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12 Jun 2015


EU Priorities 2020
Innovation & Enterprise
Open Innovation 2.0 Conference and Innovation Luminary Awards Ceremony 2015 preceded by an Aalto University's ACSI Camp for Societal Innovation which just took place in Espoo encouraged practical innovation adoption for the welfare of society as a whole. The Conference called for industry and policy makers to allow the inherently fluid processes of Innovation to flourish. “Innovation is not just an idea – it’s a mindset,” said President of the European Committee of Regions (CoR) and Innovation advocate Markku Markkula to the packed Alvar Aalto auditorium. “We must deliver investment packages that reward the process of innovation, instead of focusing on projects that have pre-determined results mapped out. This is counter-intuitive to innovation,” he explained.
President of the European Committee of Regions (CoR) Markku Markkula.
Photo: Tuula Palaste-Eerola
At its essence, the process of Open Innovation can be best summed up by a traffic system in which the cars tell the lights how to operate instead of visa versa. This is not a new concept, as Robert Madelin, Director General of DG CONNECT at the European Commission pointed out. “The Renaissance that took place in Italy during the 14th and 15th centuries wasn’t created from the top down. It was created by citizens that asked each other how can we do things together, and who else can help us?” He pointed out that the European Commission has supported the vision for more open approach in innovation since the inception of the term open innovation.
During the two-day multiple discussions, panels and parallel sessions, recognition of the power of the crowd and a determination to harness its power were recurrent themes. “The power of the crowd is becoming increasingly important. The paradigm change is real – orchestration, not management or control, is the key to creating fluid Open Innovation ecosystems. It is imperative that Innovation ecosystems become – and remain fluid” explained Bror Salmelin, Advisor for Innovation Systems, DG CONNECT, European Commission.
This fluidity is currently being put into practice across the Espoo Innovation Garden, a City of Espoo initiative that includes 24 research institutes and Aalto University alongside corporate headquarters and an actively contributing public. These four stakeholders –Government, Business, Public and Academia– form the components of the Open Innovation Quadruple Helix. Conditions within the garden have given rise to field-leading initiatives such as the Startup Sauna, the top startup accelerator in northern Europe, and Aaltoes, recently recognized as the best entrepreneurship society under 5 years old in the world.
The centerpiece of the conference, the Innovation Luminary Academy’s prestigious Innovation Luminary Awards Ceremony took place at the WeeGee Exhibition Centre on Monday evening. Invitees were treated to a fantastic menu titled ‘Tastes of Finland’, and a special atmosphere was quickly generated by the delicious dining experience in a uniquely Finnish modernist way. Master accordion player Heli Siekkinen treated guests to a virtuoso musical performance between courses, with journalist, academic and PR entrepreneur Chryssa Skodra expertly handling the evening’s master of ceremony duties.
Finland was the proud home of two recipients of the prestigious Innovation Luminary Awards. Nokia Chairman Risto Siilasmaa and founder of Slush Miki Kuusi are both tech industry titans, and both had a strong message for the future of Innovation in Finland and beyond. “Finland in general and Europe as a whole has a proud history of innovating, but a poor track record of turning Innovation into business opportunities. The current rate of 30% of all technological Innovation originating in European labs is unacceptable when compared to the fact that only 4 of the top 50 technology companies are European based” explained Nokia Chairman Risto Siilasmaa during his acceptance speech as Finnish Innovation Champion Luminary Award winner. Miki Kuusi, Young Innovation Champion Luminary Award winner expanded on this point, by stating that “Innovation is a direct result of deregulation, and the removal of the fear of failure.”
The Innovation Luminary Awards 2015 recipients in full:
Arts and Creativity in Innovation: Winner - EVA-MARIA BOERSCHLEIN
Democratizing Innovation: Winner - ERIC VON HIPPEL  
Finnish Innovation Champion: Winner - RISTO SIILASMAA
Creating Open Engagement Platforms: Winner - JIM JAGIELSKI
Driving Citizen Co-Creativity: Winner - DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL
Young Innovation Champion: Winner - MIKI KUUSI
Innovation Luminary Award recipients: Peter Finnegan, Dublin City Council, Eva-Marie Boerschlein and Miki Kuusi.
Photo: Tuula Palaste-Eerola
The Day 2 of the Open Innovation 2.0 Conference covered a dazzling array of topics. Global nervous systems powered by smartphone sensors, large-scale urban regeneration, serendipitous encounters, smart energy (the process of fluid energy sharing on a demand, not regulation or border led basis) and even the elimination of world poverty as discussed by World Bank representative Ilari Lindy were all discussed during the lively parallel discussions that raised questions and answers in equal measure. The discussions were designed to facilitate co-creation, and it was the success of engaging co-creation platforms that formed the basis of President Markkula’s closing remarks.
“Integrated physical, virtual, spiritual and mental spaces are essential for innovation to occur. Innovation networks need to be connected to each other and standardized, then truly evolving ecosystems can be created” stressed President Markkula as he addressed delegates. “The real currency of Innovation is talent and money. Bring in the talent, supply the money, reap the rewards” added Kumardev Chatterjee, 2014 Young Innovation Champion with trademark incisiveness. 2015 Innovation Luminary Award recipient and Head of Design Targets at BMW Eva-Marie Boerschlein has a simpler, humanist viewpoint. “Take my idea. Make something better out of it.” The process of Open Innovation goes on.
The main idea of the Asci Camp that preceded the conference and Open Innovation Conference 2.0 itself is to lead to diverse prototypes and project proposals to be developed further in the coming months. This shows how open innovation and ecosystem thinking require going beyond ‘events’ to support the realisation of good ideas in practice crucial for achieving the mental changes Europe needs. The first work-in-progress results of both events will be reported at the EU Digital Agenda Assembly in Riga. Therefore, a special hashtag was launched before the closing remarks of the event #OI2feedback (to be used together with #OI2Conf15) so that participants and also online followers of the event can share their ideas and feedback on the happening. President of the European Committee of Regions (CoR) and also Vice-chairman of the Open Innovation Strategy and Policy Group (OISPG) Markku Markkula will present and further elaborate on the practical outcomes of the Open Innovation 2.0 Conference 2015 at EU Digital Agenda Assembly on June 17-18.

Links to selected photos:

Photo of Bror Salmelin
Photo of Winners
Photo of Miki Kuusi
Photo credit: Tuula Palaste-Eerola, Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council
More photos from Tuula Palaste-Eerola in this link.
If you would like more information about the Open Innovation 2.0 Conference, please contact Chryssa Skodra, Media Relations, at +358451268471 or e-mail at or
If you would like more information about the City of Espoo and Espoo Innovation Garden, please contact Marjut Gerkman, Communications Manager, Mayor’s Office, at +358438255580 or e-mail at