pomorskie Innovation Agency and external experts. The second part was dedicated to workshop and moderated discussion on the implementation of smart specialisations in the region. At the meetings participants focused on the following issues: competition and cooperation, building a network of entrepreneurial cooperation for the development of the chosen smart specialisation, developing of leading and niche sectors, evaluation of smart specialisations within the expected projects financed from regional operational programme, and RIS3 – opportunity or impediment and others. During the current meetings participants expressed many interesting views and postulates concerning the direction of smart specialisation development in the region. The following meetings are scheduled for the 3rd and 4th quarter of 2017.Copyright @ Kujawsko-Pomorskie Innovation Agency
First R+D transfer workshop in Lublin
A first workshop on promoting research and development cooperation of enterprises with universities in the field of renewable energy and energy efficiency was organised at the headquarters of the Foundation for Lubelskie Development in Lublin on August 24th 2017. It was attended by representatives of enterprises, universities, scientific and research units and business organizations from Lubelskie Voivodeship.
The meeting started a series of R+D transfer workshops implemented by the Foundation for Lubelskie Development in cooperation with the Marshal's Office of the Lubelskie Voivodeship at the Lubelskie Region. During the workshop the following topics were presented and discussed: the idea and rationale of the EmpInno project, technology transfer issues, research and development cooperation between enterprises and universities, opportunities for the development of the renewable energy industry in the light of the Regional Innovation Strategy for Lubelskie Voivodeship as well as possibilities of financing bio-economic projects.
The participants also learned about good practices concerning R+D cooperation from other partner regions, among others the Östgöta-challenge was presented which was prepared by the Swedish Region Östergötland. During the meeting solutions and tools to improve the implementation of the Regional Innovation Strategy in the area of renewable energy smart specialization were discussed. Conclusions from the discussion will be forwarded to the Marshal's Office of the Lubelskie Voivodeship which manages the implementation of the Regional Innovation Strategy.
Copyright @ Foundation for Lubelskie Development.
Series of transnational delegation trips started
The first three transnational delegation trips have been successfully conducted by the EmpInno partners. One aim of the project is to create opportunities for innovation actors to cooperate in RIS3-priorities (or sectors), in which the competencies of the partner regions overlap.
Consequently, the Kiel Business Development Agency organised an exchange and matchmaking event of more than 20 ICT stakeholders alongside the CeBIT in Hannover, the first of its kind within the project. Despite the induced cooperation, the city of Tartu also presented its strengths and portfolio for ICT at the booth of Schleswig-Holstein and increased the visibility and potential linkages to other cities and regions.
In May the City of Rostock hosted the second delegation trip held for the partners focusing on maritime industries. The sixth Future Conference Wind & Maritime saw especially the intensive exchange of Finnish partners and stakeholders with German counterparts on developments in the Onshore and Offshore Wind Energy Market, including global players – a cooperation initiated and intensified within EmpInno.
Seinäjoki in Finland, namely the Farmari exhibition, was the destination for a delegation trip of stakeholders of the priority food. Project partners and key players from different Polish, Latvian and Finnish regions exchanged and had a matchmaking event. The participants also experienced a study visit that led to inspiring ways of commercialization and internationalization – challenges that several producers in this priority face in medium sized cities and regions.The delegation trips were supported by the Enterprise Europe Network in close collaboration with the partners as well as specific networks, a recipe that proves successful for the initiating of innovation cooperation. The next transnational delegation trips are under development, aiming to finally develop synergy and empowerment concepts for different target groups.
Copyright @ Kiel Business Development, Rostock Business, Regional Council of South Ostrobothnia
Experiencing Design Driven Innovation in Kolding, Denmark
How to create value by using “design as method”, how this spurs innovation and how the vibrant epicentre of the Danish design ecosystem in Kolding unfolds, was in the centre of the fifth project meeting in the last days of May. The cluster organisation D2i - Design to innovate hosted the transnational exchange during the international renowned Kolding Design Week (picture on the left from the Design School Kolding). Among others, the partners shared their experiences of the first transnational delegation trips that they initiated in the common specialisations ICT and maritime industries – events and activities which already lead to joint market and innovation opportunities for the participating companies and stakeholders.
Across all regions the monitoring systems for the implementation of the respective smart specialisation strategy are different – in a lively session the partners discussed about each region´s monitoring and learned about the variety and structures. Certainly, several of these exchanged approaches will be taken back home to the respective RIS3 managing authorities/strategy owners as lessons learnt...
