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Using the Innovation Management Model (IMM) led to the creation of a new product in a Florentine start-up.

Papermine: a case study in Tuscany

Story from CSCS, Pistoia, Tuscany

This fascinating case study relates to the piloting of the IMM’s implementation inside a start-up in Florence, Tuscany. http://papermine.com/

Mr Karlo Bernardi Kukavicic, a young Florentine entrepreneur, while applying our model, developed an innovative content creation/publishing/presentation tool: a web app that is useful for creating online magazines, catalogues, booklets and lookbooks.

Say hello to a new way to publish

The link below is to one of the main galleries in Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, where many events take place all through the year. Interested in innovation and keen to try it out, they decided to use the Papermine tool for their online catalogue this year.

http://www.palazzostrozzi.org/Sezione.jsp?idSezione=2897

Link to the English version of the catalogne: http://papermine.com/pub/2260

As it turned out, the marketing of the tool proved to be a success. There are now many users worldwide and the community keeps on growing. If you like the tool, they are waiting for you to sign in ;)

Video: http://vimeo.com/85837663

 

Story by Paul Garvey, PGC (Paul Garvey Consulting), London

It would be easier to sit a metre behind everyone and scribble notes. Targets to be met... Partners who are off the pace... Project leaders who look overwhelmed with details and partners’ various concerns...

Transcribe one’s interviews with beneficiaries etc and map them out against the project’s aims and European expectations. Then throw up a bunch of conclusions at the end. A quiet life might result...

But good project evaluation is not like that.

It is, when we get it right, something altogether more subtle and nuanced.

It’s about supporting those partners who are struggling, ensuring the debate is not dominated by the few who are not.

It’s about assisting the leader to keep on top of an exhausting job and bringing everyone back to the contract from time to time.

It’s about reminding ourselves what we set out to do when we sometimes drift off course or forget what we’re about.

It’s about making contributions (but not too many).

It’s about making sure the work being done is recorded and credited, and that work that isn't being done properly or promptly enough is helped and nudged forward.

It’s about quietly congratulating those who are making a big contribution (and those who are trying to do so).

It’s not about saying I told you so when things go off course.

... but it is about helping to support the process and get the project over the line, and hoping to share in the satisfaction and pleasure of a job well done.

Anonymous (if only I could be!)

Story by Bittor Arias, Tknika, Errenteria

The last full meeting of the Rainova project partners took place in Montecatini Terme, an Italian town in the province of Pistoia, Tuscany, one of the most popular destinations in Italy for spa tourism.

We stayed at the Grand Hotel Croce di Malta where the Rainova group also spent three meeting days in one of its lounges.

Unlike previous times, on this first meeting day, 2 June, we started with a Steering Committee members’ meeting. Because the project was reaching its high point it was advisable for the committee to review the project’s status regarding levels of fulfilment of objectives, partners’ involvement, pending tasks and so on.

After this meeting, the impressions and decisions of the Steering Committee were transmitted to the other members of the project, focusing mainly on a request to uplift the level of communication through to the end of the project. We also modified the previously planned agenda to introduce a small change in the order of the topics so as to address a proposal made by one of the partners.

We then reviewed a proposal for the “Sustainability and Exploitation of Rainova”, which we had already analysed in a previous meeting, although the complex character of the Rainova project generates problems in its planning and execution. We know that the ideal state would be to have an online platform to facilitate us in managing the Innovation Management Model we are designing, but on the other hand, the resources and time needed to choose this option go beyond the limits of the project, and so we need to look at some easier options.

Afterwards, we were informed about the extent of implementation of the Website and the Observatory, two of the key outcomes foreseen by Rainova. Currently the website, designed with Joomla by our partner Adastra, is almost – and, we can add, very satisfactorily – completed, apart from some last-minute tweaks and proposals.

The Observatory, which is now fully designed and technically implemented, remains to be fed with content by the other partners, uploading information concerning various aspects considered relevant when planning its design. It means that we have to upload information about regional and European news about innovation, case studies, other interesting systems of innovation, networking, events, etc.

