4.1 An evaluation area selected by the HEI

HEI as a learning organization: Innovation hub activities from the RDIL perspective

Initial state

Metropolia has selected the innovation hub operations using the RDIL perspective as a topic under ‘HEI as a learning organization’. This has been done to receive feedback for the development of the RDIL activities. The objective of development is to strengthen Metropolia’s capability to build research, development, innovation, and learning (RDIL) connections in a new way to address the challenges in the operating environment and in accordance with Metropolia’s Strategy 2030. In 2021, the state of RDIL activities was explored with a review done by the participatory sparring team (Parru). After the review, a development project was launched. It provides a roadmap for RDIL development. The development of RDIL is linked to the development of the degrees and the project improving Metropolia’s forecasting capabilities.

Strengths identified in the review included the positive attitude towards RDIL development as well as the existing roles to which RDIL is connected. Concurrently, some operating models (e.g. RDIL in the curricula of certain degrees, the RDIL menu, innovation hubs’ collaboration platforms, and the MINNO studies) were found. The RDIL development work can be linked to them from the perspective of the innovation hubs. The review acknowledged ambiguous and unestablished roles and tasks for several actors, processes, and units. It was observed that the innovation hubs and the related platforms play a role in the implementation of RDIL. There were different views on what it would mean in practice and even a lack of awareness.

2022 action plans for schools and innovation hubs also indicated that the division of work, budget responsibility and operational RDIL practices between the innovation hubs, schools, lifelong learning services and RDI services are inconsistent and unclear. RDIL is implemented in many ways in cooperation with partners, schools, and innovation hubs. The progress of the systematic implementation of RDIL varies between degrees. Some of the observed shortcomings were corrected in the spring of 2022:

  • Events to provide guidelines on entering RDIL credits were organised and the instructions were made clearer
  • Communication from the learner’s perspective was added to the OMA intranet
  • Four workshops were organised for discussions between responsible parties
  • The RDIL development work was included in the job descriptions of the coordinators of the innovation hubs’ thematic areas
  • RDIL was linked to the development plans of degrees.

Currently, the development of the RDIL activities includes incremental improvement needs as well as more profound needs related to the transformation of the current state and to a new kind of future. Some of the required steps for development can be planned ahead. At the same time, it is acknowledged that a considerable part of the measures can only be specified as the activities proceed.

Innovation hubs from the RDIL perspective in 2030

In the goal state, consideration is given to the objectives of Metropolia’s Strategy 2030 and the challenges and opportunities arising from the operating environment. HEIs are expected to place strong focus on open research, development and innovation activities which are implemented in ecosystems crossing organizational, industry and sector boundaries. This requires that pedagogy emphasises learner- and phenomenon-orientation and a transfer to more phenomenon-oriented RDI activities in open learning environments. The perspective of innovation hub activities, the concrete manifestation of the goal state is as follows:

  • Metropolia has an established role as an innovation and learning ecosystem actor in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area.
  • Competence and innovative solutions for social phenomena are generated in ecosystems and on campus platforms in the form of cooperation transcending boundaries and through partnerships. Sustainable development directs the operations.
  • Learning takes place in authentic learning environments on the collaboration platforms at Metropolia’s campuses (HyMy Village, Smart Lab, Helsinki XR Center, Turbiini, Metropolia Proof Health, Urbanfarmlab, Robo Garage etc.).
  • Metropolia is capable of responding quickly to changing competence needs.
  • The number of new student- and RDI-oriented companies has increased, boosted by the Campus Incubators programme of the city of Helsinki.
  • Technology competence in the HEI community and ecosystems has become stronger in all innovation hubs. New emerging technologies and Metropolia’s technological platforms (such as Helsinki XR Center, RoboGarage and AIoT Garage) have gained a significant role in phenomenon-based learning and in the innovative solutions to phenomena.
  • Metropolia’s management system and operations management have been renewed to respond to the challenges experienced in phenomenon-orientation, openness, and systemization.

