Citizen Driven Innovation Through Living Labs

by Jörgen Eriksson on June 4, 2015

In the early years of the new millennium, we worked with a pilot collaboration between the city of Barcelona and Hewlett-Packard in San Cugat, to create a living lab in the Catalan city. The main ideas was to:

  1. Maximise Innovative Capability
  2. Develop local Client Community and New Business
  3. Attract New Talent and shape Local Resources
  4. Create a global Showcase of HP invent
  5. Become a Model of Innovative Citizenship
  6. Use momentum of Major Events and Initiatives to globally promote HP invent in a unique way


Here is a link to a PDF about the 2003 project. Nowadays the Living Labs concept has become mainstream practise. Last week, the World Bank published a guidebook titled Citizen Driven Innovation – A Guidebook for City Mayors and Public Administrators.

The book is a co-production between the World Bank and the European Network of Living Labs (ENoLL), and iit aims to bring citizen-driven innovation to policy makers and change agents around the globe, by spreading good practice on open and participatory approaches as applied to digital service development in different nations, climates, cultures, and urban settings.

Citizen-Driven InnovationThe text explores the concept of smart cities through a lens that promotes citizens as the driving force of urban innovation. Different models of smart cities are presented, showing how citizen-centric methods have been used to mobilize resources to respond to urban innovation challenges in a variety of situations, objectives, and governance structures.

The living lab approach strengthens these processes as one of the leading methods for agile development or the rapid prototyping of ideas, concepts, products, services, and processes in a highly decentralized and user-centric manner. By adopting these approaches and promoting citizen-driven innovation, cities around the world are aiming to alleviate the demand for services, increase the quality of delivery, and promote local entrepreneurship.

The new guidebook is structured into seven main sections:

  1. An introductory section describes the vision of a humanly smart city, in order to give an idea of the kind of result that can be attained from opening up and applying citizen-driven innovation methods.
  2. Chapter one getting started helps mayors launch co-design initiatives, exploring innovation processes founded on trust and verifying the benefits of opening up.
  3. Chapter two, building a strategy identifies the key steps for building an innovation partnership and together defining a sustainable city vision and scenarios for getting there.
  4. Chapter three, co-designing solutions looks at the process of unpacking concrete problems, working creatively to address them, and following up on implementation.
  5. Chapter four, ensuring sustainability describes key elements for long-term viability: evaluation and impact assessment, appropriate institutional structuring, and funding and policy support.
  6. Chapter five, joining forces suggests ways to identify a unique role for participation in international networks and how to best learn from cooperation.
  7. In appendixes, the report provides a starter pack with some of the more commonly used tools and methods to support the kinds of activities described in this guidebook.

Below is a slideshare presentation from the European Network of Living Labs, with some of the main ideas of the current living lab collaboration in Barcelona.


About Jörgen Eriksson :

Jörgen Eriksson is the founder of Bearing and is the Chairman of the firm since it was created. He has successfully expanded Bearing into covering projects on four continents. He is also Adjunct Professor of Innovation Management at the International University of Monaco and at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya in Barcelona and he is an active member of the Founders Alliance organisation.

Working with consulting engagements across Bearings practices, he has over the past fifteen years participated in and supervised a large number of client projects, from innovation system development and place development and branding, to merger and acquisition assignments and leading edge research and business development activities for key clients.

His new book, Branding for Hooligans, will be published in 2015. It is about how innovation and branding are key survival factors in our modern times of hyper competitive markets.

Prior to Bearing, he was Director of Europe, Middle East, and Africa for Trema Treasury Management, a technology and consulting services provider, supplying financial software solutions for the global financial industry, Clients included The European Central Bank, Citibank, SEB, South African reserve Bank, Deutsche Bank, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), as well as many other large financial institutions and Fortune 500 companies.

Early in his career Eriksson was educated at the Stockholm School of Economics, where he studied economics, financial economics and philosophy. He then worked in Scandinavian investment banks and also for the Swedish Institute of National Defense Research.

You can contact Jörgen on e-mail, connect on LinkedIn onörgen-eriksson/0/38/8a0/ and follow him on twitter on joreri508.

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