Ilkka Kakko was invited to have a keynote speech in Seats2Meet Global Partner Conference in Utrecht, Netherlands. The main message of the presentation was that emergent competence platforms are urgently needed when building up global freelancer ecosystems. A well designed platform with enough critical mass will help increase the dynamics and interaction and hence support new idea creation and implementation of emergent ideas. Ilkka’s presentation can be downloaded here.





Ilkka Kakko and Erik Raita were invited to speak at the Coworking Forum organized by the City of Saint Petersburg. The event was held June 29, 2013 in the biggest Russian coworking environment Zona Space.

In his presentation titled “How to harness serendipity in coworking environments” Ilkka focused on serendipity issues, whereas Erik’s presentation was focusing on the general principles and guidelines of building the coworking environments. Both presentations were warmly welcomed by the audience and actively cited by the participants in the live Twitter stream of the event (see #coforum). More photos from the event can be found here.

Coworking scene is strongly developing in major Russian cities, and Karostech is taking an active role in the development of Saint Petersburg’s coworking landscape.

Coworking scene is strongly developing in two major Russian cities, as also noticed by, the main global publication about the coworking. The whole article about the potential in Russian metropoles can be read here.

Karostech is taking an active role in the evolution of Saint Petersburg’s coworking landscape. So far a dozen of coworking environments with very different operation models has been opened in Saint Petersburg, which is a low figure for an international metropolis of five million people. However, first success stories have generated lots of buzz and a strong movement, and new spaces will be established to fulfill the increasing demand on the market. Karostech’s experts expect more than 10 new spaces to open in one year’s time. Coworking chains will also start to appear as currently dominating amateur driven projects will be developing towards professionally managed businesses. We also expect that the global coworking chains will soon notify the emerging business potential and launch their nodes in Saint Petersburg.

Karostech has been involved lately in the creation of some new coworking spaces, the latest to mention is the one at State Polytechnical University campus. Karostech’s expertise and effort for supporting St. Petersburg’s coworking scene has raised interest among the local actors, and new locations are currently under development.

The Chairman of the Board Erik Raita has been invited as a speaker to a large coworking related event organized by the City of Saint Petersburg in the end of June. This could be a great opportunity for any major coworking concept to inform about the landing in Saint Petersburg and raise target audience’s interest to join a world class coworking community.

netWork Oasis - a coworking hub inside Joensuu Science  Park

netWork Oasis – a coworking hub inside Joensuu Science Park

The early signs were recognizable already years ago

”Traditional business incubators will fade away, replaced by new kinds of spaces for entrepreneurship and collaborative research. Pop-up labs, co-working hubs, mobile incubators and disposable research parks will provide flexible physical spaces for R&D. Rather than warehousing workers, they will meet a need for communal collaborative meeting space in a world of increased mobility within and between worksplaces. They will be neutral places where networks of investors, entrepreneurs, hackers ans customers converge for collaborative knowledge creation and trust building, cementing relationships initiated and  cultivated online.”

Rather than warehousing workers, they will meet a need for communal collaborative meeting space in a world of increased mobility within and between worksplaces

This is how the report from Institute for the Future described in 2009 an emerging trend called ”The Social Life of Small Research Spaces”. Sounds familiar ?  Later on that year I was interviewed by a reporter from an independent supplement of Media Planet within the Wall Street Journal. The article ”What is the Future of Research Parks?” was part of the publication  and my outspoken vision in December 2009  was pretty incisive:

“There should be places where people could meet more randomly and ad-hoc. Research parks should work on trying to increase the diversity among their clientele. So far, it looks like science parks are no longer very attractive to the younger generation. Young people feel the parks too rigid or too business like. They like this more relaxed environment. You have to develop methods for “serendipity management” and “open innovation” to discover ways to best facilitate the ad hoc collaborations. Otherwise it will happen in coffee shops and bars.” 

Today we will see this happening in ever increasing speed and mostly outside the walls of STPs.  The new innovation scene is attractively set mainly by coworking spaces and by new innovation platforms like netWork Oasis, Demola, Urban Mill etc (this was discussed in my previous blog.)


Location, location, location

While the coworking movement is gaining momentum and STPs loosing it,  maybe we should analyze some of the fundamentals behind this trend. My understanding is that one of the decisive elements is location.

There are hardly any STPs in the downtown locations of the metropolises.

Coworking spaces are mainly located in downtown areas, where the people density and diversity is high naturally. The STPs are located in suburban areas, in university campuses or industrial zones. There are hardly any STPs in the downtown locations of the metropolises. Why is this an important difference?  Watching the old classic by William ”Holly” White – a 55 min film ” The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces -The Street Corner” might give you insight. 

The vibrant and random action on the streets and the possibility to serendipitous encounters  – the coincidensity! – can be harnessed in the nearby located coworking spaces but not in the STP glasstowers in suburban locations.  And like the video proved even small changes in the settings can be decisive. Our behavior is very context dependent!


Linking surrounding communities into the innovation processes

A week ago Stowe Boyd published a great blog where he interviewed Jennifer Magnolfi. Jennifer is widely acknowledged for her reputation in the field and the visionary way of thinking. Her applied research work explores coworking and co-creation, the technologies and practices that support workspaces for innovation, collaboration and community development. In 2012, Jennifer teamed up with CEO Tony Hsieh to support the company’s new headquarters redesign.  Jennifer explains in the interview the magic of coworking spaces:

“Coworking spaces have the capacity to support productive work because of the very human-centric approach to how they are created: the community, or network, comes first, followed by studying and stabilizing the network, and then creation of an environment that supports the behaviors and needs of that network.”

