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User-driven Participatory Solutions for Innovation in Digitally-centred Ecosystems

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A digital push for innovation

A drive to link ICT clusters together across Europe and forge additional partnerships with clusters beyond Europe’s borders, such as in India, South Korea and the United States, has strengthened digital innovation significantly.

Digital Economy

Europe is home to several notable ICT clusters that are supported by relevant policies. These clusters can be enhanced through better synergy, enhanced research and open innovation. The EU-funded UPSIDE (User-driven participatory solutions for innovation in digitally-centred ecosystems) project sought to achieve this by encouraging convergence of the digital research and innovation agendas of key European and even global ICT clusters. It considered how nearby urban environments and cities could be integrated in its vision. Test beds in partner regions covered fields such as e-health, intelligent transport systems, energy self-sufficiency and e-government. The regions involved were Smart Quarter in Karlsruhe (Germany), Smart City Lab in Tartu (Finland), Sustainable Living Labs Approach in Eindhoven (the Netherlands) and Smart Neighbourhood Maribor (Slovenia). These test beds brought forth interoperable innovation platforms and user/citizen-driven participatory solutions to deliver benefits for society in the concerned fields. The project also reached out to clusters globally, forging partnerships with like-minded clusters in Silicon Valley (United States), Montreal (Canada), Pune and Mumbai (India), Hanoi and Ho-Chi-Minh City (Vietnam), and Daegu (South Korea). Developed under the project, the Cluster2Cluster Stockholm-Montreal working group represents an excellent example of EU-global collaboration. Another important project achievement concerning international outreach involved mentoring activities for relevant clusters in the Baltic, central European and Mediterranean areas. The mentoring led to the development of several new project proposals, effectively extending the project’s benefits beyond its end date. Also noteworthy among the project’s outcomes is the elaboration of the Participatory Methods Inventory, which features tools, methodologies, and best practices for innovation driven by relevant users and citizens. Through the project’s efforts, events and network, ICT-related innovation in Europe has been notably strengthened. This will ultimately bring benefits to society and to citizens.


Innovation, ICT clusters, UPSIDE, participatory solutions, mentoring

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