To provide a systematic approach for initiating and tracking collaborative development processes over time and inform investment decisions in multi-stakeholder environments, Future by Lund (FBL) has implemented a new model for innovation ecosystem portfolio tracking (LIEPT). The model benefits partnering stakeholders by building strategic competence for scaling solutions and working with innovation portfolios as an approach for governing and developing the ecosystem’s priority areas.
Since its start in 2013 as part of a nationally-funded programme for city-based innovation platforms, Future by Lund (FBL) has been developing its role of proactively fostering innovation activities that respond to challenges and sustainable development aims which can only be addressed in collaboration with partners – operating in between municipal and other organizational mandates acting in a multistakeholder environment. In this role as a boundary spanning, system intermediary for the local innovation ecosystem, the FBL team scouts trends and identifies opportunities, matches relevant actors and catalyzes collaborative action, and develops an innovation culture and portfolio of activities among the community of more than 100 actors (companies, universities, research institutes, innovation support actors) that (collectively) contribute to solutions for sustainable cities. When the national programme funding reached its end in 2021, one of the main tasks was to establish an organizational “home” and governance mechanisms that would enable the platform to continue and build on the results achieved. Key challenges were coordinating a portfolio of innovation activities across multiple organizations, actor groups, and thematic boundaries, as well as facilitating the strategic development and scaling of results over time. There was a need for building strategic competence and partnerships for scaling and working with innovation portfolios as an approach for developing the ecosystem’s growth areas.
With the objectives of tracking and learning from the interactive innovation processes underway in the ecosystem, and using the information to inform strategic decisions and forward-looking investments, Future by Lund (FBL) and Lund University (LU) have developed a model for tracking the portfolio of innovation activities in the ecosystem (Lund Innovation Ecosystem Portfolio Tracking – LIEPT). The LIEPT model leverages existing models and practices to map innovation activities over different development zones, to track the accumulated investments and milestones from innovation projects and activities across organisations, and to visualise data on these project portfolios to show the strength and collective impact of the ecosystem and guide its future development.
Innovation activities (existing ideas, projects or other ongoing developments that are viewed as important and where collaboration with others is essential) are mapped according to development zone, using FBL zone model and the OECD’s Observatory for Public Sector Innovation (OPSI) innovation facets model. The FBL zone model explains different organisational mandates and roles in working with innovation. The OPSI innovation facet model clarifies the strategic intent and purpose behind innovation, helping better understand and manage multi-faceted innovation processes. Together, these models are used to map the development zone of a project or innovation activity, grouping activities by thematic area or geography into portfolios – providing key characteristics of the stakeholder arrangement, overall aims and driving factors, and types of activities undertaken in three zones (yellow, green and blue).
The accumulated financial investments (in the platform and projects) and key events (or other qualitative “ripple effects”) of the ecosystem’s collaboration partners are tracked, using the layer model from Vinnova’s Vinnväxt program annual reporting, comprised of three layers of platform and project investments, and a fourth layer listing key events and system-level developments that can be linked to the financial and human resources mobilised in the first three layers. As such, this “layer model” provides a way of documenting resource alignment and ripple effects and capturing the development of the innovation ecosystem over time.
Finally, a data mining tool developed by Lund University is used to visualise this information. The visualisation of accumulated investments and events over time provides a story of collaborative action and development in an innovation ecosystem – demonstrating how the collective strength of partners’ actions have contributed to system-level transformation and impact.
Finally, the data and analysis can be tailored and used to report on KPIs for individual projects, groups of projects or developments of the ecosystem as a whole – and as an input for forward-looking strategy work.
Through LIEPT, FBL and partnering stakeholders have a more transparent and efficient approach for governance. Lund’s approach to portfolio tracking has been presented to other innovation ecosystems across Europe and will be piloted in other contexts over the coming year.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
LIEPT is a novel approach for tracking both hard and soft system-level indicators, as well as the dynamic developments of initiatives, stakeholders and assets within innovation areas where multiple stakeholders collaborate to achieve collective growth and system transformation aims. This is done through a combination of existing models and theoretical insights about innovation portfolios together with a previously untried application of continuous, real-time portfolio tracking and communication as part of learning and strategic development processes in the local innovation ecosystem.
