Document 197868

How to set up
Cross-border Living Labs
The Alcotra Innovation Experience Handbook
Project partners:
Overview 03
What this Handbook is about
Alcotra Innovation project general framework
Living Labs and their Deployment across the National Borders
How it all started
The cross-border dimension in action
Reference Framework for the design and implementation of transboundary Living Lab communities
The cross-border working groups
The LEADERS Approach
Operational procedures for the establishment of interregional Living Labs
(L)= Localise and identify your stakeholders
(E)= Establish a Living Lab PPP (Public Private Partnership)
(A)= Assess the relevance of interregional issues
(D)= Deploy an ICT infrastructure
(E)= Establish a local and/or interregional PPPP community (PPP+People)
(R)= Run one or more User Driven, Open Innovation pilots
(S)= Summarise and evaluate the results
Major Achievements from the deployment of Living Lab pilots in Alcotra Innovation
Launch of a public call aimed at collecting of cross-border Living Lab pilots’ Feasibility Plans
A user-centred co-creation metodology: Transmuseobs
Launch of PCP (Pre-Commercial Procurement) calls for tender, promoting the creation
of cross-border Living Lab pilots in support of prototype testing and validation phase
A 2-staged plan of activities for cross-border Living Lab pilot experimentation: 1) “in vitro” 2) “in vivo”
Strategic Evaluation of cross-border Living Labs
The Alcotra Innovation experience
Going across the borders 41
Critical aspects and benefits
Living Labs. A Taxonomy
Living Labs Outlook
Living Labs in the 8th Framework Programme “Horizon 2020”
Smart specialisation and Living Labs 52
Annex 1
Evaluation of Living Lab pilots
What this Handbook is about
The Alcotra Innovation strategic project, funded by the Alcotra Italy-France 2007-2013 territorial
cross-border cooperation program, had as partners Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Cote
d’Azur Regions, in France, and those of Piedmont (acting as Coordinator), Liguria and Aosta
Valley, in Italy, as well as the Province of Turin. The project, launched in September 2010 and
lasting for three years, aimed at experimentally introducing the Living Lab approach into the
respective innovation policies and practices, according to a transnational perspective, namely
through the building up and operation of cross-border Living Labs in the five participant
To our knowledge, this has been the first time that the Living Lab innovation model was not only
deployed successfully across two neighbouring countries, but also jointly implemented by the
territorially competent regional authorities, as if there were no such barriers that usually prevent
innovation system actors from working together in a multiregional (or transboundary) dimension. In
so doing, the advantages of the Living Labs approach have been coupled with (and multiplied by)
the added value brought in by the active collaboration of different stakeholders, residing on both
sides of the French-Italian border, and nevertheless sharing common thematic interests.
Now that the Alcotra Innovation strategic project has concluded its lifetime, having achieved
most of its initial goals, all partners happily agreed on the opportunity to further disseminate the
methodology and tools developed all along, by offering this Handbook to the attention of a wider
audience of both academics and practitioners.
The interested reader will find here:
• a summary information on what Living Labs are about, and particularly the cross-regional
aspects dealt with in the project;
• a reference framework (the “Unitary Model”) and operational procedures (the “LEADERS
Approach”) for the design and management of transboundary Living Lab communities across
multiple regions and thematic domains;
• a synthetic report on the major achievements of the Alcotra Innovation project;
• a methodological overview, including some monitoring and evaluation related issues we have
encountered and successfully dealt with;
• a special note on the integration of cross-border Living Labs with Pre-Commercial Procurement
(PCP) – a new and innovative purchasing practice of R&D services that is gaining more and
more attention within European public authorities and agencies;
• a special note on a user-centred co creation methodology.
The following persons have actively participated in the creation of this Handbook and are
gratefully acknowledged here: Francesco Molinari (independent expert on Living Labs for
Alcotra Innovazione); Paola Capello and Sara Di Falco, from Piedmont Region; Francesco
Fionda, from Aosta Valley Region; Bertrand Fribourg, from PACA Region; Fabien Harel, from the
Comité d’Expansion 05; Claude Janin, from Institut de Géographie Alpine - Laboratoire Pacte;
Xavier Figuerola, from the company Talking Things; Laurence Minne, from Rhône-Alpes Region;
Isabelle Vérilhac, from Cité du Design; Mauro Palumbo and Pier Paolo Puliafito, professors at
the University of Genoa; and Jens Schumacher, professor at the University of Vorarlberg.
The Alcotra Innovazione staff and experts
Turin, July 2013
Alcotra Innovation project
general framework
The Alcotra Innovation strategic project was funded under the Alcotra
Programme in the scope of the European territorial co-operation objective.
It began in September 2010 to end in October 2013. The consortium was
made up of six Public Administrations coming from Italy and France: Piedmont
Region (Lead Partner), Liguria Region, Aosta Valley Region, Province of
Turin, Rhône-Alpes Region and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region.
Being a strategic project within the Programme, it pursued two major
• establishing cross-border Living Labs as a way for improving the
competitiveness and innovation capacities of the territories;
• sensitising policy makers to the Living Lab approach, which can be
a winning strategy especially for meeting new social challenges and
improving social inclusion.
At the very beginning of the project, its partners decided to carried out
experimentations in four strategic domains that were deemed to be relevant
for all the five regions involved:
• Intelligent Mobility, coordinated by Piedmont Region and Liguria
• Smart Energies, coordinated by Aosta Valley Region;
• e-Health, coordinated by Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region;
• Creative Industries, coordinated by Rhône-Alpes Region.
More information is available at
Living Labs and their Deployment
across the National Borders
How it all started
Living Labs have been quite successful in boosting user driven, open innovation in different
European regions so far. The concept originates from the architecture field: the late Prof. Bill
Mitchell from the MIT Media Labs coined the term about ten years ago, based on a vision of
Living Labs as a research methodology for sensing, prototyping, validating and refining complex
solutions in multiple and evolving real-life contexts.
When it was taken up in Europe in the years 2005-2006, it was the EU Commissioner Erkki
Liikanen and then the Finnish Presidency of the Union who asked for a radically new approach
to innovation, for the ICT sector in particular, at the end of the 6th Framework Programme
(6th FP). The CoreLabs coordination and support action was funded under the last call of 6th FP
and paved the way for the strong endorsement of the Finnish European Presidency (through
the so-called Helsinki Manifesto, in November 2006) and later of the Portuguese, Slovenian and
French Presidencies, in 2007-2008. However, it is important to note that Living Labs are not a
brand new approach, rather a recombination of existing user centred methods and tools, aimed
to put the citizen/customer in focus of – not only development, but also deployment of – new
product and service prototypes in real-life environments. Coherently, the Living Lab approach
extends its vision to the full product/service life cycle process, i.e. from the definition of an idea
to the design of a solution, from validation and testing to user-centred support and maintenance
of a commercialised product or service.
Definition: Living Lab
A Living Lab is a working
collaboration of PrivatePublic-People Partnerships,
in which stakeholders
co-create new products,
services, business models
or technology applications,
within real-life environments,
virtual networks, and multicontextual spheres.
Obviously, such a holistic vision of the product/service life cycle has challenged the traditional
distinction of roles and functions between producer (or provider) and user (or customer). We
refer to co-creation (of a product or service) as the outcome of the convergent work of end
users with other industrial and non-industrial stakeholders in a common prototyping environment.
While the term triple helix was coined some years ago to describe the cooperation of Research,
Government and Industry within a regional innovation system, the Living Lab approach has
enhanced that scheme into the quadruple helix, by adding the end user/citizen/customer as
the 4th stakeholder.
However, a new perception was emerging that the full potential of Living Labs for innovation
policy should be grasped in the broader framework of the Alps-Mediterranean EuroRegion –
including Liguria, Piedmont, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Rhône-Alpes and Aosta Valley – rather
than at single regional level. Therefore, the cross-border dimension was added to the picture.
Four thematic domains were selected for the purpose of Living Lab experimentation, namely:
• Intelligent Mobility, coordinated by Piedmont Region and Liguria Region;
• Smart Energies, alternative sources of power and energy efficiency, coordinated by Aosta
Valley Region;
• e-Health, coordinated by PACA Region;
• Creative Industries, coordinated by Rhône-Alpes Region.
This selection came as the result of a policy reflection within the individual Regions involved in
the project, taking into account their industrial, technological and social landscape, as well as
the potential synergies, complementarities and research collaborations with the neighbouring
territories. In each of the four domains, the goal of Alcotra Innovation was to build a cross-border
Living Lab or – at the very minimum – a user-driven, open innovation community, populated by a
number of stakeholders that resided on both sides of the Alps.
In principle, the main advantages of “working across the borders” were known and highlighted
since the very beginning of the project, and have been confirmed in retrospect. These are (not
necessarily in order of importance) to:
The above underlines the fact that Living Labs are not based on a new methodology; they
instead represent a holistic approach, which is capable of stimulating regional innovation by
leveraging the transformative power of local user communities.
The cross-border dimension in action
It was therefore quite natural for the Alcotra Innovation partners during the project design phase
(in the year 2009), to be attracted by the potential contribution of the Living Lab approach to
existing, and upcoming, regional innovation policies and practices. There was already evidence
in that sense in the three Regions: Piedmont – being a member of the ENoLL (European
Network of Living Labs) since 2008 – PACA – with the success story of “PACALabs”, one of
the earliest examples of user driven and territorially oriented innovation policy promoted by the
public hand – and Rhône-Alpes with 7 Living Labs (most of them created in 2009) is particularly
active in the domain of media, design and uses innovation.
The EuroRegion concept
Established by the Council of Europe since the 1950s
and revived during the 1990s in preparation of the Union’s
enlargement towards Eastern Europe, the EuroRegion
concept is mainly focused on improving the living conditions
in the regional areas concerned, by promoting cross-border
contacts and cooperation in such fields as economic
development, education and training, culture and tourism.
1.Realise or facilitate regional smart specialisation. The recent evolution of R&D and
innovation policy design supported by the new Structural Funds 2014-2020 promotes the
identification of specialised industrial “niches”, or technology areas of excellence, where the
EU Member States or Regions can demonstrate the existence of (at least) a comparative
advantage for the respective local economies in a globalised market scenario. This evolution
towards the so-called smart specialisation strategy may take further benefit from an extended,
or “macro-regional”, territorial perspective in selected
thematic domains. For instance, it may help avoid
duplication of efforts – public funding, and possibly
private investments too – on similar activities that are
only ignored because of the geographical boundaries
acting as administrative “barriers”. Breaking these
barriers may help (re)construct a stronger value
chain by extending and reinforcing the connections
between local and external enterprises. In this way,
the conditions for growth and competitiveness can
be enhanced on both sides of the regional border,
by realising a sustainable division of labour between
the respective enterprise systems.
