How to link strong research nodes, clusters and SME networks in the Baltic Sea region in order to jointly reach globally-leading innovation partnerships? How to use the high innovation potential of the region to address common societal challenges?
StarDust was designed to give answers to these questions. Besides the concrete testing of collaboration methods, policy implication should be drawn on how to foster innovation and growth in the BSR region? Lessons learned incorporate to the BSR Stars programme aiming on strengthening innovation policy capabilities on a macro-regional level.
StarDust was thus initiated with expected results in five main areas: (1) Establishing open innovation platforms for new innovation collaboration. (2) Developing and testing various user-driven innovation methods. (3) Strengthening capabilities and competencies for working with transnational innovation collaboration (on both policy and operational levels). (4) Increasing involvement, information flow and transnational collaboration and (5) Influencing financial instruments to support transnational collaboration.
The core of StarDust and the “testbed” are five transnational innovation partnerships: Active for Life, Clean Water, Comfort in Living, MarChain and Mobile Vikings. Each partnership brings together researchers, clusters, SME networks and public actors from different countries – combining different perspectives and areas of expertise ICT, maritime transport and logistics, clean technologies and wellbeing of elderly.
Over the course of the project, the five partnerships were complemented by a number of supporting activities: All partnerships have been developing individual Strategic Action Plans where they define their common vision and agenda, and create a “road map” for future operations reaching 2020 and beyond. Each partnership was trained on business models, storytelling, match-making, financial and entrepreneurial coaching to name a view. By the end the cross-sectorial consortia developed innovative solutions adressing the grande challenges the BSR faces, e.g. services for elderly or smarter maritime transport. Besides these concrete outputs, innovation capacities grew through the trained collaboration tools such as smart specialisation and user-driven innovation.
To reach these ambitious goals, public and private actors have to team up. StarDust mobilized therefore 35 partners supported by 43 associated partners from national, regional and local levels. This set of partners represents besides leading research, business and clusters organizations also all national ministries and innovation agencies in the ten Baltic Sea countries plus Norway and Iceland.
IN FACTS AND FIGURES, more than 850 SME and MNEs have been engaged in the activities e.g. in match-making events or user-driven innovation camps. Among the companies have been Electrolux, Telia Sonera and ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems GmbH as well as Germnanischer Lloyd. Those contributed to the development of 35 new product concepts and prototypes, e.g. new furniture prototypes for elderly developed by the companies, students and researchers within Comfort in Living, or new personalised mobile guides for the tourism branch, which were developed by students and companies. The consortia realized in total 11.1 MEUR add-on investment.
SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PROJECT RESULTS: The vision of Mobile Vikings is to further strengthen the BSR as an international leader in the development of mobile solutions. The cooperation leverages the established global position of the mobile industry within the BSR. The consortia exported successfully the DEMOLA model from Finland
a collaborative open innovation platform where students co-create new solutions to real-life problems of companies. DEMOLA was during StarDust established in Lithuania, Sweden and Latvia. Another outcome is the Business Roaming Agreement, which enables SMEs to use the cluster`s facilities abroad and gain access to each other’s networks and markets abroad.
Additional transnational funding tools were created such as the BSR Innovation Express, financially supporting clusters in their internationalization strategy for their member companies.
An other outcome are the tested and further developed collaboration tools: The platforms served as “testbed” to develop user-driven innovation and smart specialization methods. All tools proofed to be essential to raise commitment of partners, define a common vision and to identify unique collaboration opportunities between research organisations, enterprises and public sector.
ON THE POLICY LEVEL, STARDUST LED TO LONG-TERM POLICY IMPLICATION FOR
COLLABORATIONS IN TRANSNATIONAL INNOVATION PARTNERSHIP ON THE MACRO-REGIONAL LEVEL. The collaborations proofed, e.g. that the initiation of transnational innovation partnerships must built on strategic anchoring and longer-term commitment from home organisations and regional/national governments.
Using clusters was furthermore identified as key to mobilize companies and accelerate innovation activities. To provide process support was further acknowledged. All in all, the macro-regional policy frame provides an essential strategic context and operational motor.
First concrete policy steps were taken by launching calls to foster R&D projects (BONUS) and strengthening cluster organisation (BSR Innovation Express). Besides analysis were carried out contributing to understand better the innovation capacities in the BSR (BSR Innovation Monitor, Cluster Observatory).
All results and policy implications summarizes the publication “Stronger together” on www.bsrstars.se/stardust.