Through LIEPT, FBL and partnering stakeholders have a better overview of collaborative activities within the innovation ecosystem in Lund; clearer processes to identify common problems or opportunities for collective action across different focus areas in the system; and input to the curation and strategic development of innovation portfolios spanning multiple actors and thematic boundaries over time.
What is the current status of your innovation?
LIEPT has been developed and implemented in two of Future by Lund’s innovation portfolios (digital cities and citizens, and moving things and people). LIEPT will be rolled out and further developed in FBL’s other portfolio areas, as well as in LU-led innovation ecosystem work.
LIEPT and has been presented to other innovation ecosystems elsewhere in Sweden and internationally – soliciting an interest in its application in other contexts. The developing team is in the process of initiating a creative commons community for continued development and application of the model.
Collaborations & Partnerships
LIEPT has been developed in collaboration between Future by Lund (FBL) and Lund University (LU), using existing methods/models from OPSI and Vinnova. FBL was the “challenge owner” and operational “testbed” for the innovation. LU contributed with interactive research, data infrastructure and support to broader dissemination and use of the approach. Companies and other stakeholders in FBL’s ecosystem were involved in developing and testing processes for portfolio mapping and strategic dialogue.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
LIEPT enables innovation ecosystem governance, strategic planning, and development.
- FBL, partnering stakeholders and investors have strategic insights about the ecosystem’s portfolios
- Stakeholders have a structured approach to identify opportunities for collaboration, and FBL has an approach to curate portfolios
- FBL (and its governing board) has an approach to track projects and activities across organisations, visualise development and collective impact, and guide future direction
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
Using the LIEPT model provides a visualised overview of the current and historic set of activities/projects, collaboration partners and investments, as well as important events and system-level effects that the ecosystem’s action has contributed to. This has resulted in a more efficient and effective approach to innovation ecosystem governance.
LIEPT provides an approach for continuous/real-time reflective monitoring and an easy input to guide strategic decisions (where activity should be directed, which and how much resources to invest). LIEPT lends legitimacy to the role of boundary spanning systemic intermediaries – providing evidence of the achievements of the ecosystem and the contributing role of facilitating platform operator.
The use of LIEPT will continue to provide such results for FBL, and also for LU-led innovation ecosystems. We expect that LIEPT will provide similar results and benefits in governing other ecosystems.
Challenges and Failures
LIEPT responds to needs for governance of innovation ecosystems and provides value in its use. Yet for ecosystems to be able to use the model, they must already have strong trust and partnerships to access system stakeholders. Additional challenges include: time consuming collection of data (follow-on projects and other ripple effects), need for specialised data management resources (to develop the database and visualisations more quickly), and broader understanding and “up-take” of new governance processes on the level of the innovation ecosystem.
Conditions for Success
There are several clear conditions for success in the use and further development of LIEPT:
- Existing trust and open dialogue within the ecosystem (including cross-sectorial)
- Leadership and continued allocation of resources from developing partners for development and use of the approach
- Additional human and financial resources to expand the data/data management infrastructure, as well as to document and spread the user interface - guiding the use of LIEPT in other innovation ecosystems (dissemination)
- Contribution of human (and financial) resources from a broader “creative commons community” for continued development, test and use in other innovation ecosystems
We are currently using the model for tracking the overall portfolio in two thematic areas in Future by Lund and have included use of the model in several project applications (where Future by Lund and/or Lund University are partners). Presentations of LIEPT to Vinnova and representatives from other innovation ecosystems in Sweden and elsewhere in Europe have solicited interest in its replication/use in other contexts. To address this demand, the team intends to initiate a “creative commons community”.
It’s difficult to access private data; sharing information (and not claiming results) is key.
Building the story in a structured way, and then visualising results (for the collection of activities in a portfolio and for the collection of portfolios in an ecosystem) is extremely impactful.
Incorporating multiple aspects (relations, facilitated workshops, strategic dialogue, structured documentation, data mining and reporting/sharing stories) in a governance model has been useful.
The model is a collaborative creation within the partnership of the innovation platform Future by Lund. Development and implementation of the model was done both by the managing team at Future by Lund (represented by Peter Kisch and Katarina Scott), and by the members of Lund University’s collaboration office (represented by Emily Wise, Charlotte Lorentz Hjorth, Martin Stankovski and Farhad Abbas Pour Khotbehsara).
- Implementation - making the innovation happen
26 January 2023