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Laboranova shows how the early phase of innovation can be shaped in future

On 8 July at BIBA: Final Conference of EU project / Research partners present results of ten million Euro project at the University of Bremen

There is a task or a problem, and many competences are required to find the solution. Ideas are needed - from your own company, from the cooperation partners, from other companies and countries. How are they to be brought together intelligently, fast, as easy as possible, and with optimum results? Nineteen partners from nine nations dedicated themselves to this question in the "Laboranova" project (Collaboration Environment for Strategic Innovation) and will present their findings on 8 July, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., in the scope of a final conference to be held at Bremer Institut für Produktion und Logistik GmbH (BIBA) at the University of Bremen.

The so-called "Integrated Project" has a volume of 10.3 million Euros and was funded by the EU with 7 million Euros. It was conducted from 1 June 2006 to 30 June 2010 and coordinated by university researchers in Bremen, Germany - under the auspices of Professor Klaus-Dieter Thoben, head of the BIBA research unit concerned with information and communication technology (ICT) applications for production and Director of Integrated Product Development at the Department of Production Engineering.

Whoever wants to secure his advantage over competitors in a globalised economy must rely on innovations. The latter constitute the main source for economic success, while interdisciplinary, cross-company, and transnational cooperation is gaining more and more importance. Here, the proverb saying that too many cooks spoil the broth was given up a long time ago. On the contrary: the "cooks" are able to achieve peak results and do not even have to work together in one and the same "kitchen". With a tactical approach and the right tools at their disposal, this will be possible, and this is exactly what the "Laboranova" project is all about. It is mainly concerned with the early phase of the innovation process, particularly focusing on the creative brainstorming process, the connection between humans and knowledge objects, plus the assessment and evaluation of ideas.

Models, processes and tools were created by means of international cooperation. In their work, the "Laboranova" project partners from science and industry set their sights on exploiting and supporting social and technical circumstances, qualifications, and joint infrastructures in order to generate innovative ideas systematically for common use.

Klaus-Dieter Thoben: "The quality and the quantity of collaborations are about to change!"

"The tools and methods developed in the course of 'Laboranova' support the concept of an open innovation process. Applications are especially focused on the so-called Living Labs, explains Alexander Hesmer, "Laboranova" project supervisor at BIBA. In simple words, Living Labs are very openly designed knowledge networks. Their main concern is efficient collaboration and an optimum use of internal and external information. Among other aspects, organising and designing the information flows belong to the essential problems to be mastered by Living Labs, efforts which require information and communication technologies.

In the structural centre of collaborative working environments (CWE) - as were further developed by "Laboranova" - are therefore ICT tools that support work assignments in the early, creative phase of the innovation process.

"New CWE generations have to support the break-up of linear work processes, manage the transfer of know-how and, for example, concomitantly integrate sociocultural dynamics into the processes. They also have to be capable of including a large number of people with most variable backgrounds," says Thoben and risks a view into the future. "In the very early phases of innovation processes, both the quality and the quantity of collaborations among the various stakeholders are about to change and massively increase the innovation output of companies and organisations." In ivory towers, we won't be able to cope with the requirements of a globalised world.


Professor Klaus Dieter Thoben (BIBA, Director of the Research Unit Application of Information and Communication Technologies in Production - IKAP) Phone: 0421 218-55 12, E-mail: tho@biba.uni-bremen.de

Alexander Hesmer (BIBA, "Laboranova" Project Supervisor) Phone: 0421 218-55 32, E-mail: hes@biba.uni-bremen.de

idw :: 06.07.2010