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Public innovation agencies

Innovation agencies also play a critical role in linking up ideas and resources. The most effective innovation agencies work across sectors, disciplines and fields.

Examples include NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) in the UK and TEKES, the National Technology Agency of Finland.

TEKES is the national innovation agency and funds public sector R&D innovations through its programmes designed to encourage the growth of ‘innovation networks’. These networks are intended to create collaboration between innovative institutions to instigate sharing of methods of successful innovation. Its Finn Well programme, which drew to a close in 2009, has sought to improve the quality and profitability of healthcare, and promote business activities in the field. The programme is based on the idea that technology only improves the quality and profitability of healthcare services if new procedures are simultaneously developed in an innovative way. The scope for this programme was initially estimated at €150 million but in practice rose to €177 million. TEKES provided half of this funding with participants providing the other half.

Current programmes include Innovations in Social and Healthcare Services which was initiated in 2008 to develop relations between government and public sector bodies in developing healthcare services, and Built Environment initiated in 2009 to improve productivity through environments designed to promote well-being.