Good News from Thu, 16 February, 2012:

Energy for innovation comes from the community

The Scot James Finlayson had his cotton factory built in Tampere in the 1820s. The rapids at Tammerkoski generated the energy and Finlayson grew to be the largest industrial premises in the Nordic region.

So where do we find the energy today to drive innovations?

Technological capability is a plus, but it alone is not enough. You need differing types of competence to come together to give birth to new ones. With a multi-disciplinary approach, user-centrism comes to the fore and the user experience counts for more than just the technical features.

A concept of agility comes with user-centrism. Products are quickly tested by customers and necessary adjustments are made – sometimes these can be adjustments to the operating model, not just to the product.

The inter-disciplinary, user-centrist and agile approach can be promoted through open work places that encourage contact and collaboration.  Here, the birthplace of Linux, we have built roads, houses and even software  by collaborating.

So how does collaboration fit in in a world of fierce competition? In the early stages of innovation and for start-ups it fits in well. ‘Born Global’ start-ups grow the cake for everyone and they don’t squabble over how it is shared out. The challenges of growth are common to all.

In the Finlayson district in Tampere there is an open, agile and community-based innovation centre known as the Uusi Tehdas (New Factory). The machinery at the factory runs at full speed: at Demola inter-disciplinary teams of students make demos with companies, at Protomo professionals build prototypes and form companies, at Suuntamo they conduct customer testing and Accelerator helps start-ups to thrive and go global.

The energy source for the New Factory is the community of students, professionals and mentors. The members of the teams are active out in the field and they have the latest information on customers, investors, partners and consultants. By sharing information and experiences, sparring with one another and driving things forward together they create a force that provides the energy for today’s Finlaysons.

Cotton is replaced by innovation and in place of a single Finlayson, here all the workers are factory masters.