ISPIM Conference Comes To Town

The International Society for Professional Innovation Management – ISPIM – are starting their annual conference in Helsinki today.

I am the first one in the line of fire, as I will be doing THE most frightening speaking task: give a dinner speech. DInner speech sums up the basic fact of performing: the shorter the time, the harder the task. While performing, people build barricades of powerpoint slides or umpteen words (messing upo event schedules). None of that for a dinner speech. It should also be funny. So the task is close to stand-up-comedy, actually. Maybe I should grab a trick or two from Louis C.K.?

I will be speaking about TRUST, STEALING and FORGETTING. More specifically, about trust as the basis for being innovative – for an individual, for a company, and for a nation; about stealing (ideas) as the fundamental way we innovate; and about forgetting (what you think you know) as the core ingredient of learning.

Tomorrow there will be a Living Lab session (session 1.5, 2 pm)  where I will be speaking too. There are great people in the session, like Pieter Ballon of iMinds and Petra Turkama of Aalto CKIR who will be hosting the session. And thank god, there I can hide behing my slides. Tonight, it’s just me (and the flu).

Infodev Global Forum, East London, South Africa


I am heading to Africa again, one year after my trip to the World Bank event in Kenya. Now I will speak in the innovation ecosystems track: This session will explore the relative roles the public and private sectors play in facilitating innovation, innovative enterprises and a productive economy.”

Living labs, open data and community-driven smart cities on the agenda. More insights when I get there.

Open Data in Kenya

I was fortunate to be invited by the World Bank to Nairobi, to participate in a round table organised by the Kenya Open Data Initiative and then to the Open Innovation Africa Summit.

The level of understanding the challenges regarding Open Data is high, but  combined with a genuine enthusiasm about Open Data as an accelerator of innovation. And they are moving fast. For example, Kenya is starting a code fellowships program following the Code4America model – before anyone has done it in Europe.

The OIAS deep dive tackled the innovation challenges in Africa; the full report is still on its way, but you can find a good partial report in the Balancing Act blog.

So, what’s next? It seems that we are doing something right with Helsinki Region Infoshare because Petri Kola from our office (and Aalto University) is travelling back to Nairobi this week, to participate in an open data WS using Design Thinking methods.

For boosting innovation in Africa, I think that networked local hubs like M-lab are critical. Living Labs for user-driven, grassroots-level innovation could really make the difference here.

Keep an eye on Kenya & the rest of Africa. The challenges they face are gigantic, but so is the drive.