In P-IRIS the partners develop a tool box for managing innovation networks. Stryn Tech Hub demonstrates successful restructuring after a period of decline.
Stryn Business Garden (BG) was established in 2002 with the purpose to create a growth environment for SMEs. The economic situation became difficult and for this reason office space was leased to random businesses rather than to create a growth oriented environment. The core of this good practice is the ability of this network to face their failed strategy, to look for new ways forward and to restructure instead of shutting down. The case illustrates the importance of analyzing and understanding the life-cycle of innovation networks. In this case the service sector found new driving force within the traditional industry. The service sector realized that innovative models to develop cooperation between suppliers - customers - R&D-actors and public support actors (e.g. an incubator) was stronger outside their network. Co-located industry invited the BG to physically move and create Stryn Tech Hub. Outdated "wisdom" that competence is found primarily inside the business service sector was replaced by an acknowledgement that modern industry had recruited advanced competence themselves and had become the leading innovative force. The network became more outward looking. Today the BG delivers capacity building measures, network-activities, project- and process support, facilitating strategy processes, different theme meetings and in general securing that more activity happen closer to the Tech Hub-companies. The NW-activities are more focused and give clearer comercial benefits.
There was no extra resources needed. The national scheme "Rural Business Gardens" was and still is the main source for funding. Estimated anual budget: 100.000€. This allows for a full time coordinator funded for 10 years. The funding disappears if the activity is failing.
Evidence of success
Network membership of relevant ventures more than doubled after the restructuring - 10 network meetings the last year with different themes with an average of 30 actors joining from public and private organizations - Leaders from network members gather for a weekly meeting updating each other and sharing knowledge - The effort has been copied by another local network, Green Innovation Network, and recognized by others - The activity has led to several new supplier-customer relations.
It is very important to use enough time and emphasize anchoring of the measure. We were perceptive about this, but still we could use even more resources on that.
Potential for learning or transfer
Innovation networks need to work on their reason to exist; their goals and their strategy. One issue is to understand the life-cycle, to address change outside the network and to address the balance between “daring to change” and “sticking to safety”. The BG understood that they needed to better create benefits for their members, to better facilitate knowledge creation, sharing and use and to be highly competent in managing innovation processes. The network built positive external legitimacy by starting the restructuring process on their own initiative. Rural innovation networks need to work on strategies and functional improvements.