Demola is a co-creation programme between students and external organizations to deliver challenge-oriented ideas. It was created in 2008 within the innovation ecosystem of Tampere, Finland, thanks to the collaboration of municipality, local universities and the private sector. Building on a question or concept brought forward by the organization, Demola makes use of its extensive network of universities to select a multidisciplinary team of students that will complement the company’s current expertise.
Demola offers the externalization of facilitation functions to access a larger collaborative network. Present in 17 countries and with over 50 universities being part of the framework, it can benefit organizations by delivering highly effective co-creative projects with multidisciplinary groups that improve the quality of the research. For students, it allows them to experience high pressured environments, with the added recognition in the form of university credits.
Demola embraces the need for multidisciplinary approaches for the educational community as well as public and private enterprises. Evolving around the concept of global megatrends, Demola reckons no organization can succeed without connected thinking. One of the priorities for Demola is to provide a co-creative ecosystem that is fair and reasonable for students. In order to achieve that, proposals from the challenges belong to the team, with the possibility for organizations to invest in the development of those concepts. The succession of feedback and internal assessment culminated in the development of New Factory in 2012, which operates as a hub for open innovation activity and Demola’s local co-creation centre.
OBJECTIVES AND IMPACTS
The structure designed by the Demola team presents clear roles of students and organizations through the process. The nature of this framework protects the engagement of students and enhances the impact of their input in the project. By encouraging this equality in the dynamics within the group, Demola creates an environment that optimizes outcome via lack of hierarchy.
For example, enterprises have the opportunity to purchase exclusive usage rights to the results of the project. This distribution of ownership reinforces the direct relationship between students and organizations, with Demola providing a framework to regulate their negotiation for the usage of intellectual property.
The Demola program is a unique and innovative initiative connecting students with organizations in order to find creative solutions through collaborative partnerships. Some of the program objectives are:
- Offer professional facilitation for companies to participate in co-creative activities, encouraging existing employees of public and private enterprises to experiment through co-creation with university students.
- Develop a wider understanding of complex urban challenges, exposing the municipality to different perspectives and diversifying their approach through innovative thinking.
- Offer a structure for students to access development opportunities outside the standard channels offered by their institutions, including new work methods and a different range of professional expertise, in order to cultivate skillsets that will equip them for their future career.
- Provide a platform that connects the interests of companies and universities, allowing employees of enterprises to grow their skills while enhancing the teaching activities of the HEI.
Demola’s approach to collaboration sets itself apart thanks to the priority given to the relationship between students and organizations. This direct communication facilitates a greater focus on the specific challenge proposed by the partner. The Demola Alliance and its international reach allows companies to access a much larger pool of talent. The externalization of facilitation services provides a homogeneous co-creative process, optimized to the expectations of municipalities and businesses. The multifaceted, supportive, and expansive ecosystem created can be a valuable reference point for similar initiatives in the future.