March 2019 Download this article as a PDF

From the Editor-in-Chief

Welcome to the March 2019 issue of the Technology Innovation Management Review. This month’s editorial theme is Living Labs, and it is my pleasure to introduce our guest editors: Anna Ståhlbröst, Abdolrasoul Habibipour, Mari Runardotter, and Diana Chronéer from Luleå University of Technology and Botnia Living Lab in Sweden.

For this special issue, most of the articles were selected and revised from papers presented at OpenLivingLab Days 2018, which was held in Geneva, Switzerland, from August 22–24. The theme for the conference was “Sustainability and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

The next OpenLivingLab Days will be held in Thessaloniki, Greece, from September 3–5, 2019, and we would like to take this opportunity to invite you to participate. The theme will be “Co-creating Innovation: Scaling up from Local to Global”. We hope you will take advantage of the various opportunities to participate in workshops and research discussions and to interact with a great diversity of living lab practitioners and innovators from all over the world. The conference is co-organized by the European Network of Living Labs (EnoLL), Thess-AHALL, and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. For details, please see the OpenLivingLab Days website.

For future issues, we are accepting general submissions of articles on technology entrepreneurship, innovation management, and other topics relevant to launching and growing technology companies and solving practical problems in emerging domains. Please contact us with potential article topics and submissions, and proposals for future special issues.

Finally, we invite you to attend ISPIM Connects Ottawa, which will be held in Ottawa, Canada, from April 7–10, 2019. ISPIM Connects Ottawa is a three-day event that will bring together world-renowned innovation managers, researchers, and business and thought leaders to share insights on specific local and global innovation challenges as well as general innovation management hot-topics. The TIM Review and its associated academic program at Carleton University, the TIM Program, are proud to be the local hosts of the event in collaboration with other partners.

Chris McPhee

From the Guest Editors

We are excited and happy to present this special issue on the theme of Living Labs, because it relates to many important trends that affect society, its citizens, and its stakeholders. These trends are, for instance, climate change, urbanization, individualization, digitalization, and automation – all of which will transform society as we know it. Hence, there is a diversity of immediate challenges that need to be managed directly, but a long-term perspective is also required is to co-create a better society for all.

In living labs, one fundamental objective is to support the development of a better society by means of multi-stakeholder engagement in open innovation and experimentation processes carried out in real-world contexts. This means that living labs not only support innovation processes but also the advancement of society, an advancement that should be sustainable, and they add value for citizens and the labs’ other stakeholders. To reach this goal, a responsible, co-creative, and human-centred approach is preferred. In living labs, a plethora of accompanying methods, tools, and practices are applied by experts and practitioners, but to reach a sustainable and better society, both the innovation processes and the innovations being developed must contribute to the same goal.

Due to their focus on innovation, engagement, and real-world context, living labs give us great potential to co-create a desired future. In this special issue, the authors contribute with different perspectives and insights related to living labs and their objectives of societal advancement and sustainablity by reflecting on an emerging type of living labs, methods and approaches that facilitate living labs, and the value of the living lab approach.

First, Lotta Haukipuro, Satu Väinämö, Leena Arhippainen, and Timo Ojala from the University of Oulo in Finland seek to understand the impact of the living lab approach in an eHealth accelerator. They report on the added value the living lab offers to participating companies and its impact on the development, growth, and market success of the companies. The result of their study is the identification of a new accelerator model in which the living lab approach is included. 

In the second article, Justus von Geibler, Julius Piwowar, and Annika Greven from the Wuppertal Institute in Germany aim to increase the usability of the United Nations’ 2015 Sustainable Development Goals by proposing a four-stage approach for structuring the innovation process. They have developed an online tool, the SDG-Check, to support living lab innovators in assessing sustainability from the early stages of product and service development. The results from using this tool has shown that it can support and inspire dialogue when considering sustainability at the “fuzzy front end” of innovation.

Next, Tiziana C. Callari, Louise Moody, Janet Saunders, Gill Ward, Nikki Holliday, and Julie Woodley from Coventry University in England address the need for guidelines to steer and support the design and maintenance of living lab initiatives and to support relationships and engagement with stakeholders and users. Drawing on their interviews with older adults and their family members collaborating to establish a living lab environment, this study illustrates that openness is a vital aspect in living lab initiatives, because it helps create engagement and commitment among the involved stakeholders. 

Then, Diana Chronéer, Anna Ståhlbröst, and Abdolrasoul Habibipour from Luleå University of Technology in Sweden sought to unravel the confusion and complexity of the urban living lab concept since it is interpreted and described in diverse ways by analyzing its key components and how it differs from traditional living labs. The result of this article is an expanded model that identifies the seven key components of an urban living lab and descriptions of how they are shaped in the urban context.

The final article, by Dimitri Schuurman, Aron-Levi Herregodts, Annabel Georges, and Olivier Rits from imec.livinglabs in Belgium, introduces Innovatrix – an innovation management framework for living lab projects. In addition to describing the framework and the value it provides to practitioners seeking to develop business models and guide living lab activities, the authors provide three illustrative case studies from their overall sample of 40 living lab innovation projects that were used to iteratively develop this practical tool.

We hope that you will enjoy reading the diversity of articles in this special issue. Each one contributes to deepening our understanding of how to apply, support, and understand the living lab approach to create a better society.

Anna Ståhlbröst, Abdolrasoul Habibipour, Mari Runardotter, and Diana Chronéer
Guest Editors

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Keywords: accelerators, business models, frameworks, innovation, living labs, Open innovation, stakeholders, sustainability, tools, UN Sustainable Development Goals, urban living labs