VTT hosted the 24th annual RESER (European Association for Research on Services) conference that took place during September 11–13 at the Finlandia Hall in Helsinki. VTT’s Research Professor Marja Toivonen was responsible for scientific questions at the event.
The theme of this year’s RESER conference was “Services and New Societal Challenges – Innovation for Sustainable Growth and Welfare”. Emphasis was on the central role of services in solving current economic problems. Problems such as the ageing population, social exclusion, climate change and economic recession demand the development of service industries and systems. In all the developed countries, the service industry forms about two thirds of production and employment. Added to this, today’s key phenomenon is the growth of services within industry, a change that the industrial internet will help to accelerate in the near future.
The introductory speech was made by VTT Executive Vice President Jouko Suokas, who used examples from the business world to illustrate how interaction between services and technology can be used to promote both economic success and user satisfaction. The conference closed with the chance to hear the ideas of Pekka Lindroos, Commercial Counsellor from the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, on how services can be raised to a prominent position in Finland’s industrial policy.
The main speakers at the conference were Professor Stephen Vargo from the United States, who researches value co-creation and service ecosystems, and Professor Jon Sundbo from Denmark, a specialist in innovative service strategies. Conference participants made a total of 142 presentations in 36 separate sessions. Session subjects covered e.g. social innovations, smart transport and other systemic innovations, new business models, agile innovation processes and the challenges of internationalisation.
RESER is a network of groups and individuals active in services research and strongly focused on societal issues, targeting results that can be applied in practice. The multidisciplinary association involves the participation of specialists in economics, engineering, commercial science, sociology, regional science and humanities. Taking part in the conference were 194 representatives from 27 countries, those outside Europe including Japan, China and South American countries.