Valga County Government
TR3S project event: Regional Innovation Morning Coffee – Valga
Time: 20.03.2013, from 10 am to 1 pm
Venue: Marguse Holiday Centre, Valga county
Organiser: Valga County Government in cooperation with Valga Development Agency
Experts involved: Kalev Kaarna, University of Tartu
Number of participants: 23
Objective of the event: To give more knowledge for entrepreneurs, local authorities and development organizations about smart specialization and open innovation, also new ideas for next activities and inputs for strategy of Valga county.
Description of the event:
Innovation Morning Coffee was opened by Valga county governor Mr Margus Lepik, who informed participants about the TR3S project and highlighted the importance to be more innovative.
Expert Kalev Kaarna from University of Tartu gave an overview about smart specialization (S3 platform) and open innovation. In addition to theoretical knowledge, the expert gave good examples of successful Estonian companies in the world market. He also introduced an Idea Lab of University of Tartu. The Idea Lab is an environment, where students from all faculties form interdisciplinary teams in order to realize (positively) outrageous ideas or solve exciting challenges. The Idea Lab collects ideas and challenges from students, companies and faculty members. Formation of teams is based on interest in the idea or challenge. The teams get guidance, mentoring and support during the program, which lasts 11 weeks. For companies it is the place to find new concepts or test out viability of new ideas. The Idea Lab is welcoming companies, who want to submit their challenge or idea into the lab or mentor a team. The Idea Lab has already established cooperation with business incubators and other universities in Estonia. They also have partners abroad: in Latvia, Finland, Croatia and the USA (more info: http://ideelab.wordpress.com/).
After that presentation the participants were able to hear a business start-up story from Valga county – Khis OÜ (in English: private limited company Khis). Khis OÜ products are wood bathtubs – they use rubber seals to connect hand-cut wooden parts, made of Nordic ash – the combination that is made to last, providing durability and aesthetic appeal, even if used outdoors. Mr Frants Seer, the owner of company, shared his experience how to start a company and develop new product. Khis OÜ is a young, innovative and very active company – to build up the company and product they have used the start-up grant, innovation voucher grant, participated in the product development program PESA (Creative Estonia) and presented the products in fairs (St. Petersburg, Helsinki). Khis OÜ has also taken part of the South-East mentor club activities in 2012. Frants Seer accented, that his story is not a success story yet – they are still looking for financing etc. However, it was a very inspiring and tutorial experience.
Then all participants had a good chance to work out their new ideas in a workshop. Mr Kalev Kaarna introduced an idea game “daVinci” (more info: www.maripuu.eu). It is a method that helps you or your organization to have more effective brainstorms: it involves all the participants and makes them to come up with new solutions. The game also helps to train creative thinking and thereby enlarge team members´ ability to come up with new solutions to random questions on topics such as product development, strategy, sales, advertisement, business models etc. This game helps to break the usual patterns of thought through pictures and to find new ideas or solutions.
Finally, the participants had good opportunity to discuss their ideas and plans during the joint lunch.
Estonia has a good support system for entrepreneurs, it is important to use the possibilities and make right choices. The experience of Khis OÜ shows, that combination of materials, design and technology can make simply good things great. We hope that all the participants got inspiring flashes to their next steps and encourage cooperation with universities and other companies. In county´s level we have to build up stronger network between businesses, the public sector, R&D institutions. This event was the first of similar, but we got good information and inputs for renewal our strategy of county.
More information: Kersti.Lepik(at)valgamv.ee