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GROW Bergen, grow

The European Union recently published the Innovation Union Scoreboard 2010, a performance assessment of innovation in EU member states. It investigates relative strengths and weaknesses of the research and innovation systems per country along related indicators. The monitored categories cover enablers, firm activities and outputs. “Enablers” investigate the essential ingredients to the activity such as HR, Finance, and Research Systems. “Firm activities” comprise indicators like investments, linkages and entrepreneurship, and intellectual assets. “Outputs” monitor indicators that translate into actual benefits for the entire economy, such as innovators and economic effects. However, member states are clustered into categories like innovation leaders, innovation followers, moderate innovators and modest innovators. A brief look into the results reveals that Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Germany are grouped as innovation leaders. The second cluster indicates innovation followers ranking above EU average, while a third cluster sums up countries that are weak in innovation. Norway is ranked “moderate innovator” performing below the average of the 27 countries monitored.

Table courtesy PRO INNO Europe®

The Greater Bergen region centered around the second largest city in Norway is very active in creating an entrepreneurial and creative framework to foster current and future activities in the region. It was the Business Region Bergen, which invited frog’s Creative Director Pete Matthews to give a keynote at their regional conference GROW 2011.

The initiative drives business development, supports start-ups and promotes the region. The conference is part of the vision to trigger dynamic growth in a diverse region, supporting diversity, cooperation and experiences. GROW2011 focuses on cases of new and existing businesses investing in innovation. The conference explored projects that drive innovative solutions and methodology and how  creatives can  innovate in existing businesses.

Closing the first day of the conference, Trond Giske Norwegian Minister of Industry and Trade, presented the governmental activities supporting growth through innovation for start-ups and established companies. In his keynote closing the second day, Pete Matthews shared the principles of “innovation as a corporate culture” with the audience and showed how to “Break mental barriers”. explored how to break mental barriers to do so. The audience was inspired by the tactical tweaks mentioned to create a more innovation-driven culture. Matthews developed his speech on breaking barriers from a variety of angles, highlighting barriers faced in day-to-day situations. He started off the talk by looking at the barrier between presenter and audience and related it to the barrier between thinking and actually doing.

frog also ran a workshop session for local students and creative entrepreneurs at the art academy in Bergen. Co-hosted by the Design Region Bergen, the design-driven business and community development initiative.

Pete Matthews conducted a frogThink, a ideation method for solving creative challenges through collaborative, original and lateral thinking. The frogThink workshop explored the fundamental transport problems of pollution and congestion that Bergen is facing. The frogThink challenged participants to investigate the excessive amount of cars during rush hour and create a fresh solution of alternative means of transportation.

The participants created inspiring concepts during the workshop, including the popular “transport ninja”, enabling individual and safe transport for the under aged, very low barrier improvements to the ticketing system and secondary use of the hubs for ticket sale. Furthermore, home service for the elderly and educational services on public transportation were explored as well.