The book by Thomas Langhoff (editor): “Herausforderung Strukturwandel und Innovation – Mit dynamischen Wertschöpfungspartnerschaften zu neuen Wettbewerbs- und Beschäftigungsperspektiven“ („The Challenge of Structural Change and Innovation – Dynamic Value Adding Partnerships lead to new Perspectives in Competition and Employment“) describes, after a theoretical chapter about structural change, the example of installing an innovation center in the area of the former coal mine “Zeche Westfalen” in Ahlen, a town in the mining district in Western Germany.
The research project “Innovation Potentials for Dynamic Value Adding Partnerships and Resource Management in Rural and Structurally Weak Regions” (“InnoWert”) was the framework for a joint effort from the economic and research sectors. A model and pilot area for a multitude of players from the areas of sustainable life, learning and working, media and leisure time was created, to great success. The innovation centre combines the fields of health, cultural activity, crafts, services, gastronomy and social training, all under one umbrella concept.
Based on the ZERI principles, the intention was to make use of synergies and interactions between the different companies settled within the project for the development of four different areas of innovation: water, construction and dwelling, energy and nutrition. Today we say: “Blue Economy is the ZERI philosophy live and in action.” An entrepreneurial approach was consequently followed to achieve sustainable solutions within the rural area. A consolidation of value creating chains as well as the use of available resources and waste streams gave a special impulse to the regional economy. The solutions could be anchored in a sustainable way within the region by generating multiple sources of income.
Even at the beginning of the project, the aim of the Blue Economy players in Ahlen was to involve local companies in its implementation. The clusters created are fuelling each other even today.
This innovation centre created in Ahlen is unique in its conception due to its way of managing networks, clustering competences, local participation within a supra-regional philosophy and capital as well as managing synergies, promoting business and a service-orientated approach. This could be implemented in any place in Germany. This experience has led to the initiation of processes by Blue Economy Solutions in several other regions in order to identify and recover local potential.
Herausforderung Strukturwandel und Innovation
Mit dynamischen Wertschöpfungspartnerschaften zu neuen Wettbewerbs- und Beschäftigungsperspektive von Thomas Langhoff (ed.), 134 pages, in German, published by Dorothea Rohn, 2011
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