Living Labs are essentially spaces of innovation. they engage people in creative processes to do research, real-life testing and sharing of knowledge.
The European Network of Living Labs (ENoLL) defines Living Labs as:
User-centred, open innovation ecosystems based on systematic user co-creation approach, integrating research and innovation processes in real life communities and settings. LLs are both practice-driven organisations that facilitate and foster open, collaborative innovation, as well as real-life environments or arenas where both open innovation and user innovation processes can be studied and subject to experiments and where new solutions are developed. LLs operate as intermediaries among citizens, research organisations, companies, cities and regions for joint value co-creation, rapid prototyping or validation to scale up innovation and businesses. LLs have common elements but multiple different implementations.
Origins and history
The concept living lab originated from the work of Prof William Mitchell from MIT (US) (Erikson et al. 2005, LivingLabMIT.edu 2016). They started working in the area of smart/ future homes. They developed homes in which people actually lived and this create a real-life testing environment for various applications. Living labs can then be conceptualized as follows: “Living Labs represent a user-centric research methodology for sensing, prototyping, validating and refining complex solutions in multiple and evolving real life contexts (Erikson, et al, 2005, p. 4).”
The proposed systemic innovation approach presented under the name of Living Labs contributes to the coming challenges of mass deployment of ICT solutions as a mean to further develop the society involving the citizens. It brings the users/consumers/citizens into the system of innovation, thereby leveraging on a larger mass of ideas, knowledge and experiences etc. and substantially boosting the innovation capability.(Eriksson et al, 2005, p.1)