Innovation research

Theme for 2010: Demand and user orientation

The nature of innovation activities is changing quickly and focusing more directly on the value experiences and needs of customers and users, a phenomenon that is being facilitated by the proliferation of the Internet and social media.

Many new business opportunities for user-oriented innovations are also opening up in rapidly developing and low-income markets. Innovation policy has traditionally centred on supply side instruments, such as R&D funding and technology programmes. Only recently has demand and user orientation become the focus of policy, and Finland has been a leader in terms of this development.

The goal of innovation research in 2010 is to produce new and concrete views on promoting and monitoring user-oriented innovations. Projects that clarify how Finnish companies create and repatriate value in international value networks have also been funded. The 2010 research projects are grouped according to the following themes

Boosting demand- and user-oriented innovation in industry

Community-based open innovation in the global economy
Aalto University: Kristian Möller

Innonets2 aka i2 research project focuses on the means, methods and effects of utilizing user communities in the innovation development. The objective of the project is to (i) develop new tools that help firms to benefit of open, user-driven and community-based innovation, and (2) establish new indicators and scales that help them to assess the success of such innovating in the global economy. The empirical part of the research comprises in-depth case studies and surveys among firms and users that participate the community-based innovation development. The results and tools gained in the project help Finnish companies to cope with the challenges of innovation communities and increasing user-driven development. The results can also be used in societal decision making when allocating resources to the areas of community-based innovation development recognized in the project.

Social media as an interface of innovation processes in B2B companies
Åbo Akademi University: Kimmo Rautiainen; Tampere Technical University: Hannu Kärkkäinen

The project examines opportunities and best practices of utilizing social media in creating customer understanding in innovation processes of b-to-b companies and thus improves user orientation of companies. The project is based on a thorough pre-study where the development needs of finnish companies in regard to utilizing social media were studied. The project has been prepared in cooperation with the national Digital Content Competence Cluster that ensures wide diffusion and implementation of results.

Utilization of public data
Research Institute of the Finnish Economy, ETLA; Aalto University, University of Helsinki: Heli Koski

Public sector is an important producer of raw data for new information services and products that further generates market conditions for the re-use of public sector information (PSI). In Finland, the practices and laws concerning the supply of PSI are under a renewal process. Research based information concerning how PSI supply should be organized and priced optimally from the point of view of a society as a whole is particularly needed. Decision-makers need not only economic and legal knowledge but also point of views of the re-users of PSI. This research project offers interdisciplinary research-based perspectives that are of direct use to decision-makers. The project comprises the following four closely interlinked parts: 1) Supply and pricing of PSI, 2) Legislative boundaries, 3) The impacts of opening PSI on demand- and user-led innovation activities and 4) Organizational changes in public administration. We are particularly interested in PSI estimated to have a great economic potential (e.g. geographical and meteorological information). We also investigate the utilization potential of other PSI and their potential markets. In addition, our analysis covers organizational changes that are needed to undertake in public administration when practices related to the supply of PSI change.


Toolkits and indicators for monitoring demand- and user-oriented innovation

Statistical Indicator Development for User Innovation Transfers in Finland
Lappeenranta University of Technology: Jari Kuusisto

The purpose of the InFi-project proposed is to measure the amount and cost and significance of innovation activities carried out by citizens of Finland. Today, this activity is invisible to both businesses and policymakers because it is not measured. No official statistics measure innovation by consumers in any nation today. No firms of which we are aware conduct such measurements. Yet, intelligent and accurate measurement is essential if managers and policymakers are to respond properly to this important source of innovation. The key aim of the project is to produce new innovation in this area, and formulate user innovation indicators that facilitate continuous research in the area in Finland and internationally.

Social media supported indicators for monitoring and evaluating user-driven innovation
VTT, Tampere Technical University: Kaisa Still

This is a joint research plan for a collaboration project called Sindi between VTT, Tampere University of Technology and Innovation Ecosystems group at Stanford University's Media X. The goal of the project is to develop and validate indicators for measuring the process and impact of user driven ICT supported service innovation. Furthermore, the project aims at supporting visualization and making meaning of the indicators within their context. The project will concentrate in exploiting the increasingly diverse digital socially constructed databases, and social media tools in indicator measuring, visualizing and making meaning.

