A broader perception of the word innovation, an increased cooperation between companies and tools for managing and measuring innovation.
These where the some of the things requested in the panel discussion at the Nordic Measured and Managed Innovation Conference 2011 in Elsinore, Denmark. The theme for the debate was What will it take for Nordic companies to become more innovative and how can national innovation agencies contribute to the return of innovation in Nordic companies?
The moderator was Michael Thomsen, Director of Innovation at Workz, and the panel members were: Ivar H. Kristensen, Managing Director at Nordic Innovation, Jyrki Laine, Vice President Global Sales at Basware, Per-Harald Strøm, Innovation Manager at NETS, Kjell-Håkan Närfelt Chief Strategy Officer at Vinnova, Berglind Hallgrímsdóttir, Director of The Centre for Entrepreneurs and SMEs at Innovation Centre Iceland and Mogens Birkelund CEO at Gridmanager.
It was a consensus panel that requested a broader understanding of what innovation really means.
- Nordic companies traditionally have a high focus on R&D and product development, but they need to understand that there is more to innovation than that, Kjell-Håkan Närfelt stated.
- Instead of trying to reinvent the cheese slicer we need to focus on the right areas to be able to keep up with the global innovation race, Per-Harald Strøm added.
Berglind Hallgrímsdóttir highlighted the importance of national innovation agencies stepping up when it comes to creating a common understanding of innovation.
- There is a need for a comprehensive cultural change around the whole concept of innovation, she said.
Also Jyrki Laine emphasized the role of innovation agencies.
- Companies already know how to be innovative. What innovation agencies need to do is to provide tools and knowledge in order to coach the companies, as well as to manage and measure the innovation.
Cooperation between companies across the Nordic borders was another topic in the discussion.
- We must be better at using the term Nordic players instead of national players. Together we are stronger, Per-Harald Strøm said.
- From the results of the MMI programme, we can see that there are the same challenges in all Nordic countries. We can and should learn from each other’s success stories and mistakes, Berglind Hallgrímsdóttir stated.
Ivar H. Kristensen pointed out, that at as companies are focusing on a Nordic level they should also keep an eye on what’s happening in the rest of the world.
- Because of our generally narrow perception of innovation, we are missing out on great opportunities. We must be more open for inspiration, also from outside the Nordic region, he said, and Mogens Birkelund agreed.
- The MMI programme provides a tool that shows us what is going on in separate companies. We can use this possibility to demonstrate and share good innovation examples as a source of inspiration, he said.
Ivar H. Kristensen highlighted the new opportunities that the MMI programme brings as well.
- With the programme innovation is brought down to a company level instead of a national level; let us hold on to that. Our message to the companies is not to be afraid of trying out new things. Something will always be learned, he concluded.