At the End of the ESIC Journey: A more Service-Innovation Inclusive Policy Mix
The journey of the European Service Innovation Centre (ESIC) started in October 2012 with the ambitious goal of demonstrating the dynamics and impact of service innovation. ESIC was also asked to assess how service innovation impacted on competitiveness, industrial structures and regional development.
ESIC’s response was to develop a set of tools such as the European Service Innovation Scoreboard and the Self-Assessment Tool. These tools were instrumental in the activities that have been carried out in, and with, the six model demonstrator regions of the Canary Islands, Emilia-Romagna, Limburg, Luxembourg, Northern Ireland and Upper Austria. They gave ESIC the opportunity to stimulate and structure a dialogue with a range of people, who were interested in promoting the development and competitiveness of their regions.
The ESIC process has helped these representatives to understand the strengths and weaknesses of their respective regions and how service innovation can be used as a lever to establish more sustainable, resilient and balanced innovation ecosystems. In addition, each model demonstrator region has implemented some of the recommendations made by ESIC and now that this process has started, its continuation needs to be nurtured and ensured.
In parallel to the specific, regional policy recommendations, ESIC has provided a raft of proposals on how to make better use of service innovation and has suggested that the following aspects should be highlighted in the design of any service innovation inclusive policies:
- It is important to identify specific domains where there is a potential for the development or inclusion of service innovation.
- Role models of service innovation should be identified and promoted. These demonstrate that service innovation can help any type of business to move up the value chain and increase its competitiveness by including integrated product-service solutions or new business models into their core offerings;
- Cross-institutional collaboration should be established, as a service innovation inclusive agenda needs the involvement of what initially may be regarded as ‘unusual actors’ in innovation policy initiatives, such as institutions and organisations working in the fields of design, culture or specific public services;
- The framework conditions that are needed to enable the implementation of a service innovation inclusive regional strategy should be considered. Such framework conditions can cover regulations, educational programmes and infrastructure developments and the strategy should outline how they need to be amended or reinforced;
- As services and business concepts are largely intangible assets, it is important to introduce a monitoring framework that can identify, follow up and measure their impacts.
An interest in ESIC has been demonstrated by other regions in Europe, and the tools developed and the recommendations drafted in the initiative could, and should, be exploited further.
In addition, the updated European Service Innovation Scoreboard now covers even more countries and regions and enables users to make comparisons between them. All European regions are encouraged to take advantage of the tools and explore how they can use service innovation as a driver of industrial transformation.