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Orchestrating Regional Innovation Ecosystems

Orchestrating Regional Innovation Ecosystems is a comprehensive publication documenting the successes, challenges and practices of Finland’s Espoo Innovation Garden. It presents the results of many months of transnational and interdisciplinary teamwork, telling the story of the region’s journey from research to practice, from project to ecosystem, and from ecosystem to innovation.

The Helsinki-Uusimaa Region is among the prosperous and growing metropolitan areas in Northern Europe. Within this region, the Espoo Innovation Garden – an open network of residents, companies and communities – is one of Europe’s pioneering regional innovation ecosystems.Orchestrating Regional Innovation Ecosystems

Editors Pia Lappalainen, Markku Markkula and Hank Kune have brought together 27 articles by more than 40 authors to describe the diverse facets of Espoo Innovation Garden as an orchestrated innovation ecosystem. The Book is divided into five parts: Framing the Regional Innovation Challenge, The Human Perspective on Innovation Ecosystems, Increasing Innovation Capital, Otaniemi in Transition, and Digitalising City Development Processes.

In the words of Carlos Moedas, EU Commissioner for Research Science and Innovation: “Regional Innovation Ecosystems – the theme of this book – is one of the key concepts of our time. Societies all around Europe need to get more innovation from research. This requires not just excellent science but also its effective integration with industrial leadership and societal challenges.

“Orchestrating regional innovation ecosystems is an emerging science – and an art. So it is important to research its secrets, learn how they work and why, and thus come to understand how to better maintain and improve them. That is what the many authors of this book – researchers, practitioners, businesspeople and politicians – have done. We must continue to learn how orchestrating these ecosystems creates opportunities for business, universities and local government, and enhances the quality of life of our citizens. The work accomplished here is exemplary and has much to offer to other regions in Europe.”

The book is available for digital downloading on the Urban Mill website ( and at the following link:


Orchestrating an Entrepreneurial Discovery Process

In an article published in the European Commission’s 2014, Open Innovation 2.0 Yearbook, authors Markku Markkula and Hank Kune review the entrepreneurial discovery process as an active driver of open innovation ecosystems, and specifically consider what is required for orchestrating the ecosystem as a set of emerging parallel processes. Their arguments are based on the newly published book Orchestrating Regional Innovation Ecosystems: Espoo Innovation Garden, as well as the on-going work of Finland’s Energizing Urban Ecosystems (EUE) research programme. The focus of the article is exploring how orchestration works in practice. They argue that Open Innovation 2.0, entrepreneurial discovery, and societal innovation are key processes in this work, and need to be orchestrated and supported in diverse ways.

Traditional management is often organised around meetings, planning sessions and workshops. However, when meetings, workshops and other events are organised without a support structure for follow-through, the capacity for the effective realisation of plans and decisions is limited. Orchestration is needed to take ideas, proposals and decisions much further. Ecosystem thinking impacts how we think about and organise our renewal activities. Markkula and Kune argue that interactive activities like workshops, innovation camps, and conferences are discovery learning processes – not simply events – and should be orchestrated as many parallel interactive processes extending well beyond the duration of the events themselves. In June 2015 two major activities will be organised in Espoo, Finland, together with the Energizing Urban Ecosystems (EUE) research programme, local government authorities and the European Commission: the 8th ACSI societal learning camp and the 3rd EU Open Innovation 2.0 Conference. Both are concrete examples of ‘events’ framed as entrepreneurial discovery processes, created in parallel and supported by an orchestrated follow-through. Both Camp and Conference are positioned as part of a larger innovation process that began in 2013 and is conceptualized as continuing through 2016 and 2017.

This article describes the larger context of these events-as-process, and the role entrepreneurial discovery, open innovation ecosystems, orchestration, prototyping and experimenting play in co-creative collaborative innovation. It emphasizes the close integration of Camp and Conference, the interdependence and synergetic working of the diverse concepts, and how open innovation and ecosystem thinking require going beyond ‘events’ to support the realization of good ideas in practice. These are crucial concepts for achieving the mental changes Europe needs to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Orchestrating an Entrepreneurial Discovery Process_Markkula & Kune

Borders to Cross – a working conference on democratic innovation and civic-driven change

Borders to Cross – a working conference on democratic innovation and civic driven change – took place in Amsterdam on 29 – 31 October 2013. See:

Borders to Cross came into being out of a cross over of disciplines and generations and has evolved into an alliance of partners from various backgrounds. It was itself an experiment in co-creation between different sectors, professional backgrounds (government, society, academia).

The initiative for a learning conference on bottom up change by citizens and the necessary shift in responsibilities between government, society and market was taken by five Dutch professionals (Rense Bos, Hank Kune, Stefanie Schuddebeurs, Jan Schrijver and Ton van der Wiel) who recognized the need to learn from international practice and between sectors about democratic innovation and civic driven change. They saw that people throughout Europe are seeking a new balance between the responsibilities of government and an active society.

Government can no longer take sole responsibility for dealing with societal problems; citizens and NGO’s can no longer simply question or complain about what their governments do or don’t do. The role of social media and social entrepreneurship, the empowerment of stakeholders and the changing set of competencies for government professionals are vital issues. The idea of an intensive learning conference where social entrepreneurs, citizens, government professionals and market parties from all over Europe would gather and discuss innovative practice of democratic and social innovation was born.

The initiative was embraced by the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations under the condition that it would be organized in partnership. Support was soon gained from a diverse group of organisations, leading to partnerships in the financial and/or content-related sense with the City of Amsterdam, Network Democracy, the University of Amsterdam and the University of Leuven, G1000, European Cultural Foundation, European Alternatives, Agentschap NL, the ministry of Health, Welfare & Sport (VWS), and the ministry of Infrastructure & Environment (I&M). European Civic Forum, the European Year of the Citizen Alliance, the Erasmus Prize and Kracht in NL were also supporters of the conference.

This timely alliance was able to realize Borders to Cross in the European Year of the Citizen.


Thirteen years ago in Maastricht (October 5-7th, 2000), policymakers, practitioners and social scientists from all over Europe came together in order to share new insights and good practices about citizen participation. The event was also called Borders to Cross. In 2013, 13 years later, it was once again time to cross borders in order to learn with and from each other – citizens, policy-makers, public sector professionals and social scientists – about how to innovate both civic society and the public sector.