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Principal Investigator Jarna Heinonen invites CCI stakeholders to challenge research and thinking for more inclusive and sustainable outcomes: Interview

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Principal Investigator Jarna Heinonen invites CCI stakeholders to challenge research and thinking for more inclusive and sustainable outcomes: Interview

How was the concept of the DISCE project first born?

Looking back retrospectively, this all was like a ‘hand book version’ of how to write a successful bid. After having decided to bid for H2020 we went carefully through the calls in order to find the most suitable one for us and our competences and expertise. The frames of the DISCE project were initially designed in the EU call/programme – the goals in general level were stated there and our task was to design an interesting and manageable package out of the exhaustive list of EU wishes. Our task was, thus, to successfully address the ‘wish list’ in an innovative manner. After having decided the call we would address, we very openly assessed what kind of expertise would be needed to complement ours. As we simply wanted to work with the best partners in the field, it was our task to identify those actors. The outcome was the multidisciplinary DISCE consortium which is dedicated to working together in order to develop more inclusive and sustainable creative economies. Some of the partners have worked together earlier, but most of the connections are new ones. This gives extremely good possibilities for new ideas and contributions. We believe we will genuinely create something new and sustainable together.

What is your major research area? How will it be applied within the scope of the DISCE project? 

My own research interest is in entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial behaviour and innovations. I have also studied the blurring boundaries between waged work and entrepreneurship as well as entrepreneurship education – all are topics which are highly relevant in understanding the CCIs. UTU Entrepreneurship research group further complements my expertise and research interests in the field of entrepreneurship and creative economies particularly. UTU’s team, including myself, is also highly committed to conduct policy-oriented research which is important for this kind of H2020 project.

What can we expect from the role of the Principal Investigator?  

Naturally, I will bring in my own research expertise and particularly my experience in directing numerous large-scale international research projects during my career. Most importantly I am committed to doing my utmost to make it possible for all DISCE partners and researchers to succeed in reaching the ambitious goals of the DISCE project. This implies close collaboration and continuous open discussions with partners and stakeholders.

What do you hope will be the most lasting impact of the project, within the context of wider objectives?

Our ambitious intention is to take new and concrete steps in developing more sustainable and inclusive creative economies. Given my background in business studies, I naturally refer to economic growth and prosperity, but equally important in DISCE are individual well-being and human flourishing. As a multidisciplinary research consortium, we understand and wish to rethink the growth of CCIs holistically.

Why do we need the DISCE project?

DISCE builds upon the existing knowledge on the CCIs. We acknowledge the tensions which have been identified already for years and are committed to tackle them. Given the extremely good expertise of the DISCE consortium partners in the field as well as the new ideas provided from those partners who are not that familiar with the CCIs and their challenges, I believe we together can produce genuinely new knowledge both for the academia as well as for policy and practice.

Do you think existing tensions will be eased by the work of DISCE or will they always exist? 

I believe that DISCE will do its fair share in solving those tension. I do not wish to claim that we can solve them all and for ever, but I am confident that we definitely shall make a difference. Furthermore, I believe that DISCE will raise up new questions and perhaps even tensions for future research and projects to address. That is how the society and research evolve and improve.

What do you think is the most innovative element of DISCE?

The most innovative element of DISCE is the way we got started in the very beginning. Most importantly that is the way we continue to work during the whole DISCE project. Namely connecting the best actors in the field and relevant for the DISCE project and its goals; sharing the idea and potential of multidisciplinary research; recognizing and trusting on other partners’ expertise and contribution; and willingness to stretch one’s own boundaries in order to learn and create something new – continuously.

Why is an interactive and co-creational approach important?

It’s important to develop the CCIs together with the actors in the field. Otherwise the research and activities remain superficial and unsustainable. We believe that there is no right or wrong answers but wish to catalyse discussion on the challenges the CCIs face. The solutions can only be found by interactively working together and co-creating the new steps to be taken for the better future of the CCIs.

How can stakeholders contribute to the project and how can the project support them?

We wish to be as open and transparent as possible with our activities. Therefore, we also work with partners who are well connected to the actors in the field at different levels. We are also committed to create new connections and work with anyone who shares the DISCE goals and ideas. We are not only attempting to develop more sustainable and inclusive CCIs but we also wish to be inclusive ourselves: easy to approach and work with. We have made it easy for you to join the DISCE community and follow us in various media. We invite you to challenge us and our thinking.

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