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May 12, 2009

Nokia Technopolis Innovation Mill: giving good ideas a chance

ESPOO, Finland – Nokia, Technopolis and Tekes have got together to give unused ideas and innovations a new lease of life. The Nokia Technopolis Innovation Mill will take ideas and innovations that are no longer required by Nokia and make them available to companies across Finland who may be able to turn them into world-class products and services. The idea is to match ideas with businesses that can make them happen. Working alongside Nokia on the initiative is Technopolis, one of Europe’s largest science and technology park chains, and Tekes, the Finnish agency for funding technology and innovation.

The ideas come from the innovation spring that is Nokia R&D. With thousands of potential innovations created every year, only a fraction are chosen by Nokia to be taken forward. The Nokia Technopolis Innovation Mill will recycle those ideas, giving them a new lease of life and giving Finnish companies an opportunity to tap into world class product innovation.

The innovations will also receive funding to the tune of €8million, including €4.5million coming from public funding. Local cities in Finland are also involved and hope to drive ICT in their local regions. The end game is to help more Finnish businesses become competitive on the international stage.

What’s more Nokia’s involvement is without compensation, enabling the businesses involved to benefit from the contribution without having to deliver a return to Nokia.
I think this is an awesome initiative. It can be hugely frustrating (I’m sure) for scientists and developers to come up with great ideas but not see them come to fruition. I don’t believe this is a fault of Nokia as it’s bound to happen when so much is invested in research and development. The process of filtering ideas and distilling them into finished products has to be super selective. Not only is it a question of turning only the best innovations into products, but also fitting in with consumer needs, and the company’s strategy.

Giving ideas a new lease of life shows the new (is it still new?) openness Nokia is driving. We could make a gag about corporate responsibility and recycling too, but we might be taking things too far there. There is a direct link to corporate responsibility though. Not only does this impact consumers (more ideas developed into products) but it also impacts employees (see the previous note on scientists and developers seeing their ideas come to life) alongside giving more local businesses a helping hand. This initiative can’t be underestimated for its potential impact. It’ll be interesting to see how it pans out over the next three years. We’re hoping to keep tabs on those ideas that get passed out and what happens to them in the next stage of their development cycle.

Together with local cities, Nokia Technopolis and Tekes have already started the process of evaluating ideas and companies to find the best matches and get the ball rolling.

Let us know what you think about this in the comments below.

Photo by letcombe