Triple Helix Engagement with Users: Findings from a Survey of the European Network of Living Labs

Triple Helix Engagement with Users: Findings from a Survey of the European Network of Living Labs

Maurice Mulvenna (School of Computing and Mathematics, University of Ulster, Derry, UK) and Suzanne Martin (School of Computing and Mathematics, University of Ulster, Derry, UK)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/ijide.2014070105
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Abstract

Living labs, defined as a collection of people, equipment, services, and technology to provide a test platform for research and experiments, offer much promise in engaging with users to create new products and services. However, they are not widely understood outside some of the academic departments in which the concepts underlying them have been developed. The purpose of this study was to provide information about the phenomenon of living labs by asking the labs themselves to provide fundamental information of this position, outlook, and relationships with users and related stakeholders in triple-helix partnerships comprising academia, public sector, and private business. The approach of the study was to design and conduct a survey using an electronic Internet-based survey tool. The survey was designed to provide quantitative information about number of users involved in each living lab, for example. However, the survey also probed the labs to provide more detailed response to questions exploring qualitative aspects. The survey request was sent to all extant living labs that provided some form of email address as a form of contact. Fifty-six living labs responded, comprising a response rate of 29%. This study is believed to be the first major survey undertaken of living labs since the European Network of Living Labs was established in Espoo, Finland in 2006. A key value of the study is that it provides a baseline against which future studies can compare results. It also provides very interesting findings about the diversity of living labs, how they engage with users, and how strong the relationships are between living labs.
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Literature Review

The ENOLL living labs recognise, as did Mitchell, that technology, in particular ICT plays a powerful catalytic role in user engagement and most of them are focused on using technology to support user engagement, research novel ways of engaging with users, and communicate findings rapidly and accurately using low-cost, mass-adopted tools such as social networks.

Living labs are “collaborations of public-private-civic partnerships in which stakeholders co-create new products, services, businesses and technologies in real life environments and virtual networks in multi-contextual spheres” (Feuerstein, et al., 2008). A simpler definition is “a collection of people, equipment, services and technology to provide a test platform for research and experiments” (FarNorth, 2010). Some position living labs as a kind of technological test-bed (Ballon, et al., 2005) while others classify them as “innovation methodologies” (Kallai & Bilicki, 2008).

It is apparent from an examination of the living labs that many have a particular niche in which they operate. Some labs are region-based, others focus on a particular product family for example, automotive design, while others seek to address particular societal needs in, for example, healthcare. However, the use of technology to engage and support users as early as possible in product and service development is the common denominator for all of them.

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