Tuire Ranta-Meyer

If two European higher education institutes wish to intensify their collaboration and encourage the staff to change ideas and knowledge, what would be a motivating way to do this? What would be the source of involvement, inspiration and joy for professionals, who sometimes wish to reach out to extraordinary and not be satisfied with the commonplace routines? What would make the joint activities visible and show a long-term commitment?

These were the questions we asked ourselves in the beginning of the year 2015 when planning the yearly HTW Berlin and Metropolia UAS meeting taking place in Berlin next October. Previously the focus had been more or less in strategies, structures, processes and campus development of both organizations. We had already in 2012 carried out a joint one-year benchmarking project to make recommendations for quality development at the two universities. The project received financial support from the Finnish Higher Education Evaluation Council FINHEEC, and a quite comprehensive final report of the project was published 2014.

The response for the need of getting a new angle or ‘twist’ for the next meeting was analyzing the research focus areas of both institutions together and on this basis introducing a conference concept for the next meeting, including a call for papers on the topic ‘Future City Challenges’. The idea of this publication titled Beyond the Ordinary originates from the 2015 Berlin conference and is largely based on the papers presented in it. As it often happens, not all the ideas for the publication came true and not all the presentations were afterwards written in the form of an article. Beyond the Ordinary, however, describes eminently the very core of the shared collaborative culture and the public−private−people partnership in the metropolitan areas that are infused in the DNA of both universities of applied sciences.

Part one of the publication concentrates on collaboration and partnerships in a general perspective. The opening article, written by Dr. Prof. Matthias Knaut and me, sheds light on the background and reasons why a strategic partnership was a natural and motivating step in the cooperation process between HTW Berlin and Metropolia. The next article fulfils a long-existing dream to consider and put into words my own professional leadership experience in the field of culture, creative teams and artistic endeavours. Research in this field shows that art-based activities help to break through the limitations of previously codified knowledge. Using a wide range of practices retrieved from the arts tradition can, no doubt, improve team performance and innovation capacity.

Dr. Merja Bauters concentrates on how to design experience. She promotes design for reflection and thinking to be connected to smart solutions. Citizens should not be allowed to think less because of the use of ICT. First visiting author of the publication, MA Minna Liski from Lahti UAS, writes about the importance of abilities and motivation of the staff as a dynamo in successful strategic partnerships. She is convinced that individuals maintaining informal contacts, as well as formal, contribute immensely to the success of long-lasting partnerships.

Part two opens up a conversations about future cities. What are the challenges and what means do cities have to attract companies and higher education institution to invent solutions in multidisciplinary cooperation? Prof. Dr. Stefanie Molthagen-Schnöring, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Regina Zeitner and Prof. Dr. Marion Peyinghaus are discussing an important idea of corporate citizenship adopting social responsibility. In the paper the writers show how actors such as private companies, especially among the real estate industry, as well as public institutions can contribute to a healthy urban environment.

In their paper Prof. Dr.-Ing. Carsten Busch, MSc. André Selmanagić and MSc. Martin Steinicke describe the concept of applied interactive technologies. They share visions of applying these technologies that have been originally used in gaming industry to various potential fields in non-entertainment contexts. They present examples, existing prototypes and practical case-studies of the areas of application from the industrial sector to future living spaces. Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dieter Bunte concentrates in his article on energy performance calculations. He discusses the weak correlation between energy consumption measured in real-life and the more theoretical calculations of energy demand exerted in the European energy certificates. Reasons for the discrepancies can be related for instance to the scattering weather conditions and seen as caused by the real indoor temperature according to the comfort expectations of the building users.

The joint article of four writers, Lic.Ed. Riitta Konkola, MA Elina Värtö, Msc. Harri Santamala and me is an attempt to describe the current trend, where universities of applied sciences are catalysts and central actors of innovation ecosystems. The smarter mobility competence hub is used as a concrete example of the collaborative way how ecosystems work. Dr. Kristiina Erkkilä from the city of Espoo is the second visiting author in this publication. She discusses the many bridges between city development and higher education institutions and shares ideas on how future city challenges can be tackled in participatory co-creation processes.

Among the many people who have supported me editing this publication, I must first thank all the writers for their contribution. I am obliged to all of them for their patience to go through their texts in the pace of the editing process. Especially Dr. Merja Bauters should be mentioned here by name because of her encouragement and persistence. Concerning HTW Berlin I owe a special thanks to my nearest colleague, vice-president Matthias Knaut. He has been responsible for the strategic partnership from the very beginning and has made everyone feel warmly welcomed to participate and collaborate. No question and no detail has ever been too insignificant for him to be answered. Sharing information with him and discussing various topics in higher education policies is always extremely rewarding.

I have been privileged to collaborate with the media students at Metropolia Valovirta Design, especially Janne Nurmi, Tuuli Ollikainen and Timo Bontenbal, who have created the visual and technical design of this publication series. I am happy to have been always able to turn to their supervisor, Senior Lecturer Tuomas Aatola in all my questions, ideas and suggestions.

I am grateful for Dr. Mervi Friman from Häme UAS and Dr. Riitta Rissanen from Arene for reviewing the articles, which are written by me or in which I am a co-writer. I am very much obliged to Ms. Elina Värtö for her very valuable help and loyalty. I have been able to ask her opinion for many details and proofreading problems. With a master’s degree in English, she has translated some complex figures from Finnish in English, too. Also Ms. Melissa Rask should be thanked for her advice and suggestions concerning the series name of the joint publication. Finally, I thank the Managing Director and President of Metropolia, Ms. Riitta Konkola, whose support for this publication has been crucial. Because of her Vygotskian background she understands the value of collaborative teams and never stops me starting projects that aspire beyond the ordinary.