Smart villages need to understand their innovation eco-system. The chair of the P-IRIS board Lars Hustveit, was invited to a workshop held between 21-22 of February in the EU Parliament to speak about innovative solutions for smart villages. In the draft definition of smart villages, it is written that such villages use innovative solutions to improve and they benefit from cooperation and alliances with external actors. Lars Hustveit drew the parallel to the P-IRIS efforts on developing skills to manage innovation networks and underlined that “smart villages need to understand their innovation eco-system”.
When developing innovative solutions as assumed in the definition of smart villages, innovative processes will take place. This involves the community. You need to bring in the citizens as users of services, entrepreneurs to bring in entrepreneurial mind-sets, the resources from the business community and the municipality. Hustveit underlined a lesson from P-IRIS; public sector plays a relatively more important role in rural innovation systems than in the urban ones.
The smart villages’ rhetoric is strongly advocating the bottom-up approach. This is important. At the same time it was a clear message from many during the workshop, that external top-expertise will be crucial to take benefit of new technology and use it on the premises of small societies. There is a need for a lot of insight and fantasy to take advantage of new technology for villages. There must therefore be funding so that e.g. researchers will find innovation together with villages as an interesting opportunity. “There is a top-down responsibility to make these necessary links between villages and external top-expertise possible” Hustveit advocated.
The pauses of a work shop are also important. Lars Hustveit proposed for representatives of ENRD (https://enrd.ec.europa.eu/enrd-thematic-work/smart-and-competitive-rural-areas/smart-villages_en) that if they would do something on smart villages and rural innovation eco-systems, they might contact P-IRIS. One of the “fathers of Smart Villages” the Slovenian MEP Franc Bogovic knows our partner Heart of Slovenia very well. He is now aware of the interesting links between the work within P-IRIS and smart villages as described above.