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final conference photograph

Story by Bittor Arias, Tknika, Errenteria

The Final Conference of the Rainova project took place on 11th December 2014 at the Aquarium Conference Room in San Sebastián, Gipuzkoa.

There were around 75 people registered, but unfortunately the weather was so bad on that day and the previous ones that it prevented some people from attending the event.

At the entrance all the attendees received the conference folder containing multiple documents: the IMM Application Guide, the Observatory Guide and the Final Evaluation Report. We also gave everyone a USB stick containing the interactive pdf of the Rainova Innovation Management Model and an electronic copy of each of the documents in the folder.

Rainova Final Conference

The conference was opened by José Luis Fernández Maure, from Ikaslan Gipuzkoa, the Association of Public VET Centres of the Basque Country, which has been the project coordinator for the past three years. For his opening speech, and with the intention of introducing and welcoming the project partners, José Luis used some photographs taken during previous regular project meetings held in different European regions.

Reda Bensouda and Paul Turpin, both from our partner CEGEP, came from Quebec. Shen Hui Wang, Li Yan and Zhao Yan Pan travelled from CSMC, our partner in Tianjin. Among the usual European project partners, only representatives of EUC SYD and Pitesti University were unable to attend the conference.
final conference partners

After José Luis, Bittor Arias, the Quality Manager of the project, recalled the main features of Rainova, highlighting its objectives, activities and intended results from the first initiative undertaken by the project: the research on the condition of innovation management in the member regions of the project.

Three Rainova partners then made presentations basing their discussion on the three most relevant aspects of the project.

First, Samuel Triguero, from Tknika, the partner responsible for workpackage no. 8, introduced the Rainova Innovation Management Model, using a Prezi presentation through which he recalled the parts and the essential elements of the model, bringing attention to the relationship between them, and emphasising also the tools offered by the model. His presentation was in Spanish.

Then David Townsend Jones, from Adastra Cymru, Wales, the partner in charge of designing the project website and the Innovation Observatories, spoke in a very professional tone about the characteristics of these tools.

final conference presentation

Finally, Karin Ringsby, who is a regular collaborator of STPKC, attended the conference representing this Swedish partner. Karin spoke about the International Innovation Networks, focusing the topic from her experience as an entrepreneur with particular expertise in networking with other entrepreneurs.

In addition, Unai Andueza, from the Regional Development Agency Tolosaldea Garatzen, shared with the attendees his thoughts on the relevance of this Innovation Management Model for SMEs. Being responsible for the agency’s relationship with business organisations, Unai bases his work on promoting innovation and competitiveness in the companies of Tolosaldea, one of the districts of the Gipuzkoa province. He knows very well the state of the Basque industrial network and, therefore, was able to focus his presentation on highlighting the need of the business environment for this type of innovation model, which has the capacity to bring sensitivity, knowledge and experience to Basque employers.

Although it was not scheduled on the conference agenda, we offered Giovanni Crisona from CSCS, the partner from Tuscany, the opportunity to share a presentation he was eager to disseminate. He argued that in times of crisis and challenges for industry, a good strategy for them would be to collaborate with vocational training centres in order to improve their innovation processes. He gave as an example his next adventure in a project titled the Sector Skills Alliance, in which CSCS will collaborate with Jaguar Land Rover, Fiat and SAS Airlines to work with the Sofa Cluster Producer in Tuscany.

The guest speaker at the conference was Angel Arbonies, an expert on innovation and a renowned author of several books on innovation management. His interesting presentation focused on one of the most important elements of the Rainova Model: the culture of innovation. He stressed the difficulties when introducing changes in the organisational culture of small businesses, who typically are immersed in the urgent day to day needs that Angel referred to as “The Swamp”. But he also recalled the work that needs to be done to improve company routines when addressing aspects such as improving awareness, creative and management processes, better communication, etc.

