Regional Exchange between Karlsruhe (Karlsruhe Technology Region), Germany and Tampere (Pirkanmaa), Finland 

Written by Lukas Kurzmann

21 February 2024

In the first months of the TetRRIS project, it became clear that the pilot regions of Karlsruhe (Germany) and Tampere (Finland) are similar in many aspects. In autumn 2021, various representatives of the regions met for online exchanges to take a closer look at these similarities. These meetings served several purposes. Firstly, they intended to personally introduce members of the organisations who were not themselves part of the main TetRRIS project teams, but who should nevertheless be included in the regional exchange. Secondly, they served to better familiarise the members of the two organisations with each other’s structures, and the organisations’ members who were not part of the main TetRRIS project teams political and policy processes, including the mission and tasks of the organisations. Thirdly, they served to identify common concerns and areas of interest on which to build a more intensive collaboration and exchange in the future. 

Despite the institutional structure and setup differences, Karlsruhe and Tampere agreed on a pilot activity to establish a network to improve transparency and inter-European collaboration and promote institutional change within regional development organisations through the exchange of knowledge, ideas, and experiences between regions. 

At the beginning of 2022, several brainstorming workshops were held with various partners to work out common areas of interest for possible cooperation. During the further course of the TetRRIS project, it was learned that there are already established connections between the regions. The already existing experiences between the regions were explored in discussions with the stakeholders and incorporated into further planning. In particular, the Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) themes of participation and responsibility and their different aspects/dimensions stood out.  

In parallel to finding common interests, the exchange with the annual High-Level Forum (HLF) organisers began. The forum brings together international leaders and decision-makers from innovative ecosystems to promote global and local innovation in different areas of society. In 2022, the 11th edition of the HLF on the theme “How local & regional innovation ecosystems support 2030 global objectives” took place from the 6th to the 9th of November in Tampere, Finland. While TechnologieRegion Karlsruhe GmbH (TRK) has been involved in the HLF several times in the past, the event in Tampere was the first occasion for the Council of Tampere Region, and other TetRRIS partners to get involved in the event. 

The 2022 edition of the HFL suited well to the ambitions and approaches of TetRRIS, bearing in mind that the HLF consortium agreed on the importance of responsibility in innovation to achieve the 2030 Global Goals and held the first day under the theme responsibility in innovation. In June 2022, the TetRRIS team members of TechnologieRegion Karlsruhe GmbH (TRK), Council of Tampere Region, and Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT), in collaboration with the University of Oxford / OxLEP from the HLF community started planning the workshop. 

While the preparations for HLF event were progressing at full speed, the representatives from Karlsruhe and Tampere met in a TetRRIS policy lab in Brussels in mid-October 2022. The regions got inspired by the locally represented ecosystems introduced during the European Week of Regions & Cities. The focus of the week was the regional exchange between the individual institutions in the regions.  

Finally, the 11th HLF on “How local & regional innovation ecosystems support 2030 global objectives” arrived in early November 2022. At the event, the two TetRRIS partner regions represented themselves alongside nearly 30 innovation ecosystems from 5 continents. The TetRRIS project enabled us to plan and implement a workshop on one of the important dimensions of RRI, namely “How can engagement enhance responsibility?” Not only did we learn interesting stories of innovation ecosystems’ practices for stakeholder engagement in the workshop but over 120 participants of the HLF helped to shape a more responsible and sustainable future. In addition to mingling and networking, the delegations from Karlsruhe and Tampere met for an in-person exchange to identify common interests and make plans to continue the collaboration. 

After the mixed and exciting year in 2022, the exchange between Karlsruhe Technology Region and Tampere Region was a great success. Both regions were able to gather new ideas on how to deal with, for example, the shortage of skilled workers, the mobility and energy transition, neighbourhood development, etc. All these findings will be considered for regional development in the regional development strategies. 

In 2023, the two regions want to create a basis to remain in continuous exchange and to learn from each other even after the TetRRIS project. 

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