Shaping a functional, attractive and vibrant Vantaa is a joint effort – a co-creation model is used to develop the city together with companies, residents, educational institutions, various city sectors and other RDI operators. As a result, new, better services and businesses are emerging in Vantaa. The experiences from the 6Aika projects in Vantaa have translated into a well-tested model for co-creation.
Co-creation allows for a diverse range of views and gathers plenty of knowledge and competence around a common table. For example, the Roboreel project, which helped companies with robotics and automation, brought together the practical expertise of SMEs, the mentoring skills and knowledge in robotics of educational institutions, and the challenges faced by cities.
Several 6Aika projects have testified to the importance of clearly communicating the common goals and agreeing on the rules for cooperation. Co-creation does not simply happen. Instead, the collaborative process requires firm yet flexible management.
The Ecosystems of Growth project supports business clusters that are important to the city. The Vantaa Food Cluster is a cluster of growth-seeking companies in the food and drinks sector, educational institutions and RDI operators and is making Vantaa known as the capital of urban food.
What does Vantaa look like on the menu? A three-course Vantaa menu is a co-created culinary delight for the friends of urban cuisine.
“The fabulous Vantaa menu is the result of a collaboration between restaurants and other operators in the sector. Trust is very important in co-creation, and you can best build it by simply working together. It is necessary to identify the needs of the companies involved and what everyone’s goals and roles are,” explains Ecosystems of Growth project manager Kaisa Ahonen.
Co-creating a win-win situation
Co-creating was extensively experimented with in the Co-Created Health and Wellbeing (CoHeWe) project, which facilitates the development of social, welfare and healthcare services. Some of the technologies developed in the project were used, for example, for an online speech therapy service, a virtual reality headset for rehabilitation and a remote rehabilitation service.
The process went from identifying needs through business workshops, market dialogue and experiments to piloting and procurement.
“Co-creation produces better and more customer-oriented services because the process involves social and healthcare professionals, companies and people who will actually use the service in their everyday life. In our model, we involve the end user in the process of identifying needs from the very start so that any new solutions will meet actual, existing needs,” says project manager Sari Helenius.
All participants have benefitted from these projects. Social and healthcare professionals have had a chance to get involved when solutions are still on the drawing board.
“We tested and developed new products to which we otherwise would not have had any access while companies were able to develop solutions to meet real needs and find new business opportunities,” says Helenius.
Helenius points out that, in addition to evaluating the product or service that is the result of co-creation, you should also evaluate the process. What did we learn from the process? What were the challenges and successes, and how can we measure success at the various points of the process?
The 6Aika projects have enabled dialogue and offered forums and a clear process for co-creation. The city’s natural role is to provide facilities and tools for the co-creators to use.
6Aika is a joint sustainable urban development strategy of the six largest cities in Finland: Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Tampere, Turku and Oulu. This strategy centres on co-creation and cross-sector collaboration between cities, companies and other organisations and sectors and offers platforms and environments for experimenting and development. In Vantaa, 6Aika means experimenting with new ideas and development projects in and with the city.