The creation process was based on self-organising principles and the core tribe members were selected because of their passion to the topic.

We surely can confirm that. In our 3GSP pilot project we noticed that the implementation of netWork Oasis, a coworking space inside the existing STP, was the vital element in understanding how the communities are created and supported. We discovered in the very beginning the importance of the core tribe. The creation process was based on self-organising principles and the core tribe members were selected because of their passion to the topic. Actually to be precise – our idea of creating a revolutionary collaborative working environment (CWE) – like it was called at that time (2002) – was so attractive, that it was evident that we could gather the masterminds of this topic into our planning team. The community building was further supported by using our Training Camp approach. As a result we had in the spring 2004 the most diverse and motivated team consisting of core tribe members, substance experts and networking members. By the way, who would have imagined that our task attracted also a monk, Father Andreas, from nearby Valamo monastery to join our team….So passionate lead users and core tribe members were leading the way to create the concept.


Harnessing the benefits of a vibrant coworking space

A properly organized coworking space is essential in hosting various communities. The design of the physical space is extremely important, like Jennifer explains :  “The properties of space –- volume, texture, materials, proportions, light — have the capacity to trigger neurochemical reactions in the brain. It is believed that when this is understood correctly, it can be a tool to design for a certain kind of behavior: concentration, energy, focus.”  In fact with the design and implementation of netWork Oasis we went one step further, our leading design principle for  the space was to support and generate serendipitous encounters of people with diverse backgrounds.

And as important as the physical space is the virtual collaboration platform. Like Jennifer says: “Our digital social space has implicit laws (it’s based on distributed networks), speed and acceleration. It also creates new emergent behaviors in users.  For businesses, the purpose of understanding this social context is to describe and possibly predict its future evolution. In other words, understanding these emergent behaviors helps businesses innovate faster, and thus achieve competitive advantage.

That kind of attractive and open space will work as a camp site, similar to those of the ancient nomadic communities – a campfire which gathers the surrounding communities together to reflect, to create and to enjoy.

A vibrant coworking space is the core platform in our 3GSP tool box! It works because the communities are alive and hence able to attract more inspiring people with diverse backgrounds to the space. That kind of attractive and open space will work as a camp site, similar to those of the ancient nomadic communities – a campfire which gathers the surrounding communities together to reflect, to create and to enjoy. And like Jennifer Magnolfi mentioned earlier on,  these mental campfire places can be created. The most attractive element in netWork Oasis in fact has turned out to be the logfire place in Serendipity Cafe, where you can watch the flames of the logs burning live.  It’s a general wisdom that  campfires are one of the most relaxing phenomenons a mankind have ever created.  Our experience shows that a natural campfire ambience is by far the best way to create insightful moments in a built environment. And insight really is, what is needed in our communities!


Photo courtesy – Finnish Game Jam / Facebook:






Welcome to an interesting morning workshop at Zona Space in Saint Petersburg on Friday 15th of March.  ”OpenINNO” ENPI- project and Zona Space will sponsor an event where the hot topics of innovation frontier are presented. Co-working, serendipity and open innovation are introduced and discussed. This event is free of charge.

Friday 15th of March

10:00 – 10:45

Erik Raita, Karostech Ltd.

“Co-working: how it works” (in Russian)


Ilkka Kakko, Karostech Ltd.

“Understanding serendipity – your competitive edge” (in English)


Prof. Marko Torkkeli, Lappeenranta University of Technology

“Open Innovation – new paradigm for business”  (in English)


 The address is:  Zona Space premises, Ligovsky av. 74, Saint Petersburg

Karostech has been consulting a team of community builders in Lahti concerning their plans to renovate an old Mallasjuoma brewery building to a modern Center of Creative Communities – Malski.  This still ongoing work has involved various tasks by Karostech, such as conceptual planning, business plan evaluations, planning and supporting the pilot operations especially in the coworking space operations and facilitation of the community building.

The pilot space c/o Malski opened in a location very close to the brewery building in the middle of the city on late January 2013.  The first big event was organized by Karostech and it was the participation in JELLYWEEK 2013 activities together with 250 other coworking communities from all over the world. The Google Hangout video clip from a special session “Designing a platform for creative industries”can  be found here, the issue was discussed between local experts and online contributors Anni Roolf (Germany), Leila Pais de Miranda (Brazil) and Sebastian Olma (Netherlands).

The Malski Center will open in the beginning of 2015 and Karostech is applying the 3GSP principles into the final design and implementation of the center.

Karostech will move the headquarters to c/o Malski by the beginning of March.



Karostech’s Founder and Partner Ilkka Kakko was invited to Coworking Europe 2012 Conference as speaker and round table panelists. The conference gathered 280 participants from over 30 countries. Serendipity was overall one of the leading themes at the conference and it was especially elaborated in ”Harnessing serendipity” workshop organized and facilitated by Ilkka Kakko.

Ilkka also contributed to the round table discussion devoted to the building supportive ecosystems around free-lancer communities. The topic belongs to the core competence areas of Karostech.

Ilkka’s more detailed blog about the event can be found here.


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