Friday, November 11, 2005

A Finnish Week, part 5

Yesterday afternoon there was a panel on innovative cities, a subject which drew much attention also from the Dutch participants. Many of them came along on this trip as they hope to her more about the much praised Finnish innovation model. The organisers had planned to get a speaker on the subject, but did not succeed to fix him or even a replacement. That was a pity. But looking back at the speeches and especially the one on innovative cities, it became clear that the model is no longer on the top of the list.

The panel on Innovative Cities:
- Tatu Laurila (standing up), Helsinki Region of Centre of Expertise;
- Jarmo Suominen (left), Future Home Institute;
- Minna Tarkka, m-cult (left from the middle)centre for new media;
- ?
- Paula Tuurnala (right), Helsinki University of Technology.

The Finnish innovation model has a history, which started in 1991. The Berlin wall had fallen and peresjtroika was all around Russia. As Finland shares the border with Russia and influenced the economy with Russian orders, it became clear to the Fins that they had to do something and find new orders in other parts. It also meant that the structure of the industry and of the collaboration model between government, universities and industry. So industry started to organise itself more competitive by cutting away the clay layers in the organisations and making the organisations flatter. The model between industry and universities became more intensive. The government is offering money to universities and industry to get students involved in industry from early days in their study. Students at the Tampere School of Art and Media are present at the school for 50 per cent of their time; for the rest of the time they work in companies, usually with a government grant. But the Fins themselves are realistic about their Finnish innovation model. Our Nokia host Juha Kaario said: What innovation model; just start working. He made clear that innovation in Nokia means coming up with attainable ideas, researching them, developing them into products (as Nokia has no services yet) and moving the products over to the business side completely with the research and development groups.

Innovative cities is a hot subject. It ties in with Richard Florida’s book on creativity. In cities there should be places for creativity, which triggers innovation and leads to competitiveness. In order to develop a strategy for this Culminatum has defined four pillars of innovation strategy:
1. improving international appeal of research and expertise. Finland needs foreigners!
2. Reinforcing knowledge based clusters. In Helsinki the Forum Virium was formed to bring together TV, multimedia, interactive TV, radio etc.
3. Reform public services with innovations.
4. Support for innovative activities.
Culminatum has produced now 26 action proposals.

Universities are an integral part of the innovative city. One of the panellist, working in Boston, indicated that MIT in Boston is not an accident, but is integrated in Boston. The French science park Sophia Antipolis is for example the wrong place. The parc is outside Nice, near the Mediterranean Sea,m it has glass boxes, it has its own campus and its own incestuous structure. A good example is the integration of city with campus. Besides the school, there is a theatre and there are more than 20 bars and restaurants.

The two diva's, Maria and Irina, opened the MindTrek night event in style

At night there was the big MindTrek event, the annual awards were presented. The winner gets more than 20.000 euro as prize money. This year the winner was a historic production on the Second World War, from 1939 till 1940. Of course the usual points of design and interactivity were quoted. But the production became a winner as the production is a commemoration to the veterans. The prize money is intended as a stimulus for the sequel from 1941 onwards to this production.

Dance on

The day ended with a dinner and dancing as well as a flame demonstration. It was a perfect end of a beautiful evening.

Final act of the flame artists

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