The Role of Urban Living Labs in Entrepreneurship, Energy, and Governance of Smart Cities

The Role of Urban Living Labs in Entrepreneurship, Energy, and Governance of Smart Cities

Ana Pego, Maria do Rosário Matos Bernardo
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6307-5.ch009
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Urban living labs (ULL) are a new concept which involves users in innovation and development and are regarded as a way of meeting the innovation challenges faced by information and communication technology (ICT) service providers. The chapter focuses on the role of urban living labs in entrepreneurship, energy and governance of smart cities, where it is performed the relationship between innovations, governance, and renewable energy. The methodology proposed will focus on content analysis and on the exploration of some European examples of implemented ULL, namely Amsterdam, Helsinki, Stockholm and Copenhagen. The contributions of the present research should be the consolidation of knowledge about the impact of ULL on innovation and development of smart cities regarding the concepts of renewable energy, smart governance and entrepreneurship.
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Nowadays, cities can be characterized as places of great transformation facing challenges at multiple levels. As Johannes Hahn said (European Union, 2011, p. III): “Cities are places where both problems emerge, and solutions are found. They are fertile ground for science and technology, for culture and innovation, for individual and collective creativity, and for mitigating the impact of climate change. However, cities are also places where problems such as unemployment, segregation and poverty are concentrated.”

Throughout recent decades, the term smart cities has been generalized to define cities with a set of characteristics that differentiate them from traditional cities. The concept of a smart city is not consensual for all researchers and, depending on their research area, different characteristics are highlighted (Caragliu et al., 2011; Chourabi et al., 2012; Gil-Garcia, 2015; Hollands, 2008). However, it is possible to identify some common denominators in the various definitions proposed in the literature, namely: ICT; sustainability; citizens’ welfare; quality of life; collaboration; development; and competitiveness (Caragliu et al., 2011; Cebreiros & Gulin, 2014; Chourabi et al., 2012; Gil-Garcia, Pardoa & Nam, 2015). The concept of a smart city leads to a new conception of services which are offered to contribute to citizen welfare. In fact, there are new functionalities in cities which comprise services with more efficiency and collaboration between public and private producers of services.

In recent decades, associated with the concept of smart city, the urban living labs approach has emerged as a way of providing real-life research with the cities’ multiple stakeholders involved in co-innovation activities in order to face a variety of social, economic, environmental and technological challenges.

The first living labs were created in the area of smart/future homes (Eriksson et al., 2005:4). Living labs include digital interaction, with innovation and research and development (R&D) activities, such as cooperation with technology and application providers, technology availability, vertical co-operation in the value chain, openness and neutrality, public involvement, user involvement and research involvement (Mirijamdotter et al, 2006, p. 26).

The use of renewable energy in smart cities is the next step in sustainability. Therefore, it is used in buildings, with mobility, low carbon emission and biodiversity constituting important variables to study eco innovation, eco technologies and new processes of production. Consequently, urban living labs comprise an increase in initiatives of entrepreneurship and involvement of citizens in the welfare and resolutions of cities' problems, including problems related to sustainability and renewable energies. The involvement of citizens in cities’ decision-making process and in the resolution of problems is one of the main aspects of smart cities’ governance (Bernardo, 2017).

Considering the emergent private-public initiatives in smart cities, the proposal of this present chapter is to present the results of the research about the impact of urban living labs on innovation and development of smart cities regarding the concepts of renewable energy, smart governance and entrepreneurship. This research raised the follow questions:

  • How could urban living labs promote the production and use of renewable energies in smart cities?

  • How are urban living labs contributing to entrepreneurship and citizens’ involvement in smart cities' governance?

The answer to the research questions was achieved through accomplishing the research objectives:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Renewable Energy: Renewable energy includes primary energy. Renewable energy is linked to technological evolution, where a new capacity is put into use for energy supply through technology and specialised human resources. The use of renewable energy reduces fossil fuel consumption and environmental impacts. There are various types of renewable energy: wind, solar, aero-thermal, geothermal, hydraulic, biomass, landfill gas, hydrothermal and oceanic.

Smart Cities: Urban infrastructures where the concept of ecosystems is implemented. The concept applies to a green, environmental and intelligent city based on sustainability, added value on economy and welfare. Smart cities are also linked to innovation, knowledge, digital economy and smart governance.

Smart Governance: The process of governance based on using ICT tools and the Internet to provide information and public services, on communication and collaboration between government and citizens and on the principles of good governance.

Ecosystems: Adoptive management, integrated management, valorization and promotion of economic activities, regional and cross-border cooperation and coordination; the complex relationships that are formed between actors or entities whose functional goal is to enable technology development and innovation; management systems which apply natural resources.

Eco Innovation: Innovation which comes from ecosystems. Eco innovation is related to eco technology. The propose of using eco innovation is to solve environmental problems and be more competitive. Eco innovation is also related to ULL and smart cities.

Governance: The process whereby the public sector, citizens and private entities interact and organize themselves towards collective decision-making and to determine who should be involved and how to render account.

Urban Living Labs: These are related to management and decision making, people and motivation, interaction process and methods, goals and vision and context; also defined as user-centred, open innovation ecosystems are based on a systematic user co-creation approach, integrating research and innovation processes in real life communities and settings.

Eco Technologies: Technologies which are created based on the green economy, smart cites or ecosystems. Eco technologies are environmentally friendly and tend to be more competitive than traditional ones because they use digital processes.

Entrepreneurship: This is a complex process which stimulates business creation. Entrepreneurship is related to regional business planning. However, entrepreneurship can be related to a cluster considering the positive externalities of employment, economy of scale and open market for services or products, because a cluster establishes complementary relationships with another sector.

Welfare: The stage where the individuals obtain satisfaction when using goods or services. When the individual’s living cost is related to goods and services which comprise all needs. Welfare is also related to environmental friendliness and innovation which gives to individuals a good standard of living.

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