Quadruple Helix reports

QH-reports-2011-7
Quadruple Helix reports 2011:7 (swedish)

Quadruple Helix som metod för att främja kvinnors företagande
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QH-reports-2011-6
Quadruple Helix reports 2011:6

Documentaion of Study visits within the Quadruple project and
Benchlearning report
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QH-reports-2011-5
Quadruple Helix reports 2011:5

Empowering women’s entrepreneurship – to establish bottom-up innovation systems. The case of cycling tourism in Norrtälje region.
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QH-reports-2011-4
Quadruple Helix reports 2011:4

Dissemination conference 29-30 August 2011, Kärdla, Hiiumaa
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QH-reports-2011-3
Quadruple Helix reports 2011:3

A Gender Equal Cluster initiative – practical experiences from the Quadruple Helix project.
qh_report_2011-3_webb

qh-report-2011-2
Quadruple Helix reports 2011:2

Bridging the gender gap in entrepreneurship through NGO’s. A study of a Quadruple Helix innovation system project in the Baltic Sea region
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QH-reports-2011-1
Quadruple Helix reports 2011:1

A Study of the Conditions for Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Estonian Entrepreneurial Environment
qh-report-2011_1_kikkas

QH-reports-2010-6
Quadruple Helix reports 2010:6

A framework for the integration of a gender perspecitve in cross-border entrepreneurship and cluster promotion programmes.
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QH-reports-2010-5
Quadruple Helix reports 2010:5

The gender and entrepreneurship gap in Estonia, Finland and Sweden
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QH-reports-2010-4
Quadruple Helix reports 2010:4

The role of NGOs in supporting women’s entrepreneurship. A study of a Quadruple Helix project in the Baltic sea region.
QH-report-2010-4-isbn

QH-reports-2010-3
Quadruple Helix reports 2010:3

Notions of gender in contextual interviews. Workpackage report.
QH-report-2010-3-isbn

QH-reports-2010-2
Quadruple Helix reports 2010:2

Cluster promotion and mobile services for the tourism industry.
Seminar report.
QH-report-2010-2-isbn

QH-reports-2010-1
Quadruple Helix reports 2010:1

Women, Innovation, Social networking. Search conference report.
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QH app MobiTourist Now available on both iPhone and Android devices

Quadruple Helix app MobiTourist: discover Turku Archipelago, Roslagen and West Estonia is now available on both AppStore (iPhone) and Google Market (Android).

The iPhone app is available online at the following link: http://goo.gl/dlfbt

You can get a iPhone app QR Code to print and share at the following link: http://goo.gl/dlfbt.qr

The Android app is available online at the following link: http://goo.gl/CcqGi

You can get a Andoid app QR Code to print and share at the following link: http://goo.gl/CcqGi.qr

Be aware that URL are case sensitive, if you plan to copy them.

Quadruple Helix closing

On 31 December 2011, the project Quadruple Helix Central Baltic was completed. Participated did eight partners in three countries. The project has resulted in a mobile application, a local tourism venture on the bike paths in Roslagen and dozens of very interesting reports on women’s entrepreneurship, clusters and equality in the Baltic region.

You can read more about the results on the project website www.balticfem.com/quadruple

Workshop: How to promote female entrepreneurship and clustering?

Results of their group works were as follows:

Group I

  • Bottom up start. It’s important to know what entrepreneurs need. What do they think is important?
  • Interested parties, actors shall join from the beginning. There were too many ideas and objectives from the beginning, quite unclear
  • “one spider in the web” –necessary to have a project coordinator, one leader who can push forward everything
  • For support structure – listen to the entrepreneurs
  • It’s important to be more flexible
  • Start from existing platform which should be developed further and then build from there
  • The process should be less bureaucratic

Group II

  • Important to have a common webpage which can serve as a platform. A good example is: www.visitestonia.ee in six languages as well as a mobile guide. This website is a web based platform. Through this platform marketing and clustering is possible. The biggest problem is funding. Sometimes funds can even “decide” a direction of activities (what you can do and what you can’t do)
  • Example, NGO Läänemaa Tourism – they have a website, local organisations are members of a big Lääme Eesti islands.

