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  • 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 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. 

    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.

    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.

    Case examples:

    • 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)


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  • 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
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  • 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.


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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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.


    Copyright@Bisilo.com

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  • Visualising Innovation in Östergötland, East Sweden

    The 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.

    Copyright © REM · Consult
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  • One Region – One Future. EmpInno at the Strategy Forum of the EUSBSR

    During 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. A documentation of the inspiring sessions and valuable thematic input can be found here.


    Copyright © Melker Dahlstrand

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  • 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.


    Copyright © Baltic Association of Science and Technology Parks and Innovation Centres

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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.

    Copyright © REM · Consult

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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.

    Copyright © Fotolia/ShpilbergStudios

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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.

    Copyright © REM · Consult

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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.

    Copyright © Santaka Valley

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  • EmpInno project launched in the BSR Programme

    The 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. 

    Copyright ©  Kujawsko-Pomorskie Innovation Agency
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