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Advanced Course of Innovation Systems in Circular Bioeconomy

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    Shutterstock, Copyright: wowomnom

NOVA PhD course of 5 ECTS, organised by Professor Anne Toppinen, University of Helsinki: Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry. 
Preliminary course dates and location: 19 -23 Aug. 2019, in Helsinki, Finland.

This course is funded by NOVA and Nordic Forest Research (SNS).


Course Description
The aim of this course is to provide a systematic overview of innovation, innovation systems, and their roles in industrial transformation to the circular bioeconomy. Innovation is the necessary ingredient for successful transition of existing governments, companies and societies toward a sustainable future pathway. 

The proposed course has emphasis on the theoretical aspects of innovation system development. The empirical examples are drawn particularly from the business management, governance and networks of especially food and forest sectors finding ways to lead and adapt to the systemic sustainability transition. 
Furthermore, the course brings insights from the economic geography literature in the context of cross-border collaboration networks. 

The course is designed to bring about collaboration among a broad set of interdisciplinary bioeconomy and circular economy researchers working with the sectors depending on sustainable use of natural resources. We anticipate participation of PhD students from multiple disciplines, industry sectors and countries.


The course aims to clarify the foundational concept and applications of innovation literature drawing concrete examples from the industry.

The examples of conceptual topics covered in the course:

  • Organizational culture of innovation
  • Business models and cross-sectoral collaboration
  • Innovations in mature industries
  • New product development and innovation diffusion
  • Social entrepreneuship
  • Open innovation
  • Governance of sustainable innovation system
  • Regional innovation systems
  • Cross-border cooperation in the context of sustainable development

Programme Outline
The course consists of pre-readings, one week intensive contact teaching, and a course essay due one or two months after the course. An excursion takes place during one of the afternoons.

Pre-/Post-Campus Assignments
Assigned pre-readings and pre-tasks
A course essay

Learning Outcomes
The outcome of the course is to provide students with a comprehensive understanding on the meaning of innovation and innovation systems. After the course students are able to articulate how their research contributes to industry transformation required for a sustainable future. The course will help students to identify research priorities for innovation in bioeconomy and circular economy.

Evaluation Elements
The evaluation (pass/fail) will be based on course participation and the essay.

Pedagogical Approach
The course is taught by experts specialized in different aspects of innovation in bio-based innovation systems particularly in food and forest innovation system in Nordic countries and the United States.

The course includes a blend of lectures, group discussions, excursion, social events and self-study.

The course will include 15-20 journal articles as foundational readings.

After the course, students will write a max 10 page essay where they apply the course knowledge and literature on their field of study. Essays are required to meet certain criteria that will be explained during the course.

Estimated Workload

  • 10 hours of students seminar and external speaker presentations
  • 25 hours lecture
  • 5 hours other (half-day company visit, visit at the Finnish environmental and natural resource institute)
  • 60 hours pre-reading and preparing presentation
  • 50 hours final essay writing

Prerequisite Knowledge
Phd student in the biobased field, basic understanding on innovation management is an asset.

Admission for NOVA courses is handled by the course organiser/ the NOVA member institution organising the course. Please see the links in the margin for more information.

Apply here


There is no course fee for students and lunches are provided by the program.

Affordable accommodation option:  Hostel Academica,, where there are pre-booked 1 and 2 person rooms available for the course participants.

Published 25. January 2019 - 13:34 - Updated 29. March 2019 - 10:18