Moreover, the Region of Southern Denmark presented its smart specialisation strategy and showed the three specialisations agreed upon by the Southern Denmark Growth Forum in the business development strategy and action plan that focus on 1. Sustainable Energy, 2. Health and Social Innovation as well as 3. Experience Economy. For more information on the RIS3 of Southern Denmark in the download section click here.
Finally, as visual dissemination support the participants glanced at some short videos that were produced by project partners to explain and illustrate the concept of RIS3. You can find them here.
Copyright @ D2i - Design to innovate
Tartu brings RIS3 closer to business twice
ICT meets Manufacturing event organised in Tartu - Tartu City Government organised a RIS3 information event "Manufacturing solutions today and tomorrow“ together with the Estonian ICT cluster and seven ICT companies in its regional RIS3 priorities of “ICT” and “enhancement of resources” on 18th of April in Tartu. More than 50 participants, majority of them being company managers, worked on the topics of “Internet of Things” and “Industry 4.0” and their future opportunities to create added value for Tartu and South-Estonian region and its RIS3 strategy. The participating SMEs, government and university representatives were informed about different solutions from human resource management to enterprise resource planning in order to better make use of ICT solutions and its applications to the firms located in Tartu and South-Estonia.
On 11th of April Tartu City Government together with Tartu Science Park and Tartu Business Advisory Services organised an information seminar “Idea Tuesday” for local stakeholders in its regional RIS3 priorities in Tartu at the Spark Demo Centre. Anti Orav, a CEO with over 25 years of experience in running different companies, including one of the largest food production companies in Estonia, was invited to make a presentation about leadership and the role of the leader as a coach and mentor. More than 40 participants from SMEs, government and universities were inspired by the topics of “leadership” and “solution-based approach” and had the opportunity to communicate with each other to discuss regional innovation and their needs of support. The participants learned about various solutions from coaching tools to different matrixes and models on how to improve the usage of the available resources and strengthen the capabilities of the firms located in Tartu and South-Estonia to bring more added value for its RIS3 strategy.
Visualising Innovation in Östergötland, East SwedenThe partnership of the EmpInno project convened in the city of Norrköping, East Sweden, on 14th and 15th February for their fourth transnational meeting. Hosted by the Region of Östergötland, the partners further exchanged about how to raise organisational capacity to work with smart specialisation strategies and about general issues in the RIS3 process. To simplify the communication with internal and external stakeholders, the partners started the visual process of creating short videos, to spread the word about their region and their strengths. The partners from the Region Östergötland presented their regional innovation system and the RIS3 and discussed with the partnership about the approach to support regional enabling platforms instead of choosing priorities (you can find more information on the smart specialisation strategy in the download section here). Finally, the partners were impressed by a study trip to the research and science centre “Visualisation Centre C” that creates mind-blowing interactive digital experiences by combining state-of-the-art visualisation technology with intuitive interaction design. The initiative “Visual Sweden” is a part of the region's smart sepcialisation strategy that fosters innovation processes and was awarded by the highly competitive National Swedish innovation Programme “Vinnväxt” as winner a funding perspective for up to ten years.
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One Region – One Future. EmpInno at the Strategy Forum of the EUSBSRDuring the snowy days of 8th and 9th November 2016 the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) held its Strategy Forum in Stockholm, Sweden. 1300 participants came together for two days to discuss about a “Vision 2030 for the Baltic Sea Region”. The EmpInno project used the opportunity to exchange with related initiatives, to network with the project´s target groups and discuss about smart specialisation issues across European regions. Contributing to the Policy Area Innovation of the EUSBSR, a slideshow introduced the approach and key facts of the EmpInno project in the “Creative Lounge” where most participants assembled during the breaks and networking slots.
Copyright © Melker Dahlstrand
EmpInno Session at the Innovation Conference “Baltic Dynamics"
The EmpInno project organised the session “Empowering for innovation and growth in cities and regions” at the 21st International Conference on Innovation “Baltic Dynamics 2016 – Innovation and Technology Convergence Strategy for Smart Growth" on 15th September 2016 in Riga, Latvia. Among others, associated organisations and project partners from Denmark, Finland and Germany presented their local and regional activities related to the implementation of the RIS3, gave an overview of the project approach and discussed with the participants. The Baltic Dynamics conference was attended by about 150 participants representing the project´s target groups from more than 10 countries, including Mr. Markku Markkula, the President of the European Committee of the Regions.
