Universities of applied sciences at the core of modern innovation policy
Bror Salmelin, Adviser, Innovation Systems, European Commission
Innovation is an often used magic word, expected to resolve all problems. Such magic word are very easy to use, since they often offer an easy escape, without you needing to do too much thinking or to take real measures that would demand courage.
Curiosity and courage are essential parts of innovation; The curiosity to try things and the courage to think and act outside the box. We live in an age, where digitisation causes fundamental changes in both society and the academic and industrial modes of operation. How are we prepared for that, and how will the Finnish education system be able to address the competence challenge?
The modern concept of innovation is increasingly based on a Quadruple Helix Model where the users, the public sector, academia and businesses work together. This kind of approach also means that new innovation methods need to be developed. When experiments and trials are performed, and prototypes created in the real world with actual users, it shows already in the early stages of projects which ideas are implementable and scalable. Similarly, ‘difficult-to-implement’ solutions become thwarted at a very early stage, enabling the assignment of resources in the best possible way with a view to the outcome.
Therefore, experimentation culture coupled with co-creation lies at the very heart of the new open innovation policy. The Open Innovation 2.0 paradigm is based on seamless collaboration of all stakeholders involved, and it places the users/citizens at the very core of the innovation process.
As significant regional operators, universities of applied sciences are excellently positioned to assume a role between the various actors. At best, they become a glue that unites the operators under a shared vision and also breaks barriers between different technological fields and application areas. The modern innovation policy not only crosses barriers, but it eliminates them to create a common goal.
Digitisation requires also totally new skills. Traditionally, we have only been talking about the competencies of information technology users, or, at the most, the need to have new digital experts on the labour market. However, this is not enough. Creating and developing open innovation systems requires totally new abilities that the existing education system does not support. In the following, I describe the four main types needed.
A Curator is in charge of building thematic entities and for ensuring that the quality standard of the theme and its openness to collaborate with other themes is maintained.
A Bridger is a person genuinely interested in ‘everything’, who knows how to link different themes, technologies, applications and, first and foremost, various innovation field players together. Innovations are created by making ideas collide, and to create innovations it is necessary to find competences for achieving the shared goal. The Bridger combines curated competences.
An Orchestrator is in charge of creating a common goal in the same way as a conductor. A conductor brings out the skills of individual players and creates an enjoyable entity for the listeners in accordance with his or her own vision. The Orchestrator communicates strongly with other stakeholders to ensure that seamless co-operation continues.
A System Designer, on the other hand, is a person who enables all the operations described above. Knowledge of information technology, group psychology and application areas at a systemic level lies at the core of his or her activities.
Could the Finnish education system, with the universities of applied sciences as the key actors, create training programmes for creating open innovation environments in Finland? Would this initiative also have export potential? Open innovation is becoming an increasingly important paradigm, where actually the Finnish operating culture – or the Nordic operating culture in general – makes the adoption of open innovation easier than in most of our competitor countries.
The Directorate-General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission is a strong advocate of the 3O strategy: Open Innovation, Open Science and Open to the World. This is and will be increasingly reflected in the Horizon 2020 EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. Examples of this include the Open and Disruptive Innovation instrument (seeking significant ideas, the first prototypes of which will be granted direct funding), major projects in the field of the application of information technology (seeking early and seamless inclusion of users, and early prototypes and pilot applications realised in the real world) and competitions within various thematic areas (where the problem solvers are rewarded, and where the methods or technologies to be used have not been defined in advance).
Open innovation environments are inclusive by nature. As technologies and society change, this is increasingly important, so that the necessary shift can be effected at the national level and, on top of that, in such a way that sore points can be avoided as far as possible. In my opinion, it is important to recognize the opportunity to create something new hidden in this transition. Seamless collaboration between all stakeholders is the key when totally new markets, services and products are being created. Today, the focus is too much on improving the old, without us being able to see the opportunity for anything new.
Automation, robotics and artificial intelligence are often regarded as necessary evils. They all will change job descriptions and cause replacement of old work tasks with new ones. However, progress has shown that social structures have coped well with the structural challenges brought on by productivity growth. The duties typical for humans will be creative tasks that require collaboration and are often to be performed in an as yet unstructured environment. Can the Finnish society be steered into this direction? What is the meaning of basic income with a view to changing the structures? In addition to active innovation policy, maintenance of the productivity of labour is one of the key tasks for ensuring that a socially and economically sustainable development can be guaranteed.
