REFOOTURE evidence platform

How to set-up a well functioning Living Lab

Research indicates that well-functioning Living Labs have 5 key elements. Through the evidence platform, we explore these 5 elements and invite you to share your experience through leaving a comment, give feedback or share interesting literature or documentation on the subject in the following sections

Mixed group of stakeholders and strong network

A Living Lab is a place where people who would not usually meet, convene and work together on joint challenges by creating new innovations and approaches that contribute to the future vision that they have jointly developed.

Ideally, a Living Lab builds new bridges and links between existing collaborations, knowledge or innovations and brings people together that share a mutual objective. Successful Living Labs mainly strengthen, support and catalyzes existing networks and avoid dominating or disturbing these collaborations and networks.

The learning component of Living Labs is not just (theoretical) knowledge, but also wisdom and training. These different knowledge systems have to be made equal through a support structure for all stakeholders involved, also the marginalized groups (depending on the context, these may be smallholder farmers, but also youth and women).
For this first element, we invite you to explore with us.

What stakeholder groups can be identified as important to a Living Lab?

First step is to get the focus and objectives of the Living Lab clear and subsequently examine who needs to be involved in the Living Lab to reach these objectives. It is recommended to conduct an “innovation network analysis” to recognize which members (or which other stakeholders) are the key enablers, doers and thinkers that would play a crucial role to contribute to the objectives of the Living Lab. This analysis is made by interviewing people in the region. Information that is collected relates to (potential) influence it has on the surrounding network and the degree of knowledge exchange the Living Lab can contribute to. A bottom-up approach is essential in a Living Lab process. This helps the Living Lab to focus at relevant solutions and innovations, and to stick to on-the-ground reality. Voices of different stakeholders are balanced in successful Living Lab. However, this is an evolutionary process since in existing collaborations, voices can be represented in unequal way. The Living Lab gradually brings in new voices and tries to master changes in power structures to make sure the different voices are heard. Hence, it is important not to disrupt existing learning and innovation processes as a result of new Living Lab interventions, while introducing new voices to the dialogue. 

What groups or types of stakeholders are essential to include in transformational Living Labs?

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