The pilot cases that we are presenting here formed group of activities 4.2 in the RDI2CluB project. Pilots were conducted in RDI2CluB’s partner regions and the process started in the summer of 2019. Results were collected following summer of 2020.  The pilot cases were initiated with several purposes in mind:

  1. To test the applicability of open innovation and co-creation principles and the added value of a digital platform for the development of different types of business ideas and social innovations in the RDI2CluB bioeconomy regions.
  2. To contribute to the implementation of bioeconomy-related smart specializations of the RDI2CluB project regions.
  3. To facilitate the development of transnationally oriented bioeconomy innovation ecosystem in the partner regions and the Baltic Sea Region as a whole

Please find here a report of  five solutions (Regional Pilot Cases) developed in and tested as result of transnational dialogue and co-creation among the bioeconomy regions of Central Finland, Inland Region in Norway, Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship in Poland, Vidzeme Region in Latvia and Estonia.

This report describes the methodological framework of the pilot cases, following brief stories of reach pilot case and the impact they have made. Finally, report describes lessons learnt during RDI2CluB’s transnational co-operation for the development of bioeconomy innovations.

Report on Pilot Cases

“It’s time for a rural renaissance. From clean air and water to beautiful, bountiful landscapes, we believe that rural areas are invaluable. Rural communities can also drive economic growth by helping to create smart bioeconomy solutions,” says the introduction to the Impact Report. For three years, since the launch of RDI2CluB project, the partner regions from Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Norway and Poland have been building a network of actors – researchers, entrepreneurs, business developers, policy and decision makers - and a set of innovative tools and methods to reinvigorate rural areas and nurture their economies while contributing to a more sustainable future for all.

The Impact Report showcases solutions developed as a result of transnational cooperation and co-creation among the bioeconomy regions of Central Finland, Inland Region in Norway, Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship in Poland, Vidzeme Region in Latvia and Estonia. The interactive report shows the potential impact of our local pilots. Local pilots will end summer 2020 and impact report will be adjusted based on the piloting results.

OUR SOLUTION: The business development company of Saarijärvi City, SSYP Kehitys Ltd. has developed a solution for the problem; Waakku - a mobile application for connecting rural entrepreneurs with services and workforce. While there are workforce and service apps available, this solution is focused on farmers in rural areas. Waakku aims to get the right person at the right time to the right place. It will feature a location-based map as well as capacity for information sharing.

As farms, service providers and the workforce become better connected, a drop in logistics and management costs can be expected. The app will help to develop the regional bioeconomy innovation ecosystem by facilitating the gig economy and co-operation of farms. This way skilled workers will become more accessible, and with their knowledge they will help to transform traditional business models. Waakku has been tested on functionalities with a local farmer group in 2019 and testing will continue in 2020 with real life service cases.  

Inland, Norway

CHALLENGE: Many grouse species roam huge areas and hence the increased hunting tourism may lead to overexploitation, conflicts and limited value creation in rural areas. Additionally, climate change creates new uncertainties. Rural landowners need to organize grouse monitoring and improve the management systems, in order to take advantage of hunting tourism, without over-exploiting natural resources and destroying future business potential. Besides maintaining area's biodiversity, there is a need, among landowners and policy makers, for unified data on grouse population. The lack of unified data limits the growth of the local bioeconomy as policy makers cannot make evidence-based policies on species sustainability and local SMEs cannot co-operate to provide new and higher value offerings. 

OUR SOLUTION: The Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences is leading the development of an international network for grouse monitoring and research. It will be available for the whole Northern hemisphere and will involve key stakeholders from business, management and science. The coordination platform hosted on the Biobord website, will enable to collaborate on standards, tools and data sets. Scientists will benefit from open access data and will be able to co-operate with policymakers to develop sustainable frameworks, thereby aiding local landowners and tourism companies (accommodation, tour guides, hunters’ groups, etc.) who will have provided the initial data. The international cross-sectoral network is designed to ensure that it can be transferred and replicated to other bioeconomic issues beyond the initial focus on grouse. 

Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship, Poland

CHALLENGE: Rural areas particularly suffer from a lack of infrastructure, financing and awareness of the latest climate-friendly energy alternatives. The prevalent heating systems in the rural areas are household coal heaters. Dated heaters and the use of poor-quality coal or burning of waste add to the problem. These energy systems cause harmful air pollution causing numerous health issues. In winter months, the air quality is detrimental to all, but particularly to health tourism orientated regions such as the spa areas of Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship.

OUR SOLUTION: The Regional Science and Technology Center from Poland is piloting research and community engagement actions to encourage inhabitants to upgrade their energy systems. Recently developed drone technologies have been adapted to collect regular samples on air quality, thereby providing location specific data in addition to the existing stationary air pollution measurement stations. Moreover, a review of emission reducing energy alternatives will be carried out with targeted awareness activities. These actions are expected to have a positive impact on local health, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, contribute towards data-based policy and encourage local businesses' participation in the provision of low-emission heating solutions.  

Vidzeme Region, Latvia

CHALLENGE: The agricultural sector faces a growing amount of problems that are linked to each other and the effectiveness of previous management practices needs to be revaluated. We are facing problems such as:

  • Global climate change generates increasingly unstable weather such as longer droughts and periods of short but intense rainfall. 
  • Increasing population. Continuous population growth demands more food, while available space for agricultural expansion is decreasing. 
  • Sustainability of production process. Production processes should not create adverse effects on health (consumption of harmful chemicals), environment (water pollution and loss of biodiversity) and future farming (reduced soil fertility and release of greenhouse gasses). 

OUR SOLUTION: Institute for Environmental Solutions (IES) from Latvia looks to develop a decision-making support tool for agricultural primary production enterprises and farms by utilising the technological opportunities offered by sensor-equipped drones. Based on numerous consultations with farmers, the tool will be focused on rapid crop yield volume estimates, plant health assessment, identification of weeds, soil temperature assessment, evaluation of underground irrigation systems and identification of plant blooming success. Furthermore, the tool will be geared towards organically grown medicinal and aromatic plants as there are existing solutions for conventional crops, and organic farms are more environmentally friendly while face higher management costs.  
IES’s pilot action will have a positive impact on national and regional development strategies, for example at the national level Latvia has selected knowledge intensive bioeconomy and information communication technology (ICT) as key specialisation areas.