2. Obtain a critical mass of population and demand on the market place. Normally, to gain a
sufficient number of users/consumers to ensure break-even or long-term profitability is considered
a crucial milestone for any product/service deployment strategy. Whenever language or cultural
differences exist between two regions, which are unavoidable sources of differentiation for the
supply, this critical size of demand has to be attained on the occasion of each penetration in a
foreign market. Sometimes it happens, however, that the similarities between two populations
living in bordering regions prevail on their differences. Exploring this aspect can considerably
help companies achieve the desired minimum level of demand for the product/service at hand,
by leveraging an increased population size in terms of market potential.
3.Integrate the respective economic and social systems at the two sides of the
administrative border. The available statistical evidence on “knowledge spillovers” shows
the importance of regional proximity for the transmission of economically valid results matured
in neighbouring innovation systems. In Mexico, trade liberalisation has proven more beneficial
for the regions that were closer to the US – and the same happened for New Member States
from Central and Eastern Europe, in relation to former EU members. The INTERREG A
programme experience between 1990 and 2006 has been documented – at least on the
Portuguese-Spanish and the Norwegian-Swedish regional borders – as effectively promoting
the convergence of labour markets, business relationships and economic activities in such
areas as tourism, culture, education and training. As highlighted in the figure, there have been
differences in the growth performance of European border regions between the years 1995
and 2005. However, clear convergence patterns can be detected within two distinct groups:
the regions coloured in green, which have additionally outperformed the lead region (in terms
of GDP per capita), and those coloured in blue, which nevertheless have lagged behind the
most “affluent” community of the respective country.
Countries convergence clubs
Divergence from the lead region, internal convergence
Convergence from the lead region, internal convergence
Divergence from the lead region, internal divergence
EU Territorial Cooperation
It is (and will be) structured in three types of
1. Of cross-border cooperation, funding projects
that involve regional and local authorities on
either side of a common border;
2. Of transnational cooperation, funding projects
that involve national, regional and local entities in
larger geographical areas;
3. Of interregional cooperation, to foster sharing
of good practice on various thematic domains,
including innovation, energy efficiency, urban
development and others.
4.Exchange good practice of sustainable development policies, where sustainable here
means “coherent with the vocation of a territory”, its unique asset and distinctive industries that
provide more value to the local economy and are most suitable to ensure the attractiveness
and competitiveness of a region in the long run. While there is awareness that this coherence
should be assessed in cooperation between the policy makers in charge of local development
and the lead socio-economic actors of a given territory, integrating the cross-regional
dimension in terms of good practice exchange gives the additional opportunity of collecting
evidence about the way neighbouring territories are dealing with similar issues. By this mutual
policy learning, cutting across administrative borders, “peripheral” Regions in particular, but
ultimately all of them, can achieve a convergence of territorial development policies that adds
to the benefits from the alignment of the respective socio-economic systems.
5.Develop pan-European products and services. Finally, it must be considered that innovative
solutions able to respond to societal challenges and to improve the quality and efficiency of
public services do exist in the technological state of the art of several EU Member States;
however, they do not always gain sufficient visibility as commercial products available in the
Single Market, due to country level barriers and deployment risks of various nature. This situation
limits the growth and employment potential of innovation, as well as the size of most high-tech
companies active in the European vertical markets. Further to that, EU citizens and public
administration have less likelihood to access and experience new products and services, which
could provide various benefits in terms of individual and collective welfare. Thus, assuming
the perspective of cross-border cooperation can increase the chances of regional industry
(including SMEs) to develop and deploy pan-European products and services, including those
based on ICT – Information and Communication Technology – applications.
By these and other advantages, EU Cohesion Policy can draw sufficient evidence in support
of the confirmation of the Territorial Cooperation objective in the financial framework for
2014-2020, as already proposed by the European Commission and which is currently being
translated into the new regulations for the next programming period of the EU Structural Funds.
Reference Framework for the design
and implementation of transboundary
Living Lab communities
Early enough in the project, after a preliminary assessment of existing methodologies for setting
up and piloting cross-border thematic Living Lab networks, two distinct models were isolated
that could ideally serve to the purpose set out in Alcotra Innovation: the so-called “Federated
Model” and the alternative “Unitary Model”.
The Federated Model implies the existence of several, independent, thematic Living Labs that
are spontaneously growing up inside each participant region’s border, and are then brought to
unity by means of the creation of cross-country links, clusters and multi-location experiments.
However, like the picture shows, the Alcotra Innovation consortium (being in charge of a strategic
project within the Alcotra Territorial Cooperation programme) decided to go further ahead
in pursuing two objectives jointly – the establishment of Living Labs and the cross-border
experimentation of the Living Lab Approach (LLA) – in order to improve the innovative and
competitive assets and abilities of the Alps-Mediterranean EuroRegion in the four vertical domains
This has, by the way, contributed to build the capacity and increase the sensibility of regional
public officials (and more generally, societal actors) to the necessary logic of “co-opetition” and
reciprocal learning for the design and implementation of better innovation policies and practices
in the respective territories.
The big advantage of this model is that it is not centrally managed nor governed, thus it can be
coherent with several Living Lab’s birth and growth patterns, leaving the door open to sharing
all or some of the respective key assets (user communities, ICT infrastructures, open innovation
methodologies etc.) in the direction of interregional cooperation. In that sense, a positive
learning and cross-fertilisation process can be possibly activated between the “newly born” and
the more “mature” Living Labs, either belonging to the same or to a different country or region.
However, the practical feasibility of the Federated Model particularly requires the existence
of a number of already consolidated Living Lab experiences in the participant countries (each
marked with a different capital letter, from “A” to “C”, in the above picture) and a relative lack of
thematic specialisation, which could allow the same national Living Lab being represented in
several transregional clusters by the deployment of independent and “parallel” technology trials.
Apparently, this was not the best option for Alcotra Innovation, given the initial situation of some
consortium members, who did not host any thematic Living Lab at the beginning of the project’s
life, while others were not able to fully map the existing Living Lab experiences in the four specific
vertical domains identified as targets in relation to the policy priorities.
Therefore, as an alternative option to realise a cross-border Living Lab, we have adopted the
so-called Unitary Model, which implies the presence of a central (“soft”) management entity in
charge of facilitating the creation of innovation communities and the deployment of Living Lab trials
in a transnational working environment. This entity, which does not need to take on a structured
or formal organisational shape, was actually composed by representatives of all the five Regions
of Alcotra Innovation, supported by thematic experts, and has been in charge of defining some
common guidelines, assessment tools and monitoring systems. Those assets have then been
delivered to the local stakeholders, who were left free to create several local “chapters” – hopefully
one per participant region – in each thematic domain, shaped in the form of “classic” (regional) or
cross-border Living Lab communities and pilot actions, open to end-users located in any of the five
regions involved in the project and adopting a common methodological approach.
The cross-border working groups
Having given preference to the Unitary Model for the realisation of cross-regional Living Labs, the
Alcotra Innovation partners had to design a flexible set of rules in order to ensure the appropriate
governance of pilot actions as well as a fruitful exchange of the know how created in the respective
thematic domains. To this end, the focus was set on the creation of four cross-border working
groups, one for each vertical specialisation topic, coordinated by the specific partner(s) in charge
of that respective domain and participated by all the remaining partners with a supporting role.
Therefore, each working group was managed by a single leader and populated by stakeholders
potentially belonging to all the other participant regions.
Aosta Valley
Intelligent Mobility
Smart Energies
Creative Industries
The working groups’composition was opened to representatives of regional business
associations, individual companies and SMEs, development agencies, user associations and
research centres. However, the size of each working group was kept to a minimum, with no
more than 10-20 members overall (facilitated by external experts), in order to allow managing
and running their operations – mostly through periodic meetings and workshops – in a more
effective and efficient way.
Finally, the governance rules of the working groups were so designed as to closely reflect the
“Leader/Supporters” scheme previously defined by the Alcotra Innovation partnership.
This picture does not imply that there must be a 1:1 correspondence between a regional
Living Lab and a thematic domain of specialisation. Actually, the most important features of the
Unitary Model are the unique governance framework and a common repository of methods,
tools and experiences between all the stakeholders involved in the pilot actions. What
happened in Alcotra Innovation is that for each of the four selected thematic domains, one
of the participants Regions drove the process of community building and trial deployment,
while the others were associated to such an effort on a peer basis, with their own local
enterprises, research institutions and citizen/user communities, in a variety of ways.
Actually, there was no single prescribed implementation pathway or set of rules
for the formation of communities or the execution of cross-border trials, which
were defined by the contingent interests and converging requirements of the
various actors involved. In this sense, the Federation and the Unitary Model
turn out to be quite alike in the very end.
In turn, the Supporter of a working group was in charge of:
• backing-up the Leader in promoting and adopting the project methodologies within the
thematic domain;
• providing feedback on the regional workshop(s) carried out, including follow-up contacts with
stakeholders or relevant players engaged at local level;
• identifying relevant partnerships outside their own regions, following the Leader’s orientation
and advice;
• coordinating the activities in their own regions for the planning and start up of the pilot actions;
• collaborating with the Leader in the preparation of interim and final reports for the overall
working group activities.
As far as other organisational issues are concerned, some (not binding) suggestions were
provided, such as:
• working group members should mainly work and communicate via email, intranet, and A/V
• formal encounters should be held (at least) every second month via A/V conference;
• each working group was autonomous and free in the choice of the best way to animate and
coordinate the thematic activities in the participant regions, including early involvement of well
identified local innovation actors (enterprises, user associations, etc.), as well as in the design
and implementation of the pilot actions;
• involved regional staff should remain open to suggestions and ideas coming from these local
innovation actors and report to the working group Leader about any project relevant result
and outcome from thematic actions in that region.
In particular, the Leader of a working group was in charge of:
• coordinating the cross-border working group in its entirety;
• initiating the working group’s activities on the basis of the results of regional policy mapping
and selection of thematic priorities, in close collaboration with the Supporters;
• ensuring a unitary management of the pilot experimentation process, especially in its
cross-border aspects;
• supervising the implementation of the methodologies developed at project level (for
both experimentation and evaluation purposes);
• proposing additional partnerships for the cross-border pilot actions;
• preparing interim and final reports for the overall working group activities.
