Living Labs Europe – user-driven innovation environments in the information society

Living Labs Europe
A Living Lab is a city area which operates a full-scale urban laboratory and proving ground for inventing, prototyping and marketing new mobile technology applications. A Living Lab includes interactive testing, but is managed as an innovation environment well beyond the test bed functions.

As a city-based innovation resource the Living Lab can take advantage of the pools of creative talent, the affluence of socio-cultural diversity, and the unpredictability of inventiveness and imagination in the urban setting.

Users, including professional users, play significant roles by identifying needs and formulating demands, thereby shaping emerging applications through processes of participatory design. To remain effective, a Living Lab must encourage and promote close interactions between the producers and users of technology.

Living Labs promote entrepreneurship and inventiveness, creating new ventures in business and society. Through European networking, local challenges become global markets. For cities, public institutions and innovative firms Living Labs are a strategic tool to gain competitive advantages. For example, Living Labs companies have become preferred partners in relation to global firms in prototyping, testing and launching advanced community services and business solutions.

Whilst Living Labs generally focus on mobile technologies and applications, they serve as a much wider catalyst for growth in such sectors as health, media and food.

Living Labs Europe

From the outset, each Living Lab agrees to be a node in a European network and share information and experiences. To create critical mass and combine resources, cross-border projects can easily be launched with other Living Labs. The most relevant Living Lab experiences are quickly exchanged across the European network, as showcases of innovation and opportunities for learning, strategic collaboration and marketing. The user perspectives must remain the basis for all Living Lab activities.

For small and medium-sized enterprises, the network of Living Labs opens many new doors to a European marketplace with more than 400 million end-users. Innovative solutions, prototyped in one Living Lab, can easily be tested and marketed across regional and national borders. As a continental network, Living Labs Europe forms a unique marketplace with critical mass, bringing together user-groups in some of Europe’s most inventive city areas.

For European cities, the Living Lab is an instrument to construct internationally competitive advantages, attract inward investments and manage the city brand. Through Public-Private Partnerships cities promote innovative services to their citizens, visitors and enterprises. Through Living Labs Europe, even small communities have successfully pioneered innovative mobile solutions that inspire the European marketplace, gaining growth and international visibility.

By design, Living Labs already constitute a pan-European collaboration scheme as well as a marketplace for open solutions. A number of Living Labs have signed cooperation agreements to sharing experiences launch pan-European projects. More are to come.

Currently, Living Labs initiatives have been taken by groups of stakeholders in cities like Almere (NL), Barcelona (ES), Boras (SE), Budapest (HU), Copenhagen (DK), Hamburg (D), Helsinki (FIN), London (UK), Mataró (ES), Sant Cugat (ES), Sophia-Antipolis (FR), Stuttgart (D), Tallinn ( EST), Torino (IT), Västervik (SE).

According to Living Labs Europe plans and recent expectations, at least 20 fully-fledged Living Labs should be in operation in a scheme of collaboration across the continent by 2007.

Living Labs Europe website
Living Labs Europe blog
Living Labs Europe brochure (pdf, 467 kb, 8 pages)


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