Regional development can be tricky and cumbersome at times. Regional development strategies and policy instruments can be even more abstract and hard to grasp. Adding open, social innovation methods to the equation for driving change does not necessarily pave the way for a smooth understanding of the goals. Yet, this is what Osiris strives to do – for the benefit of all citizens of Europe.

And, in Portugal, in the city of Fundao, with Christmas knocking on the door, our project partners demonstrated how this can be done in a very elegant way. Greeting us the first morning was the mayor of Fundao, who in his welcoming speech set the foundation for the values, ambitions and working methods of the municipality to achieve change and growth. This followed us as a common thread for understanding all the activities happening during the following days. He also showed us that change and growth is done for people, by people – that it is the commitment of people working together to achieve common goals in an open innovation process that actually drives change. And that the goals have to be clearly communicated to build a common understanding for the ambitions and activities taking place in a very visible way in Fundao and its surroundings.

During the well-organized project meeting, the days were packed with study visits, co-creation workshops and keynotes on the topic chosen: New Education and Training Systems for Emerging jobs. This is a topic that many regions in Europe can relate to and are trying to find solutions for.

The study visits and co-creation workshops engaged many local stakeholders from companies, organisations and schools alike, demonstrating very clearly the willingness to work together for everybody´s benefit, taking the future into their own hands. And moreover, giving everybody involved practical examples of how this is actually done!

As project partners and stakeholders from across Europe took part in the event, the innovation strategy of Fundao, as laid out by the mayor the first morning, unfolded in a clear and lucid way, showing hands on how it is possible to bring about change.

The pedagogical approach to the theme was based on clear and well crafted communication from the organizers. The theme, programme and graphical elements all worked together to create a coherent structure that was easy to follow. The interesting and focused activities were also easy to share on all the media channels of Osiris and to regional media, resulting in among other things a record-breaking number of views of one of the videos from the event. The communication after the meeting left nothing more to wish for, and the creative minutes shared with project partners are of the same top-notch quality as the event itself.

Following the event, a local stakeholder meeting was organized by the greek partner in Patras. At this event, the core of the Osiris project was showing its strength. Indeed, representatives from the Municipality of Western Achaea in Greece aim to adopt the good practice from the Municipality of Fundao in order to exploit abandoned buildings so as to create fab labs and incubators for innovative enterprises.

Et voilà – regional development strategies, policy instruments, and open social innovation might not be that complicated after all. Just do it the Osiris way!

Yvonne Backholm-Nyberg

Osiris Communication

Åbo Akademi University