Ending the conference, José Luis thanked everyone for their attendance and reminded them of the contact details if they wished to learn more about the Rainova project and the activities planned for its future exploitation and sustainability.
final conference final event

All the presentations at the Final Conference, recorded by Ikuspe, have already been uploaded to the website of Ikaslan Gipuzkoa, the project coordinator: http://www.ikaslangipuzkoa.eus/es/videos.

The event ended with a lunch for Rainova project members at the premises of the Aquarium, which previously, during the coffee break, we had been given the opportunity to visit.

Finally, the partners were informed about the schedule for the final project meeting, taking place next day in the offices of Tknika in Errenteria.

 

From project leaders Ikaslan Gipuzkoa

The final conference of the Rainova project will take place on 11 December 2014 from 09:15 until 13:30.

The conference venue will be the San Sebastián Aquarium,  Plaza de Carlos Blasco Imaz 1, 20003 Donostia/San Sebastián, Gipuzkoa/Basque Country. Registration of participants will commence at 09:00.

The keynote speaker will be Mr Angel Arbonies from the Arbonies Association, on the theme of “The Culture of Innovation”. The conference introduction and closing address will be made by Mr Jose Luis Fernández Maure from the Ikaslan Gipuzkoa association of public vocational and educational training centres in the Basque Country. There will also be a speech by Mr Fernando Sierra from the Euskalit organisation, which monitors and recognises excellence in innovative practice, concerning “The advantages of the Rainova Innovation Management Model for SMEs”.

In addition there will be presentations by project partners of three strategic outputs: the Rainova Innovation Management Model, Rainova Regional Innovation Observatory and Rainova Innovation Network.

 

Story by David Townsend Jones, Adastra Cymru, Swansea

The Rainova Research Report has been published by the partners. A link to it can be found on the Outputs page of this website, where there are also instructions on how to access the six sets of appendices to the report, through the project platform.

At the beginning of the Rainova project, the partners believed there was a need to develop innovation policies and systems in our regions not only to support existing innovation practices there but also to promote the emergence of new innovations and transfer them quickly and efficiently into VET institutions and SMEs.

We thought it necessary to research the position in each of our regions. We also thought that by sharing our experiences we would shed light on the comparative strengths and weaknesses of any existing strategies that were currently in place.

Through this research our aim was to provide a benchmark for developing our Innovation Management Model (IMM) and create a culture of knowledge and innovation via the resulting Regional Innovation Networks, which would bring together key stakeholders and policy makers who are in a position to implement or take advantage of any innovations. Our research would also provide the basis for developing innovation policies in the vocational education and training field.

Although the final published version of the report was not formally completed until 2014, the shared research results were available to the partners from late 2012, providing the foundation for subsequent work on the IMM, Observatory and Innovation Networks.

 

Story by Jaroslaw Chrobot, Lower Silesian Innovation and Science Park (DPIN), Wroclaw

The Rainova Work Package 9 envisaged Action Plans to promote the implementation of Regional Innovation Networks and, at the same time, serve as a first test or cycle for some of the elements of the Innovation Management Model designed in Work Package 8.

In order to design these Action Plans we needed first to consider the previous findings of the Rainova Research Report. Then the elements and methodologies presented in Work Package 8 ­– the Innovation Management Model – had to be taken into account.

The Action Plans should also be useful for designing methodologies for identifying different levels of implementation in innovation management.

To facilitate this task, a distinction needed to be made between regions that are starting their journey towards innovation and regions that already have a level of experience in innovation matters. In the first group of regions, the purpose will be to create a regional innovation system. As regards the second group of regions, the aim is to find ways to enhance the work they are already doing around innovation.

The purpose and scope of the Action Plans are:

  • To create Regional Innovation Systems in regions where innovation currently lacks support, tools and models
  • To improve Regional Innovation Systems in areas, systems and networks with existing experience of the innovation concept
  • To identify how to implement the Rainova Innovation Management Model in the Regional Innovation System and how to work on it with its members (leaders, actors and companies)
  • To develop a methodology for knowing levels of development in the regions
  • To include sectoral networks and wider networks in the initiative

 

Story by Karin Jespersen, EUC Syd, Sønderborg

The annual Innovation Union Scoreboard provides a comparative assessment of the research and innovation performance of the EU member states and the relative strengths and weaknesses of their research and innovation systems.

