The Innovation House (DK, NL, N)

Project partners Vejen Municipality and UdviklingVejen, DK, NOFA Municipalities, NL, Finnoy Naeringshage, N.

Contact data
Else Mejer
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the Netherlands:
Auke Piet van der Meulen
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Heidi Skifjell
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Key words Business Centre, business development, entrepreneurship, guidance

Main problems to be solved (analysis) Rural areas are often dominated by traditional industries such as manufacturing, construction and agriculture. With the InnovationHouse established in VejenMunicipality, DK, in 2004 the municipality aimed at an intensified diversification of the economic activities. The house should demonstrate that it is possible to create an attractive environment also for types of enterprises started by people with a further education and in fields of production and services that are so not well-represented in rural areas. The expected outcome from the InnovationHouse is growth with more new enterprises and more jobs in the region.

In this project the idea and concept for an InnovationHouse is spread from Denmark to the Netherlands and Norway. The main problems in the different countries are similar so experience and knowhow from Denmark can be transferred and adapted to local settings and opportunities.

Policy frameworks to be dealt with/fitting in Growing feeling that we have to deal with economic problems and lack of growth and development in a regional setting.

Aim of the project  The objective of an InnovationHouse is to stimulate enterprises to grow and create new jobs, and to do this in collaboration with entrepreneurs and advisors in the Innovation House and beyond in the local community and the region.

By transfer of knowhow and experience across borders this objective might be realized in more rural regions in different countries.

(Expected) Results

The results are:

  • 60 jobs from persons working in the Innovation House  Lauwersdelta, NL
  • a total of 100 new jobs which are created in the Dutch region in three years
  • number of new jobs at Finnøy, Norway, has not been estimated
  • improvement of business climate on the field of innovation
  • better cooperation between knowledge institutes and the local business
  • easy access to business advice for entrepreneurs in rural areas

(Expected) outcome within the WP


(Expected) outcome for the region as a whole (impact of the project; effects may be written in terms of the sustainability triangle = 3 P approach (people, planet, profit), i.e. benefits on the social, economical and physical part) An InnovationHouse basically offers framework and facilities for entrepreneurs and business development activities. InnovationsHus Syd in VejenMunicipality has furthermore had responsibility for pilot activities within this WP of the Vital Rural Area project since 2009. The specific pilot activities are mentioned in separate formats.

But, also very important is the transnational cooperation with transfer of ideas, experience and knowhow primarily from Denmark to Norway and the Netherlands. It is a great success if this exchange of knowledge across borders might cause growth and development in other rural areas with new entrepreneurs starting up and new jobs to be created.

The companies in the three Innovation Houses can also work together and the companies can get help to do business in the other countries, ex a company in Denmark which like to get into the Norwegian marked can get help from the business consultants in Ryfylke Næringshage.

Planning 2012 has been used for preparation activities and in February 2013 the Innovatiehuis Lauwersdelta has been opened in Buitenpost NL. Finnoy Naeringshage, Norway, was established in 2007. In May 2012 a group from Finnoy went to InnovationsHus Syd in Vejen Kommune DK for a study visit. The InnovationHouse as a case was introduced by a short study visit at InnovationsHus Syd in Vejen Municipality DK. The visit was included in the 2nd International Policy Forum of the Vital Rural Area project, October 2010 in Denmark.

Costs Depend very much on local conditions.

Financing The financing of the Innovatiehuis Lauwersdelta comes from the companies who rent space in the InnovationHouse, of the partners of the project and for the initial period some contributions from different projects like VRA. Financing of the InnovationsHouses in Denmark and Norway has not been part of the Vital Rural Area project, but both houses have been involved in project activities.