The groups came to the conclusion that in all three countries clustering is on different stages. In Estonia: at one location entrepreneurs cooperate with each other. The smaller the place is the more difficult is it with clustering. For example, one hotel is full and a tourist is not directed to another hotel. At another location (Saaremaa), entrepreneurs cooperate with targets but not with each other. At a third location there is a problem to get entrepreneurs’ services. Nature is for tourism but if one wants tourists to come back one should offer them something more than just nature, for example a proper catering (catering is in a bad stage). Entrepreneurs complain that there is no incentive for them to provide their services. Here clustering is essential; entrepreneurs should cooperate with each other (one offers dinner, second –lunch etc).

Workshop: How do we continue the cross border cluster from here?

For successful business one needs customers as they generate the money. Unfortunately, women entrepreneurs in general are not so good in selling to the right price (pricing). But they are good in networking. In order to understand why networking is essential Lena divided the participants at the conference in four working groups and asked them to discuss how they are going to work together and with what.

 

GROUP 1

Initial point for the first group was sightseeing. According to the participants in this group one should focus on events and sightseeing. There can be different cooperation options depending on the type of holiday tourist wishes to spend: yachting, biking, fishing, walking, picking barriers, spa, etc .

On the question how they are going to work they underlined that together they will have strength, information, contacts/networks, added values, and more customers.

GROUP 2

The second group focused on cross-border tourism/vacation. They underlined that there is an increased interest in active vacations combined with food experiences and spa. They consider a Jump on-off possibility as the most suitable option for their target groups. The desirable target groups would consist of ten persons. They believe that the Quadruple app is a means to efficient and easy marketing for tourists. They also underlined the importance of benchmarking.

GROUP 3

The third group believed through the cooperation they will learn about each other and with each other (training, seminars). It’s essential to exchange knowledge, ideas and experience and especially bad experiences. One good idea would be to have a common forum or council for improvement of ideas. They should promote each other’s business which will lead to more income. Lobbing was also considered as a part of success.

GROUP 4

The forth group concluded that networking is important for sharing customers. They considered rich people as main customers as from an Estonian perspective the middle-class can’t afford travelling in three countries during one holiday. Another group of customers could be people with a very specific interest (for example photographing). The target group might be from other countries than the Quadruple regions, for instance Germany, USA, Holland etc.

SUMMARY OF THE WORKSHOP

For successful business the following is needed:

  • Coaching in each country
  • Strong cooperation
  • Good website
  • build upon the MobiTourist app
  • Experience exchange
  • Trainings, seminars and discussions
  • Common packages
  • Common products
  • Something concrete to build the networking and clustering on

A study of the conditions for women’s entrepreneurship in the Estonian Entrepreneurial environment

The backgrounds of the women were very different (turnover of the companies, experience and age of entrepreneurs, branch, etc). For the methodology, a qualitative method with semi-structured interviews were used. All interviews were recorded and documented. In addition, data from the Statistical Office, results from studies carried out by the Ministry of Social Affairs, and other various studies that examine women’s entrepreneurship in Estonia were used. The methodology was framed by the project partner: Royal Institute of Technology (KTH).

The study showed that the question of gender equality is not very important for Estonian female entrepreneurs as opportunities for starting up own business are felt to be the same for everyone, regardless of their gender.

One of the reasons for this perceived attitude is that not a particular sex but rather independence, activity, desire and social skills are required for an entrepreneur to be successful. Basically, it’s an entrepreneur him/herself who can create attractive conditions for business. In rural areas there are many female entrepreneurs and the share of male labour is considerably higher only in agriculture and construction.

The educational level of Estonian women in rural areas is higher than men, but their economic activity is still lower. Female share in entrepreneurship is estimated to one third of all entrepreneurs.

According to the study one of the incentives for starting up an enterprise is often dissatisfaction with a former job or time management. The interviewed women declared a wish to control their own time, determine their own conditions for activities and/or be free in their decisions.

