Living Labs

The Living Lab concept emerged in the 2000s, in somewhat different forms in America and Europe.

As early as 2004, at MIT, following on the success of the Media Lab at the same institution in the 1990s, Kent Larson set up the PlaceLab, involving non-scientific players to develop innovative urban solutions. MIT subsequently created many other "labs", such as Place Pulse, City Form Lab, Civic Data Design Lab, Senseable City Lab, CoLab, with a similar broad involvement philosophy. As early as 2006, the EU, with a view to enhancing the value of regional specificities and then, of what have been called smart cities, set up the ENOLL network (European Network of Living Labs), a formally qualifying structure for living labs that need to comply with certain criteria and have to be in some ways "approved". Like its counterpart at MIT and elsewhere in the United States, the concept has gradually been applied to many different fields of activity. As, along the way, the characteristics of living labs have become clearer, in parallel to these initiatives, practically since the same founding period, self-proclaimed living labs have emerged which, although not deigning to go through certification processes, are no less capable of embodying the attributes of living labs and fulfilling socio-economic and technological missions that are both innovative and stimulating.

These attributes are mainly :

Whatever the field or problem addressed, a strong affinity for high tech, digital techs and innovation, in combination with varied but specialized human and socio-economic components (smart city, digital health, industry 2.0, environment, etc.).

A tendency to make laboratory experiments partly outside the perimeter of the scientific laboratory and to involve the community, users, inhabitants, citizens, often through public-private partnerships. This leads to highlight open, interdisciplinary approaches to innovation, sometimes even without the supervision of a particular scientific body, but always in an experiential development rooted in a specific territorial ecosystem.

One of the major attributes of living labs is to value the user experience at the same level as the expertise of the scientist.

Some useful references:

Almirall Esteve, Lee Melissa, Wareham Jonathan (2012). "Mapping Living Lab in the Landscape of Innovation Methodologies". Technology Innovation Management Review, 2(9): 12-18. http://doi. org/10.22215/timreview/603

Ballon, P. and Schuurman, D. (2015), "Living labs: concepts, tools and cases", infoVol. 17 No. 4. (Emerald Group)

Bergwall-Kåreborn Birgitta, Ståhlbröst Anna (2009). "Living Lab: an Open and Citizen-Centric Approach for Innovation". International Journal of Innovation and Regional Development 1(4):356-370. DOI: 10.1504/IJIRD.2009.022727

Leminen Seppo, Nyström Anna-Greta (2012). "Living Labs as Open-Innovation Networks". Technology Innovation Management Review, 2(9): 6-11. http://doi. org/10.22215/timreview/602

Pallot Marc (2009). "The Living Lab Approach: A User Centred Open Innovation Ecosystem". Webergence Blog(

Pallot Marc, Trousse Brigitte, Senach Bernard, Scapin Dominique (2010). "Living Lab Research Landscape: From User Centred Design and User Experience towards User Cocreation". First European Summer School "Living Labs", Inria (ICT Usage Lab), Userlab, EsoceNet, Universcience, Aug 2010, Paris, France. ffinria-00612632

Pallot Marc, Pawar Kulwant (2012). "A holistic model of user experience for living lab experiential design". 18th International ICE Conference on Engineering, Technology and Innovation (ICE), June 2012. DOI: 10.1109/ICE.2012.6297648

Steen Kris, Van Bueren Ellen (2017). "The Defining Characteristics of Urban Living Labs". Technology Innovation Management Review, July 2017, Vo. 7, Issue 7, p. 21-33