Nizza, 20th January, Workshop for the constitution of cross border working groups, Group e-Health.
In a first phase of the project, each Region organised local workshops with the purpose
of raising awareness of the Quadruple Helix stakeholders on the Alcotra Innovation
objectives, the cross-border Living Lab’s idea and its possible advantages compared to
other approaches. With the main exception of PACA Region, where the PACALabs Initiative
had been in place since 2008, most regional stakeholders did not know much about user driven
open innovation and therefore had to learn about previous successful experiences. In a second
phase, having formed the cross-border working groups, which were animated and facilitated
by both thematic and methodology experts, participants started to become familiar with the
concept and to think about the design of possible pilot actions involving the Living Labs’
operational principles in a meaningful and useful way.
The outcomes of this elaboration and fertilisation process have been translated into concrete
policy initiatives in three main ways, which are summarised in the following table (displayed with
different colours) and later discussed in more breadth within this Handbook:
Launch of a public
Aosta Valley
Launch of two
PCP (PreCommercial
calls for tender,
promoting the
creation of
Living Lab pilots
in support of
the prototype
testing and
validation phase.
call for cross border
Living Lab pilots’
Feasibility Plans, to
be later supported
by the two Regions
through “ad hoc”
measures (real
services, rather than
financial support to
awarded consortia).
A 2-staged plan
of activities for
Living Lab pilot
1) “in vitro”, 2)
“in vivo”.
The LEADERS Approach
Operational procedures for the establishment
of interregional Living Labs
The rationale behind the innovative ecosystems represented by Living Labs, inspired
by the open innovation paradigm and more and more adopted all over Europe,
is to open up corporate boundaries toward the external environment and give
enterprises (particularly SMEs) the opportunity to collaborate and cooperate with
the different stakeholder groups – such as customers, competitors, researchers,
suppliers – and the general public. The empirical evidence available suggests
that this significantly contributes to the effective launch of new products and
services, by reducing both the time to market and the commercial risk of
industrial innovation.
The idea of interregional Living Labs has the ambition to make a further step
along this train of logic, providing the innovative firm with an opportunity
to open itself to new markets and research clusters, internationalise and
further expand its own business, test and validate new and advanced
technologies with the prospective end users in different cultural and
language settings.
Considering the relevance and novelty of the topic and the relative paucity
of structured blueprints, especially with a target to Regions aimed at
engaging the creation (from scratch) or the enforcement of (existing)
Living Labs in a cross border environment, the Alcotra Innovation
consortium decided to elaborate some specific operational procedures,
which have been later termed “the LEADERS Approach”, after the
initials of the 7 steps that make up the complete process. These steps
can be shortly listed as follows:
1. (L)= Localise and identify your stakeholders
2. (E)= Establish a Living Lab PPP (Public Private Partnership)
3. (A)= Assess the relevance of interregional issues
4. (D)= Deploy an ICT infrastructure
5. (E)= Establish a local and/or interregional PPPP community
6. (R)= Run one or more User Driven, Open Innovation pilots
7. (S)= Summarise and evaluate the results
Launch of a
public call
for cross
border Living
Lab Pilots’
Plans in
the related
domain of
We now dedicate the remainder of this section to getting into more details
with each of the proposed steps. It has to mentioned here, in addition,
that the LEADERS Approach was successfully adapted and applied to the
partnership of another Territorial Cooperation project, from the CEE (Central
and Eastern Europe) programme, CentraLab. For more information, the
reader is referred to
(L)= Localise and identify your stakeholders
In Alcotra Innovation, this task has been the first to initiate and was accompanied by georeferencing of results. The simple intuition was that in parallel to a prior assessment of the
socio-economic needs of a territory, it is important to know about the local actors who are
engaged in the production of technology, in order to put them in touch with the expressions of
user driven innovation and ultimately market demand. This has been done in the project with the
early development of an e-atlas (
» the regional policy priorities, which can lead e.g. to specify the thematic sub-domains
or lines of intervention, or to differentiate the ways of financing the local pilots (see
step #6=R);
» the cross border Living Lab model selected (“federated” or “unitary”) that has some
impact on the design and implementation of the overall approach;
» the aims of the whole initiative (your vested interest in doing all this);
» other.
There is an obvious need for communication and publicity at this stage. All project partners in
Alcotra Innovation have adopted the tactics of running individual, direct interviews to selected
stakeholders (particularly for the sake of the e-atlas) and one or more public workshops, also
aimed at initiating the segmentation of stakeholders according to the thematic domains selected.
Again in support to awareness raising and dissemination, but also with an eye to the following
steps (e.g. #3=A, #6=R and #7=S), some Regions (Aosta Valley, for example) have launched
an informal, not engaging call for expressions of interest, published on their institutional website.
The proposals received have contributed to a better definition of the research and innovation
scenario in the industrial sectors of interest, from the twin perspective of needs assessment and
stakeholder mapping, actually being two sides of a same coin.
(E)= Establish a Living Lab PPP (Public Private Partnership)
This should emerge as output of the previous step, at least in terms of candidatures to being
part of the Living Lab community. A formal partnership agreement (e.g. to be signed by going to
a notary) is not strictly required to establish the PPP.
The Alcotra Innovation e-atlas provides a comprehensive overview of most active stakeholders
(enterprise clusters, networks, research centres and intermediaries) in the four thematic domains
and in the five regions of the project. It is thanks to this mapping that the relevant actors have
been mobilised for the formation of cross-border working groups and the generation of specific
pilot actions adopting the Living Lab principles. However, it can well happen in the normal
practice that the promoter or maintainer of a Living Lab community has already completed this
mapping activity beforehand.
Suggestions for replication of this first step of the LEADERS approach include:
• being as open and inclusive as possible at this stage (there will be time to handle the
• considering the following items:
» the thematic domain(s) targeted in the cross-border pilots;
In most Alcotra Innovation regions, where other infrastructures existed in support to research and
innovation policy – such as Innovation Poles, or Technology Districts, or similar – the tactics has
been adopted of leveraging these infrastructures as “embryos” of the desired PPP communities.
This approach has the merit of being parsimonious in terms of avoiding the creation of new
entities in the already crowded panorama of local actors and institutional players engaged on
innovation policy and practice. However, it also places an additional burden of responsibilities
on the Region, being the only to ensure visibility and access to the Living Lab PPP all along the
Suggestions for replication of this second step of the LEADERS approach include:
• not limiting the publicity effort to the initial stage, being always visible and open anyway – as
more stakeholders may want to jump in later, when the PPP gets momentum:
• creating mechanisms for governance and engagement of Living Lab stakeholders, e.g.:
» a general assembly and/or management board;
» individual working groups (e.g. one per thematic domain the Living Lab takes part in);
» periodic consultation mechanisms (e.g. frequent stakeholder workshops and an ICT
forum – see step #4=D);
» external communication items (e.g. portal, newsletter, webinars);
» other.
(A)= Assess the relevance of interregional issues
It is quite important to tackle with this matter upfront, with the best possible clarity and
level of definition, as the ultimate goal of the process is not simply to establish one or more
local Living Labs, but a single, unitary one, cutting across the regional borders. Technically
speaking, it cannot be taken for granted that in all the thematic domains selected, and/or in all
of the participant regions, “going across the borders” be viewed as relevant and appropriate
in the perspective of the stakeholders involved. Furthermore, this discussion also affects the
monitoring and evaluation step (#7=S), which requires an early initialization with respect to the
pilots’ execution (#6=R).
Suggestions for replication of this third step of the LEADERS approach include:
• involving your stakeholders in this assessment;
• including, where possible, selected “champion” users in the same task on a peer-to-peer (not
agency or dependency) basis;
• consulting with other project partners, domain experts and especially the thematic leaders of
each cross-border working group;
• complying with the current regional policy setup is helpful – but not mandatory in this case.
otherwise, what would this whole exercise be for?
• adopting an experimentation-oriented approach is also an advantage: no firm commitment,
lower level of accountability for results, etc.
(D)= Deploy an ICT infrastructure
Every known Living Lab can count on such an infrastructure for both internal communication
and experimentation purposes. At basic level, it can well be a (permanent) online forum attached
to the Region’s portal. Best would be a (freely accessible, geo-localised, always-on) mobile
platform, which is possibly the best way to involve and engage individual persons on the
move (citizens, entrepreneurs, other stakeholders and decision-makers) in the Living Lab
establishment and the PPP community.
In the project, a viable solution has been the one of using the Alcotra Innovation
portal (, which was later complemented by an “ad hoc”
implementation (
In either case, for the replication of this fourth step of the LEADERS approach, care
should be taken of:
• user anonymity (by default) and profiling (with privacy protection) especially for
the sake of pilot execution;
• language differences, leaving the opportunity to participate in the local
debates using any of the spoken languages of the participant communities;
• structuring (and perhaps moderating) the discussions in the forum at
working group level, to limit off-topic interventions and avoid the useless
and dangerous “noise”, as it happens in most social networks;
• alternating on- and off- line initiatives that can bring more users into
the platform, by spreading the awareness on its existence, scope and
• documenting pilot results on the platform itself in a timely manner;
• integrating the parallel activities that are ongoing within and across the
borders on the same thematic domain under the care of other Alcotra
Innovation partners;
• monitoring traffic on a daily basis and keeping contents up to date –
as much as it is possible, etc.
A number of tools can be attached to a Living Lab’s ICT platform to
enhance the power and impact of social and community innovation,
e.g. for:
• crowdsourcing of ideas
• preference aggregation
• matchmaking
• IPR tracking
• feedback provision at the point of experience
which heavily depend on the specialisation and thematic orientation of the
Living Lab and its pilots, thus cannot be fully described at this stage of the
process and/or in this Handbook.
(E)= Establish a local and/or interregional PPPP
community (PPP+People)
The strength and impact of regional Living Labs is measured by the existence
of a community of people (P) that integrates the one of local stakeholders
(the PPP), leading to the 4P model, which is essential to activate operationally
whenever this is required by the organisation of a Living Lab trial (or pilot).
In Alcotra Innovation, this community was to take on the additional aspect of
being (wholly or partly) transregional.