Finland needs a strong policy that supports open innovation, based on real-world experimentation and seamless collaboration between all stakeholders.
We need courage and new competences.
Will Finland and the universities of applied sciences accept this challenge?
A good reference on the pillars of open innovation can be found behind the following link: https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/open-innovation-20-%E2%80%93-new-paradigm-and-foundation-sustainable-europe-0
Sustainable and open RDI activities, and novel processes
Hannu Hyyppä, Professor, D.Sc. (Eng), Head of the Institute, Aalto University, Humak University of Applied Sciences
Marika Ahlavuo, Science Producer, Coordinator, Cultural Pruducer, Aalto University, Humak University of Applied Sciences
Elina Ylikoski, Ph.D. (econ.), Innovation Director, Humak University of Applied Sciences
There is a need for improvement in the efficiency and interaction of sustainable and open R&D&I work activities in several polytechnics and universities in Finland. This article is based on our experiences on working with multidisciplinary and cross cutting teams and on executing innovation and R&D&I projects e.g. in Metropolia, Omnia, Laurea, Humak, and Aalto University. Our approach has been to enhance the functionality of our digital, sustainable, and open R&D&I process. We also suggest that the financiers of R&D&I activities should focus on better coordination between the overlapping themes in R&D&I and thus should target projects that supplement but not overlap each other. In that case, the time that can be saved from not doing overlapping work can be utilized better within the society by using the means of digitalization. Finally, we will present our own solutions on how we have increased the interaction.
The EU’s Network and Information Security (NIS) Directive will affect the innovation activities at universities of applied sciences
Jaakko Riihimaa, PhD, General Secretary, AAPA – Network of CIO’s in Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences
EU member states must during May 2018 latest to translate the directive to improve data protection for individuals (EU GDPR) into national law. This new standard has some effects also to UAS’s RDI activities.
On one hand, open science is assumed to have greater access to scientific inputs and outputs, so it can improve the effectiveness and productivity of the research and innovation systems. On other hand, in modern digitalized world data has become essential to the success of modern innovations and data can almost be handled as a new currency. Especially valuable is people’s personal data.
There is the tension between openness of innovation activities and privacy. Within UAS’s innovation activities this tension must be recognized and be reacted in an appropriate way when working with students, teachers and business partners. Tools for that can be found for example among quality systems, enterprise architecture methods and risk analysis.
Experimentation ecosystem as a growth platform for innovation activities
Anu Kurvinen, M.Sc.(Econ.), Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Business Administration, Saimaa University of Applied Sciences, Lappeenranta
Pasi Juvonen, D.Sc. (Eng.), Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Business Administration, Saimaa University of Applied Sciences, Lappeenranta
The basis of this article lies in Experimental Development Ecosystem (EDE) that is a framework including researchers from university of applied sciences and a technological university, students from both institutes, team entrepreneurs and lecturers, local enterprises and local cities. This article aims at describing utilization of the EDE as a platform for open innovation in three different cases: Innovation assignments given to the team entrepreneurs by local companies and organisations, Hackathons organized in conjunction with “Digikaappaus” event organized by team entrepreneur students in February 2017, and an experiment that was conducted based on the needs of cities of Imatra and Lappeenranta.
Open innovation is a way of thinking and doing in which creating innovations is done in co-operation with different stakeholders and networks. The EDE has been created according to the principles of open innovation. Based on the experiences from the three presented cases, the most important issues in promoting open innovation are linked to the change in the ways of thinking and through that removing the possible obstacles for cooperation between different parties.
The changing role of a teacher – one of the corner stones of innovation pedagogics
Tiina Hirard, M.A., Senior lecturer, Turku University of Applied Sciences
Mervi Takaeilola, M.A., RN (UAS), Senior lecturer, Turku University of Applied Sciences
This article deals with the innovation pedagogy and the renewing teaching with activating learning and teaching methods, multidisciplinarity and development-oriented assessment. The renewing teaching was emphasized in the implementation of preparatory studies for higher education in the field of health and well-being at Turku University of Applied Sciences in 2016. The entire implementation was based on co-teaching between a Finnish language teacher and two nursing teachers and the co-teaching was put into practice both in planning, implementing and assessing the training. Learning and teaching was built on doing together so that in a multidisciplinary learning environment the knowledge was not only shared but also produced and verbalized together both during the contact lessons and online. Assessing students’ competencies was interactive and the main goals of the continuous assessment were guiding the students, forwarding the learning process and reinforcing the students’ self-assessment skills.
