Openness is a key ingredient of talent competiveness

Professor Bruno Lanvin, INSEAD Executive Director for Global Indices, stopped me today to think about society’s renewable capital and the operational tactics in defining our Espoo political and also business priorities. His keynote speech in the European conference on Digital and Key Enabling Technologies Skills was titled “The War for Talent”. His two conclusive messages were “Openness is a key ingredient of talent competiveness” and “Talent in the 21st century must go beyond the traditional pillar of formal education”. He also integrated my European opening remarks to the results of the INSEAD study “The Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2014” with a statement “There is something happening here – Europe is not doing badly at all”. What does this mean to us in Espoo?

We recently published a book about the Espoo Innovation Garden – a journey titled “Orchestrating Regional Innovation Ecosystems”. The driving idea in the 30 articles in the book is pioneering through experimenting.The City of Espoo wants to attract people with a mind-set for discovery – the key people are the ones living, going to school and/or working in Espoo. Our Espoo-way means also structural readiness for change. The city has re-organised its governance structures and processes by initiating five policy programmes, each with a steering group of five top decision-makers and five top civil servants. The targets are defined to focus on co-creating new innovative solutions to Grand Societal Challenges. This Espoo exercise can turn out to become – through policy experimenting and piloting – a prototype, scaling something unique for the rest of the world.

When thinking the words of Bruno Lanvin, I opened the Orchestration book (you can also download the book from the front page of and read again the Moving Forward article of Saija Äikäs and Sirpa Hertell, two chairs of our Espoo five policy programmes. The city’s commitment and eagerness to increase societal renewable capital can be characterised by quoting their text:

How can we create an inclusive and fully accessible society, in which all citizens are ‘smart’ and can contribute to co-creating quality of life? This is not the kind of inclusion that means someone tells us what to do and what is important for us, hoping citizens will simply comply. It is an inclusive society in which all citizens are seen as people with talents – “potential waiting to be unleashed” – who can creating value for their own lives and for their communities. It is a society in which innovativeness is the common state of mind. It is a region of reciprocal relationships and relevant roles for government and civil society, empowering and engaging people to contribute in the most appropriate ways.

For me political decision-making is above all commitment to positive changes and building the desired future. These changes need to be based on our shared values and attitudes, even eagerness, to knowledge co-creation and shared ownership of the processes needed. We will experiment and pilot these hosting the EU Open Innovation 2.0 conference in Espoo – and also prototyping some interesting conference outcomes after the conference.



Markku Markkula

Chair of the Espoo City Planning Board President,
the European Committee of the Regions.

Markku Markkula is a long-standing member of Espoo City Council. A few months ago he was elected the President of the European Committee of the Regions. With its 350 members the CoR is one of the EU Institutions, the assembly of regional and local representatives from all 28 Member States.

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