This suggested splitting the fifth step of the LEADERS approach in three
consecutive tasks:
a) create a local community in your region, cutting across the thematic
domain(s) selected;
b) merge your local community with those established in the other regions of
the project/programme;
c) activate a subset of community members in relation to the goals and
methods of the pilot to be set up in the selected thematic domain.
•and with the specific requisite that testing and validation activities should take place on
both sides of the border separating the participant regions, for a precise (technical or
commercial) reason that has to be clarified and motivated by the individual proposers of the
• in this context, priority in awarding should be assigned to proposals formulated by local
actors (regional Living Lab stakeholders) – always taking into account the principles of
non discrimination and parity of access that are mandatorily enforced within any public
procurement procedure.
In our project, this task was to be initiated from scratch by the creation of
cross-border working groups and performed iteratively and accumulatively
– in other words, the community of people grew up over time, in parallel to
the design and execution of local and/or cross border pilots.
As alternative options to regional calls, one may imagine the following:
•the Territorial Cooperation project as a whole launches a (series of) calls for proposals,
merging some of the budget resources available at individual partner level;
•the Region involved mobilises alternative resources to fund (some of) the upcoming calls and
pilot projects;
•activities stop at the level of technically defining suitable pilots (e.g. after the results of an
informal call for expressions of interest, followed by a direct negotiation between the Region
and the pilot proposers), waiting for future availability of dedicated public funds.
For the purpose of replication of this step, care should always be taken of:
•being as inclusive as possible (one thing is to be nominally part of a
community, another is to actively engage in a pilot);
•alternating on- and off- line initiatives to promote engagement (see
step #4=D);
•providing incentives to individual participation in the pilots (like small
value prizes and awards);
•segmenting the community, as long as it is established according
to people’s skills, preferences and wishes/needs, as well as to the
nature of prospective pilots (by thematic domain, etc.);
•considering the language divide, as basic issue in a multi country
(R)= Run one or more User Driven,
Open Innovation pilots
This step of the LEADERS approach is the most heavily dependent on the
needs analysis carried out by each regional partner on its own territory (see
steps #1=L and #3=A) and its specific results in terms of identification of
local requirements and interested actors for the prospective pilots. Also, the
availability of side financing (both within and outside the Alcotra Innovation
budget) has made a lot of difference in defining the best possible way to
practically implement this phase.
In principle, every regional Living Lab or the supporting Region should evaluate
here the opportunity to launch a call for proposals (or a tender for public
procurement, if feasible) having the following characteristics:
• being aimed at the development/pilot deployment of an innovative solution able
to satisfy local needs, of either technical or socio-economic nature;
• whereby the Living Lab approach is adopted as method for engaging people
(citizens, end users) in the execution of the pilot;
Here, as well as in the following step (#7=S), the role played by the Region has to be
differentiated, from promoting and animating the previous stages of the process, to supervising
and “directing” the tender or call for proposals, as well as guaranteeing the concrete and correct
execution of the cross border Living Lab experiment(s).
In the former role, key suggestions are to:
• assign goal and content leadership to the stakeholders themselves (e.g. SMEs, larger
enterprises) prior to the definition of the call for proposals;
» here the instrument of the public workshop within a thematic working group seems
particularly suitable to the purpose;
• be aware of the IPR aspects and their implications (both in the AS IS and the TO BE scenario):
» it is not necessarily true that the endorsement of Open Innovation positively contributes to
the protection of rights on the background and foreground knowledge created;
» this may hamper the positive evolution of the thematic discussions or simply make pilot
design and implementation ceremonial, rather than showing the Living Lab’s added value;
• make sure that end user engagement occurs since the early stages of the process:
» otherwise, it would not be a Living Lab!
» a number of social research methods and tools can be useful to this purpose
(e.g. ethnographic observation, facilitation of small group discussions, Delphi, EASW,
direct deliberation etc.).
• make sure that cross border aspects do have relevance:
» otherwise, it would not be coherent with the twin objectives of a Territorial Cooperation
project such as Alcotra Innovation.
In the latter role, the public procurement regulations should be adopted to ensure:
• openness / transparency of the whole process;
• documentation and reporting (periodic and final);
• transfer of innovation benefits from industry to the local community as a whole.
(S)= Summarise and evaluate the results
Whatever the implementation pathway carried out in the previous step (#6=R), the pilot action
under way at regional (and/or interregional) level should be subject to a periodic assessment
by the overarching structure composed of the representatives of the regional stakeholders of
the Living Lab community. In order to facilitate this, a monitoring and evaluation system has to
be established (and embedded) upfront and used at a later stage under the coordination of the
overall project manager and the involvement of each and every regional partner.
Basic targets of the evaluation should at least be the following:
• community building and proper functioning;
• user driven, open innovation methodology implementation;
• pilot outputs (and outcomes);
• administrative and R&D productivity of thematic Living Labs;
• the added value of the cross border aspect.
The table in Annex 1 overviews the system of indicators established during the Alcotra Innovation
project to cope with all of the above evaluative dimensions. The raw data points supporting these
indicators have been collected and the indicators themselves have been calculated with the help
of the already mentioned ALL (Alcotra Living Lab) platform (,
an Open Source Software available to all Regions wanting to adopt and customise it for their
own assessment purposes.
Major Achievements from the deployment
of Living Lab pilots in Alcotra Innovation
We now turn our attention from the reference framework and operational procedures described
in the two previous sections, to the main results derived from the pilot implementation of crossborder Living Labs in the five regions and four thematic domains of Alcotra Innovation. We
make reference to the table at the end of the second last section for a detailed description of
Launch of a public call aimed at collecting
of cross-border Living Lab pilots’ Feasibility Plans
After the discussion within the thematic working groups on Intelligent Mobility and Smart
Energies reached a sufficient level of maturity and quite a few ideas started to emerge in terms
of possible pilot actions, the Piedmont and Liguria Regions decided to open a public evidence
procedure, with the purpose of collecting Feasibility Plans from the various proposers, which
were evaluated by the project’s Scientific Committee.
foto: Fluido
per Festival della Scienza
The scheme followed for the preparation of a Feasibility Plan was mostly based on the Business
Model Canvas (see table below). The nine original dimensions of the Canvas were integrated
by four more “ad hoc” for the purposes of Alcotra Innovation, which are displayed at the bottom
of the table. The resulting 13 dimensions have been used as evaluation criteria of the proposed
Feasibility Plans.
activities for the
implementation of
a pilot project in
terms of technology
setup, validation and
testing (for example:
co-design of the
PPPP (Private Public
prototype with and
People Partnership)
by the end users)
actors: enterprises,
municipalities, public
authorities, research
centres, universities
and representatives
of the end users
• Experimentation of
innovative products
and services with
and by the end
• Living Lab as
a physical and
virtual meeting
place between the
different actors of
open innovation
• High added value
and technical
Human and
financial resources
required for the
implementation of
the Living Lab pilot
Operating costs of the Living Lab pilot:
R&D and Innovation costs, protection
of the IPR (intellectual property rights), etc.
How is it designed and implemented?
Where does it make any difference for:
• Cross-border cooperation?
• Technological/sectorial innovation?
• Marketability of product/service?
What are the elements of originality in
relation to the:
ature of the sectorial innovation
implied by the trial?
haracteristics of the thematic domain
ature of the technologies specifically
proposed for implementation?
Forms of institutional
collaboration and
cooperation with
end user groups (for
example: free loan
of the prototype in
favour of the end
users for testing
Different groups
of end users,
depending on
the nature of the
prototype, its
functions and
properties, the
physical environment
and the purposes of
the pilot
promotion and
awareness raising
- towards local
Public funding, prospective sales,
royalties, consultancy
and advisory fees
What are its motivation
and characteristics?
Where does it make any difference in:
• Implementing the Living Lab approach?
• Advancing the state of the art?
aking the trial more successful
and impacting?
Where is impact situated? E.g. at societal/
business / policy level, etc.
How do you intend to:
• Make the trial successful in terms of postproject implications?
• Evolve from the individual trial to a
permanent Living Lab?
• Preserve the cross-border aspect of your
proposed approach in the future?
Given the experimental nature of this policy initiative, instead of setting a budget aside for
granting the pilot actions – as it normally happens with EU or Regionally funded R&D and
Innovation projects – the most promising and mature Feasibility Plans in the two domains
of Smart Energies and Intelligent Mobility were rather awarded with free-of-charge
real services (accompanying measures), like the organisation of multi-stakeholder
meetings, participation to fairs and exhibitions, etc.
Two specific pilot actions in the Intelligent Mobility domain have been jointly
supported by Piedmont Region and Liguria Region, namely:
1) ToM (Tourist on the Move), aiming at the creation of an App giving to mobile
tourists during outdoor and mobile activities, the right information about
cultural heritage, points of interest, last minute offers, local festivals and so on.
2) IPIMIT (Interregional Platform for Information on Multimodal
Transport), which tries to integrate various sources of information and
create a new cross-regional trip planning service promoting the use of
multimodal public transportation (rail, bus, bikes for rent, etc.).
Demonstrators have been developed through a co-creation process, which
has leveraged the end users’ contributions and the inputs coming from the
institutions. People have worked autonomously from remote and also in
transnational meetings, which took place both in Italy and in France. In
order to formalise the relationships between participants to the different
pilot actions, a Living Lab Agreement for the Intelligent Mobility
sector was signed.
Moreover, the Piedmont Region gave acknowledgment and provided
accompanying measures to G.TES (Ground Thermal Energy
Storage). Feasibility Plan, aiming at the introduction of new and ecofriendly techniques to capture thermal energy from solar collectors and
to realise seasonal geothermal storage through closed loop borehole
heat exchangers positioned in the ground. A testbed was set up in a
Piedmontese University, to show the potential benefits of the system and
to collect feedback from students and prospective users.
Rhône-Alpes Region also published a similar call in the domain of Creative
Industries and Multimedia. Two Feasibility Plans were awarded, namely:
1) CommWall (Communicating Wall), aiming at the creation of a
Living Lab which travels across rural territories on both sides of the
Alps, based on the use of a “Travelling Wall” or a similar multimedia
application to achieve constructive interaction with the general public.
2) Pavhillons (Performing Arts, Virtual Heritage and Interactivity:
a Living Lab On/off Site), envisaging a cross-border Living Lab where
new combinations and interactions between visitors and museums can
be designed and experimented, by introducing the typical approaches
of performing arts.