The share of activity fields which have traditionally been considered feminine is high among retailing, training and consultation services, beauty treatment services, healthcare, accommodation, catering and tourism.

In Estonia activities of enterprises that involve women entrepreneurs are more often oriented towards the domestic market; women entrepreneurs are rarely involved in import and export. Estonian women entrepreneurs are oriented towards cooperation if they can gain something out of it but won’t consider being a member of a network without gaining anything because of lack of time.

Of the 23 interviewees, only three women entrepreneurs had experienced discrimination or seen it from the side.

As a conclusion of this study Anneli underlined that no considerable gender inequality is perceived in the Estonian entrepreneurial environment by the interviewees. However it exists on a structural level.

Quadruple Helix as a method to promote women’s entrepreneurship

tripleh

In the project:

Introducing/highlighting the role of NGOs in women’s entrepreneurship development by putting a Quadruple Helix model into practical use.

A typical practical support structure model is a Triple Helix-thinking:

tripleh

In the Nordic countries this method has used very much. In number of countries this spin is powerful.

The SME –blind Triple Helix clearly shows interaction between different actors:

In practice, government and academia can collaborate, but when they focus on industries they support dominating industries (located in towns, high-tech, growth- businesses). Small businesses, business for survival (service) and rural industries are neglected.

To go towards Quadruple Helix logic we shall include civil society. But what will the role of the civil society be? Can NGOs be considered as the 4th Helix? The Quadruple mode is very new, so far there are few experiences. One example is a study made by the Woman Resource Centres (Malin Lindberg ) – bifocal approach intended to increase women participation in regional development). Here it was mentioned first and from here started an Empirical case: the Quadruple Helix Central Baltic project.

QHinQHCB

As for the “Government” from the model we have in the project: Stockholm County Administrative Board (SE), Municipality of Norrtälje (SE), Väståbolands stad (FI), Destination Roslagen (SE), Intermunicipal collaborative organization. “Academia” in the project is represented by: Saaremaae University Centre (EE) – entrepreneurship research; KTH – Royal Institute of Technology (SE) – Innovation and Gender research and, Åbo Akademi University (FI) – Gender and ICP research. As for the “Industry”: E-teams, regional teams of entrepreneurs collaborating in Estonia, Finland and Sweden, Local subcontractors and technology providers in Estonia, Finland and Sweden. Finally, the “Civil society” is represented by: BalticFem(SE) – NGO organising local femal entrepreneurs SE; Eurohouse (EE) NGO organizing local female entrepreneurs; Läänemaa Tourism (EE) – local tourism association.

There have been various research activities undertaken, such as: workshops, study visits, dialogue seminars, E-teams project work, interview studies on conditions for female entrepreneurs to understand how they work in Finland, Estonia and Sweden.

What we have seen so far are that NGOs have four roles.

Role 1: NGOs as collaborative platforms

Activities: NGOs enable non‐hierarchical networking, business collaboration nodes; it is a good incubator for start of a cluster; arena for trustful communication and information exchange; carrier of common goals and values.

Challenges: Short‐term financing despite long‐term needs (gender inequalities exist for thousand of years, so we can’t solve the problem in two years); difficult trade-off for individual business owners between collaborating and running their own firm.

→ Cluster formation is not an easy matter!

Role 2: NGOs as legitimating link for other three actors (government, academia, industry)

Activities: Promoting gender mainstreaming in legislation and business support services; linking small businesses to authorities and academic institutions.

Challenges: Questioned legitimacy due to informal practices and being ‘women’s’ organizations’ (specific interest, focusing just on women is not good); seen as competing with governmental structures. Lack of local legitimacy (in specific municipality they can have problem). Problems of creating linkages to academic organizations (links are not always needed, what is needed instead are well trained workers in particular business rather than laboratory tests).

Role 3: NGOs as host organisations for competence development and process innovations

Activities: Competence development (organising common trainings) and process innovations related to firm categories usually excluded in Triple Helix systems.

