Borås takes shape as an idea factory

"Innovation Platform Borås" is run by Borås City, the University of Borås, Borås Energy and Environment, and RISE, and aims to create a better environment for working towards sustainable urban development in Borås. The work is done through projects and the platform continuously receives project and idea requests from researchers, entrepreneurs, municipal employees, and individuals.

Innovation Platform Borås
"Innovation Platform Borås" is run by Borås City, the University of Borås, Borås Energy and Environment, and RISE.

The platform is a continuation of "Innovation Platform Norrby", a project that took place in 2013-2015 and was run by the same group. Within the platform, the district of Norrby was seen as a living lab, where new solutions in the form of, for example, new waste systems, were researched together with inhabitants in Norrby.

The new phase focuses on the whole of Borås.

The project is funded by Vinnova for three years, 2016-2018. Nationally, six platforms are established (Stockholm, Malmö, Gothenburg, Lund, Kiruna, and Borås).

"The purpose of the projects is to benefit society; there must be a connection to society at large. For example, it may be to create new services that simplify the everyday lives of residents," says Heiti Ernits, researcher at RISE and deputy project manager in the platform.

Agnes Nagy is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Resource Recovery and Building Technology at the University of Borås, and participates as a researcher in the platform. She believes that "Innovation Platform Borås" provides the opportunity to get to know the structures of other organisations and authorities, which is important both in education and in research.

"The Innovation Platform is an infrastructure for collaboration. It gives researchers an opportunity to hear what society needs and wants. It's a great way to get inspired and get ideas about what research can help with. Our educational programmes are always matched to fit society's needs, but this is not always the case with research. In addition, close contact with the politicians is fostered via the platform, which makes it easier to establish projects," says Agnes Nagy.

Examples of projects in the platform:

Kraftsamling Sjöbo, start 2017
The district of Sjöbo in Borås has had declining figures for early death, income, employment rate, participation in associations and elections, while at the same time crime has been increasing.

Politicians have agreed to join forces to reverse the negative trend. Within the project, knowledge and results will be scaled up locally and nationally.

The knowledge and results from "Kraftsamling Sjöbo" will be used within "Innovation Platform Borås" to strengthen Borås City's innovative capacity. The University of Borås will document the knowledge that is gained in Sjöbo, which provides an opportunity for learning that can be spread in the city as well as nationally and contribute to the knowledge development when it comes to innovation management in cities.

The project is run by "Innovation Platform Borås" in collaboration with the University of Borås, Borås City, Science Park Borås, Drivhuset, and RISE.

Innovative recycling stations, start 2015
The purpose of this project is to develop new ideas about how to develop an attractive and innovative recycling station, in this case at Kransmossen in Borås. According to a survey conducted in the project, it appears that the most important factors for having a good experience when depositing packaging material at a recycling station is that the bins are not full and that there are easy-to-understand signs indicating which material is to be disposed of where.

An idea that has been tested in the project is that the bins have been provided with QR codes, which residents can use to report if a bin is full. The QR code reporting is linked to a Twitter account. Another idea that has been tested is new clear signs with colour codes, making it easier to understand which packaging material is to be disposed of in any particular bin.

The project is run by Borås Energy and Environment in collaboration with RISE, the University of Borås, and the Packaging and Newspaper Collection (FTI for its initials in Swedish, or Förpacknings- och Tidningsinsamlingen).

Generally, there are many projects today in which the results are not implemented, due in part to all the obstacles that are not solved through the project, something that the Innovation Platform wants to change.

The projects included in the platform are not run by the platform, but receive support and assistance during the run of the project.

"We follow the projects and learn from them, we can also go in and give support by helping to find the right skills and partners or helping with extra resources if needed," says Heiti Ernits.

All meetings, visits and requests that come in for the project group are statistically tracked to show that the platform is needed.

"The fact is that if nobody sees the platform's benefits and why it exists, we cannot prove we are doing a necessary job, and the platform will not exist," says Heiti Ernits.

But that the platform is beneficial is something he already knows.

"We have been up and running for almost two years now, and we aim for a permanent organisation that can stand on its own two feet in the future. Then the idea is that the organisation will work with innovation, knowledge, and development, which will be done in close collaboration with academia."

Text Annie Klasén
Illustration Jacqueline Forzelius
Translation Eva Medin