30 Oct 2015

Center for Innovation in Aarhus



In October the new Center for Innovation (CFIA) in Aarhus Municipality had its kick-off. It is part of an initiative taken by the municipality of Aarhus to support innovation across the different sectors of the city.

The center has employees from different backgrounds such as architecture, anthropology and design and will promote a design driven approach to innovation within the City of Aarhus.

“The general philosophy in the Center for Innovation is that we don’t work for a client, we work together with a partner” Johanne Mose Entwistle, innovation consultant in the center, explains, “ we will offer services such as workshop-facilities, project-support and collaboration, facilitation of an innovation network to name a few. All services provided by the center are free of charge.”

The Center for Innovation will promote the design driven approach to innovation locally within the municipality. Johanne Mose Entwistle elaborates:

“The design driven approach is still not well known and/or practiced locally across the whole of the municipality, which is a shame because it offers many relevant tools and methods which can be applied by local practitioners to create new solutions to ‘wicked problems’.”

Another goal for the Center for Innovation is to support ‘innovation-work’ across the city sectors. Wicked problems are currently seldom solved from within one sector alone. Again, having a cross-sectoral center to facilitate and match make across sectors will support the work.

When asked what other cities can learn from the Center for Innovation, Johanne Mose Entwistle, answers:

“This is a hard question to answer because we are still in the initial phases. But for now other cities should be inspired to put a design driven approach to innovation on the top of their list and make their own version of how to make it happen. “

Another thing that could inspire other cities is the fact that the innovation effort in Aarhus municipality is still de-centralized despite the start of a Center of Innovation; all innovation-projects are owned ‘locally’ by municipal employees across the municipality, and new projects will originate from local challenges. The general idea is that this will ensure that innovation happens locally and thus has more impact.

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