I'm talking tomorrow in a seminar organized by the Finnish Foundation of Municipal Development (Kunnallisalan Kehittämissäätiö in Finnish). Other speakers include:
Esko Aho, President of the Finnish National Fund for Research and Development (SITRA)
Veli-Pekka Saarnivaara, President of the National Agency of Technology (TEKES)
Raimo Väyrynen, President of the Academy of Finland
Christoffer Taxell, President of the Confederation of Finnish Industries
Janne Virkkunen, Editor-in-Chief, Helsingin Sanomat
Maija-Riitta Ollila, Philosopher
Ulla-Maaria Mutanen, Researcher, University of Helsinki
Katja Sorri, Jyväskylä Town Council
Candidates for the Finnish presidential election:
Tarja Halonen, President of Finland
Sauli Niinistö, Director, European Investment Bank
Here is a summary of my talk "FabLabs – the Future of Municipal Innovation Activity?"
The ability to develop new, global-scale innovations and competences in small peripheral communities is weak and getting worse. Small communities generally lack resources in basic research and education. In addition, many of the small communities -especially in the eastern and northern Finland- suffer from brain drain to urban areas. This hinders the accumulation of new, socially and economically meaningful competences in these areas and thus, the viability of the communities.
The starting point of this talk is that small communities in Finland will have to radically change their innovation policy in the near future. This will include the moving from strictly institutional, business-oriented idea of innovation and competence development towards an idea of innovation as practice-based, interactive, and often times semi-professional learning activity. First, I discuss this argument in the light of the recent innovation studies, which suggest that an increasing number of innovations emerge currently within the communities of users and semi-professional developers. Second, I introduce learning theories that emphasize the collective, situated, and object-oriented nature of new knowledge creation and capability development. Finally, I discuss the MIT FabLab concept as a concrete example of an organizational arrangement that builds on the idea of a cooperative, practice-based, municipal innovation activity.