A user-centred co-creation metodology:
For the latter concept, the Rhône-Alpes Region organised two pilot experimentations, named
“Transmuseobs”, which were held in the Houille Blanche Museum (close to Grenoble-FR)
and in the Reggia of Venaria Reale (next to Turin-IT). Transmuseobs experimentations were
based on a 3-days condensed program, where a multidisciplinary creative team – including a
designer, a performing artist, an IT developer, museum staff, a member of the Alcotra Innovation
“creative industries” working group and some friendly visitors – got immersed into the museum
environment to “cook” some innovation together. In the spirit of promoting a Living Lab ecosystem, all the stakeholders involved had expectations which we tried hard to meet, such as:
economic benefits for the territory; new attractive assets for the museum, realisation of hybrid
and challenging projects (between art and technology) for the protagonists, etc. All these
people translated their expectations into mutual cooperation, to find out ICT and cross-media
based solutions to the problems presented to them by museum keepers and managers.
In sum, “ingredients” were many and different (museum keepers, visitors and managers, creative
agents, actors from the local economic environment) and Transmuseobs was the “pot” in which
they were expected to mix up, boil for 3 days and come up with a range of creative innovations.
The metaphor of this Living Lab ecosystem could be “cooking together in a kitchen with no
recipes but a lot of appetite, passion and enthusiasm”!
The “Transmuseobs” program in a nutshell was: first day exploration of the place, walking
diagnosis, brainstorming, creative conversations and co-creation of the first ideas; second
day selection, development, mutual check and development; third day finalisation, trial,
adjustment, presentation to the public and final debate.
In more detail:
Day 1. Conception. Team building, « breaking the ice », guided tour and presentation of the
museum’s issues and wishes, « tech-shop » presentation (digital devices like tablets, sensors
etc.), brainstorming, idea mapping (according to the museum issue(s), convergence towards a
common vision, writing the museum-user-experience pitch, formalising it (sketches, comic-strip,
video clip, etc.), project presentation (plenary), discussions.
Day 2. Production. Prototype/technical framework development by the technical members,
production of visual contents by the artist and designer, production of text and scenario refining
by the other team members, signage design, production and installation on the premises of the
new experience, production of public-interfacing tools (cartels, project description, etc.), project
presentation (plenary), formalising next steps.
Day 3. Presentation. Finishing, final installations, final technical tests, public presentation, and
Launch of PCP (Pre-Commercial Procurement) calls for
tender, promoting the creation of cross-border Living Lab
pilots in support of prototype testing and validation phase
In the Aosta Valley, in the framework of Alcotra Innovation, the Region launched during the year
2012 two consecutive calls for tender to award several (up to six) R&D contracts via a precommercial public procurement (PCP) procedure, in the following thematic domains:
Smart Energies:
• Energy accumulation systems (such as batteries, flywheels, pumping systems, thermal
storage systems, etc.) with the power to balance, at a local level, the production of energy
from renewable sources with demand, with a view to improving the overall efficiency of the
system, also with regard to the electricity grid.
• Monitoring, control and management systems – also remotely controlled – of the consumption
and energy production of users characterised by complex energy systems (“multienergy
Intelligent Mobility
• Monitoring of the road networks by means of sensors with the capacity to detect the
environmental conditions of the road surface and/or any accidental events that might change
circulation conditions, and/or traffic congestion problems.
• Availability of innovative parking payment solutions integrated with local public transport
information systems.
• Vehicle sharing management systems, such as tools enabling the withdrawal and payment via
smart phone of electrical bicycles under a bike-sharing scheme, with the option of booking
the bicycle online.
The prototypes resulting from the R&D activities carried out by the innovative enterprises who
got awarded of the PCP contracts, and that were released to Aosta Valley Region by mid-2013,
were later tested and experimented in real life conditions with the involvement of local public
administration bodies (municipalities, mountain communities), as well as other public entities
(foundations, universities, high schools), distributed on the regional and cross-border territories,
by the adoption and implementation of the Living Lab approach.
The rationale for the procedure outlined above and schematised in the following table, came
from a direct inspection of the regional economic system’s technological assets and socioeconomic needs according to a smart specialisation model.
Mapping and Matching
Stakeholder Dialogue
for needs elicitation
Open Market Consultation
for solutions exploration
“Phase 0”
(2 months)
Pre-Commercial Public Procurement
Prototyping Limited test
series production
“Phase 1”
(6 months)
Verification and validation
of prototype solutions with
local Living Lab pilots
“Phase 2”
(6 months)
After a preliminary identification of Smart Energies and Intelligent Mobility as thematic
domains of election for the exercise of innovative policy actions, the Aosta Valley Region
issued a call for ideas, aimed at carrying out a survey of the local production system
capabilities (enterprises, research institutions, etc.) in search of possible innovative solutions
to technological problems or socio-economic needs that were emerging in the area:
the call was proposed as an instrument to identify suitable project ideas for subsequent
experimentation with and by the end users, in compliance with the Living Labs approach.
In parallel, the main local public bodies and stakeholders (associations, foundations, agencies,
etc.) were consulted by the Region through an open procedure, in order to better identify the
needs and expectations of the community as a whole. The “mapping” and “matching” of
these findings – on the one hand, the societal needs emerging in the area; on the other hand,
the proposals of innovative solutions not yet available in the market – served to define the
specific technological environment in which to activate the PCP calls.
The principal reason why – for the first time in Italy – the innovative tendering instrument of PCP
(Pre-Commercial Public Procurement) was identified to financially support the implementation
phase, is that for most societal needs identified during the Stakeholder Dialogue Phase,
commercial solutions were not yet available, but at the same time, they were not
too far from reaching maturity. In this situation, the Region decided to play a sort
of mediating role between technology providers and prospective end users, by
candidating to be the “first buyer” of the prototypes that would be resulting from
the PCP Phase of R&D and Limited test series production. In turn, the adoption
and implementation of the Living Lab approach was formally prescribed by
the PCP call during the Verification and validation Phase.
The reason for this choice was to make sure that the
requirements of regional and cross-regional stakeholders
– as they had been identified during the “Phase 0” of the
procedure – would be met to the best possible extent by
the solutions developed in the context of the Tender.
Among the Living Lab pilots activated by the PCP call, we
can mention here a cross-border initiative, MobInVallée,
which has tested and validated an innovative mobile
application, enabling the reservation and payment of public
parking slots, integrated with information about local public
transport. The pilot saw the participation of users located in
the small town of Cogne and in the natural reserve of Grand
Paradis (Aosta Valley, Italy) as well as in the municipalities
of the Valley d’Aulps, Chablais (Rhône-Alpes, France).
Thanks to these innovative policy experimentations, since 24th May 2012 the Aosta Valley
Living Lab (Vallée Lab) has been acknowledged as a member of the European Network of
Living Labs (ENoLL).
A 2-staged plan of activities for cross-border
Living Lab pilot experimentation:
1) “in vitro”
2) “in vivo”
In the framework of Alcotra Innovation, the
cross-border working group on e-Health,
coordinated by PACA Region, has delivered a
number of usage scenarios, skill requirements
and proposals of information sharing and
methodological convergence in the selected
thematic domain (with a special attention to
Alzheimer disease and neurological troubles
and diabetes detection). This resulted in
the design, organisation and animation of
a “Living Lab Santé Alpin”, led by PACA
Region’s Comité d’Expansion 05 consultant
and grounded on the territorial diagnosis as
well as the concertation activities realised by
and with the cross-regional actors during the
project’s life.
The experimentation was carried out according to a 2-staged plan of activities:
1) a first testing phase “in-vitro”, which allowed validating the technical performance of the
proposed solution (in terms e.g. of debugging, verification of operational limits in areas not
covered by broadband, etc.) and thus generated a prototype service that would inspire maximum
confidence among the prospective users in daily life situations;
2) a second phase “in vivo”, where user-led evaluation of the solution focused on organisational
and economic aspects, including the definition of viable business models. In this way, the
contribution to the commercial phase could be enhanced.
In this context, the cross-border dimension brought in some added value in terms of change
management of service organisations, including the integration of ICT (Information and
Communication Technology).
Take the example of home based care. Once the cross-border working group has developed
a diagnosis of territorial needs and challenges (including the specificities of rural and alpine
communities) it becomes important to identify the skills to be improved in order to facilitate
the adoption of telemedicine solutions. Mobilising all the actors in the value chain – patients,
physicians, technology developers, financing and training institutions – helps define usage
scenarios that can bring out the specific actions to be implemented for the development of
good practices and thus enhance the market potential of e-Health in remotely located areas.
The following diagram illustrates the value chain for the local development of technologies
facilitating home based care. This exercise leads to a breakdown of the roles of relevant
stakeholders in the project to build actions of strategic significance for the industry players
mobilised in the territories, as well as for the service users in the Living Labs.
To complete this preliminary analysis and assessment, a significant contribution to the fine
mapping of local actors and their roles in the field of home based care was provided by the
e-atlas. Indeed, Territorial Cooperation can be implemented in this thematic domain with the
involvement of healthcare agencies, regional councils, and other local authorities and NGOs,
being oriented to:
- pooling of volunteer teams for the creation of test beds cutting across countries and regions;
- sharing the methodological design of pilot actions as well as multi-criteria evaluation tasks (on
organisational aspects and in terms of social acceptance);
- making recommendations of high added value, especially in terms of new e-health business
models and their components (pricing systems, working protocols with sharing or delegation
of tasks between professionals, etc.).
Not surprisingly, the diagnosis of skill requirements and usage scenarios led to quite similar
results in Italy and France. The diagram below, created by Talking Things – PACA design team
– illustrates the challenge of improving information sharing in the context of the management of
medical support services at home: the doctor would like to use the PC in his office, the nurse
would work better with a mobile application, being in a position of permanent mobility, and the
medical records are requested to stay at the domicile of service recipients.
To financially support the experimentation phase, there are several possible sources of
funding: one is the PACALabs initiative, another is the PRIDES programme for the collective
actions of clusters, and a third one is the “promotion of territorial development” service.
However, the number of end users affected by these pilot experiments is normally too low to
produce evaluation results that are perfectly transferable, particularly from a social or economic
point of view. This fact led us to believe that cross-border cooperation can play a key role in
identifying the territorial contexts and the organisational actors that are more relevant for the
successful deployment of ICTs. This is the specific task assigned to the “Living Lab Santé
Alpin”, led by PACA Region supported by Comité d’Expansion 05.
