The Road to an Action Plan in Ostrobothnia, Finland

Our action plan departs from the notion that digitalization increases the need to understand how value can be created in new ways for the end customer and user. As a result, more diversified and new types of knowledge are needed.

Therefore, both companies and regional authorities need to find new methods of engagement reaching citizens and end-users and including them in the innovation network. To this background, the action plan focuses on using the region’s energy technology cluster as a context for creating a regional showcase demonstrating how open and social innovation could be used to provide citizen- and user-driven innovations.

The action plan addresses open social innovation by highlighting the importance of combinatorial knowledge bases for finding new regional industrial growth paths and for adapting mature ones to changes in technologies and markets. Here, the dimension of social innovation is valuable as it puts focus not only on outcomes, in terms of new ideas and solution, but also on participation processes and mobilization of actors in creating new and intensified networks.

The Osiris process has been important for the development of the action plan, since we have in close cooperation with regional stakeholders and project partners increased our knowledge on open social innovation as a driver of growth. We have also to a much greater extent tried out new methods for involving citizens in co-creation processes, leading to a bigger number of citizens being directly involved in regional development. These parts of the Osiris process have been useful for planning the modification of the PI in phase 2.

To improve the policy instrument we want to test a new open innovation practice which more strongly involves citizens to influence policy making and which enhances the capacity to develop new citizens-driven products/services. With that being said, an important, but challenging aspect of the implementation of the action plan will be to find the right mechanisms for engaging people and keeping their interest in this task.