Local stakeholder meetings in Ostrobothnia, Finland

In May 2017, the Regional Council of Ostrobothnia organized local stakeholder meetings in three regions in Ostrobothnia. The overarching theme of the meetings was to deepen current discussions on the strengths and challenges facing the three regions, as well as on specific actions needed to improve the regional innovation system.

All three meetings were organized as open and co-creative workshops. Participants mainly included stakeholders and representatives from development organizations, the municipalities, the university and high school sector, and from the business sector. The discussions were fruitful and the outcomes ranged from concrete actions for supporting growth among local companies to more generic views on strengths and weaknesses in cooperation between the private, public and higher education sector.

In view of ongoing activities within the OSIRIS project, the meetings had three important contributions.

First, the meetings provided a valuable basis for evaluating the current state of the regional innovation system. In particular, the meetings created a critical discussion on prior SWOT-analyses conducted on the region’s innovation system. This discussion took prior analysis one step further and deeper. The insights gained here will also be of importance for benchmarking the value of the project partners’ good practices on open and social innovation.

Second, by sharing different perspectives and experiences, the stakeholders identified needs, problems, and opportunities related to regional competiveness and growth. These insights are important to consider when drafting the action plan on how Ostrobothnia could strengthen regional development by the use of open and social innovation.

Finally, the dialogue between the different stakeholders contributed towards creating a joint view on measures needed to approach the identified problems and needs. The existence of such shared spectacles among stakeholders will be of outmost importance for communicating and implementing the forthcoming action plan on open and social innovation.