Cooperation between Limburg companies is still in its infancy stages. In terms of innovation, Limburg employers have a strong internal focus and seem to view collaboration as more difficult than competition. These were the results published on 9 September in the 2013 Social Innovation Monitor Limburg, which was founded by Maastricht University’s Network Social Innovation (NSI) in collaboration with the Limburg Employers’ Association (LWV).
Consistent with previous findings from academic studies, the monitor reveals that social innovation is effective. Social innovations are organisational advances and new work methods designed to meet the needs of companies, communities or employees. Organisations with a greater capacity for social innovation not only perform better in terms of sustainability, but are also more capable of developing new products and services, as well as increasing revenues and decreasing absenteeism. This means that Limburg companies can greatly enhance their competitiveness by investing more in their capacity for social innovation.
Unfortunately, not all Limburg companies are convinced of these benefits and open innovation has yet to take off. Of all the social innovation aspects measured, Limburg companies score the lowest on open innovation. This means they have a strong internal focus when it comes to innovation and, as a result, active knowledge exchange with external parties remains underdeveloped. This, however, will have to play an important role in strengthening the Limburg Knowledge Axis, the strategic programme developed by Maastricht University, the Maastricht University Medical Centre+ and Zuyd University.
With the support of the province and the local business community, this programme aims to strengthen Limburg’s knowledge infrastructure by investing more than half a billion euros in innovations over the next ten years. Collaboration and knowledge exchange between the government, the academic community and the business sector – the triple helix – will play a key role.
The monitor also revealed that the ability to tailor staffing capacity to corporate needs will be one of the biggest obstacles to the further development of social innovation. Regulations such as flexible working hours, self-scheduling and telecommuting were particularly unpopular with Limburg companies. These aspects of the ‘New Work Method’ are being insufficiently addressed in Limburg, despite the fact that collaboration and flexibility are becoming increasingly important in determining an organisation’s success in these turbulent and ever-changing times.
Source: Maastricht University, 9 September 2013
Related article: Mapping social innovation in Limburg, 30 October 2012