Regarding the creation of Regional Innovation Networks, which is another Rainova key objective, we accepted the suggestion and methodology proposed by the work package leader, namely: by means of making contacts and collecting and analysing information, each project partner will be able to attend the Final Conference with a proposal from organisations in our respective regions who have expressed interest in joining the Rainova International Network.

With this topic we ended the first day’s session, although all the project members agreed to meet again for dinner at a nearby restaurant and delve once again into the details of the project.

On the second day, 3 June, we heard about the Innovation Management Model, which had previously been approved at the earlier meeting in Wroclaw. However, as requested by some members, the IMM has been improved by organising its contents into an interactive .pdf format. As a result, when it is viewed, the IMM is more dynamic and entertaining, while at the same time its complexity and power are highlighted.

Therefore, this key outcome, which was foreseen at the beginning of the project, can also be considered to be fulfilled, waiting only for the improvements that can be generated by suggestions and proposals arising from the organisations in the Pilot Actions through which we are now testing the model.

And in fact the work package about Piloting Actions for testing the model and actions to implement the Rainova International Network constituted the following items discussed by the meeting. We agreed to delay the initial deadline for the development of these two actions, because we still have time enough to carry them out until the end of October 2014.

At this point, we should mention the courtesy of our Italian partner, CSCS, who organised for us a great lunchtime visit to the so-called Tettucio Terme, an iconic building and the symbol of Montecatini.

As usual during our meetings, we listened to an overview of the initiatives for dissemination undertaken to date by our partners. We were once again reminded, through a simple list, that the pending tasks in this area primarily related to the proper recording of dissemination actions undertaken, both on the Rainova Platform and the Website.

The project’s financial manager also talked to members about the status of each account regarding staff costs and travel. He also reminded us that, in the subcontracting section, there is an important budget item which has not been executed yet, possibly because it will contribute to the organisation of the Final Conference.

The second session ended with a new Steering Committee meeting, with the intention of assessing the performance of the two-day gathering, but mainly to elaborate the list of actions to be deployed in the coming months. All these thoughts and decisions have been duly collected in the minutes of the meeting.

For the second day the venue chosen to meet for dinner was Montecatini Alto, a beautiful spot on the top of a hill reached by funicular, which immediately raises you up above the tiredness of the day and enables you to gaze rapt at the beautiful landscapes that enclose it.

The third and final day of the meeting, 4 June, was dedicated to finishing some pending issues and also to reminding members about the list of tasks to be completed before the Final Conference day in San Sebastián.

In the afternoon, some of us were fortunate to have the chance to visit Florence, leading to a pleasing end to an excellent project meeting.

Story by David Townsend Jones, Adastra Cymru, Swansea

The prototype Rainova Regional Innovation Observatory is now live on this website and can be accessed via the pane at the top of this Rainova news page. Click on any flag to access the login for the Observatory, where you will need to register if you are a first-time user.

At the time of writing this article, the Rainova partners are still adding new content to the Observatory. If you look first in, say, June 2014 at the Observatory, you may think it offers only lightweight content. But then, when you next look, perhaps a few months down the line, you will get a different and more heavyweight impression. Like all observatories, this one is going to be a melting pot of new information, destined to grow and grow.

The Regional Innovation Observatory has long been one of the key elements of the Rainova project. The Rainova partners always saw a major role for a new regional observatory which had a clear focus on serving three distinct audiences who share common overlapping interests concerning innovation:

  • European SMEs, who are the key actors in regional innovation
  • VET training providers, who are the skills trainers and providers of R&D support for SMEs
  • Regional governments and agencies, who not only set the innovation agenda for innovation in the regions but also provide strategic support frameworks

The Rainova Regional Innovation Observatory has been designed to provide an observatory service specifically tailored to the environment of these three closely linked communities. It offers a distinctive specialised service, addressing regional needs not well served by existing observatories, which typically have much broader remits.

In adopting a fully devolved solution, Rainova has chosen a radical – one might even say revolutionary – approach to developing a regional observatory service. This approach would seem to fit perfectly with the new spirit of European regionalism. The Rainova Regional Innovation Observatory is not a single centralised observatory but a constellation of regional observatories from every part of Europe. Each one of these regional observatories shares one common design and methodology, and they all sit together in one single and freely available web space.