After this refined diagnostic vision, a project proposal can be designed-including a prototype
development and testing phase (“in vitro”) and a parallel, shared methodology of user integration
(“in vivo”) - as shown:
At present, this Public-Private-People Partnership (PPPP) on the French side of the Alps is
only composed of health professionals, home carers and territorial actors (Municipalities and
Councils). It does not include e.g. representatives of Clusters or other innovation players that
could be permanently engaged in the operation of the Living Lab. Private enterprises only
intervene sporadically and discretionally into the pilots, in relation to their specific requirements
in terms of technological innovation. Market regulators, public institutions, and funding agencies
mostly play regulatory or control functions, while they should become more conscious of the
important role they have in assessing the potential and enabling the “rooting” of innovation
into the market. Depending on the specific projects in operation, representatives of patient
associations (e.g. diabetics) can be invited to join the steering committee, being in charge of the
strategic management of the PPPP.
The signature of a partnership agreement – mentioning the needs of the Living Lab in terms
of services and tools to be put in place as well as the values and objectives of the participant
organisation, which have to be matched with the next “round” of pilot projects – is a feasible,
“bottom line” approach to the mobilisation of these external forces, particularly from the other
side of the Alps. Meanwhile, the Comité d’Expansion remains committed to assuring and
managing a qualified participation of end users (patients and relatives) in the pilot projects, in
accordance with the Living Lab principles.
To conclude, the Alcotra Innovation experience in the healthcare domain shows that Living Labs
can play a major role in the economic modelling of new e-services, support to the definition
of protocols, analysis of transfer potential and establishment of links with other local and
non-local players. The 2-staged planning of pilots and their participatory nature are clearly a
strategic component of this endeavour, which far exceeds the purpose of ensuring the effective
realisation of funded projects.
Strategic Evaluation
of cross-border Living Labs
The Alcotra Innovation experience
A central element of the Alcotra Innovation project was the adoption of the Living Lab
approach, as able to give value to the contributions of the end users at all stages of the
R&D and innovation process (conception, design, planning, development, testing, etc.).
Living Labs have been crucial in informing and shaping the project’s pilot actions, not only
in terms of vision (open innovation) and methodologies activated (assigning a central role to
the end users within a “quadruple helix” model), but also for their expected results: increased
competitiveness of firms, better exploitation of new products and processes, progress in
territorial innovation, etc. It was therefore quite obvious that the strategic evaluation of these
results should consider the entire “production” process of innovation, in its core capacity to
push and enhance confrontations between different points of view as well as promote the
elicitation of the requirements expressed by representatives of users (demand side) to the
technology and application developers (supply side).
Additional elements that influenced the evaluation, were related to the other characteristics of
the Alcotra Innovation project pilots, namely:
1) the cross-border dimension of user driven, open innovation processes;
2) the adoption of Feasibility Plans to prioritise the pilot experimentations in the various thematic
3) the lack of direct funding from the participant Regions (with the only exception of Aosta Valley
PCP) to the individual or groups of stakeholders for their respective pilots.
In the context of our strategic project, evaluation activities took place in
two principal phases: the first followed the presentation of Feasibility
Plans by a number of enterprises and consortia under the specific Calls
launched by some participant Regions, while the second evaluation task
was carried out at the very end of Alcotra Innovation, focusing on the
achievements and outcomes gained by individual participants and the
consortium as a whole.
The evaluation of Feasibility Plans was carried out along the lines presented
in the previous section, basically through a slightly modified version of the
Business Model Canvas. This task had the main feature of being “ex ante”,
therefore oriented to considering the innovative capacity and potential of (groups
of) candidate companies in the technological, social and organisational fields.
It was aimed, of course, at selecting the best (or most promising) project ideas to
be supported by the public hand at a later stage. In that respect, it closely resembled
the evaluation carried out in the context of the Aosta Valley PCP calls for tender.
In this section, we will mostly focus on the second evaluation task, which was oriented
to showing the positive results achieved by the consortium efforts (in an accountability
perspective) and highlighting the weaknesses or critical points emerged during the life of
the project (in a learning perspective). It is in that respect that we used the term “strategic”
to qualify this kind of evaluation, which also has the clear feature of occurring “ex post”.
Point 2 in particular highlighted a marked difference between the French and the Italian partners
within the Alcotra Innovation consortium, probably reflecting the different level of maturity of the
respective Living Lab policies (if not also, thematic domains). More specifically, while PACA
and Rhône-Alpes followed a more direct, “hands-on” approach towards the experimentation
of innovative ideas in their industries of election (e-Health and Creative Industries), Liguria and
Piedmont for the Intelligent Mobility and Smart Energies domains, preferred to adopt the staged
approach suggested by the “Call for Feasibility Plans” procedure. While the former way of
piloting cross-border Living Lab innovation proved useful in strengthening already analysed and
mature project ideas, the latter reflected the diffuse awareness of a need to give more time to
the proposers, before reaching a sufficient level of development in terms of technical content
and methodological definition of their pilots.
The picture, however, is not so clear-cut as one might expect, for two reasons. First, RhôneAlpes Region also used the instrument of Feasibility Plans, although in a softer version compared
to Liguria and Piedmont Regions. Second, between these two cases, a third and intermediate is
present: the Aosta Valley Region, with its PCP call for tender, introducing Living Lab pilots only
in the second stage of the R&D and innovation process.
It is absolutely evident from the above discussion, that the initial configuration of project
evaluation tasks had to be well differentiated, in order to avoid the risk of applying too detailed
and deepened criteria and indicators to roughly identified situations. Such risk has been
managed only partially during the project, and this has sometimes led to an overestimation of
the potential of proposed ideas. It is also for that reason that the final evaluation task has gained
a prominent importance, taking into account the absolute need to avoid overrating the quality
and impact of selected pilots in the crucial ending phase of Alcotra Innovation.
As anticipated, the design of ex-post evaluation had to consider both the peculiarities of the Living
Lab approach and the cross-border dimension of the pilots, in the framework of territorial development
and interregional cooperation. Further to that, the best practice results of Alcotra Innovation should
also contribute to the Cross Border Strategic Plan for boosting innovation, which aimed ay innovating
regional innovation policies for the next programming period 2014-2020. In coherence with these
goals, the evaluation plan aimed at tackling both processes and results, in a benchlearning perspective
(“how to take stock and improve future cross border innovation actions”).
user involvement
service creation
get users
which type
user, effort,
provide tools
to have users
to deploy
used to deploy
first defined
keep users
need for
automatic data
specific to
best fitting
to motivate
on cultural
and legal
need for
low cost
in ENoLL
to be adapted
to other
most used
The “final 8” evaluative dimensions are therefore:
1) citizen and user involvement;
2) service creation;
3) infrastructure;
4) organisation and governance;
5) innovation outcomes;
6) methods and tools;
7) supporting SME innovation;
8) transregionality (or “cross-border added value”).
In turn, the design of suitable evaluation indicators faced a main problem: how to obtain
“objective” measures based on quantitative data being collectable and useful for monitoring and
evaluation purposes. After an internal discussion involving all the main project stakeholders, it was
decided that the above evaluative dimensions would be the focus of a set of questions to be asked
to the five main categories of participants in the regional and cross-regional Living Labs:
methods & tools
commitment &
target market,
value for
Idea, Patent
taxonomy of
methods &
methods for LL
support for
methods &
resources &
IPR early
optimal degree
of Interaction,
methods &
tools are institutionalised
Living Lab
of experts,
context, target
Living Lab
projectssharing best
through ENoLL
To this end, the evaluation scheme proposed with the “interoperability cube” developed
within the FP6 IST CoreLabs CA (EP# 035065) has been used, after integration with
two additional dimensions: the SME innovation support and the cross border aspect;
the latter constitutes the main innovative feature of the Alcotra Innovation experience.
end users and their representatives (associations, NGOs, etc.);
firms engaged in the development of technologies and/or the production of goods and services;
public institutions;
universities and research centres;
thematic experts (internal or external to the project team).
The end users were called to assess the usefulness of proposed solutions, the firms
their feasibility and economic sustainability, while Public institutions dealt with the
mid-to-long term impacts on regional economies and societies, Researchers assessed
the potential to improve the methodologies and the transferability of R&D carried out by the
universities, and finally the thematic experts evaluated the adequacy of solutions in terms of
processes, methods or product/service innovation.
Of course, surveying the Living Lab stakeholders would not fully answer the requirement of
collecting “objective” data to be used for assessment purposes. In this sense, thanks to Aosta
Valley Region’s ALL (Alcotra Living Lab) platform (, introduced
in previous sections of this Handbook, some quantitative information was also gathered
concerning five crucial dimensions of the Living Lab pilots:
a) community building and proper functioning;
b) user driven, Open innovation methodology implementation;
c) pilot outputs (and outcomes);
d) administrative and R&D productivity;
e) the added value of the cross border aspect.
Going across the borders
Critical aspects and benefits
To conclude and finalise our discourse on strategic evaluation, we now draw some
lessons learnt about the potential and limits of cross-regional Living Labs as emerged
during the Alcotra Innovation project and across its pilots.
This additional work of data collection has been done in collaboration between several actors –
the person in charge of the individual pilot, of the Living Lab or innovation community it belongs
to, and of the Alcotra Innovation team at each Region – and with a double aim: on one hand, to
add a quantitative dimension to the subjective assessment of survey respondents; on the other
hand, to allow the Alcotra Innovation team (joined by a number of methodological experts) to
produce a final evaluation of the project, on the basis of both subjective and objective indicators.
In conclusion, the strategic evaluation of Alcotra Innovation worked at three levels and used
three different kinds of instrument, as shown below:
“Questionnaire A”
“Questionnaire B”
“Questionnaire C”
Participant Regions
Quantitative data for project
monitoring and assessment
Strategic evaluation of Alcotra Innovation,
supported by expert advice
Living Labs or Innovation
Quantitative data on Living Lab
functioning and performance
Qualitative data on Living Lab functioning
and performance
Thematic Pilot actions
Quantitative data on Pilot
execution and performance
Qualitative data on Pilot execution and
“Questionnaire A” was meant for collecting process and pilot results of objective nature (e.g.
number of participants to the Living Lab pilots, number of meetings, number of innovative
products, and so on).
“Questionnaire B” gathered “subjective” information regarding the eight evaluative dimensions
of the extended “Cube” and more generally about the Living Labs’ functioning and performance.
“Questionnaire C”, to be filled by people that signed the Living Lab Partnership Agreement,
contained some evaluative questions about the expected objectives and results achieved within
the Alcotra Innovation Project.
