December 2015 Download this article as a PDF

From the Editor-in-Chief

Welcome to the December 2015 issue of the Technology Innovation Management Review – the first of two issues on the theme of Living Labs and User Innovation. It is my pleasure introduce our guest editors for December and January: Seppo Leminen (Laurea University of Applied Sciences and Aalto University, Finland), Dimitri Schuurman (iMinds and Ghent University, Belgium), Mika Westerlund (Carleton University, Canada), and Eelko Huizingh (University of Groningen, Netherlands).

Also on the topic of Living Labs, I am also pleased to announce the publication of a new title in our Best of TIM Review book series. Edited by Mika Westerlund and Seppo Leminen, Living Labs: Best of TIM Review is now available as a Kindle ebook from Amazon. With a foreword contributed by Bror Salmelin, Advisor on Innovation Systems for the European Commission, the book commemorates the 10th anniversary of the birth of the living labs movement in Europe. Note that all of the net proceeds from the sales of our Best of TIM Review ebooks will be used to offset the operational costs of publishing future issues of the TIM Review.

This current issue features five new articles on living labs. It also includes a summary of a recent TIM Lecture given by Chris Hobbs, entitled "When Are Software Systems Safe Enough?" The lecture covered the changing nature of safety-critical software over the last 20 years, including a brief discussion of the standards that are directing development in the medical, industrial, and automotive fields.

We hope you enjoy this issue of the TIM Review and will share your comments online. We welcome your 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.

Chris McPhee

From the Guest Editors

We are glad to introduce the December issue of the Technology Innovation Management Review on the theme of Living Labs and User Innovation. Due to the large number of high-quality proposals for this special issue, we are also proud to announce that the next issue of the TIM Review (January 2016) will also offer articles on Living Labs and User Innovation.

Continuing the TIM Review's history of productive collaborations with the International Society for Professional Innovation Management (ISPIM), the selected articles in the December and January issues were mainly developed from papers submitted to the living lab track in ISPIM 2015 Innovation Conference held in Budapest from June 19–22, 2015.

In recent years, the TIM Review has played an important role in developing and catalyzing research on living labs. This is the fourth thematic issue on Living Labs since the first issue on this theme was published in September 2012. With the publication of the December and January issues on this theme, the journal will have published nearly 30 articles in this area. This body of work is a clear example of the further academic development and adolescence of the field of living lab research.

Prior literature proposes living labs as the latest stage on a continuum of versatile forms of open and user innovation (cf. Leminen et al., 2012; Schuurman, 2015), with three distinctive principles that sets them apart from other forms of open innovation and collaborative innovation: the active involvement of users in innovation activities, public–private–people partnerships and real-life environments (cf. Leminen, 2015; Schuurman et al., 2012). This "European school" of living lab thinking is beneficial to involve users in innovation activities (McPhee et al., 2015).

This issue of TIM Review provides five theoretically and practically oriented articles for managers and innovation developers as well as researchers and other parties of interest. The five selected articles offer insights into living labs activities in different European countries and offers various perspectives on living lab phenomena: openness versus closedness, business models, actor roles, spaces, and context.

The first article is by Seppo Leminen, Taija Turunen, and Mika Westerlund, from Laurea University of Applied Sciences in Finland, Aalto University in Finland, and Carleton University in Canada. The article suggests different degrees of openness in versatile innovation networks. The authors identified four key areas characterized by openness or closedness in innovation networks: governance, motivation, interaction, and innovation practices. The article concludes that such key characteristics of openness can be applied to innovation networks to better understand their operation and management.

The second article is by Olivier Rits, Dimitri Schuurman, and Pieter Ballon from iMinds, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, and Ghent University in Belgium, who take a business model perspective on user involvement within living lab projects. The authors introduce a practical framework to design and implement business models for innovations developed in living labs, based on the experience of projects at iMinds Living Labs with small and medium-sized enterprises over the past few years. Such a framework makes a significant contribution to the literature of living labs given that business models are an under-researched topic in the context of living labs.

In the third article, Anna Ståhlbröst and Josefin Lassinantti, from Luleå University of Technology in Sweden, adopt crowdsourcing to analyze living lab innovation processes. The article introduces stages within the innovation process in living labs and couples the core role of facilitators to these stages. The article contributes to the literature of living labs by proposing four roles of crowd engagement. The authors emphasize that, to reap the benefits of crowdsourcing in living labs, managers must maintain an ethical and inclusive innovation process.

The fourth article is by Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn, Carina Ihlström Eriksson, and Anna Ståhlbröst from Luleå University of Technology and Halmstad University in Sweden, who propose a conceptual tool – places and spaces – to facilitate the organization of innovation activities within living labs. The authors offer a pragmatic perspective to the literature of living labs to study how the concepts of place and space are integrated in design situations and how different types of places and spaces can facilitate or hinder innovation.

Finally, the fifth article, contributed by Yvonne Franz, Karin Tausz, and Sarah-Kristin Thiel from Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austriatech, and the University of Salzburg, discusses contextuality and co-creation within urban living labs. By means of three case studies, the authors argue that urban living labs have the capability to go beyond testing and improving new products. The cases illustrate that innovation in an urban living lab context is embedded in appropriate social, structural, and institutional frameworks, which facilitate civil society involvement. Therefore, the authors propose living labs as an instrument to support urban studies within the domains of socio-spatial environment, living together, and urban policies.

To sum up, we have gathered five articles that introduce diverse perspectives that will help managers and researchers to understand and develop living labs organizations and projects, and to apply living lab principles in their daily practices.

Seppo Leminen, Dimitri Schuurman, Mika Westerlund, and Eelko Huizingh

Guest editors



Leminen, S. 2015. Living Labs as Open Innovation Networks – Networks, Roles and Innovation Outcomes. Doctoral dissertation. Helsinki, Finland: Aalto University.

Leminen, S., Westerlund, M. & Nyström, A.-G. 2012. Living Labs as Open-Innovation Networks. Technology Innovation Management Review, 2(9): 6–11.

McPhee, C., Leminen, S., & Westerlund, M. 2013. Editorial: Living Labs. Technology Innovation Management Review, 3(11): 3–4.

Schuurman, D. 2015. Bridging the Gap between Open and User Innovation? Exploring the Value of Living Labs as a Means to Structure User Contribution and Manage Distributed Innovation. Doctoral dissertation. Ghent University and Vrije Universiteit Brussel VUB.

Schuurman, D., & Marez, L. D. 2012. Structuring User Involvement in Panel-Based Living Labs. Technology Innovation Management Review, 2(9): 31–38.

Share this article:

Cite this article:

Rate This Content: 
No votes have been cast yet. Have your say!

Keywords: business models, closed innovation, context, crowdsourcing, innovation networks, living labs, Open innovation, spaces and places, urban living labs, user innovation