OIC.Progress - the final event!

Open innovation has a lasting future in Bielefeld, as the ceremonial conclusion of the Open Innovation City Bielefeld project showed. Around 250 guests attended the innovation festival at Lenkwerk.

Bielefeld is becoming a Germany-wide role model for innovation and interdisciplinary networking at city level

The Open Innovation City (OIC) project has invited around 250 guests to the big closing event at Bielefeld's Lenkwerk on November 17, 2023. After 4.5 years, the research project funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (MWIKE) will come to an end in December 2023. The conclusion of the project is intended to mark the beginning of the continuation of the open innovation concept in Bielefeld.

The four initiators, the Fachhochschule des Mittelstands (FHM), the Founders Foundation, the Pioneers Club and the industry network owl maschinenbau e.V., launched the initiative to make cities and regions fit for the future through the principle of open innovation. One of the declared aims was to strengthen the interdisciplinary networking of urban society in order to solve the major challenges of our time, as well as to develop an open culture of innovation and thus also strengthen the attractiveness of the location for skilled workers.

Dr. Henning Duderstadt, Head of the Innovation Office Open Innovation City, summarized at the start of the innovation conference at 10:00 a.m.: "We have used four and a half years to develop, test in the pilot city of Bielefeld, discard options and further optimize the successful. In these approximately 1,600 days, we were able to set an important starting point and anchor the principle of open innovation in and with urban society in Bielefeld and the region."

How did OIC get started?

Under the patronage of Bielefeld's Lord Mayor Pit Clausen, the project opened its project office on the Alter Markt in 2021, from where it tackled topics relevant to the city such as smart city, mobility, sustainability and care. In cooperation with the city administration, companies, start-ups, universities, associations and interested citizens, a lively ecosystem of partners, formats and initiatives grew. International business collaborations have also been established, for example with the Finnish city of Tampere and Alkmaar in the Netherlands - both are characterized by a large SME landscape with a focus on mechanical and plant engineering.

Numerous players from the innovation ecosystem came together in Bielefeld last Friday. These included Prof. Dr. Ingo Ballschmieter (FHM) and Almut Rademacher (owl maschinenbau), who co-founded the project and spoke about the relevance of open innovation for SMEs. "Framework conditions and technological developments are so complex that hardly any company can do without impetus and expertise from outside. However, the implementation of open innovation must be individually designed in each company," said Ballschmieter, who is also the Scientific Director of OIC. What results has the project achieved?

How many and which stones were set in motion during this time became clear over the course of the day at the innovation conference. More than 30 workshops, keynote speeches, keynote speeches and best-practice insights took the 250 or so participants on a journey into the diversity of innovation. From education to design, from Finland to North Holland - all facets, focal points and insights of Open Innovation City Bielefeld came together over the course of the day.

All interested parties were able to see for themselves the advantages of an innovation-open city during an interactive innovation exhibition. This was complemented by the final pitches of a hackathon organized by OIC, which were thematically oriented towards the major city topics. 'Instead of talking - shape the city' was the central slogan of the OIC.hack. The wildcard for the Founders Foundation's next Startup School went to the WaterProphet team. In collaboration with Phoenix Contact, they developed an idea and a prototype for the SMARTCITY challenge in just 2.5 days and answered the question: How can urban green spaces be irrigated more efficiently? Their application for data analysis and evaluation is intended to actively reshape the city.

This was followed by the ceremonial and formal conclusion of the project. Karin Schrader, Mayor of the City of Bielefeld, opened with her welcoming address and summarized: "This project finale is the beginning of sustainability for our city. And: Bielefeld has fun with fresh ideas! The Open Innovation City Bielefeld project has shown how innovations can take all parts of the city into account and put people at the center. We are not at the mercy of major social developments: We can actively shape them with networking, collaboration and participation. We are anchoring the developments initiated by OIC permanently in the city."

Silke Krebs, State Secretary in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Protection and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, emphasized: "The world is becoming ever more complex and presents us with new challenges ever more quickly. Open innovation is the key to constantly finding new and successful solutions: this is the only way to take all areas into account and achieve social acceptance!"

What's next for Open Innovation City?

It was and is important to the initiators of the project that the final event does not mark the end of an open innovation culture in the city of Bielefeld - quite the opposite: the name of the event, OIC.Progress was not chosen without good reason. After their review of the results, the initiators invited Jens Edler, Head of the Digitization Office, to the stage. He announced that the city of Bielefeld was so convinced by the results of the project that it would like to incorporate the key project tools into its administrative structures and continue with them.

The mood afterwards was correspondingly good: In a relaxed atmosphere and with live music, the participants had the opportunity to discuss the next joint projects straight away. "To promote the further networking of the ecosystem", as the initiators assured.

Click here for the pictures >>


To top