Managing demand- and user innovation in public sector
Aalto University: Liisa Välikangas

The aim of the study is to investigate demand- and user-oriented innovation management models and processes in public organisations. Furthermore, the study aims to produce indicators reflecting the conceptualized models. Innovating is seen as a management process in the study, and creation of innovations is seen critical to the resilience of organizations (in other words, their capacity to sustain new and different demands from users and customers in the changing operational environment). Users and customers are seen as an integral part of the innovation management process. Methodologically the study relies on the grounded theory approach using ethnographical research methods. The study is an applied investigation by its nature, and produces concrete models (including bench marks and best practices) and indicators to be used in public organizations. Furthermore, based on the research findings the study aims to formulate policy recommendations to policy-makers in the fields of communal and innovation policies.


User-oriented innovation for BOP markets in developing countries

Sustainable and user-oriented innovations for BOP markets
Aalto University: Minna Halme

The role of the emerging market has increased during the recent years; it is expected that in the near future more than 70% of MNCs growth is coming from emerging markets. In addition, emerging markets offer not only new growth opportunities but also act as a source of innovation. Unfortunately not many Finnish companies are operating in these markets without couple of exceptions. Successful business in these low income markets (also Base-of-the-Pyramid, BOP) demands from companies to develop new innovative solutions, relating to products, services but also new kind business model are needed. It is necessary that companies will gain deep knowledge on the local conditions, about users' need and preferences. This kind user-driven innovation cannot be done far away from Finland; local engagement is essential. Besides new kind of innovation knowledge, companies need to develop partnerships with the local organizations from different sectors. Hence, this kind of partnership development is a challenging task for Finnish companies.


User-oriented disruptive innovations

Discontinuous Innovation Project – Integrating customer and user into innovation
Aalto University: Pekka Berg

Implementation of discontinuous user driven innovation (DIP II) is a project conducted by Innovation Management Institute (IMI) at Aalto University School of Science and Technology. DIP II is part of the international Discontinuous Innovation Laboratory project including research partners from 11 countries. DIP II project aims at improving the competitiveness of Finnish companies by creating new knowledge about customer and user involvement in the development process of discontinuous and radical innovations. The results of the research can be utilized by all Finnish companies when developing user driven services, products and business models.

Conceptualizing the toolbox for practice-based innovation policy
Lappeenranta University of Technology: Tuija Oikarinen

The present study seeks to find the connection between science-based (STI) and practice-based (DUI) innovation processes and to tune in a shared, generative dance in the framework of absorptive capacity. The research in the project is two-faceted. One is the holistic innovation policy level where the focus is on the creation, development and measuring the practice-based innovation policy concept. Another is the level of piloting, analyzing and further developing the methods and ways of supporting the realization of the innovation processes. The cross-cutting themes are customer and user-driven approach, creation of value networks and measuring the impact of the actions.


Value creation in global networks

Finland and Finnish companies in global value networks
Etlatieto: Jyrki Ali-Yrkkö

In this project, we will study the operations of Finnish firms in global value networks. We pay special attention to the creation and geographical distribution of value added by examining value added on the product-level. Moreover, subprojects investigate the impact of offshoring strategies on the productivity, profitability and wages of domestic units using statistical methods. We also study the significance of science-driven researcher networks in the commercialization of scientific results in the areas of energy-, environmental-, nano-, and biotechnologies. Furthermore, we develop a tool facilitating in the approximation of costs and welfare impacts incurred by the implementation of new technologies in the said areas.

Global Networks in Finance of Innovation
Aalto University: Markku Maula

The importance of global networks in the finance of innovation has increased during the recent years. This project will create new knowledge on the role and importance of global networks in the finance of innovation as well as strategies for entrepreneurs, investors and policy makers in small innovative economies like Finland. This new knowledge helps to increase the impact of Finnish innovation finance and the success of Finnish growth companies and their investors in the global economy.