Challenges: Innovations not directly transformable into commercial products and services not valued by other helices. By other words, if we innovate something it cannot always be regarded as an innovation that can be sold on the market, so maybe it won’t be interesting in the same way as an innovation of a product.

Role 4: NGOs carrying individual and societal dimensions

Activities: Promoting bifocal approaches emphasising gender change as both individual and structural.

Challenges: Individual and structural aspects of women’s entrepreneurship seen as controversial and irrelevant in business communities.

So, we can define a role for the civil society:

rolecivilsoc1

Annika Skoglund has followed the work in Roslagen and the Swedish Entrepreneur Team which can be called a Quadruple Helix process in practice.

She described the work that took place during winter and spring 2011: In the established E-team network the idea of creating a new biking path that could unite the enterprises in the project was born. In February 2011 the work process started, there were discussions about how to do a mobile application for a biking path. A need for a database with information was highlighted and cooperation with Destination Roslagen started in order to share information from the web page Roslagen.se and the database behind it. Preparation of maps and brochures became actual; a workshop was held in order to discuss a Business Plan for a biking path idea.

In this specific workshop eleven participants (eight entrepreneurs) participated. It became a “real thing” to connect the entrepreneurs in the abstract network via a biking path and create joint travel packages. Also a few more entrepreneurs who had previously tried to create bicycle packages joined the project and the E‐team group. They all formed one group.

The members of the group decided to cooperate with each other. Project management made entrepreneurs work. Benchmarking of ideas was undertaken. Cooperation with Destination Roslagen started and it became obvious that new information was required for the database “Basetool”. The question whether the app was enough or not rose. Entrepreneurs were of the opinion that also a paper map was needed, something that tourists could look at directly. So collaboration started and a common graphical profile was designed. The bicycle map was seen as an important tool for promotion, something that could be shown to create interest about cycling tourism in Roslagen. But the problem was who would pay for the map and for what. Financial negotiation started and it showed that advertisements could be one way of financing the map.

WORKSHOP 1

A first workshop was organized and Lena Norrman lead it as a moderator. She was teaching participants who could be probable advertisers and sponsors. Local specialities were discussed and participants got homework: what can you offer TOGETHER as a network?

WORKSHOP 2

During the second workshop uniqueness was discussed. Ten participants (eight entrepreneurs) attended the workshop. Participants had to think of pleasures that could be offered to tourists. Homework focused on two aspects: What pleasures have we forgotten? Who are our customers?

WORKSHOP 3

The number of participants increased and reached 13 (eleven entrepreneurs). The discussion focused on details of the biking paths. It was decided to exclude Rimbo as there was no participant from that area. Among other issues participants talked about information that had to be present on Google maps, paper maps, brochures etc. Legal issues were also discussed.

ARCHIPELAGO FAIR DAYS

The network participated at the Archipelago fair which was held in Stockholm. The expo had one fee for groups and another fee for individual participants. As a network they had to pay only one fee and it was positively received. At the fair they sold different packages (Bike rentals, B&B, attractions, food experiences, etc). It was also possible to make individual packages. The selling point was Roslagen as beautiful and non‐explored area.

At this stage Annika made interviews with entrepreneurs. She had long conversations and realized that the map and the produced brochure made them very positive towards the project. It was also the start of the season. Next mission was to attract tourists. Entrepreneurs had a common aim: to get tourists to stay in region, not just to use bike path. In order to keep them entrepreneurs were recommending the next hotel, the next B&B. Thus, they started helping each other.

The interview study showed that the entrepreneurs were positive about project management and the network but they lacked time. They were positive towards the technology (app) but they were waiting for it. They had a pricing agreement for the package tours, having same price to the customer although the standard between B&B:s and hostels varied. The group agreed to offer same type of service to the guests, such as luggage transportation and “rent here, leave there” (collaborative approach). Everything showed that they wanted to work together, and not compete. They saw each other as back-up (“if one of our bikes break”) and were focused on keeping a tourist longer in the region. These are positive outcomes of the project.

