During this spring, the Regional Council of Ostrobothnia organized a well-visited stakeholder meeting entitled “Citizens and Innovation”. The meeting started with an open lecture where the Swedish writer and leading futuristic speaker, Per Schlingmann talked about how globalization, digitalization and urbanization change how both companies and public organizations need to think and act.  

From a public viewpoint a key message of the lecture was that there is a need to think about regions and municipalities as places. Regional competitiveness is more and more about creating attractiveness. Therefore, it is of outmost importance to involve citizens and other actors in creating a place which has a clear idea and aspiration for the future. In addition, regions need to offer places which stimulate meetings between people.

The meeting continued with a workshop focusing on co-creation and citizens’ involvement in regional development. The workshop set out to describe on-going changes in regional development work from five perspectives: co-creation, digital platforms, clusters, diversity, and leadership. After this introduction, the participants took on the challenge to define a number of concrete needs in the region. In the second step the participants thought about how we co-create and innovate. The third and final step focused on analyzing how we take advantage of new ideas generated. The third step resulted in concrete ideas on actions currently needed, for example, an open idea bank with a voting function, different forms of meeting places, hackathons, and business PTs.

The meeting succeeded in attracting students, development organizations, companies and actors from the public and higher education sector. In addition, the Regional Council received valuable input to the forthcoming action plan. Finally, the workshop succeeded in highlighting how different forms of co-creation can be applied to meet current needs in the region.