Rapid Open Innovation Working Labs creates a cross-border network for innovation

​Luca Zaia, President of the Veneto Region
​Through a networking platform, the Rapid Open Innovation Working Labs (OIWLs) project improves the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) active in eco-building, wood and mechanics in the Austrian-Italian border regions. More than 100 enterprises are set to benefit directly from the project activities through their participation in OIWLs – introductory workshops that identify existing problems and explain how to use the available open innovation tools –, coaching sessions, and audits. Five groups of companies that are particularly open to innovation teamed up with experienced consultants, establishing strong contacts with cross-border research institutions. Over 50 public and private research and innovation service centres are also part of the project, transmitting their know-how and increasing their ability to work in networks.
 
“Open Innovation” builds on the existence of a network of partners who can pool their knowledge in order to strengthen their respective innovation capabilities. Strategic exchanges allow each of the enterprises, mostly SMEs, to identify hurdles for innovation in their processes, and reduce these through adopting best practices. They can also make use of the business support services offered as part of the Rapid OI platform. Local OIWLs are currently taking place in Veneto Region (Italy) and Salzburg and Innsbruck (Austria). The effectiveness of the Open Innovation platform is tested in a piloting phase in order to identify further areas of improvement of the Open Innovation tools. It is hoped that these measures will contribute to strengthening the competitiveness of SMEs in a durable and sustainable manner.
 
The project has contributed to improve economics flows in the region, and is expected to encourage similar cooperation initiatives in the near future. Over 10 000 stakeholders have been briefed on the project’s results and potential. Some 150 jobs will be created during project implementation and 50 expected to be created once the project has been fully implemented. Total investment for the project “Rapid Open Innovation – speeding time to market” is EUR 700000 with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) contributing EUR 430000 through the “Italy-Austria” Operational Programme.