INTERNAL DIFFICULTIES

  • The interest of the entrepreneurs
    1. Interest
    2. Participation
    3. Contribution
  • Change of owners
  • “With time we found our different roles” (it’s important not to say what they shall do, they find their own roles)

FINANCIAL DIFFICULTIES

Many women had this business as a part-time job. There is a big difference between an entrepreneur who inherited a business (for example a property for B&B) and an entrepreneur who started from scratch.

QUADRUPLE HELIX ANALYSIS

If we use a Quadruple Helix thinking one can see relations between all four actors and their respective roles/functions in the project:

Industry (E-teams, Package co, Destination Roslagen, Local subcontractors)

• Members in network (network venturing); • Initiative of common objective; • Tourism and ICT; • Business strategy; • Service growth; • Support each other

Government (Municipality of Norrtälje, Stockholm County Administrative Board)

• Initiative; • Tourism and ICT (bridge gender but not balance); • Financing; • Service innovation; • Support; • “Glue” in the network; • Promotion

Academia (Saaremaa University, KTH, Åbo Akademi University)

• Education; • Gender awareness; • Policy proposals; • Reporting; • Academic publishing; • Project feedback; • Internal critical process

Civil society (BalticFem)

• Ideological aim; • Increase women’s entrepreneurship by business support; • Technical development; • Informational material; • Tight contact with the

municipality; • Implicitly inform about structures; • Promote to the old “hawks”

STRENGTH

  • Initiative acknowledged (financing, reputation)
  • Success common objective ‐ the map and broschure(business)
  • Project management (structure)
  • Entrepreneur selling packages (direction)
  • Networks already in place (adaptability)
  • A way of living (engagement)
  • From policy to business to long term cooperation

WEAKNESSES

  • Gender awareness only implicit
  • “There is no difference being a female entrepreneur” (financial support, administrative support)
  • Too many networks

FUTURE POSSIBILITIES

  • Improve the project by the app
  • Improve the sales channels
  • Improve gender awareness (NGO and entrepreneur interface)
  • Benchmark more internally in the network (boat path)

GENDER ANALYSIS

  • Cooperative practices
  • Kärlekskraft” (Jonasdottir, “Love-power”, it’s a typical female phenomena, women are more cooperative than men. Many women are happy to give love to customers)
  • Local networks
  • Political limitations

Launch of the Quadruple MobiTourist mobile application and website

OleBergenpresappen

Ole Bergen, Åbo Akademi University, Finland

OleBergenpresappenOle made a visualisation of the MobiTourist app:

At first one should choose a country of interest which leads to a Google map. A user can choose among different categories: accommodation, food, sightseeing, events, activities, shopping, etc. By clicking on desirable option the user gets information about it and can even see the distance to that object. In case of events calendar is used instead of the distance indicator showing when the particular event takes place.

When the project is finished the application can be downloaded without costs. However, someone has to maintain it. Ole underlined that it has been hard to get tourist entrepreneurs to understand the possibilities the apps will give to them. But those E- teams who have been active and saw different possibilities have also been really positive.

ICT Research and applying a SME perspective on development of mobile services

Everything started with number of meetings and planning sessions at the Åbo Akademi University where young researchers as well as professors and PhD:s were discussing in working groups what and how everything had to be done. The group started developing questionnaires which had to be sent out to entrepreneurs in all three partner countries.

Meetings with E-teams were planned in order to discuss the content of the questionnaire, to find out what entrepreneurs like, how they use ICT in their company etc. It was important to consider a gender aspect when preparing questionnaires which is why Åbo Akademi Women Research Institute got involved. Questionnaires were sent out directly to entrepreneurs or through the project partners:

  • in Finland were questionnaires in Swedish and Finish
  • in Sweden – in Swedish
  • in Estonia – in Estonian and Russian

The thematic working group at Åbo Akademi received many answers about how entrepreneurs use Internet, what they do, what they plan to do etc. Those answers were discussed in the group. The next step was to take direct contact with entrepreneurs in all three countries. Åbo Akademi’s researchers travelled around and met with about 20 entrepreneurs in Finland, Sweden and Estonia. Everything was filmed and documented.

