Co-Creation Improvisation Question Factory held for the First Time in Vidzeme as the Open Innovation Hub is launched

On Thursday, February 23, the co-creation improvisation Question Factory about Sustainability took place at Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences (ViA) marking the opening of the Open Innovation Hub. ViA researchers and students, as well as representatives from Vidzeme municipalities participated in the co-creation. The event consisted of three parts - questions, solutions and individual discussions with researchers.

In the first part, participants asked various questions about how ViA researchers could help municipalities to solve sustainability issues in towns and rural areas and how municipalities could help researchers.

“Questions allow us to understand the problem in more detail and help notice the subtleties that should be addressed. They are at the heart of research and innovation. If the question is formulated correctly, the solution becomes obvious,” said Iveta Putniņa, Administrative Vice-rector at ViA and the Head of the E3UDRES2 European University project. “Albert Einstein has said, 'If I were given one hour to solve a problem and my life depended on it, I would spend the first 55 minutes identifying the right question to solve'. In this co-creation, we managed to ask 86 questions that can help the participants of the question factory to further develop new ideas for innovations.”

Before developing questions, the Head of the UNESCO Chair “Biosphere and Man” Agita Līviņa invited the participants to consider whether development should always be seen as “higher, further, more”, or we should rather think about the resilience of towns and rural areas, about the preservation and maintenance of existing resources and infrastructure, taking into account the existing load.

In the second part, the participants of the co-creation had the opportunity to vote on the most topical issues of sustainability, and then look for solutions by improvisation in groups. The three questions that received the most votes were the following: 1) How to encourage young people’s desire to continue their education after the 12th grade? 2) How to reduce the inequality gap among people in Latvian regions? 3) What are the main challenges/problems in Vidzeme region?

“Positive changes and growth is a good indicator of trying, learning and moving upwards. Within a year, Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences has investigated the challenges of Vidzeme region on a narrower and wider scale, realized its own strength and that of community members. ViA is aware that working together we can achieve more and that requires a leader, which is why the Open Innovation Hub has been created,” said Līga Jupatova, Guest Research Assistant at ViA and a graduate of the master's study programme “Business Environment Administration”.

Līga Jupatova explained that the mission of the Open Innovation Hub is “to create, accumulate and exchange knowledge and experience for the sustainable development of the region”. The vision of the hub is to be a dynamic place accessible to any member of the community, where solutions are created together through collaboration, experimentation and local and international knowledge.

The hub will promote entrepreneurial thinking in the community, integrating challenges in the study process, organizing and participating in entrepreneurship activities, as well as offering services within the competence of ViA researchers.

The co-creation improvisation Question Factory about Sustainability took place in the framework of Vidzeme Innovation Week.

The event was implemented as part of ViA project E.I.N.S.: E3UDRES2 Entrepreneurship and Innovation Network for Smart and Sustainable European Regions (No. 10043, https://eudres.eu/eins ). The project is financed by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, EIT (https://eit-hei.eu/), which is the largest and most influential innovation network in Europe. This is a new initiative that foresees a major role for higher education institutions in strengthening innovation in the regions.

The aim of the project is to create a strong innovation support mechanism in the regions, using the professional, academic and scientific contacts of the E3UDRES2 European University (Austria, Belgium, Portugal, Romania, Hungary, Latvia, https://www.eudres.eu/) and the University Industry Innovation Network (UIIN, the Netherlands, https://www.uiin.org/).