Innovation and technology Festival iNovuss
The Investment and Development Agency of Latvia has developed a new communication platform with its audience - iNovuss, an open-air innovation festival that brings together multiple target groups and facilitates interaction between them, changing the perception of public service delivery. This festival allows to engage with the audience in a more cost effective way and mainly covers but is not limited to these topics - technology, innovation, tourism, education, research, exports and investments.
The innovation - the communication platform iNovuss - is a tool that allows effective outreach to the multiple target groups of the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA). It is a unique format in the Baltic and Nordic region for targeting state priorities in tech transfer, business development, investment promotion and cooperation between public and private sector, creating knowledge base, facilitating information exchange between partners for further development of ideas and business opportunities. The goal was to make a shift from organizing multiple events every year where topics and target audience often overlap to a more effective and interactive engagement. The LIAA operates in a number of areas - technology and innovation, support for entrepreneurship, exports, investments and tourism. Various events are frequently organised in order to reach the target groups of each area, however, due to the large number of events available and necessity to establish synergy and dialogue between areas, organisation was often challenging.
iNovuss is an open-air, family-friendly festival with multiple stages each focusing on a different area where LIAA is engaged in and together providing 19 different forms of engagement - workshops, lectures, interactive games, talks, discussions, meetings, pitches etc. The content for each of the stages was developed in-house by LIAA and in collaboration with key stakeholders and partners – 15 state and municipal organisations, 8 universities, 39 opinion leaders, 20 musicians and numerous innovators and developers from all fields and industries. The main topics covered in the festival were: investments, exports, science, entrepreneurship, technological development, support instruments and innovation horizontally across all topics.
The goal was to reach at least 10 000 participants and cover all the operational areas of LIAA with tailored content, facilitating interaction between target groups and increasing their engagement while saving costs.
The festival gathered 16 000 unique visitors. If previously LIAA spent around 140 euros in traditional conferences to reach one person, this platform achieves the same result for just 31,25 EUR/person. LIAA invested 700 euros in the social network campaign, because it knew that if a conversation worth engaging, people will do the talking themselves - and they did. The story reached 24.3% of all social media users in Latvia, and 48 000 unique visitors came to the event website during the festival. In total 182,500 people were reached.
It is envisioned that the festival will grow in terms of unique participants but also go deeper content-wise - mixing the topics and building bottom-up ecosystems. The innovation festival iNovuss enabled to link multiple different but inter-dependent topics and target audiences, facilitatin better citizen engagement, raising awareness about innovation and stimulating entrepreneurial activities. Importantly, it also helped to change the society's perception of government institutions, policy making and policy implementation.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
It is a new way of communication and target group engagement for a government institution. The format allows effective exchange of information, networking and building up knowledge base for society in topics that are a priority for the government. It is also an effective tool for changing society's perception of public organisations and it facilitates communication, information exchange and engagement.
What is the current status of your innovation?
A pilot of this project was ran in 2017 and a fully integrated festival was held in 2019. The success of the event was analysed via: number of participants and their feedback, the feedback from cooperation partners, total costs and insights from employees of LIAA themselves. All relevant departments were on the spot managing the thematic stages, contributing to the content (as panellists, presenters etc.) and also providing consultations and engaging with the participants.
The collected information from the event has been used to improve the event - the main challenges is to go deeper in content and provide presentations, discussions of a very high quality, integrate new ways of engagement (session formats) to communicate with the target group and in a more effective and creative way. Additionally, an even bigger audience is desired.
Collaborations & Partnerships
The event was organised by the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA) and a large number of partners were involved: companies, municipalities and other public organisations including universities and research institutes. There were multiple ways of collaboration: participation in discussions, presentations on the stages set up by LIAA, organisation of activities. In total, there were 37 collaboration partners.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
Citizens, government officials, civil society organisations and companies all benefited from the event as representatives from all of these groups were participating in various capacities at the event, contributing to the overall content as well as being present and participating as audience. The event also allowed for the promotion of LIAA's services and clients, e.g. companies in LIAA's business incubators and their products. 6 out of 28 business incubator clients received collaboration offers during the event.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
The main takeways from the event were related to the content – topics and ways of engagement that were more interesting for the audience could be observed and used to improve the delivery of the next event. In general, the large number of people participating indicated that the public is interested in the topics that the event covered and were ready to engage and talk about them as well.
In total, 110 consultations about the services provided by the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia were given, 241 speakers were presenting, 57 education sessions took place covering 40 topics.
Challenges and Failures
The main challenges included: 1) the development of the content and talking about government priorities in tech and innovation in a way that would engage the audience and serve all target groups well; 2) arranging and organising the technicalities of the event in-house and in a cost effective way while not cutting down on quality.
The challenges were overcome: participants were actively taking part in all thematic sessions and event costs per participant were significantly lower than organising multiple events of much smaller size.
Conditions for Success
A key aspect was the interest from stakeholders to collaborate and contribute to the content of the event. Their insight was important for developing the program as well as for building future collaborations. It was also essential to have the support and vision of the event from the senior management and the willingness to try the approach.
This solution could be replicated in other countries.
The approach allowed not only to engage with the target groups more effectively, but also to learn more about their interests and willingness to take part in various processes.