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Better understanding innovation in Riga
Riga in Latvia was the destination for the 16 project partners of the EmpInno project to meet for the third time on 13th-15th September 2016. It was discussed how project partners could better increase their organisational capacity to work with the RIS3 and make this available for the whole organisation, and how they institutionalize feedback to regional authorities in order to continuously improve the implementation of the smart specialization strategy. From the National Ministry of Education and Science, an overview was given of the RIS3 in Latvia and in particular how the implementation and monitoring system is in place (you can find more information on the smart specialisation strategy in the download section/here). Three initiatives as tools “how to get the RIS3 to business” illustrated their work and even exchanged business cards with project partners: the Demola Network Latvia and the incubators Creative Industries and Green Technology Incubator. Finally the hosting partner Riga Planning Region facilitated a study trip to the Design Factory at the Riga Technical University – an impressive instrument to valorise the potential of creative students and let them experiment and innovate at the same time.
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Life Sciences Information Event organised in Kiel
Kiel Business Development Agency organised the information event "Added value - Health - Innovation Management" together with the cluster management organisation Life Science Nord for local stakeholders in its regional priority “life sciences” on 6th September. Almost 40 participants, half of them were company representatives, worked on the topic of innovation management and future opportunities to create added value. The participating SMEs and researchers were informed about “What is the status – what is our aim?" and "Growth potential for the life sciences on the basis of the regional innovation strategy” by our project partner in order to better make use of the instruments provided by the RIS3 of Schleswig-Holstein.
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South-Savo Region shows its specialisations to the EmpInno partnership
Colleagues from the Small Business Center of the Mikkeli University of Applied Sciences, located in the Finnish region of South-Savo, hosted the second project meeting from 13th-14th June 2016. Whereas the Nordic summer sun perfectly illuminated some of the regional priorities chosen in the smart specialisation strategy, e.g. the forest based bio economy and organic food production/food safety innovation, Tomi Heimonen from the associated organisation South Savo Regional Council did so in theory and practice during the meeting. He answered and discussed general issues concerning the RIS3 from the perspective of the “strategy owner” that has a long tradition of sharing the vision of strategies also with the public and local stakeholders (you can find more information on the smart specialisation strategy in the download section/here). Tomi also raised the question how in small regions, like South Savo, the innovation policy actors are able with small resources to encourage and establish an entrepreneurial culture to commercialize new innovations from laboratories and RIS process. The open discussion revealed experiences of the project partners, starting from new models of pop-up solutions to strategical entrepreneurship education policies of the partner regions. The partners further explored cooperation possibilities for their local companies in the six overlapping priorities of the partner regions and started to exchange on good practices of R+D transfer workshops as well as SME Empowerment tools.
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IT Information event organised in Kaunas
This May 26, 2016, the Kaunas Science and Technology Park organized an informational event titled “Future in IT: Business, Science and Venture Capital“ to promote its national RIS3 strategy and action plan in the priority area of transport, logistics and information and communication technologies (ICT). During this meeting, the business representatives discussed the challenges of implementation of Smart Specialization priorities for those companies that have been buidling their business on the cooperation with science providers. World class startups Uber and Inside Warehouse presented their success cases in relation to breakthroughs in the global economy and how business and science co-operation adds value to the competitiveness of their business operations. Furtermore, additional companies exhibited their advanced products and possibilities for further science and business co-operation, which were discussed during an informal dinner.
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EmpInno project launched in the BSR ProgrammeThe Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme has approved the project “S3-Empowering for Innovation and Growth in Medium-Sized Cities and Regions” (EmpInno). From May 2016 until April 2019 sixteen project partner organisations cooperate to foster the implementation and improvement of regional smart specialisation strategies (RIS3). Kicking off their transnational cooperation, the first meeting in Rostock, Germany, from 15th-17th March 2016 brought together the partners to discuss the future project work and initiate local processes. The partner organisations, innovation intermediaries (“strategy implementers”) and regional authorities (“strategy owners”) from all Baltic Sea Region countries, are supported by a large number of associated organisations, including national ministries, further authorities responsible for the RIS3, cluster management organisations.
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