Haaga Place to Be: experimentation, insights and joint learning
Saija Laitinen, M.Sc (Nutrition), senior lecturer, Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences
Johanna Rajakangas-Tolsa, Ph.D (Nutrition), principal lecturer, Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences
At the hospitality campus of Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, innovation together with companies has been integrated to the Haaga Place to Be innovation platform that aims to develop professional kitchens. It brings together industry actors to test, gain insight and learn with students and teachers, but it also brings together companies to develop their business. The innovation platform aims to promote a culture of experimenting, learning together and understanding. At the moment 19 industry partners from kitchen appliance distributors to restaurants are participating in the concept. In practice the concept is shown for example at the campus in the lunch cafeteria, where the pop-up kitchen has been used by students and companies to test new products. Also other joint activities and development has proven the concept to bring innovative projects to the students, to make collaboration with the industry easier, and trough networking bring benefits to all parties involved. For more information visit www.p2bHaaga.fi.
Students of Industrial Management and Engineering are innovating theatre marketing
Esa Laihanen, M.A., Senior Lecturer (Finnish Language and Communication), Language Centre, Saimaa University of Applied Sciences
The article describes an innovation project where students of Industrial Engineering and Management innovated the marketing of Lappeenranta City Theater. The assignment was part of the course Finnish written and oral communication in Business and Economic Life organized by Saimaa University of Applied Sciences Language Centre in spring 2017. The project produced several applicable ideas for the marketing of the theater, served as a meaningful learning assignment for a communication course and contributed to the theater’s education work.
DRAFT teams innovate with the help of micro funding
Kirsi Taskinen, M.Sc., Project Coordinator, Karelia University of Applied Sciences
Marja-Liisa Ruotsalainen, M.Sc.Econ. & Bus.Adm., Senior Project Manager, Karelia University of Applied Sciences
Heikki Immonen, M.Sc., Principal Lecturer of Entrepreneurship, Karelia University of Applied Sciences
Since 2012, Karelia UAS and University of Eastern Finland have offered micro funding to their students and staff for testing business ideas and social innovations. The idea of the Draft Program developed at Karelia UAS is simple: First, teams interested in the Program send a description of their idea via email. Second, pre-selected teams present their idea to the Draft board, which selects teams with the most promising ideas to the Draft Program.
Every year about 20 teams receive 1000 euros – the first lot of Draft funding. During the Draft Program, the best teams have the possibility to receive up to 4000 euros of funding.
Draft Program is funded by Karelia UAS, UEF, William and Ester Otsakorpi Foundation and PKO Regional Co-operative. The alternating members of the Draft board represent Karelia UAS, UEF, North Karelian companies, Joensuu Science Park Business Incubator, Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation as well as various student organizations.
Why research is so hard to become innovations?
Kari Laasasenaho, project manager (Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences), PhD student (Tampere University of Technology)
Abstract: Currently, Finnish government has decreased funding for research and education. This has been affecting especially on young researchers, because it is hard to get funding without previous experience and results. Researchers must apply money more often and different sources. This means more time on bureaucracy and less time for research and innovation activity. The use of time is personal resource that has to be taken into account in the innovation activity. It is very important to realize that the reduction of research money is indirectly affecting on Finnish economy. One solution for the problem could be that the government increase research funding if the public economy will rise in the future.
The Karelia RDI environments are open for anyone
Helena Puhakka-Tarvainen, Senior Project Manager, M.Sc., Karelia University of Applied Sciences
Karelia University of Applied Sciences implements open science and research through multidisciplinary research infrastructures. Those study and service environments include technology and wood construction infrastructures, environments for wellbeing, simulation and physiotherapy, as well as facilities for media and creative businesses. Key issues for creating innovations are multi-stakeholder partnerships, open development platforms and inclusion of Karelia staff and students for the research and development work. Innovativeness of Sirkkala Energy Park is embedded in open data share and close cooperation with energy production related SMEs. Innovation platform for wood construction is spread outside from campus into existing pilot buildings. Voimala offers an environment for wellbeing-related learning and development for hundreds of students and stakeholders annually. Systematic processes for open publication through Theseus-database support the culture of openness.