Innovation Camp Methodology Handbook

Publication article | | Gabriel Rissola, Hank Kune, Paolo Martinez

This Handbook is conceived to encourage regions and cities from all over Europe to adopt the Innovation Camps methodology as a tool to address collectively and effectively societal and economic challenges concerning local societies in a European context – notably in the field of Research and Innovation Smart Specialisation Strategies (RIS3) – through an open, collaborative and inclusive Entrepreneurial Discover Process (EDP) between Quadruple Helix actors (i.e. government, industry, academia, and civil society).


This Methodology Handbook describes key success factors for organising and running Innovation Camps. Innovation Camps are a condensed process in which economic, social, technological, cultural and environmental challenges can be addressed at policy, strategy and/or operational levels, and how they can be tackled and ‘solved’ innovatively by key Quadruple Helix stakeholders and experts.

This Handbook is conceived as a tool for regional and urban policy makers to decide whether and – in which circumstances – to organise an Innovation Camp, and for practitioners to design and run it. It describes where and when to hold an Innovation Camp, the key roles and responsibilities of organisers and participants, and how the methodology works in practice. There are descriptions of factors to consider before, during, and after running a Camp, and tips to help organisers and facilitators in designing an effective process.
The Handbook guides the reader through the history and state-of-the-art of this open and effective method – a method that has already been applied, with a success, in 10 countries and that is now being adapted to accelerate the Entrepreneurial Discovery Processes for implementing Smart Specialisation Strategies in Europe.

Policy context

Six years ago, the European Commission launched Smart Specialisation as a new powerful policy approach for territorial, place-based development; through the years it has become a catalyst for economic transformation towards smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Today, in the words of Corina Creţu, European Commissioner for Regional and Urban Policy, Smart Specialisation represents “the most comprehensive policy experience on implementing innovation-driven progress”.
Following our publication on Implementing Smart Specialisation Strategies – A Handbook in 2016 (from where the Commissioner’s words are cited), and in support of “the collaborative work of public authorities, businesses, researchers and civil society” that have made this happen, we present this Innovation Camps Methodology Handbook as a further step to support the implementation of Smart Specialisation strategies. In particular, the methodology presented here is intended to contribute to strengthening the Entrepreneurial Discovery Process and accelerating its active use. This can be achieved thanks to its Open Innovation 2.0-type of co-creation procedure and interaction between Quadruple Helix actors in a concentrated period of time (2 or 3 days), which helps narrow down broad priorities and transform them into concrete interventions.

Key messages

Innovating is a tough job, even more so if the innovation has a societal dimension, involving government, citizens, knowledge institutions, and industry. It requires effective instruments, good communication, real learning, and active openness between different stakeholders. The Innovation Camp is an agile answer to collaboration in the Quadruple Helix and an effective tool to accelerate dealing with challenges in the (territorial) innovation ecosystem, thereby increasing the potential impact of innovation.
At Innovation Camps, challenges posed by the key stakeholders themselves are identified, refined, seen from different perspectives and by diverse participants, who transform them into opportunities that can be further developed and realised in practice.

The Handbook describes the learning from seven years of running Innovation Camps, and looks forward to new possible applications of the methodology in the future.

Related and future JRC work

This Handbook is part of the efforts of the JRC Unit on Territorial Development (B.3) to provide guidance and support to stakeholders for the implementation of their Research & Innovation Smart Specialisation Strategies (RIS3). In particular, it aims to adapt, improve and systematise the Aalto Camp for Societal Innovation (ACSI) methodology for its application in the Entrepreneurial Discovery Process (EDP) needed for the design and implementation of such strategies and, more broadly, to apply it in innovation processes for regional and urban development.

This work of the JRC Smart Specialisation Platform (hosted by B.3) also encompasses the experimentation with – and the documentation of – other participatory and co-creation methodologies. The intention is to put useful tools and resources at the disposal of regional and local authorities in order to realise the EDP in an effective manner in their territories, making concrete a concept that may otherwise be seen as a too academic or too difficult to put in practice.

Quick guide

The Handbook can be read as a story, as a hypertext and as a cookbook. Using the Table of Contents, policy makers can explore the Camp concept, the impressions of politicians, policy makers and senior civil servants who have experienced the Camp, the diverse background issues, and the methodology; and practitioners can dive directly into the “who-is-who” section about Camp roles and the “how-to” section about preparing and running a Camp.


S3 Handbooks

Innovation Camp Methodology Handbook.pdf
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