Co-creating a Nordic Network of Living Labs

In connection to the celebration of the winners of the Nordic Independent Living Challenge the Living Lab Alliance held a workshop in Oslo on the 9th of June. The workshop was joined be municipalities, living labs, companies and cluster organization each providing their input to the topic “Nordic Network of Living Labs”. In the workshop the needs and expectations on the content and activities for a Network were mapped. There was an interest in a Nordic network and the discussion concentrated on how to create value for municipalities and living labs and how to overcome the difficulties in working cross-Nordic.

The key findings from the discussion can be categorized under the following titles:

People, sharing & learnings as a key values

During the workshop sessions the importance of having a contact person for living lab in each city and personal relationships were raised. The network provides the possibility to share ideas, questions and develop the processes and services together on a Nordic level

Shared information, processes and activities

There was a vivid discussion around the testing processes.

  • All participants were emphasizing that there should be a systematic process for testing. The municipalities were especially interested in sharing testing experiences and results. Agreeing on the test protocol and process was raised in the discussions.
  • Selection criteria for companies was discussed in both sessions, and best practices and common guidelines for this were also noted. Ideas like a concept of a “Nordic test licence” for companies, that would ease to validate the “readiness” of the companies for testing cross-Nordic.
  • Tangible references for companies // the network member living labs could provide Nordic test “label”

Other processes that support collaboration, and living lab practices on a Nordic level

  • A common Crowdsourcing platform
  • Collecting and communicating needs from municipalities to the supply side on a Nordic level
  • How to provide business support in cross-Nordic testing? It was discussed that it would be important to keep the local business support organisations, or municipalities key people closely in the networks activities.
  • Using learnings from Nordic Independent Living Challenge and replicating a challenge/open call in more defined, narrowed down for

Conclusion

The Living Lab Alliance will seek to establish and support a sharing of best practices on systematic selection and screening criteria, test and evaluation methods as well as how to organize living labs and the processes around such an entity. We believe such a sharing of learnings and practices among Nordic actors to be of great value to the Nordic ecosystem – as well as being of value to supply side actors i.e. to the Nordic companies developing new health and care solutions.

We will in the Living Lab Alliance also be looking into the theme of needs-driven innovation and demand. I.e. what methods and examples are seen when it comes to both identifying needs in municipalities – and in communicating these to companies not only locally but on a Nordic level. We see the theme of “needs-driven innovation” as a complex theme as it is also of question of have the right degree of details when identifying needs. From our experience analysis of needs can result in both to broad and generic needs – which are not useful neither for the municipalities or the companies – as well as resulting in to narrow formulation of needs which leaves little room to innovation and which does not take the complexity of the context into consideration. The “sweet-spot” of identifying and formulating needs at the right level of abstraction is something we will pursue in the Living Lab Alliance in the coming year.

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