Last week the annual partner event of ICT Labs was hosted in Helsinki. This Knowledge and Innovation Community is part of the European Institute for Innovation and Technology (EIT). It is ICT Labs' mission to accelerate innovation in Europe in the field of ICT. The extensive network consists of educational- and business members. SOWISO was invited to this event to present our company and our view on innovation in the educational sector. E-learning fits the goals of this institution because it combines two main European themes: Innovation and Life Long Learning.
A big challenge for EIT ICT Labs is the translation of their goals into concrete instruments for achieving these goals. In our opinion, this is still lacking. This is nothing new for large (government like type) institutions. Many factors play a role: different interests, budget responsibilities, relative few full-time own employees and even politics. SOWISO played an active and constructive role in the discussion. Two of the suggestions we made were:
- The establishment of an early- and growth stage EIT ICT Labs investment fund. It's always useful to have access to experts and advice, but with innovative start-ups it sooner or later comes down to the availability of funds. It was great to hear that ICT Labs has a very positive stand towards the idea of investment-funding and has already taken steps in the realization of this idea, together with the European Investment Bank.
- The development of a tool kit for high-tech start-ups which provides people with an overview which resources and possibilities are offered by EIT ICT Labs. Good communication and agenda management are an important first step. For a company like SOWISO it's very convenient to be part of the 'inner circle', but it would be a real shame if only the companies already working intensively with ICT Labs are informed on (and thus have access to) all activities and potential backing.
The ambiance in which the congress took place was fitting and inspiring, being the city of Espoo in which a lot of high-technology industry (for example NOKIA) and knowledge institutes (for example the Technical University Aalto) are based. The conference was perfectly organized and buzzing with new ideas and new technology. My compliments.
On the first day of the conference the executive VP Design of NOKIA Marko Ahtisaari shared an energetic presentation with a call to action in innovation: “The cost of assessing risk is now often greater than the cost of failing.” When it comes to technology and design, Finland does belong to the best of the best, not only in Europe but also world-wide. I do however hope that Marko's employees fully embrace his words, as not a day later the news came out that Nokia was no longer in the top-5 list of smartphone producers.
On day two of the event, SOWISO hosted a presentation, being one of the high-tech start-ups in the EIT ICT Labs ecosystem. The presentation was received well, meaning that attendees from around Europe showed interest in our innovative e-learning platform. We hope this helps in the dissemination of our interactive and intelligent software which in turn will help us as a company to really contribute to the European knowledge economy.