The challenge of globalisation includes a change towards more open, networked and international ways of organising innovation processes. Cutting edge knowledge companies and knowledge producers need input from innovation processes external to themselves.
These inputs are to be found in supply chains, at the sites of lead user clients and customers and in the heads of experts located in hotspots around the world.
Nordic companies and knowledge producers need to access such hotspots. Joint Nordic innovation representations and joint innovation initiatives can provide such access.
The Nordic Prime Ministers from: Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland commissioned this review at their summer meeting in 2007. A working group and a reference group representing the Nordic national actors owning innovation representations in Asia have been asked to review the potentials and possibilities of establishing joint Nordic innovation representations in Asia.
Three models for joint Nordic innovation activities have been discussed by the group. (1) A model along the lines of existing Nordic innovation representations in Asia and elsewhere; (2) A model based on principles of open innovation, creating centres that would provide Nordic companies and other actors access to global knowledge hotspots accessing solutions, technologies, market knowledge etc. The open innovation centre model is based on experience in innovation practices among multinational companies. Finally (3) a project financing scheme to accelerate joint Nordic innovation initiatives in Asia.
Model 1 was discussed as probably being able to provide a Nordic benefit as an alternative to almost identical national representations being set up or existing in countries around Asia. On the other hand this option would be quite expensive and far beyond the budget estimated in the mandate of the working group. It would require a lot of administration and could be in competition to already established representations. Thus for the moment it would not be the best solution.
Model 2, the open-innovation model was seen as an interesting new model, but has never been tried out in practice. A network of Nordic open innovation centres was discussed as a prospective future scenario in the process. A Nordic Open Innovation Centre in Asia should accelerate the adoption of models of open innovation among Nordic companies and institutions. It would also be a response to a problem experienced by many Nordic companies - difficulty in recruiting appropriately skilled people in sciences and engineering, thus helping companies to source knowledge. The model would still need further development and testing, but could be an interesting model both to inspire national initiatives as well as joint Nordic initiatives. The group thus decided to recommend to test the model by financing pilot projects on functions of a possible future Nordic open innovation centre in Asia.
Model 3, a project financing scheme for cooperation on innovation initiatives among Nordic representations in Asia could accelerate joint Nordic innovation initiatives and pave the way for more intensified modes of cooperation. The joint Nordic project “Nordic Green” was used as an example, where Nordic institutions –Nordic Energy Research and Nordic Innovation Centre – were involved. Clear mandates from capitals to engage in Nordic cooperation as well as awareness raising of the possibilities and examples would however be necessary. The group recommends to establishing a joint Nordic financing scheme for this purpose, prioritising innovation in certain areas.
The working group recommends that the Nordic Council of Ministers support Nordic companies and other Nordic institutions globally by:
Establishing a joint Nordic financing scheme for Nordic co-operation on innovation initiatives and projects among Nordic representations in Asia.1. Priority should be given to innovation initiatives in areas that address the targets of the Nordic globalisation initiative. This would include areas as identified in the Nordic Excellence Research Programme as well as the themes competitiveness, creativity, branding and design. The scheme will be a further incentive for Nordic countries’ representations in Asia to identify common topics and initiatives such as high-level visits and workshops, communication strategies, fairs, studies and other relevant project based interventions.
A specific part of this financing scheme should be dedicated to implementing pilot projects testing and developing the concept of a Nordic open innovation centre in Asia. The pilot projects should be evaluated and provide knowledge to develop a more consolidated concept to be decided upon after two years.
The financing of a Nordic Innovation Network would come from three sources: Private companies and institutions participating in projects on developing the concept of an open innovation centre or participating in other projects of the scheme, National contributions and a contribution from the Nordic Council of Ministers.
Projects under the financing scheme should be financed through a 50-50 % Model, where 50% is financed from the Nordic Council of Minister’s budget (up to 3.7 million DKK) and 50% through participants in the project (public institutions and companies).
Implementation and Administration
Awareness raising measures should be channelled through the national systems (innovation representations, other representations, innovation agencies etc.) and through relevant Nordic institutions. An existing Nordic institution should administer the projects, whereas the service provider should be defined and delivered through the projects.