The member states are classified into four performance groups based on their average innovation performance. Denmark, together with Finland, Germany and Sweden, is ranked as an Innovation Leader, with innovative performance levels well above that of the rest of the EU.

The results of the Innovation Union Scoreboard are elaborated in the Regional Innovation Scoreboard, which investigates the innovation performance at a regional level. Generally the innovation performance level of a country is reflected in its regions. Unfortunately that is not the case for Southern Denmark, the region in which EUC Syd is located. Among the five regions of Denmark, Southern Denmark (Sønderjylland) is ranked lower and is consequently rated in the group of Innovation Followers.

The innovation performance is tightly linked to the economic growth, development and attractiveness of an area and of course, this is an issue of great concern for the politicians of any region. In order to improve the situation the Sønderjylland region has developed an Economic Development Strategy 2012–2020, which focuses on business areas that feature high potential for productivity and growth. Among the most important tools for driving this strategy are entrepreneurship and innovation.

EUC Syd is one of the largest VET institutions in the region and consequently a key player when it comes to securing strong links and close cooperation between education and local and regional businesses and trades.

One of the key focus areas of this cooperation is innovation and how to create and promote the culture of innovation, which is so important when it comes to improving growth and competitiveness in the region.

EUC Syd sees itself as “the global college for people and companies in Southern Denmark”. This aim is an integrated and underlying aspect of all the activities in which the college is engaged. Rainova is an example of the European networks in which the college plays a part. The role of EUC Syd in the Rainova project is, among others, to lead the testing of the prototype Rainova Innovation Management Model (IMM).

Testing the Rainova IMM

The piloting of the Rainova IMM is described in the Work Package 10 of the project application. The idea was that four regions – Tuscany, Wales, Southern Denmark and the Basque Country – would pilot the IMM and the feedback would then be used to help revise the prototype into a final version of the Rainova IMM. The original plan was that the piloting should take place during months 24–30 of the project. Due to changing circumstances the project was delayed and likewise the piloting.

In the early spring of 2014 the Danish team sat down to start developing a questionnaire that should be used for the testing. The idea was that the questionnaire should follow the structure of the IMM with a systematic part (macro processes; set of processes; routines of innovation) and a contextual part (culture of innovation; organisational structures). Important too was that the questionnaire and the testing should be perceived as:

  • Simple, understandable and logical
  • Leaving room for the perspectives of SMEs, VET institutions and others piloting the IMM
  • Easy to apply
  • Giving useful feedback to future improvements of the model

An initial questionnaire and test plan were presented to project partners during the project meeting in Sönderborg in February 2014. The questionnaire was revised according to inputs from partners. It was then agreed that the four piloting partners should test the whole model or relevant parts of the model of it in three different SMEs, departments, classes of students or other relevant stakeholders.

During the meeting in Pistoia in June 2014 the model was presented and the piloting partners gave a brief presentation of their work with the testing of the IMM. The status at the time was as follows:

  • Tuscany: the questionnaire had been filled in by three different innovative organisations, which had tested the whole model
  • Wales: not yet started
  • Basque Country: not yet started
  • Denmark: the awareness tool has been tested on a group of students as part of their training

In the light of this but mainly due to the complexity of the Rainova IMM the deadline for the piloting has been postponed to the end of October. Therefore piloting has to be carried out after the summer vacation and the Danish team is looking forward to receiving useful and beneficial information that will secure the Rainova IMM and prove it to be a valuable framework for promoting innovation by VET providers and SMEs all over Europe.

 


This project is partially funded under the European Community's Lifelong Learning Programme (LLL/2012-2014), grant agreement no. 2011 – 4134/001 – 001.
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