RDIL roadmap – how to reach the goal state

Metropolia wants to proceed towards the goal state through a collaborative and dialogical approach and reflection, continuously updating its situational awareness and roadmap. Essential to defining the steps in the roadmap is to identify the matters in which it is sufficient to develop the current state and those in which a more radical renewal is warranted. The Complex adaptive system model presented in Figure 16 is the guiding frame of reference.

Schematic representation with text boxes and circles

Figure 16 Complex adaptive system framework over the short term and long term in the RDIL development project.

From the perspective of the current state, emphasis is placed on making RDIL practices visible (the publication of a ‘book of recipes’ in the beginning of 2023), making use of good operating models, and facilitating cooperation between different actors. In addition, the needs and benefits of the RDIL activities to students, HEI personnel, companies and society are made visible. Table 2 presents the current key road map activities as they are perceived in the spring of 2022. Concrete measures are being worked on in dialogue between the RDIL actors.

Table 2: The current RDIL key road map activities in 2022 

In terms of transformation, it is essential how the models of thinking and operating in the open RDI activities are integrated in Metropolia’s daily operations. Table 3 shows themes and measures identified by 2030. Transforming them into RDIL road map activities happens through continuous joint development.

Table 3: RDIL themes and measures identified by 2030

Strengths Enhancement areas

Strategy 2030

  • A visionary and systemic strategy offers extensive opportunities for innovative RDIL solutions.
  • The principles of thinking and action integrated in the strategy are in excellent alignment with the RDIL principles.



Building a shared understanding

  • Clarification of the RDIL entity and the vision of the future (current state, transformation, vision of the future; link to the strategy) and motivating the personnel (the first step: announcement in 2022).
  • Making the need for and the multitude of benefits of the RDIL activities visible from the perspectives of students, companies, Metropolia and society.
  • Defining concepts

Investments in the preparation of RDIL

  • The current state and needs of RDIL have been examined by means of a participatory process. This has also helped identify a clear motivation and commitment to the theme and the objectives.




Reassessment of lifelong learning practices

  • Degrees based on professions and their phenomenon-orientation
  • Degrees and innovation hubs as an entity with impact and providers of new and flexible learning solutions
  • Learner-orientation and competence forecasts in lifelong learning
  • The lifelong learning ecosystem of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area (the role of the innovation hubs)

Management of RDIL 

  • The directors responsible (RDI and Lifelong Learning) manage RDIL as a close-knit work pair in the RDIL spirit.
  • RDIL work in the form of a project; the project is managed with a systemic approach (with the Three Horizons and CAS as the frames of reference).
  • Operations management and the management system are renewed in such a way that enables the implementation of RDIL (among other things, phenomenon-based budgeting, the roles of coordinators of the innovation hubs’ thematic areas and a platform coordinator, partnership model).


Increasing the alignment and transparency of the activities

  • Simultaneous development of RDIL both on a more comprehensive overall level and on a more specific concrete level.
    • Taking the diversity of RDIL into consideration.
    • Increasing the openness of the development process and decision-making (all key parties involved).
    • Involving students and actors in Services.
    • Clarifying the roles of the thematic area coordinators and platform coordinators.
    • Strengthening shared management.
    • Strengthening strategy-based operations management.
  • Enterprise architecture work supporting RDIL

Enabling structures, infrastructure and practices already exist

  • Several roles involving RDIL
  • Innovation hubs and platforms
  • Certain operating models, such as the MINNO studies
  • Pedagogic guidelines have been updated (including phenomenon-based learning)
  • Platforms have been made available for companies and students in upper secondary education, among others.

Enabling strategic change through

  • the development of management, pedagogy, and the operating environment
  • the development of the operating environment, competence, and capabilities of the HEI community.




The Campus Incubator programme

 Establishing business incubator cooperation (the Campus Incubator programme)


Strengthening the ecosystem and platform operations