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Bror Salmelin: Europe needs to focus on new models of innovation

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The interview was made by Jakub Kajtman, DG CONNECT, Communications Unit after the successful Open Innovation 2.0 Conference in Dublin (June 2014).

"For the tech companies the key is to drive the market development rather than just competing against the existing players. The focus on innovation in the private sector can bring better results and a leading position on the market'' -  Adviser for Innovation Systems in DG Connect, Bror Salmelin

Bror Salmelin graduated from Helsinki University of Technology in 1978 where he also began his career as a teaching and research assistant in the Control and Systems Engineering Laboratory.
He is currently the adviser for Innovation Systems at the European Commission, Directorate General for Communications, Network, content, and Technology (DG CONNECT) where he is responsible for Open innovation and Modern innovation systems. He currently co-chairs the European Union Open Innovation Strategy and Policy group, an industry-led group advising on strategic priorities for open and service innovation.

Few days ago you chaired the Open Innovation 2.0 (OI2) conference in Dublin. How would you describe the atmosphere?

The conference was the second in a row. The first edition came with a strong Dublin Innovation Declaration and this second edition aimed at putting it into practice. The Conference spirit and outcome were truly encouraging innovation in Europe. Our attendees gave us positive feedback on the event's solid contents.

And what was the key purpose of this event?

There were 3 main goals:

  • To engage and present the key elements in progressing  to the new Open Innovation 2.0 paradigm
  • To guide decision-makers, including European institutions and enterprises in their path towards a modern innovation ecosystem
  • To show the link between innovation and growth of smart cities

Of course the overall goal was to inspire, engage and foster discussions leading to concrete actions.

Bror Salmelin

 

You're talking about a new paradigm of Open Innovation 2.0. How would you describe it in 3 phrases?

It is first of all an approach which includes all stakeholders in quadruple helix (industry, research, public sector and people). It is based on sharing open platforms, and building user-driven applications for them. It is an experimental approach giving a quick indication on what fails and what scales; together with a strong market creation aspect. All the activities are seamlessly integrated based on common stakeholder vision.

Want to know more about the new paradigm of Open Innovation 2.0? Watch this video: “What is the key of Open Innovation 2.0?”

Could you mention some concrete examples? Existing or future ones.

Open Innovation 2.0 is not a mainstream, yet. We have some good examples where people are co-creators for services and where new collaborative forms are practiced. We have more than 1000 crowdfunding platforms where the crowd is actually building the first user community of a product or a service. Concrete examples are devices attached to iPhone or intelligent watches.

Concerning user-driven innovation we have services for elderly care developed in real world settings (for example in Helsinki). The apps economy as a whole is also a good example. It is based on (semi) open global platforms where people can add their own apps and scale success fast. This is also the case where the initial cost of the service is very low, enabling the prototypes to be frequent, and experimenting by hundreds of users.

Who are the biggest beneficiaries of the Open Innovation 2.0 concept? Big companies, SMEs, Universities, Public institutions, Users ….?

Here again it is a question of moving into a new game together. Common vision is the starting point. The second element is the active involvement of all stakeholders. It is about building ecosystems and focusing on the innovation as a mash-up. All these stakeholders are supposed to create the dynamics needed for establishing new markets. In this context, I would stress the fact that open innovation is something that allows us to find "in-between" areas for growth.

And what are the concrete EU actions linked with the Open Innovation 2.0?

There are actions on several levels. Most concretely we see the influence of open innovation in the Horizon 2020 framework. In many tasks (strategic objectives) we require the user involvement from the very beginning of the project, not just at the verification stage at the end. Users are seen as active agents in many project areas. We also promote the Open Disruptive Innovation (ODI) Scheme It is a continuously open call which intended to filter out ideas which have the potential to scale up top European dimension. On policy level there are systematic actions to create strong European innovation ecosystems.

You also strongly promote the idea of Living Labs. In what way is that useful? And is it also a part of the OI 2.0 concept?

The Living Labs (p.e. European Network of Living Labs) are sites where user-driven innovation is meant to happen in the quadruple helix manner. Eight years after the start we have for now more than 300 of those declared sites throughout Europe. Living Labs need to liaise topically with each other to be able to foster pan-European solutions.

What is important is that we have the quadruple helix, mash-up, serendipity in the innovation ecosystems, building also on the societal capital. Living Labs is a wording describing the approach, but I do not say that they would have any "monopoly" over this kind of open thinking.

Where will be the concept of Open Innovation 2.0 a year from now?

Open Innovation 2.0 is a new and growing paradigm which is under one umbrella putting together many dimensions of modern innovation practises. Yes, it will be growing and I hope into mainstream as we need to have in Europe an approach which builds on our strengths. OI2 is exactly that - building strongly on the involvement of all stakeholders, and taking the experimentation and prototyping as central components to create new markets. It helps us in Europe to create a safety net for innovation but moreover an environment where we can see very fast the successful paths we should follow. For tech companies the key is to drive the market development rather than just competing against the existing players.

 

For more detailed info about Open Innovation click here

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LinkedIn profile of Bror Salmelin

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