Back in March Aarhus Municipality’s department ITK (Innovation, Technology and Creativity) hosted the Smart-up BSR Innovation Camp Aarhus. 70 local and international representatives from Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Germany and Norway meet to work with actual challenges – sharing knowledge, experiences and ideas.
Innovation Camp Aarhus was the official kick-off of the Smart-up BSR collaboration. A project in which cities, regions and universities in the Baltic Sea Region collaborate to improve implementation of RIS3 Strategies and to improve innovation in four areas: Healthy ageing, Climate changes, Smart Cities and Circular economy.
Aarhus as innovation role model
Innovation consultants from ITK lab and Centre for Innovation in Aarhus, CFIA, facilitated and guided participants safely through the innovation phases. They made sure that the participant in just 4 days moved from mapping challenges and opportunities to generating ideas and prototypes.
Through the camp participants gained insight into methods, work processes and initiatives that illustrates why Aarhus is regarded as one of the most innovative cities in Europe. Study trips focusing on the city’s Smart City initiatives, public spaces and temporary testbeds were a source of inspiration. While experts in mapping, graphic facilitation and Design Thinking led the capacity building in the beginning of the camp.
Building capacity – playful learning
“Bend your knees and find the right angle of your arm”, was one of the advices shared when graphic facilitator Mie Nørgaard taught the participants to hold the pen correctly and write easy-to-read letters. She also taught how to make visual process plans, personas and scenarios. A useful tool for presenting ideas, projects or plans.
In the crash course of Paul Tyler, colourful bricks, figures and other toys were scattered on the table. Paul Tyler introduced the participants to his mapping technique where bricks and figures symbolise persons, institutions, objects and the like. It is a critical thinking exercise in which thoughts and understandings are made visible, with the purpose of reaching a common understanding of a context.
Next door, scissors, glue, pens and paper were used. CFIA Innovation consultants led participants through a course in Design Thinking. They learned about agile development, understanding user needs and prototyping to visualize ideas.
Next steps in Smart-up BSR
Innovation Camp Aarhus was the first in a series of nine innovation camps to be held in the project’s three years span. Collaboration between cities and regions in the Baltic Sea region is now under way and the next camp is already in June 2018. Here the European project group meets in Lithuania to continue to get inspired, co-create, learn and share.
EU-project: Smart-up BSR
Project lead: Aalto University
Timeframe: 3-year project, 2017-2020
Supported by: Interreg Baltic Sea Region
Goal: Nine regions in the Baltic Sea Region collaborate to improve the development and implementation of RIS3 strategies, improve innovation and innovation capacity in and between the regions, and share experiences and recommendations with other EU Regions.
Aarhus collaboration: The collaboration between Central Denmark Region, Aarhus University and The City of Aarhus is coordinated by ITK (Innovation, Technology and Creativity), an Aarhus Municipality department.
Aalto University, The City of Aarhus, Tallinn City, Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council, Brandenburg Ministry of Justice, University of Latvia, Liepaja University, Klaipeda Science and Technology Park, ITMO University – St. Petersburg, The Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology – Lithuania, Metropolitan Area Gdańsk-Gdynia-Sopot, Cursor Oy – Kotka-Hamina Regional Development Company, Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Latvia