With more and more corporate, research and government organisations
realising and trying to grasp the benefits of user driven, open innovation,
several Living Labs have been built up and are active in Europe and
beyond, with many different scopes and orientations. Increasingly, the
crystallisation point is a desire to “innovate innovation” policies and
practices with the help of the end-users/citizens in a territory. Living Labs
are providing prominent examples of this participative approach can be
effective, as such, and because of the growingly apparent connections
with the so-called “entrepreneurial discovery” process belonging to the
smart specialisation framework. Additionally, Living Lab experimentations are
particularly apt to take care of special territorial assets – such as the social
and cultural heritage – or competitiveness drivers – like the four thematic
domains of Alcotra Innovation.
While most of these Living Lab benefits can be appreciated at a regional level, however there is
also a clear potential for user driven, open innovation on a broader National or International scale.
Therefore, in several countries of Europe (such as Finland, France, Netherlands and Spain),
existing Living Labs acknowledged by the ENoLL have started being clustered into National
Networks; funding agencies, like the Nordic research institution Nordforsk, have launched
Living Lab calls that were explicitly asking for cross-country collaborations between entities
coming from both research and industry; and various Programmes of the European Commission
have funded even broader instantiations of this kind of collaboration, such as the CIP project
APOLLON (Advanced pilots of Living Labs Operating in Networks) or the CE CentraLab
project (Central European Living Lab for Territorial Innovation), thus forming pan-European or
cross-regional alliances and partnerships concerned with joint R&D and innovation topics (e.g.
“e-mobility”) and/or adopting a common methodology for innovation (e.g. “Lead users”).
However, these collaborations are only of temporary nature, meaning that after the
completion of each respective pilot project, the members of the pan-European consortium
usually continue on their own. In this context, an important message from Alcotra Innovation
(particularly, but not limited to, the PACA experience on e-Health described above) is the
possibility of giving continuity over time to the pilot experiments, because there are mutual
interests converging in that direction (for example, because of the need to innovate the
business models associated to product and service innovations).
It is also important to differentiate between the types of collaboration. The meta structures
provided by the Living Lab community clearly help to support the different pilots on the
methodological level, by e.g. informing each other about the goals achieved, methods used
etc. In Alcotra Innovation, these “meta” structures have been represented by cross-border
working groups in the four thematic domains, which are a permanent legacy of this strategic
project in the Alps-Mediterranean EuroRegion. However, the regional Living Lab partnerships
that were already existing in some cases before the project started, mainly on the French side,
also demonstrated an autonomous capacity to “work together”.
Usually these tighter cooperation networks are either formed because of a specific topic, which
participants are interested in, or because of a common goal to achieve within a given window of
opportunity. However, the full potential of Living Lab cooperation is unleashed when deploying
a common service or product in a single or different countries or regions. Here the individual
competences and strengths of the participants can be used effectively for the customisation
(or development) of services/products that seriously take the customer/citizen needs and
requirements into account. In general, three principal models of cooperation can be identified.
The most asymmetrical cooperation model is when the product or service is developed
in one region and marketed in another, meaning that the product/service developed in
one region is transferred with only minor changes to another Living Lab located in a different
region. The next step towards a more symmetrical cooperation is the customisation of a service/
product to the requirements of another Living Lab. This means that a service developed in one
Living Lab will be deployed in another cooperating Living Lab and to this purpose, it is highly
customised in order to deal with the specific regional setting, social background and heritage
of the target region. Finally, there is a kind of Living Lab cooperation that can be described as
symmetrical, meaning that the partners from all the regional communities work closely together
in order to deploy a common service/product that is co-created, co-developed and co-tested.
In Alcotra Innovation, all the above cooperation models were used, however the focus has been
laid on symmetrical collaboration. As described in the previous sections of this Handbook,
all of the project’s thematic activities were realised in an experimental, “EuroRegional” policy
setting, rooted on a specific pool of industries, territorial areas, and technology domains.
The cross-border working groups have brought together the respective regional institutions and
stakeholder organisations that have influence on and support the implementation of innovative
actions, which are the building blocks of territorial development policy and practice. Based
on the cross regional collaborations activated in the working groups, a number of Living Lab
pilot initiatives have been launched, in various ways, within the common domains of interest
identified by the government representatives together with the various stakeholders operating
in the respective territories. The successful deployment of various cross-regional and crossnational pilots as part of the Alcotra Innovation project, shows with great clarity that institutional
impulse and support makes a major difference when developing sustainable Living Labs.
Living Labs. A Taxonomy
Living Labs are inextricably linked to several human and territorial factors: their
ability to mobilise the population concerned, various elements of social innovation
and creativity in the process, rather than in the products themselves, a renewed
role of public institutions, and particularly of local authorities. Additionally Living
Labs put a central figure – though poorly defined – at the heart of their operation:
the “user”. Indeed, the latter exercises his or her involvement and engagement in
a wide range of instantiations: from the simple testing of a technology product
“as customer” to the realisation of a collective action (other than to public
policy) “as citizen”. Similarly, the degree of involvement and engagement of
public authorities can be variable within a role of facilitation of the encounter
between supply and demand. Finally, the Living Labs can be “territorialised”,
insofar as the problem that engages a community of actors is often
geographically constrained and contextualised. In this respect, the case of
the “medical deserts” is a good example of Living Lab development that is
community located as well as problem-driven (how to improve the quantity
and quality of medical care in the presence of decreasing hospitalisation).
Methodologically, two key aspects emerge that seem to differentiate
Living Labs:
• The first concerning the modes of exchange and collaboration
between stakeholders. Here we can distinguish between:
» processes that can be described as linear, sequential,
“diffusionists”, involving designers, distributors, end users etc.,
and limiting the role of the latter to testing technological and social
solutions as proposed by the developers;
» more collaborative approaches, where all participants (including
the end users)contribute to ideation and experimentation of
innovative propositions.
• The second concerning the topics of interest for Living Labs, ranging
» clearly defined technology innovations (for example, a new software
or “connected environment”);
» innovative approaches (either technological or social, or both) to
the collaborative design, validation and even realisation of products,
services, and business models (for instance, in the healthcare
The pursuit of innovation is certainly the most obvious common goal.
In this endeavour, it is also common to liaise and connect a variety of actors
affected by the issues, themes or solutions at hand. These include economic
actors (from production, processing, distribution), researchers, end users
(individual or organised customers).
Among the various Living Labs, a distinction can be made according their objectives.
For instance, those interested in an essentially technological dimension will aim at the distribution
of proposed solutions. Those keen on collaborative aspects will adopt a participatory approach
to problems and thus promote the collective search for solutions.
The rationale of Living Labs for technological diffusion is the development/deployment of
specific and well-identified technological solutions. Their lifetime may be limited to the fulfilment
of that goal through e.g. testing or marketing of a given product or service (e.g. a connected
apartment or a communication software).
They are organised around:
• a professional project leader, being an industrial company or research laboratory;
• a new solution, often identifiable as a product or service, to be developed and/or distributed;
• a sectorial dimension;
• a linear transition from designers to users, going through producers, processors, distributors;
• a concept of “user as tester”, whose remarks are fed back to the designers;
• an evaluation method focused on the “client”.
The purpose of Living Labs for technological innovation is to establish framework conditions
for innovation by setting up a network of relationships for researching, experimenting,
disseminating new technology solutions. The conditions of their implementation are identical to
those of Living Labs for technological diffusion.
Main differences concern:
• a greater involvement of users and producers in the co-design;
• a presence of collaborative spaces where all stakeholders can discuss technology solutions
(within seminars, workshops, etc.).
In turn, Living Labs for collective innovation aim to implement the conditions for co-created
innovation according to a notion of “collective learning”. They often emerge from existing
networks (clusters) in line with other approaches and remain focused on a specific sector, being
organised in a structured manner (like an association for instance). Despite the common base,
this type of Living Labs is completely different from the others – in terms of work and exchange
patterns between participants, as well as the dimensions and domains of innovation.
Other features include:
• a project leader that can also belong to public administration or even to organised citizen
• a transversal dimension, touching upon several domains or thematic areas;
• an objective related to the realisation of innovation dynamics, not focused on a specific
• a reticular and complex organisation associating the civic, political, economic and technical
• a starting point being a problem, not a solution;
• a collective involvement of all stakeholders in defining the issues, proposing and
validating the solutions;
• an evaluation method focused on the “community”.
As the figure shows, these Living Lab schemes are positioned in various locations of an ideal 3D
space, highlighting the direction of collaboration (linear transitions or networked interactions),
the nature of innovation (focused on solutions or rather problems), and the weight of
transversal aspects (single theme or multi-topic approaches).
However, this positioning is not invariant across time and under evolving conditions. For
instance, Living Labs can migrate from one scheme to another, because of the integration of
collaborative methods and tools into existing processes, or due to the positive outcomes of past
trials that gives emphasis to scaling up.
Finally, Living Labs for territorial innovation aim at implementing the framework conditions for
innovation in territorial development. They can be considered as very close (in spirit and goals)
to Living Labs for collective innovation. What is qualifying them as territorial is the privilege given
to co-creating and collaborating between actors of a same territory (City, Region).
Moreover, they differ from Living Labs for collective innovation in two respects, namely because:
• an institutional actor of the territory is usually the initiator of the Living Lab;
• a more transversal approach to a variety of sectors and topics of interest is normally practised.
As the networks of actors carrying out the process of territorial innovation are numerous and
diversified, these Living Labs require a supplement of organisational engineering – also taking
into account the comparatively longer duration of the territorial construction dynamics.
Other specific characteristics include the following:
• a strong engagement, usually governance, of a local authority;
• a diversity of actors involved, not only at the level of the topics and sectors concerned, but
also at territorial level;
• a multi-disciplinary and multi-sectorial dimension of implementation, putting together different
issues and matters of concern for the territory.
