The Baltic Dynamics conference is an initiative of the Baltic Association of Science/Technology Parks and Innovation Centres – BASTIC - and has been held annually since its inception in 1996. The conference venue is rotated between the Baltic States – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. In 2013, there was a turn for Latvia and the conference was held in the country’s capital Riga, the largest city in the Baltic States on September 11-13.
The previous experience shows that participants of the Baltic Dynamics Conferences are professionals, experts and persons directly involved or just interested in the dynamic innovation and entrepreneurship development. Usually they are leaders of innovative companies, managers of science/technology parks and business incubators, public authorities responsible for innovation in the region, venture capital organisations, etc.
The topic of the Baltic Dynamics 2013 Conference was “Competence Building for Smart Growth: Challenges and Opportunities” and was in line with the new European Union approved strategic documents “Europe 2020” and “Innovation Union”. The Conference organizers had chosen such topic since in Latvia and other Baltic countries as well there was no clear understanding between “to know the subject” (scientists, researchers, professors) and “to understand the subject ,i.e., be competent” (technology developers, product managers, technology transfer intermediaries). The first group has substantial knowledge on the certain subject but the second - competence in how to implement this knowledge into practice. That is why the following topics were chosen for discussions:
- Knowledge and research, competence and innovation – are they the elements of the same chain?
- Role of Universities in competence building.
- Role of Science / Technology Parks in competence building.
- How to translate knowledge into competence?
- Knowledge creation, technology transfer, experience sharing, national and international cooperation, partnerships – key factors for the successful business development.
- Innovation management – how to manage the knowledge flow in the right direction, how to strengthen links between universities and industry, what financial instruments we can offer and what we needed? Experience and recommendations.
- Overall competence – the indicator of the efficiency of National Innovation System.
Conference Baltic Dynamics 2013 in Riga, Latvia was very good attended and had a great success. There were 271 registered delegates from 24 countries and 70 presentations were delivered.
Traditional approach for conferences in Latvia is to invite speakers from USA who have different way of thinking in terms of innovation in comparison with European ones. This year the key-note speakers from USA were Richard Bendis (President Innovation America). Debra Amidon (President Entovation International), Isak Bukhman (Director TRIZ Solutions LLC) and Barbara Harley (Director of Harley Consulting, Silicon Valley).
There were also outstanding presentations from European and outside Europe countries – Denise Heiligers and Jose Puigpelat (European Commission), Takis Damaskopoulos (France), Piero Formica (Italy), Mehmet Barca (Turkey), Heinz Fiedler and Jonathan Loeffler (Germany), Yoshihisa Konishi (Japan), Siemon Smid (the Netherlands) and others. On the Final Plenary session in the concluding part “Country reports” substantial analysis of the innovation system in Latvia and how to improve it gave the President of the Innovators Union of Latvia prof. Ivars Kalvins.
The main statements gain from the Conference could be summarized as the following:
- very important role in the development of the national innovation system should be addressed to the intermediary organizations (R.Bendis);
- the Baltic States should join their efforts to create common knowledge and innovation management system to be in line with the global economic development processes (D.Amidon);
- politicians responsible for the economic development in the country have to understand that creation of flexible and favourable for entrepreneurship national innovation system should be the main strategy for countries sustainable growth and lack of money is not the key issue: “if you would have the all money in the world does it leads to innovation? No!” (H.Fiedler);
- you have to change the mind-set in universities in relation of technology transfer (S.Smid);
- “when the wind of change come, some people build walls, other build windmills – the choice is yours” (P.Formica).
On the Baltic Dynamics 2013 conference opening ceremony welcome addresses were given by the Minister of Economics Daniels Pavluts, representative from European Commission Daniele Heiligers, Ambassador of USA in Latvia Mark Pekala and President of the Baltic Assembly Raimonds Vejonis.
After the Conference participants visited the “Garden of Destiny” on the island on river Daugava, the biggest river in Baltics. They took a part in the national style ceremony of planting the “Innovation tree (oak tree) for Latvia’s future”. All of them expressed the best wishes and a hope that in year 2018 when Latvia will celebrate the 100 year anniversary this holy pace will be really flourishing garden and Latvia’s economy will be strongly based on a strategy leading to innovation.
Day before the Conference BASTIC (Baltic Association of Science/Technology Parks and Innovation Centers) representing Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, TEKEL (Finnish Science Park Association) representing Finland and SISP (Swedish Incubators & Science Parks) representing Sweden signed a memorandum of understanding to tighten the cooperation between innovation communities in the region. According to the memorandum of understanding BASTIC, TEKEL and SISP agree to jointly develop and intensify the cooperation of innovation communities in Baltic Sea region. The key points define the implementation of common regional activities and making common statements for local and international agencies or organizations for the benefit of technology based entrepreneurial community in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden and Finland.
Next year the Baltic Dynamics Conference will take place in Tartu, Estonia.
Dr. Janis Stabulnieks
Chairman of Baltic Dynamics 2013 Organizing Committee
Managing Director of Latvian Technological Center