The event did not only serve as a practical exercise of looking for new measures of innovation, but also provided a rich set of perspectives on the issue of what objectives publically-funded research should pursue and what impacts it should deliver
Being concerned about a proper assessment of EC-funded collaborative research projects, DG CNECT of the European Commission sought an answer to the question of how to measure the impact of Open Innovation 2.0. In particular, what indicators should be used in order to help to focus research and innovation investments on desirable activities and to ensure that they have real potential for long-term impact on wellbeing, jobs, growth and sustainable competiveness? This challenge is motivated by the fact that, besides the question of what are the outcomes of EC-funded projects, there is an increasing interest in whether their design and governance reflect the dynamics and diversity of modern innovation processes. In other words, whether the projects set-ups are in line with the virtues and value creation potential of hyper connectivity and collaboration, i.e. the Open Innovation 2.0 mode. This new form of innovation is a response to the rising complexity of problems of the modern world. Solutions to these problems require a non-linear approach that allows for experimentation and includes all relevant stakeholders.
Against this background, the Amsterdam Innovation Camp was expected to complement the Innovation Radar, an EC initiative focussing on the identification of high potential innovations and the key innovators behind them in EC-funded research projects. Working at the JRC, I co-developed the Innovation Radar innovation and innovator assessment framework. Hence, due to my experience in providing evidence-based support to the policies of DG CNECT in the areas of measurement and evaluation of research and innovation, I was approached by DG CNECT to act as a facilitator of the team working on the challenge Open Innovation 2.0. During three days of the Amsterdam Innovation Camp, I had a pleasure to work with a group of entrepreneurs, researchers and practitioners who brought their rich and various experience and curiosity to contribute to the improvement of innovation policies at the European level.
Although the challenge was presented as a high-level problem of a European policy maker, the critical and curiosity-driven individuals took the problem apart and analysed it from a number of perspectives including local entrepreneurs, member of a small community or a policy maker at the regional level. The group looked at the problem from a new perspective and explored a number of alternative solutions. The process facilitated convergence and inclusion of elements from various proposals, instead of selecting a single one. Participants focused on the need for concrete outcomes and societal impacts of research and innovation activities financed at the European level. The concept was then further elaborated and, at the end, took a form of a prototype.
The proposal made clear that the measurement of the Open Innovation 2.0 should focus on connections and interactions between organizations involved in innovation projects. It should look at the quality, accessibility and diversity of those connections. Considering that most of the challenges addressed by publically-funded research projects are of high complexity and should have long-lasting results, the measurement framework should look at short-, mid- and long-term outcomes and outputs. Because of a mission-oriented involvement of public policy in research and technology development, the assessment of the outcomes should be multidimensional and have impacts at individual, community and global level. Finally, it was proposed that, in order to reflect the spirit of the Open Innovation 2.0 mode, the measurement process should be dynamic and include a number of feed-back loops and pivots. Hence, there should be enough room to revise objectives and evaluation criteria as the understanding of the problems grows and new potential solutions emerge.
In conclusion, the event did not only serve as a practical exercise of looking for new measures of innovation. It also provided a rich set of perspectives on the issue of what objectives publically-funded research should pursue and what impacts it should deliver. The additional advantage was that the contributions were made not from innovation professionals. Instead, they came from citizens concerned about the problems faced by the global community and who see the positive role of public bodies in seeking innovative solutions to address them. This way, they add value to the process of assessing and designing innovation projects funded by the EC.