Implementation of the project (cf. CAA)

Which stakeholders were involved? Innovatiehuis Lauwersdelta NL (2012): Kennniswerkplaats Noordoost Fryslan, Bedrijvencentrum Dokkum, Gouden Driehoek , Partners, ONOF, Chambre of Commerce, Ondernemersplein Fan Fryslan. InnovationsHus Syd, Vejen Municipality DK (2004): The former Municipality of Roedding, European Union (development programmes), Udviklingsfonden for Erhverv & Turisme (local development fund), FRØS (local bank) Finnoy Naeringshage N (2007): Finnoy Municipality, support from Norwegian development programmes. Rennesoy Municipality joined as a partner in 2011 and the name of the house changed to Ryfylke Naeringshage.

What process did you run through to fit the project into local conditions? The InnovatieHuis Lauwersdelta in the Netherlands is a local initiative inspired from the InnovationHouse in Vejen DK. The local initiators used the relations that were made by the Vital Rural Area project and by the Dutch ‘NetwerkNoordoost’. Based on transnational and regional cooperation is has been much easier to form a project that fits with local conditions.

Study visits and cross border dialogues have been key elements for exchange of experience, and all three InnovationHouses have benefitted from that ongoing process. When somebody ask questions and you have to explain your daily routines it causes reflexions and learning.The learning and outcome from this process has been of great value for all partners involved.

How did you sustainably implement the project (locally, regionally)?


1 Which successes were achieved so far in the pilot project? - what is the background / main reason for these successes? The sense of urge to stimulate innovation in your region and to do this by regional cooperation has been the driver of this project. The Vital Rural Area project and it’s network of partners have offered great opportunities for transfer of ideas and experience. You get something extra by entering an international partnership.

Some problems have been recognized and must be handled in a local setting

  • It might be difficult to find a good location to start.
  • The formula of the innovation house needs a flexible attitude towards the wishes of the entrepreneurs
  • It is important that the entrepreneurs feel some kind of ownership

Other break-down patterns have been recognized in the project:

  • Too many buildings who offer space for entrepreneurs.
  • Competition by regional parties who also want to stimulate the economy in the region. This must be solved by regular talks between the different parties.
  • (Financial) pressure whether to fill the rooms with companies and entrepreneurs who don't innovate (but pay their monthly rent..)

Important lessons from the project Absolutely important is the screening and commitment of the enterprises to ensure that they not only benefit from the services in the InnovationHouse, but also that they contribute to the synergy with other enterprises and stakeholders. Nursing of enterprises and related networking is of crucial importance as well as easy access to experienced advisors.It is important to create and maintain a culture with open doors and informal networking activities between the tenants in the InnovationHouse. Inspiring surroundings and informal conversations when you meet in the house add value to innovation and business development processes.


Cooperation with internal, external and even international partners boosts the activities of the Innovation House in a way that attempts to benefit both the enterprises and the House. In this case the Vital Rural Area project has been a platform for this development.

A close and constructive relationship with the local municipality leads to a coordination and inspiration across sectored boundaries.

Flexibility in terms of the discovery of new possibilities, presently for example in the field of energy provision and eco-management developments, is very important if the InnovationHouse want to stimulate the enterprises to growth and innovation.

Always keep focus on funding and budget lines on short term and long term. Bad economy removes focus from innovation activities.

3 Which related projects can be studied or consulted (other innovative best practice examples) before starting to think on implementation?  

Each of the three InnovationHouses mentioned in this project have their own story to tell, and we recommend making direct contact to them for further information. See contact information on top of this case.

Other similar cases or projects Establishing A Community and Business Resource Centre in a Remote Area, United Kingdom,

European Network for Supporting Entrepreneurship (ESCALE), Portugal, Malta, France -

4 What is the applicability / transferability of the project? InnovationHouse as idea and concept is transferable to other rural regions if it is based and implemented according to local conditions. It depends very much on local commitment, access to funding and last but not least ‘burning souls’ who want this to happen in order to have local development, growth and innovation even in a rural region.

Tools in this project No specific tools are to be mentioned, but we strongly recommend contacting each InnovationHouse to learn from the three different cases.

Last update of this format May 15st 2013