Topics of interest for the Living Lab Alliance

On the 9th of June the Nordic Living Lab Alliance organized a workshop inviting companies, municipalities, living labs and cluster representatives, to provide input on different topics related to the work done to be done in the living lab alliance. In the addition to the four topics discussed, participants  also had the possibility of suggestion topics which they found interesting for the Nordic Living Lab Alliance to discuss and hopefully address during the 1½ remaining years of the project. The following represents the input and topics that the participants brought up during the workshop. Click here for an overview of the discussions on the other topics.

Implementation/new options for tendering processes:

What happens after partners in municipalities and SME’s have developed a new solution? The tender process can be prohibitive for the implementation of the new developments and innovations. There is a need to discuss how to benefit from other options when procuring i.e. dialogue before tender, tender/contracting by negotiation and especially the option in the new law of Innovative Partnerships. How can development and test be part of a procurement process? Could the Nordic Living Lab Alliance be a platform for trying out procurement though Innovative Partnerships?

Business Model for Living Labs themselves:

Several Living Labs face issues of economic sustainability. A number of Living labs and test beds have been established in Sweden with funding from Vinnova. This funding is now running out and the Living Labs need to generate other kinds of income.  If the cost of running a Living Lab is to be covered by fees from the testing SME’s, a large number of solutions will need to be tested in order to gain enough income. There is an interest in the Nordic Living Lab Alliance to investigate and develop different business models for Living Labs.

 Two different perspectives/target groups for Living Labs

Living labs can be created for many different reasons. The way in which a Living Lab is organized and financed depends amongst other on whom or to what interests the living lab should be serving. Two different situations were discussed:

  • A Living Lab is established for the sake of the public sector/municipality itself; as part of a procurement process, as part of competence development for staff, as part an innovation strategy taking active part in the development of new solutions
  • A Living Lab is established to serve companies and enhance their development and growth by giving the companies access to feedback on ideas, prototypes, business models etc. for their solution.

Involving civil society (the third sector) in testing new solutions for citizens

The core of Living Labs is to involve the people who are going to use a new solution in the very development of this solution. This could be staff, citizens, relatives etc. Civil Society Organisations could provide the access to specific and relevant users and citizens. There was an interest in that the Nordic Living Lab Alliance should include civil society organisations or “the Third Sector” in the Alliance. Different “test-methods” and attitudes were discussed. Users and citizens often prefer to be actively involved in co-creation rather than providing feed-back through a written questionnaire. Users and citizens prefer to be addresses as capable individuals – not just labeled “elderly” or “disabled”.

Designated “test-groups” within the municipality

The demanding task of identifying and recruiting relevant and dedicated test-persons within the municipalities were discussed. One solution could be to create designated test-groups and a structure within which test-persons could function. The role of being a designated test-person could at the same time provide a role and an identity to the assigned users and citizens.

Conclusion

The ‘open-topic’ theme as part of the co-creation workshop brought strong and relevant input and highlighted themes to be pursued throughout the course of the Nordic Business & Living Lab Alliance. In particularly we will be looking into different examples of business models for living labs and will also be coordinating this with the two other test bed projects financed by Nordic Innovation (NoTeb and Nordic Network of Test beds). Some of the models already discussed have focused on stronger integration with the procurement function in municipalities as well as having living labs playing a valuable role in innovation partnerships. When it comes to designated “test-groups” we will, among others, be exploring cases from Denmark where some municipalities have developed test-families and test-panels as designated groups involved in the testing of new health and care solutions.

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