Moving Things & People

Action researcher captures the effects of Future by Lund

Caroline Wendt
December 16, 2020

‍Future by Lund initiates, leads, and participates in many projects. An important aspect of the business is matchmaking, which involves connecting those who need help with an idea with others who can bring the idea forward. The impression is that the work is producing very good results - but how can this be shown? Currently, Future by Lund's action researcher Emily Wise is conducting an impact study that demonstrates, amongst other things, that an annual basic funding of 4 million SEK has generated 40-60 million SEK a year in spin-off projects.

Future by Lund started in 2014 and over the years many projects have been realized in the central theme areas. The main focus has always been to work on innovations for a sustainable and smart society. Current focus areas are Digital Cities & Citizens, Creatives & Changemakers, Future Living & Spaces, Moving Things & People, and Ideas for Society.

Emily Wise, the action researcher, works at Lund University and is an expert on cluster initiatives and innovation platforms. She is now starting to map out Future by Lund's innovation activities with the focus areas Moving Things & People and Digital Cities & Citizens. The method is based on the “layering model” - which is a method of reporting used in Vinnova's Vinnväxtinitiativ and captures the dynamics and the “ripple effects” that the initiatives contribute to.

– Future by Lund are already measuring the effects in various ways, such as, by keeping track of the number of projects, the number of partners in collaborative projects, and projects’ revenue. What I add to the effect measurement is a picture of the development over time by applying the layering model (which is a method of reporting used in Vinnova's Vinnväxt program), says Emily Wise. In addition to reporting the basic financing that the platform receives, it also reports, for example, the revenue of the projects that the original project initiated. Future by Lund has a basic financing of 4 million SEK a year and an estimate shows that it mobilizes about 40-60 million SEK per year in spinoff projects, says Emily Wise.

The layering model can be divided into four layers. The first layer is the support (or basic funding) that comes directly to the innovation platform. The second layer consists of project financing for projects in which Future by Lund either leads or participates. The third layer is project financing that goes to partners in projects where Future by Lund is not involved. These are called spin-off projects. The fourth layer are the qualitative events in the system that indicate that a change is taking place in the direction of the sustainable city. It can be an increase in the number of employees, new investment flows, new infrastructure, and increased publicity - such as, when the electric road was visited by a minister during autumn.

– I do a backward-looking study of the development of mobility and digitization within Future by Lund, says Emily Wise. I identify the characteristics of the development within the layers over time and make an estimate based on history. It is possible to show cash flows into the area, to see how there is an increasing number of actors over time, and then I can connect to actions, such as, new employees and other signs of change.

An important reason why Future by Lund are conducting an impact study is because it has been requested by the platform's collaboration partners. The aim is to show a draft in the areas of mobility and digitization by the end of the year.

– Continuous record keeping over time makes it easier to demonstrate the different values that Future by Lund delivers or contributes to, says Emily Wise. It is a way to show what this offers and why it is good to have people who capture ideas and mediate between people and match them with each other. It is not always idea scouting that leads to things, but here it usually does, and sometimes it actually becomes huge!

Translation: Ben Dohrmann


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