INNOVATION LOOP – importing and customizing the Innovation Loop for co-creation in Ostrobothnia

The Regional Council of Ostrobothnia, Åbo Akademi University/Experience Lab and Region Västerbotten collaborate to import the good practice of Region Västerbotten, i.e. the Innovation Loop (IL), by testing and customising it to the territorial context and needs of the Region of Ostrobothnia for co-creating ideas and implementing solutions exploiting open and social innovation.   

This pilot will enhance the co-creation process at the regional level tailoring the Innovation Loop to effectively include citizens and stakeholders in the strategic and operational working processes of the Regional Council of Ostrobothnia.

In the region of Ostrobothnia the energy technology sector is very strong, so the theme chosen for the Innovation Loop was Smart Energy.

Three Smart Energy Workshops were held in April, May and October 2019 with the mission to take predefined problems and from that co-generate new ideas into innovative solutions in the context of smart and renewable energy solutions. The case challenges for the Smart Energy Workshops were defined in collaboration with three companies in the EnergyVaasa cluster: Wärtsilä, Comsel Systems and Vaasan Sähkö.

In the first workshop participants had to assess needs and identify ideas to handle these needs. In the second workshop they had to transform the ideas from the first workshop into marketable innovative products, services and processes benefiting the society in the energy sector. At the final workshop it was time to finalize and pitch the ideas for an audience.  

The Comsel challenge was to design an end customer user interface through which energy information could be shared with the consumer. 

Vaasa Sähkö wanted the participants to describe a winning business model for the changing energy ecosystem.

Wärtsilä contributed with a challenge to visualize a 100 % renewable future and the possibilities that would bring. The hard work of the participants led to the following innovations being pitched: 

eco-n for Comsel systems

EkoTeko Community for Vaasan Sähkö

Xmart Energy Modelling for Wärtsilä

The concluding activities of the project consists of evaluating and analyzing the innovation process and the Smart Energy workshops in cooperation with the stakeholders of the project. Also, the learning outcomes and experience need to be implemented and grounded in the regional development work. 

The Innovation Loop method itself gets praise from development planner Johanna Dahl (Regional council of Ostrobothnia):

- It´s been a clear step-wise process where the participants have been able to develop a variety of ideas into concrete solutions.

Her colleague Linda Sundman-Melin continues:

- At the Regional council we were interested in trying this method after we heard about the good practice from our friends in Västerbotten. It is a good way of getting people and new perspectives to meet and create new ideas and innovative solutions. We really need that in Ostrobothnia.  

This was the first test run and with the experience from that we can continue to customize the process to fit even better for the needs of our region. The evaluation process during the pilot has been valuable for us during the entire process: between workshops it was possible to take smaller suggestions into consideration and now as we summarize the whole process we have a lot of information to take into consideration going forward.

Watch this video to see what the participants have learned!