Innovation Ecosystem and User Involvement Building Smart Aarhus

Carlos Beltrán Martínez

Student thesis: Master thesis


Smart Cites are managing more efficiently their resources due to the technological advances (ICF 2015). However, governments foster industrial solutions, focusing on solving technical issues (Brynskov 2017) that are not really generating value for their citizens (European Commission 2014). For that reason, citizen involvement is needed for developing smart cities. This is the case of Aarhus, which has developed a smart city model based on partnership (Brynskov et al. 2015). This thesis has researched the Aarhus innovation ecosystem and the empowerment of user involvement in it. I have explored the topic through an embedded case study method, where Aarhus municipality and particularly the OrganiCity project has been analyzed. Three analytical tools have been used to better understand the user involvement in the innovation ecosystem to build smart cities: firstly, the Porter’s Diamond (1990) to identify Aarhus’ ability to innovate and the influence of this ability in building Smart Aarhus; secondly, the Quadruple Helix innovation model (Yawson 2009; Arnkil et al. 2010) to identify and study the OrganiCity stakeholders and the collaboration between them; and thirdly, a framework for mapping user‐centered innovation processes (Wise & Høgenhaven 2008) to perform a deeper analysis of the OrganiCity users involvement in the OrganiCity innovation process. This thesis has consequently found that the Aarhus innovation ecosystem is building a co‐creative collaboration between the city stakeholders, where the users are citizens and firms from inside and outside of Aarhus. The co‐creation is disrupting the stakeholders ́ roles. The stakeholders are together transforming Aarhus into a living lab, which allows users to develop their own innovations through virtual communities. The living lab and virtual communities, together with open call processes, face‐to‐face tools and social media, are used to foster the user involvement and the development of knowledge, ideas and innovation. Moreover, the users present different levels of involvement during the innovation process, having the highest level of involvement during the test and prototype, data collection and pattern recognition steps. The research has also found that Aarhus innovation ecosystem does not have a strong smart solution market nor test market for innovations, which hinders that the users ́ innovations become growth valuable companies, because of the lack of strong “business climate and structures” and “factor demands”.

EducationsMSc in Management of Innovation and Business Development, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2017
Number of pages106