Hakan Ylinenpää, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Luleå University of Technology.

Places world leading spaceport on the map

Published: 6 December 2012

Researchers at CiiR are in real time studying an innovation system which could ultimately lead to realization of space tourism at Spaceport Sweden in Kiruna. But the researchers also participate in the idea generation, known as action research.

An innovation is about collaboration between different actors and competencies in order to transform an idea into a product or service. Service innovation is according to Håkan Ylinenpää, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Luleå University of Technology, an unexplored area – which makes the project even more exciting. Spaceport Sweden's vision is to establish a world leading spaceport and become Europe's gateway to space.

– Our mission is to develop a comprehensive space destination that makes the space available for all and allow people to learn more about it. Therefore, we wuld like to develop products, services and experiences on earth, in the air and in space, says Karin Nilsdotter, CEO at Spaceport Sweden.

CiiR's role is to document what is happening in the innovation system. How the work goes, which problems that arises and how they are solved.

– The innovation systems that we normally study are often driven top-down with comprehensive five-year plans. This is more bottom-up where where they take one step at a time. It is unusual in Sweden, says Håkan Ylinenpää.

CiiR is also participating in the idea generation, known as action research, for example by organizing workshops and involve students.

– It feels exciting. We do not know anyone in the world who has done research in exactly this way before, says Håkan Ylinenpää.

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Karin Nilsdotter, president of Spaceport Sweden Photo: Chad Blakley

CiiR adds excellent support

CiiR is one of three Vinnova funded Excellence Centers, where the aim is to research on innovation systems. The focus on non-metropolitan areas and distributed innovation, ie to interact remotely, differs CiiR from other Excellence Centers. The team consists of 25 people and the other half comes from Umeå University.

– The collaboration works great. We have worked together in the past and have confidence in each other, says Håkan Ylinenpää.

The scientists seek a close contact with decision-makers. One step in this is a website where research on the innovation system can be monitored in real time by all parties.

– CiiR is a strategically important partner for us in our work. They bring knowledge of what is needed when an innovation system is established. They also act as a sounding board, provides support for process management and in collaboration with stakeholders. They also mediate important contacts that contribute to the initiative's continued development. We want to become a hub for development and innovation that will help us enhance the region's attractiveness and growth. This require both collaboration with universities and political support, says Karin Nilsdotter.

Karin Nilsdotter points to the importance of collaboration with universities and to benefit from the science when creating new experiences. A concrete example is research on the aurora that has led to Spaceport Sweden's first product – the Northern Lights flights.

– CiiR help us realize our vision of commercial human spaceflight, and this also leads to new research opportunities, says the CEO.