After the so called “Looking at answers period” started when there were thematic working group meetings and discussions with project partners about what and how to proceed. As a result following assumptions were made:

  • Many mobiles have GPS and internet connection nowadays
  • People who use mobiles for tourism purposes are modern, therefore they have mobiles with GPS and internet connections
  • Roaming is expensive but apps should work off-line
  • Apps can be downloaded anywhere in the world

Problem

  • Finding a proper map for off-line

Limitation

  • Majority of pictures can be seen only on-line

Several meetings were held with E-teams in the three countries in order to discuss a proposal and get an outlook as they would be main users of applications.

A researcher was hired by ÅA to do the iOS application. Different beta versions were presented to E-teams during the process, new ideas were introduced. Initially the project discussed to develop the application for four operating systems, but resources were not enough so it was decided to focus on the two major operating systems on the market: iOS and Android.

A web page is also under development called mobitourist.eu. This web page will be available for all phones with an internet connection, but also act as an introduction to the iOS and Android applications. The apps will soon be put into the Apple store and also Android market.

The application MobiTourist is a concrete result of cross border cooperation and show cross border activities in Quadruple. It is expected from tourism entrepreneurs to be active and update their info.

Discussions about how these apps and the webpage should be updated after the project ends is on going. All data from all regions must be gathered in one place in order to always have the latest info in the apps. To find a suitable solution on how the project result in the form of a mobile app will live on after year 2011 is an important task to solve for the project

 

 

Cluster curriculum

Start-Up

At the starting seminar (December 2009) in Estonia many business promotion organisations and government agencies (MAPs) were invited. In Sweden the MAPs were involved later at a seminar during autumn 2010. It seems like the MAPs in Sweden haven’t been quite as rooted in the project as for example in Estonia where there has been a new tourism program developed during the project period. The timing was most successful in Estonia; in Sweden we were a little ahead of the time-table. But in Finland the timing made us more forced to just accept what was already in place.

Advice

Contacts with the organisations and authorities who are to absorb the experiences from the project and implement them in their ordinary operations should be established already at the start of the project and then be maintained with all knowledge derived from the project.

At the start-up SEMINAR in Norrtälje there was theory mixed with good practical examples from clusters in other industries. At a brainstorming workshop a common vision as well as several local visions emerged. Participants realized that it was important to find what was common and unique, and decide whether the cluster should be a large common cluster or several local clusters.

Advice

Start with a workshop including entrepreneurs and other involved parties where the vision and the cluster are defined. If there is to be a cross-border cluster begin to build the national sections, local and from the bottom up, while keeping the vision of the cross-border latent in the meantime.

Logistics

According to the project time-table there where a lot of work that should be done simultaneously. One lesson learned is that it is important to start with the actual target group first so that you have something concrete to report in order to get the business promotion players interested. Input from scientists has been good ever since the start, highlighting differences in men and women in business and living conditions in different countries. In the project we went from the abstract to the concrete; perhaps it would have been better to do the opposite.

Advice

Start with the entrepreneurs. Get them to formulate their vision and start building from the bottom-up considering their own common interests. They must be able to see the gain in order to put in time. The clustering should be done by them, not for them.

Cluster Coaches

The project showed that cluster coaches were needed to form entrepreneurial groups. But it was unclear who would have this role, someone in the group or outside it. Also, it was unclear what the coach should convey.

Advice

A cluster coach is needed in the formation of clusters, someone who leads the group and provides the tools to work from. Cluster coach can be a consultant on the basis of leading the work on the development program. It can also be useful to designate any group as a supervisor with responsibility to carry on the network after the project period.

The development program for entrepreneurs

During 2010 there were several conferences on themes of women’s entrepreneurship in a more global perspective, networking and social media, marketing on the web, environmental consulting and more. There were also brainstorming sessions about development of ICT services for mobile phones, suitable for the tourism industry.

