Case Description – T3 as to Societal Innovation Testbed

The City of Espoo (Population: 250 000) is the second largest city in Finland and is the innovation driver within the Helsinki Region. The city has gained international fame as a hub of know-how, research and development, at the heart of which stands the Aalto University campus. Espoo is also a centre of international company headquarters and high-technology businesses. The city is developed in interaction with various partners. The most important resources of Espoo are its active inhabitants, educational institutions, communities and businesses. The goal is to make Espoo a pioneer in the municipal sector as well as a good place to live, learn and work in as well as engage in entrepreneurship. Espoo has the core interest to develop the T3-area (Otaniemi-Keilaniemi-Tapiola) to become both an effective operating environment that energizes people, and a globally unique orchestrated innovation ecosystem based on the mutual interaction of the university, companies, the public sector and the third sector.

Human-driven built environments is one of the Aalto University’s strategic focus areas. The University’s objective is to develop Aalto’s main campus and its neighboring areas i.e. T3-area into a globally leading innovation centre. The ambitious goals realize the university’s mission, which aims to change the world by means of internationally high-level research, pioneering education, border-breaking, courageous exceeding and renewal.

Challenges and opportunities

The laboratories for innovation are no longer traditional university facilities, but regional innovation ecosystems operating as test-beds for rapid prototyping of many types of user-driven innovations: new products, services, processes, structures and systems which need to be transformative and scalable nature. The new generation of innovation activities is a socially motivated and open innovation ecosystem, which is complex and global by nature and which exists thanks to the participation of all using the online community. European regions should move towards open innovation, within a human-centered vision of partnerships between public and private sector actors, with universities playing a crucial role. This means modernizing the traditional Triple Helix model of academia, industry and government.

Main Objectives

This case reviews the T3-area as a regional innovation ecosystem which serves its actors, activities, and events and its external stakeholders. Special emphasis is on how Espoo T3 can become a global pioneer as a societal innovation test bed.

The case will focus on defining on systemic level the elements of the regional innovation ecosystem and what are their interdependencies: people networks and events; flows of learning, design, and effectualization; spaces; infrastructure etc.

The outcomes include descriptions of processes, methods and concepts needed in implementing the Knowledge Triangle (synergy between research, education and innovation) as the driver of new developments within the ecosystem.

The practical innovation test-bed is the T3 area (Otaniemi – Keilaniemi – Tapiola, which is the largest technology, innovation and business hub in Northern Europe). The Case develops prototypes for implementing the work of the two previous ACSI camps wherever this is relevant, as well as develop practical applications for ideas related to other recent developments, such as the Finnish research programme 2012-2015 entitled “Energizing Urban Ecosystems” (with funding worth 20 million Euros from industry and public bodies, including Tekes, Espoo City and Aalto University).

Important emphasis of the Case is also the regional collaboration Helsinki – Skåne – Amsterdam, which can be further developed for European pioneering in order to create ground-breaking societal innovations for Europe-wide use.