Center for Knowledge and Innovation Research
CKIR was founded when the technology or corporate-driven innovation paradigm was challenged by new open, human and eco-system-based collaborative innovation paradigm where the knowledge creation and innovation bring about – not only new technologies or products (supply-side innovations) – but rather new production and consumption patterns that renew both local and global services, markets and industries. In demand-driven innovations, people as citizens, users and customers, cities as places of life, public services, social networks and other “players” are viewed as sources and contexts for knowledge creation and innovation. CKIR is active in developing the theoretical background and research methodologies for open eco-system based human-centric research, development and innovation (RDI). This calls for mobilizing and orchestration of RDI networks and creation of new open RDI-infrastructures, such as Living Laboratories.
Experimenting for Human-centric Socio-techno-economic Change
Since 1990s, the opportunity to conduct knowledge and innovation research in open, demand and user-driven ways is based on (1) empowered people and social networks, (2) modern ICT and (3) collaboration of places of life – be them cities or rural areas. The modern ICT is like Gutenberg´s discovery of printing technology, and the communities and networks of enthusiastic, well-educated and curious people are like artists and discoverers of Renaissance.
The places of life in turn are the very contexts where the contemporary problems may be met and solved. The modern usage of ICT for collaboration of people, firms, cities and public agencies may contribute to problem solving in climate change, energy efficiency, wellbeing and quality of life. This includes creation of new solutions for public services and governance, eDemocracy, social and participative media, sustainable construction, and smart urban and rural development.
The Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy promotes open and user-centric ecosystems of RDI such as Living Laboratories. The ministry views that this approach has a strong potential even in renewal of industry and public services. The Finnish view on demand and user-driven innovation policy is to develop ways and means for engaging citizens, active users and developer communities in research, development and innovation (RDI). RDI can be brought away from closed corporate or university laboratories to people´s everyday life; the solutions of problems can be experimented, prototyped, tested and validated in real-life contexts and places of usage and real action. However, the openness and collaboration-based development of competitiveness and wellbeing may bring about major socio-techno-economic and institutional changes that extend the domain of participative democracy, collective action and collaborative governance.
The scientific research in open ecosystems for RDI promotes also open society development. Open society with high level of public participation contributes to modernizing the industry and economy – and the practice of representative democracy within established constitutional frameworks. In a open society, public participation has intrinsic value by increasing accountability, broadening the sphere in which citizens can make or influence decisions and building civic capacity. It offers also instrumental value by strengthening the evidence base for policy making, reducing the implementation costs and tapping greater reservoirs of experience and creativity in the design and delivery of public services.
Firms´ Role Is Changing: the Opportunities Offered by a Collaborative and Participative Open Society
We have witnessed the innovation failure of big corporations alone to tackle the challenges – or opportunities – of wicked problems. The innovation failure is even greater in case of productivity improvement or systemic renewal of public (or private) services such as clean and green energy production and distribution and traffic and transportation. Some of new innovations may have their very origin in human communities, social networks and other “walks of life”. Some innovations and forms of social entrepreneurship may only emerge from RDI and renewal of public services, governance and administration.
The firms widely collaborate with social networks, customers, SMEs, cities and other public agencies in RDI From the viewpoint of a firm, the major benefit of entering in open collaboration may lay in experimentation for new open service and technology architectures, or when there is a need for changing the business model or value creation model of the industry.
The open collaboration may be considered also in cases where the change from a very centralized production and delivery patterns towards more distributed ones is needed for, or in cases where hierarchical vertical structures should become changed towards more non-hierarchical, horizontal, partnership- and network-based collaborative structures. This often implies a renewal of production, delivery and consumption patterns based on ongoing societal and economic trends such as globalization, sustainable development, and aging population. This may lead to new service, business and market creation. This includes new socio-economic activities, social entrepreneurship and even new industry creation.
Helsinki Metropolitan Region has a bold exercise going on that aims at Opening of Public Data.
The public data includes a wide variety of statistical data, geographical data or information of public services and economic activities of the region or of international investments, RDI and tourism in the region, etc. Open public data is available for free for wide educational, research, media, content or any other service or industrial use. The significance of open data has been realized worldwide. Numerous initiatives have been taken both in city, national as well as European level. These initiatives have been often closely related to open government initiatives, public procurement policies, knowledge society development or even digital libraries.
There are already also many other excellent examples of new internet and social media based services – for instance for the elderly people - developed by private sector, 3rd sector and citizens together. For example the CareTV for elderly people benefits of connected interactive TV, social media and the health care data of people and their doctors at local hospital or care home.
EU-funded SAVE ENERGY project deploys collaborative cross-border and ecosystem-based Living Lab-methodology for open RDI of energy efficiency in public buildings of Helsinki, Luleå, Leiden, Manchester and Lisbon. The project experiments with citizens for energy consumptions patterns and energy management systems that reduce usage of energy. The project has developed a serious gaming and social media tools for experimenting with people across borders on different energy consumption patterns. Based on wide technical sensory data as well as on wide human and social behavioral data, the major changes in consumption and delivery patterns of energy have already been found. For instance City of Helsinki – that piloted with two public schools - has already decided to scale up the learned findings into wider use in its schools. The project has helped the SMEs involved to grow rapidly in internationalization of their products and services.
Europe Engages People for Creativity and Innovation
CKIR helped the European Commission and the Finnish Prime Minister´s office to launch the European Network for Living Labs (ENoLL) during the Finnish EU Presidency in 2006. ENoLL has currently 212 Living Labs’ members that are active in open, human-centric RDI. The network is a parallel institutional arrangement to European Institute for Technology and Innovation (EIT). The network reflected the EU’s i2010 policy (2005) to boost single and lead market development through research and innovation in ICT towards more inclusive society where people do participate in new service, media, business and technology development that provides easy access to information, communication and related services for everybody at any time from any place. The i2010 policy did emphasize new waves of innovation in networks and Internet as well as more comprehensive user involvement in innovation. Currently, the EU-funded project Apollon develops network efficiency and multidisciplinary methodologies for open human-centric RDI of European Living Laboratories.
In the frame of the new EU 2020 strategy and Digital Agenda, these goals are even more valid. EU 2020 and Digital Agenda include the idea of social market mechanisms and balanced socio-economic development. In this spirit, Europe should aim at having a leading edge in the global service, market and industry creation that is based on social market mechanism and open and collaborative society and economy development.
Recently, Finland has got a new bold country brand strategy (Nov. 25.2010). It provides a fresh picture of a People-driven New Society that acts like a dynamic network of people, hand in hand. Networks and people organize themselves around problems, issues or tasks at hand; how to manage the task and problem solving in the most efficient and fruitful way together? This bottom-up people-driven society does not shy off the problems but rather mobilizes around them. This is a vision of a society that is very pragmatic but value and future-driven. This vision of a society throws over the mechanistic view of a society where rigid hierarchical, organizational and institutional structures subordinate people and their creativity and make them to serve the system. Finland offers a vision of the society where system serves people; institutional, organizational and technological structures and processes of the society are dynamic, purpose-built and flexible; they are enabling the processes of creation for Life.