If we knew then what we know now: Reflecting on Regional Connect

regional-connect-logo-new In this month’s edition of the SAIS newsletter, we asked the regional projects that are supported by SAIS, to provide us with some feedback on how they have experienced the process of establishing and implementing their projects cross-border.  Our call to projects revealed some fascinating insights.  Due to space constraints we keep these short of the newsletter.  Now we share with you the full interviews so that you can gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by the regional projects, how (and if!) they overcame these, and the resounding successes that they achieved.  First in the series is online matching platform Regional Connect.

If you were setting up Regional Connect all over again, what – if anything – would you do differently?

The Regional Connect (RC) project was piloted to build and test an open innovation mediation model across the region.  The aim was not only to inspire innovation but also to support the uptake and commercialisation of ideas through partnerships and capacity building. As such, the RC aimed to fast-track the innovation process by stimulating networks and enabling partnerships with previously unknown innovators.  To achieve optimal results, the success of stakeholder engagement and building an ecosystem, not only to run challenges, but to actively engage and stimulate in the innovation conversation, was crucial.

This is however the most time consuming and challenging part of such a project and looking back over the pilot year, I would have wanted project participants to be more focussed on this and to have concluded the project with strong partnerships in place.  However, in saying this, I acknowledge that this project had to be built from scratch, working with a team that first of all did not know each other (across borders) and that mostly had little or no experience in the field of open innovation, chasing tangible project milestones, dealing with challenging circumstances with regards to communication and geographical distances, and that this greatly changed the initial focus of the project.

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