Although the bulk of the published content is specific to individual regions, transnational and pan-European content is additionally shared between them all. Also common to all the observatories is a single extranet through which Regional Innovation Networks (another key Rainova output) can communicate and collaborate in a European community of regional innovators.

Structure and technical character

The Rainova Regional Innovation Observatory is a fully scalable resource integrated into the public Rainova website. Therefore everything associated with the Observatory is supported by Joomla, the open-source content management system that powers the website. This open-standards approach is designed to ensure that the Observatory will remain widely accessible across multiple hardware platforms and operating systems. It will also help to ‘future-proof’ the Observatory.

In its current prototype form the Observatory is based initially on 11 regions represented by partners in the Rainova Consortium. The post-project Observatory will be incrementally expanded to add regional observatories from any or indeed all of the countries of Europe.

Currently access to the prototype Observatory is based on a pane representing the 11 participating regions. Doubtless in future this will have to be replaced by a more scalable interactive feature when the Observatory starts to expand to accommodate new member regions.

Users can access the following range of topics: Regional News (broken down into Policy News, News about SMEs, News about Clusters, and News about Universities and VET Providers), Case Studies, Innovation Systems, Support (broken down into Technical Support and Financial Support), Organisations, Events, and European News. The final topic, which is common to all the regional observatories, provides European-level analysis, commentary and links to external stories and features concerning innovation work and innovation systems. In addition there is a link to the regional extranet powered by VCP (Virtual Community Platform: www.vcp.biz)

Conclusion

The Rainova Innovation Observatory has two main functions. First and foremost it is a practical tool to bring up-to-date topical, useful and speedy information to help makers, inventors and innovators in SMEs to do their daily work. Secondly it provides an interactive channel, based on communication and information exchange not just among SMEs but also between them and their training and technical support network in their regional VET institutions and learning communities.

At a strategic level, the Rainova Regional Innovation Observatory exists to actively encourage and support collaboration and community working among actors in every area of innovation throughout the regions of Europe.

Story by Bittor Arias, Tknika, Errenteria

We were lucky enough to be hosted by our EUC Syd colleagues in Sønderborg, Denmark, for the sixth Rainova project meeting.

sonderborg-view

Most of the members arrived on Sunday afternoon from various regions/countries: Sweden, Wales, England, Tuscany, Turkey, Romania, Poland and the Basque Country.

Our colleagues from Québec and Tianjin were unable to attend the meeting this time. We must say that we have missed them, because their contribution to the project until now has been very interesting. We hope that some of them may be able to join us at the next meeting in June, in Tuscany.

The only new member recently to join the project was Antonio Gil de Gomez, from Tknika, who is an experienced financial manager.

sonderborg-meeting-1

As there had been many requests and wishes for more team working, this time we frequently divided into groups to discuss several items on the agenda.

However, we started with presentations of WP09 and WP10. Then, before starting to work in groups, we listened collectively to a briefing from Samuel concerning the current status of the Rainova Innovation Management Model (IMM).

WP09 aims to design and implement action plans for identifying the development level of innovation in the European regions represented in this project. It also aims to develop initiatives both to promote awareness of our Rainova IMM and to strengthen existing networks in some of our regions.

The intention of WP10 is to test the Rainova IMM in some organisations – or, given the shortage of time, at least some parts of it. To test the full model would require a much longer period of time than was allocated to this project.

sonderborg-meeting-2

As regards the Rainova IMM, we learned that in addition to the set of elements we previously approved at the meeting in Wroclaw in June 2013, a General Framework has since been designed. It includes three major areas:

  • The Standard Model
  • The Diagnostic Tool
  • The potential adaptation of the model to each organisation, which we agreed should be designated My Model.

The three parts of the Standard Model are:

  • Routines
  • Enablers
  • Cultural Factors

A List of Elements distributed among each one of these three parts has been developed. In addition to the description of each item, we provide a Toolbox and a Set of Suggestions related to each element.

