Bernardo Figueiredo

Embracing Innovation in Vaasa: A Research Exchange Experience

in English

I am a passionate researcher from RMIT University. I am an Associate Professor in Marketing, and I also the theme leader for Positive Ageing at the College of Business. My research focuses ageing and technology, but  as the stream lead for “Open, Collaborative & Participatory Approaches for Innovation” at the Enabling Impact Platform Global Business Innovation (EIP-GBI), I am also interested in learn more about on projects that engage citizens and integrate their participation with innovation.

Why Vaasa?

Choosing the University of Vaasa and the Vaasa region for my research exchange was a decision fueled by an initial contact with Professor Catharina Von Koskull and the interesting projects happening between academia and industry. The region’s commitment to sustainable business models and community engagement aligns well with my research interests.

My experience in Vaasa

I had a very warm welcome by the researches in Vaasa. I had a chance to present the work on ageing technology and work closely with Catharina to develop new partnerships in this space. I also had a chance to learn more about the projects other researchers are conducting, trying to understand pathways for potential collaboration.

During my stay in Vaasa, I introduced to a truly unique and playful approach to innovation. The university has created one of the largest rooms filled with 98 arcade games, thanks to the Teemu Närvä and Philipp Holtkamp. This space is not just for fun; it serves as a dynamic venue where companies can hold events, and researchers can meet with industry partners in a relaxed and engaging environment. It’s an ingenious and sustainable business model that fosters connections across various university areas.

One of the standout projects I delved into was #DeCarbonHome, which addresses housing system challenges from environmental, technical, and social science perspectives. My discussions with Henna Syrjälä highlighted their work in empowering citizens to play an active role in decarbonizing suburban and rural housing through co-creation and community engagement.

I also connected with Mona Enell-Nilsson on the #RIPEET project, which brings together quintuple helix actors in Transition Labs to facilitate energy transitions. This project provides a methodology for creating and implementing Communities of Practice, fostering peer-learning and innovation.

Another remarkable project was #OrganizingREKO, where Hanna Leipämaa-Leskinen and Evianna Pehkonen shared their insights into the viability of local food systems. REKO has quickly become a viable alternative to the global industrialized food system, demonstrating the power of local, sustainable solutions.

Strategic discussions and future collaborations

Throughout my visit, I engaged in strategic discussions with Catharina von Koskull about potential collaborative research and funding opportunities. We initiated talks on leveraging the new cotutelle agreement between the University of Vaasa and RMIT, which is a direct outcome of the OpenInnoTrain project. This agreement will pave the way for future research exchanges and collaborations.

I also had the pleasure of presenting research from the #ShapingConnections and Centre for Organisations and Social Change (COSC) projects to my colleagues at the University of Vaasa. These presentations showcased the impact of RMIT and GBI projects, our focus on Sustainable Development goals, and opened new avenues for collaboration.

What we can learn from each other

From Vaasa, I have learned the importance of creating engaging and playful environments to foster innovation and collaboration. The unique approaches here have inspired new ideas for my work at RMIT. In return, I hope to share insights on citizen engagement and co-creation, emphasizing the value of integrating community participation in innovation projects.

This exchange has been a insightful journey, and I look forward to the continued collaboration between our institutions. Together, we can drive impactful innovation that benefits both academia and industry.


I am incredibly grateful to Mona Enell-Nilsson for her warm reception and for connecting me with the right people during my stay. Special thanks to Henna Syrjälä, Anu Norrgrann, Hanna Leipämaa-Leskinen, Arto Ojala, and Catharina Von Koskull for facilitating my presentations and discussions.

Bernardo FigueiredoFernardo Figueiredo
Associate Professor in Marketing,
RMIT University, Australia





The OpenInnoTrain project is a network of researchers and industry professionals in Europe and Australia. It promotes the translation of research between universities and industry through cooperation and open innovation. OpenInnoTrain focuses on research translation through secondments. Secondments are an exchange of research and innovation staff between universities and industry.



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Verkkotoimitus - Visiting scholars – Vierailevat tutkijat