How can Grimstad municipality become more attractive? That is the mission in a project where students and employees at the University of Agder collaborate with the municipality.
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In the fall of 2017, students at the Master’s programme Innovation and Knowledge Development will work alongside representatives from Grimstad municipality, the business community and other interested parties. The class is called Innovation in the public sector and is worth 7.5 ECTS study points.
“The process will result in suggestions for initiatives to be implemented in the municipality’s strategic business plan. The students will co-create the plan with the municipality,” says James Karlsen, Associate Professor at the Department of Working Life and Innovation at the University of Agder (UiA), who also has the academic responsibility.
Co-creation of knowledge is UiA’s vision for the period 2016-2020 and a co-creation workshop is one of the initiatives in the strategy plan. It is envisioned as an arena where students and UiA researchers meet to work together with existing partners on social challenges.
“The course in Grimstad is a pilot project for the co-creation workshop. Students who are sent into professional training usually adapt to the business, but the point here is that the students’ knowledge will be sharpened by the knowledge of the other involved participants, and will bring out the different standpoints,” says Karlsen.
In the course, the students will work with three thematic areas tied to the municipality’s business plan: attractiveness of visiting, of hosting, and of innovation.
“Attractiveness of visiting is about how Grimstad can attract tourists, while attractiveness of innovation revolves around getting more business development in research environments, and how Grimstad can become an innovation hub. Attractiveness of hosting is about, among other things, how the municipality should meet existing and new industry and trade,” says Karlsen.
This is the first time the class is held in this form, and UiA is also heavily involved on the teaching side. Towards the end of the semester, the students will give speeches to the municipality executive board of Grimstad and provide concrete and soundly based suggestions for the long and short term.
“We will give the municipality theoretical input tied to innovation and co-creation of knowledge. This year we are collaborating with Grimstad, and next year it might be somewhere else”, says Karlsen.
Tekst: Gustav Try