During the autumn of 2010 the work of E-teams in Sweden decided to make a mobile map and mobile guide for Roslagen hiking path. Then the idea of developing a package around a bicycle route emerged.

In Estonia the project provided entrepreneurs with an opportunity to develop. It also provided an opportunity to internationalize co-operation. The project has led to a new development plan for Läänama tourism. The project has given good knowledge for coming activities on different levels. Especially appreciated is the joint marketing and the project’s technical product – the mobile guide.

Advice

Hire a skilled consultant as cluster coach, who is familiar with the industry and the situation of the entrepreneurs. Get the entrepreneurs to unite around a common idea or vision. Help them to develop and package their services and products. Offer them necessary knowledge in technical support, pricing, marketing, market analysis. Encourage them to do joint marketing, online magazines, mobile application and trade expos. Increased marketing opportunities as a group instead of as fifteen separate companies.

Combining theory-practice

It has been immensely valuable to have researchers in the project who have been able to follow the development and give input at the right moment. At the beginning of the project researchers made overviews of gender relations in the various countries that showed similarities and differences. Later, researchers analysed the concept Quadruple Helix and especially what the non-profit organisations brought in the process of cluster building. The technical research was based on the entrepreneurs’ activities’ and built up an application according to their needs. It was a long time quite unclear what this part would lead to but it was still interesting for entrepreneurs to reflect about their businesses from a technical point of view. At the end the application became very real, considered needed and added value to the project.

Advice

In a clustering should be included various kinds of researchers. According to the surveys made in the project very small business owners usually do not have a single contact with researchers or specialist and to facilitate such contacts is essential in building clusters. A cluster will be constantly evolving.

Gender Mainstreaming

Gender researchers focused on entrepreneurship and practitioners, the county administrative board gender expert and women resource centre BalticFem were involved in the project. Jointly the project possessed broad expertise on gender equality. The project followed up the entrepreneurs in the tourism industry in three countries from a gender perspective. It was found out that the industry was dominated by women, many small self-employed or small businesses. Government relations were characterized by inspection and regulatory constraints. They had the most contact with regard to compliance with environmental and health administrative regulations, building permit regulations.

Advice

When the cluster is built it should be supported and monitored by local and regional authorities. It is important that authorities and others are just as willing to support female-dominated industries as male-dominated. They should recognize that innovation and development can take place even in the new female-dominated industries and the actors should take women in business seriously and not discriminate against women with regard to loans, land, investment and grants. Often the differences between men and women in business disappear after several years of operation.

The technical perspective

The task of Åbo Akademi University was to introduce new innovative means to promote entrepreneurs in the archipelago in the three countries. In these areas the electronic infrastructure is often weakly developed so mobile phone applications are a great addition.

A mobile guide for tourists has been developed as part of the project. The application provides information about interesting tourism targets. Developing such an application implicates difficulties as data comes from three different databases and combining them in the projects database/server, which is a challenge since all three countries have their own way to range their data. Another challenge is to make the application work and being up to date without constant Internet connectivity.

At the beginning of the project we believed that the application would be ready and up and running during the project but that was not the case. The task was larger and more complex than anyone realized initially. The application is truly a concrete product of the project and something that will really give entrepreneurs a joint marketing boost when in use.

Advice

It always takes longer than you think to develop new things. If you are dependent on getting other actors cooperating before you can start building your product. Make sure you have enough time so you can benefit from the product in the actual project. It is always possible to try and get the product sustainable and run by someone else (like a consortium of participants) after the project but then it will be difficult to evaluate the effect of the product within the project period.

Thus, achievements of the project are:

  • strengthened local, regional and international cooperation
  • development and action plans
  • networking
  • common marketing by mobile guide
  • good studies and analysis made by the project
  • opportunities for future cooperation
  • involvement of authorities, research and NGOs
Weaknesses and threats:
  • short time and many objectives at the same time
  • difficult to motivate entrepreneurs
  • international cooperation is not achieved yet fully
  • weak local networks
  • language problems (not everyone speaks English)
  • future cooperation may not evolve because of lack of money or low interest – that could be a threat.