The partners of the OSIRIS project focus on the co-design, delivery and implementation of policies concerning open and social innovation, and the role of these concepts for regional development strategies. At the heart of OSIRIS is a particular good practice developed by the Swedish lead partner Region Västerbotten, the “Innovation Loop”.
Originally intended as a communication tool to promote regional innovation development activities, the Innovation Loop has evolved into a methodology for engaging regional stakeholders to actively contribute with ideas and solutions. Now, thanks to the OSIRIS project it has become possible to experiment and further develop this good practice in an international context.
This co-creation method is well aligned with the open social innovation theme of OSIRIS. “Regardless of topics and regions, the Loop stimulates the process of looking at the challenges from new perspectives and seeking solutions to stimulate the innovation system.”, says Yvonne Backholm-Nyberg from the Finnish project partner Åbo Akademi.
A year with the Innovation Loop
The one-year process kicks-off in January when a specific theme or overall challenge to be tackled is set for each Innovation Loop. Following this, there are three phases of co-generation, co-defining and co-working.
- In early spring a number of workshops focusing on the co-generation of first ideas for actions and solutions are organised.
- The next phase of the process takes place towards the beginning of summer, when participants follow up on the ideas and seek to identify feasible solutions. This work of co-defining solutions includes identifying for example what actors or technology should be involved.
- In the third phase, at the beginning of the autumn, the focus is on how to implement the solution. For example, the financial resources needed and how to secure support from the private sector.
At the end of the process, in November or December, the focus is turned to the Innovation Loop itself. Participants reflect on areas of improvement regarding the methodology, and how the process can be boosted during the next iteration.
From a policymaker perspective, the Innovation Loop provides a framework to communicate with stakeholders about actions and implementation progress in the region. But first and foremost, it is a participatory process to involve policymakers, academics, businesses and above all citizens interested in public sector innovation and regional development. Each stakeholder group brings its own perspective on the challenges to be tackled. The outcome is co-generated ideas that are prototyped into innovative products, services and processes.
The modular structure of the Innovation Loop makes it flexible, and accessible to other regions. Umberto Pernice, external expert for Region Västerbotten, notes: “You can focus on just one phase or run the whole process. If it is done with smaller teams, the tool can also be used with a smaller budget.”
During the course of OSIRIS, the partners have organised co-creative idea workshops using elements of the Innovation Loop methodology. “The methodology has worked successfully in the Region of Ostrobothnia to co-generate new innovative ideas, ranging from sustainable travel experiences, to advanced automation products using optical measuring techniques.”, says Johanna Dahl from the project partner Regional Council of Ostrobothnia.
Securing committed stakeholders is a key success factor of the Innovation Loop. Umberto Pernice stresses the importance of incentives: “Stakeholders are interested if the ideas discussed are relevant to them, and if they can have a say in generating ideas and provide guidance on implementation.” In addition, stakeholders must have a sense of ownership, with consensus regarding the ambitions and a long-term perspective. “There are no short-cuts in innovation – progress will be slow; therefore, the stakeholders need to be patient.”, adds Carina Eriksson, also representing the lead partner Region Västerbotten.
During the recent European Week of Regions and Cities in Brussels, a co-creation session adopting the Innovation Loop engaged more than 70 participants from all Europe to co-generate ideas on digital transformation.
“Innovation Loop” in the Policy Learning Platform Good Practice database
Link to European Week of Regions and Cities session
Image source: https://www.interregeurope.eu/osiris/images-of-osiris/