We will also create a Guide for the Application of the Rainova IMM, for use by project members and end users.

Now that the design of the Rainova IMM is fairly advanced, we are in a better position to address WP09 and WP10, which we have to admit from the outset of the project we have somewhat struggled to understand.

To accommodate the tight schedules imposed by the catering arrangements in Danish VET colleges, we had previously offered David the opportunity to explain the progress of the Rainova Observatory based on a report he had previously distributed via the project platform. Some changes had been made to the organisation of the pages in the Observatory, and various decisions had been reached concerning the languages of the articles to be published on it. The members of the project agreed to collaborate to provide contents for the Observatory so that it can be publicly launched in the coming months.

Lunch was prepared for us by students at EUC Syd and served in their dining room. The students are enrolled in one of the cooking programmes offered by the college. Later, back in the meeting room again, we split into two groups. One group discussed how to tackle WP09 and WP10 while the other analysed the contents of the Rainova IMM in greater detail.

Both discussions were intense but productive. We ran out of time with both tasks still unfinished and decided to continue with the working groups on the following morning.

In the evening, after spending some time sightseeing around Sønderborg, all the partners met again for the dinner organised by our hosts at EUC Syd, at the Bella Italia restaurant.

sonderborg-building

On the second meeting day, we continued working in groups until we reached some results to show to the other members of the project.

To develop the action plans and the testing of the IMM, we agreed to complete a template similar to one proposed by Jaroslaw. We decided to test the IMM in at least three companies, following some specific steps and using, with some minor modifications, a template designed by our EUC Syd partners.

The group formed to analyse the IMM considered it appropriate to introduce some key questions regarding cultural factors. These questions should make it easier for users to use the IMM in actual practice. The group also confirmed that a user guide for the IMM will definitely be necessary, both for partners and end users. It was this group that decided to adopt the title My Model for potential adaptations of the Standard Model when used by individual organisations.

After we had reviewed the conclusions of the two groups, Paul showed us the score that the European Commission had given to the Rainova project in its interim report. He also gave everyonea questionnaire to be completed by each delegate. Finally we split into three groups to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the project at this stage in its life cycle.

Several interesting issues arose from this joint reflection, which were later noted in the conclusions of the meeting: the complexity of the project, the need to accelerate our dissemination actions, insufficient communication between meetings, and so on.

We reviewed the status of the Rainova website and the comments made about it by the Commission. To address some of the perceived weaknesses, which were mainly on the topic of dissemination, we decided to introduce a web page to publicly communicate our dissemination activities.

Our dissemination actions are also privately registered on the project platform. Once again we split into groups to plan a list of articles for the public website, which each partner committed to write between now and June.

Regarding the dissemination of the project – an issue of great concern – partners agreed not only to be more active but also to register and evidence them in line with the agreed rules of the project, where so far we have collectively fallen behind. Adding this decision to the earlier one to introduce a new dissemination page on the website, we think we can solve the problem of lack of visibility in our dissemination activities.

Partners also agreed to send a short dissemination plan to CSCS listing the initiatives they propose to launch in the coming months.

There was still time to review what is known as the ‘light version’ of the Research Report (WP07), which was agreed at the previous meeting in Wroclaw. This is a summarised version of the report intended to be a handy document available for events and presentations about the Rainova project.

Finally the project coordinator, José Luis, recounted all the commitments agreed to during the two-day meeting. They will be described appropriately in the minutes of the meeting and will not fall on deaf ears.

Before the end of the working day, the Quality Management Team met, as usual, to assess the progress made during the meeting and the tasks remaining to be done before the next meeting in Tuscany.

sonderborg-castle

As it was still a splendidly warm day in Sønderborg, the members were eager to meet again in the evening for a farewell dinner and to cheer the project: long live Rainova!



This project is partially funded under the European Community's Lifelong Learning Programme (LLL/2012-2014), grant agreement no. 2011 – 4134/001 – 001.
This website reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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Website and Observatory production by Adastra Cymru (a Rainova partner). Design and development by DP Freelance.