To this end, a team of service designers in the field of home-based care complemented and
reinforced the capacity of Living Lab managers. This occurred in phases 1 and 2 as shown
in the diagram. During the implementation of adjusted service concepts, several points of
interest required attention:
• the definition of the pilot object from a shared assessment (across the territory or
value chain concerned), to contextualise and appreciate the issues at stake;
• the translation of the diagnosis into goals to achieve and supporting means. There
can be objectives related primarily to the technological solution to be tested,
others to the general purpose of thematic innovation and to the resulting modes
of collaboration;
• the clarification and transparency of implementation intentions and of the
various stakeholders expectations (of actors who are engaged, simply involved
or wish to get involved), particularly from the public and private sectors;
• the governance rules for the discipline of all stakeholders’ contributions,
particularly the end users, and for the co-creation of issues and pragmatic
Acting in this way and as pointed out in the introduction to the Strategic
Plan of Alcotra Innovation, territorial Living Labs can serve to:
• promote R&D and technological innovation at regional/interregional
• encourage open innovation within and across the regional borders;
• apply ICT and more generally technologies to solve issues of common
• promote the diffusion of product/service co-design in targeted areas;
• stimulate social innovation and a broader transformation of society
empowering end-users / citizens;
• favour changes in organisation which tends to be less vertical and
pyramidal and more flexible and cross-fertilised.
To operate, any Living Lab requires strong project management and user integration skills.
Various methods exist, however, to achieve these aims. If needed, a Living Lab that truly wishes
to consider “the user” or groups of users will focus first and foremost on a thorough analysis of
their needs. This step can be shorter or longer in terms of time, but the issue of sharing interests
and needs of all the parties involved is crucial for the project outcomes. This is especially true if
the goal of a Living Lab is the establishment of an organisational or territorial innovation, which
holds components of social and economic rather than technical innovation. The diagram here
shows an exemplary project management cycle powered by a territorial Living Lab approach as
the one implemented in PACA in the framework of Alcotra Innovation.
In that Region, a study of the different actors involved in the supply chain of medical and
welfare services enabled to deliver better services while making healthcare organisations
more efficient by adopting the right mix of technologies.
Social Innovation
• Societal needs not
• Needs, processes,
organisational dimensions
• Multi stakeholders
• Strong territoriality
Open innovation
• User-centric approach
• Co-creation
& co-property
• Mixity of economical
• Complex governance
Technological Innovation
• Create new products
and services
• Co-production with
potential consumers
• Business ecosystem
• Firms & labos
as leaders
We proudly believe that we have managed to demonstrate the effectiveness
of this concept and approach in a variety of thematic domains that are of
great relevance for the next generation of innovation policy and practice at
broad EU and regional level.
Living Labs Outlook
Living Labs have been successfully deployed over the last 10 years in Europe. While this in
itself is remarkable, it bears the question of what the heritage and the future of the Living Lab
concept are. The results of Alcotra Innovation show that Living Labs aren’t just another type of
policy platform, but they instead represent a change in how user-centred innovation at regional
level can and should be implemented in a sustainable way. The project has demonstrated in
various regional and cross-border pilots how the goal of stimulating the innovation capability
of a territory can be successfully achieved.
Now the main question behind the developed pilots is how to sustain the created Living Labs
and preserve the experience gathered with them. For sure, a long lasting support can be
achieved via the Regions that have supported the different thematic activities inside the project.
Overall, the intention they have manifested is to work at permanently embedding the Living Lab
concept and approach into the respective innovation promotion strategies.
Living Labs in the 8th Framework Programme
“Horizon 2020”
The Living Lab concept is also relevant for the research and innovation programmes to be
launched by the European Commission soon. The details of the 8th Framework Programme
“Horizon 2020” have been only partially revealed so far, as the first work programme is set
to appear between the end of 2013 – beginning of 2014. However, one major change has
been announced early on in the phase of the programme development, namely the focus on
innovation. In the 7th Framework Programme (7FP), initiatives of the so-called RTD (Research
and Technology Development) resulted into the delivery of many valid prototypes, while the
exploitation of results was only a very small part of the project. Thus, the end user acceptance
and marketability of research issues were usually investigated to a limited or partial extent
(being the core focus of the parallel framework to 7FP, named Competitiveness and Innovation
Programme). As a result, the market success of products and solutions developed as part of
EU projects did not follow according to a structured approach. This is particular interesting
if one considers that around 80%-90% of EU funded projects are indeed successful from a
research point of view, thus leading to results that should in principle also be marketable and
strengthen the position of Europe as one of the major industrial players in the global markets.
Further to that, it is known that end-user involvement in EU RTD activities has not played
an overly important role in the past years, while the new Horizon 2020 Programme has the
clear ambition to change this. The new projects to be launched under the 8th Framework
Programme change their nature from pure RTD to Research and Innovation (R&I) projects.
Obviously this puts a stronger emphasis on marketability, meaning on the one hand that
the results of the projects need to reach a more mature state (ideally after prototyping)
and at the same time that the consortia need a better understanding of their markets.
Both aspects require that R&I projects improve the ways to deal with end users
and innovation. Again, this shift towards user involvement is driven by the need
to strengthen the European industry capacity, by allowing projects that are
closer to marketability.
What Alcotra Innovation has shown is that closing the gap between research and market
is a very difficult endeavour. Currently, most RTD proposal templates, even at regional
level, are created primarily with a research inspiration, and they virtually lack room for
outlining a proper exploitation strategy. Very modestly, in the regions of Piedmont, Liguria
and Rhône-Alpes, partners and stakeholders have tried to reverse the angle and proposed a
Feasibility Plan template that mostly focuses on the Business Model Canvas and additional,
programme specific aspects, all taken from the perspective of exploitation. It can be seen from
the results of the Living Lab call(s), that regional stakeholders are not promptly able to bridge
the gap between research and innovation, as the proposals received lack e.g. a full business
perspective and only showed hypothetical revenue streams. This clearly demonstrates that
additional experimentation on how to bridge research with innovation is required.
Living Labs can be one cornerstone for supporting this endeavour. In Alcotra Innovation, the
emphasis on end users has been a major factor in all trials. By bringing together industry,
research, government and the end users, a holistic framework is secured, which ensures
that the results of the R&I projects do not stay within closed circles or research laboratories,
but instead are spread out into the real world. Like it happened in Aosta Valley for the pilots
supported by Pre-Commercial Procurement, project developments were tested against
marketability with potential customers, not only functionality or acceptance with the end users.
Furthermore, the multi-stakeholder involvement created has made sure that the business plans
are defined realistically. Especially innovative public services can gain from this.
Finally, it can be seen from the trials of Alcotra Innovation that the interregional or multi-country
deployment aspect is quite important and not so easy to achieve. However, the 8th Framework
Programme doesn’t specify exactly how to deal with this aspect in detail yet, although there
is no denying that new procedures are required to enhance the pan-European dimension of
future innovation projects. Against this additional effort stands the increased marketability of
the results obtained and validated in a cross-border Living Labs environment.
Smart specialisation and Living Labs
Smart specialisation is a policy concept that has been introduced to
support regions in leveraging their peculiar assets. Rather than working
with non-focused financial instruments to generally support enterprise
development, the idea is to first identify “specialties” and particularities of
the local territories in order to stimulate a differentiation in patterns and the
valorisation of competitive advantages that make up the uniqueness of a
district or region. This argument is not new: although with different names,
European countries and regions have long been engaged in designing
and implementing various policy instruments and streams that adopt
similar principles: this is the case e.g. of the clusters of competitiveness
(“Pôles de compétitivité” in France), or actions aimed at strengthening
academic-industry linkages, networking and clustering of enterprises in
national, regional or sectorial innovation systems. To some extent, the
smart specialisation concept looks like mirroring the success of these
activities. However, its potential is much bigger and should be appraised
in relation to four major aspects.
First, what makes up a territory are its inhabitants, with their unique
skills and capabilities (including labour and entrepreneurship), which
ultimately differentiate one place from another. Thus, the concept of
smart specialisation is to be extended towards taking into account the
specialties and particularities of the people (citizens, stakeholders,
also policy makers and civil servants) who contribute to the strategic
orientation of regional innovation policy.
Second, integrating the “human factor” within the smart specialisation
process also has consequences in terms of strategic governance of the
same process: as the guidelines issued by the European Commission
seem to imply, there is a need for the design of “shared” R&D policies,
which have to be internalised by the regional innovation actors and turned
into proactive and reinforcing behaviours. In relation to this goal, some
observers speak about the convenience of opening up the traditional
“Triple Helix” model to the active engagement of citizens, thus adding a
fourth engine (or component) to the Helix itself. Here again the question is
how to move from research to innovation. With a multistakeholder approach,
including regional inhabitants, a quicker uptake of new developments in the
market can ultimately be assured.
Third, a recent experience from the Basque country can be reported, where the
Living Lab approach was used to the purpose of entrepreneurial discovery.
The latter in turn is instrumental to reinventing the patterns of specialisation of a
region as the economic, technological, social and environmental context changes.
New patterns of territorial (smart) specialisation have been identified with the support
of the Quadruple Helix, with all the different parties involved (i.e. regional authorities,
research and innovation actors, enterprises and user communities) contributing to the
generation and, more importantly, to the embedding of results into the strategy.
Fourth, a qualifying aspect of any smart specialisation profile is to be configured and
somehow validated according to the twin goal of meeting the priorities and complementing
the structure of “global value chains” in the selected areas of specialisation – thus facilitating
the orientation of regional products/services towards the international markets. Here is where
the cross-border aspect comes into play. With more and more regions having identified internally
their specialties so far, a European wide cooperation could be foreseen to foster their capabilities
in certain technological fields (e.g. future Internet). Furthermore, such a cooperation between
regions would still require the customisation of the developed solutions to the particularities and
preferences of the respective communities. The Living Lab approach could act in such a way
that adaptation to the core technology/product could be made during the whole development
cycle. In this way only solutions that have been customised for the respective target markets
would be deployed.
Annex 1
Evaluation of Living Lab pilots
Evaluation target
Indicator name
Value and Range
Gathered by
Source of
of the pilot
To fill in for each
pilot action, then
the machine will do
the aggregation at
thematic LL level
(with an unavoidable
risk of double
of the pilot
As above
A1. Community building and proper functioning
A1.1 “Coverage”
of the LL pilot
1.1. Categories
and Number of
involved in the
Living Lab PPP
supporting the
pilot action
A1.2 “Width” of the 1.2. Number of
end user community citizens involved
of the LL pilot
in the Living Lab
PPPP supporting
the pilot action
Integer >=0
1.1.1 Public Institutions: n°
1.1.2 Firms: n°
1.1.3 End Users and their
associations: n°
1.1.4 Universities and research
institutes: n°
1.1.5 Other (incl. experts): n°
Pilot project
Integer >=0
Pilot project
A1.6 “Participation” 1.6 Intensity of
to the functioning of participation in
the thematic LL
the thematic LL
meetings during
the life of the
pilot action
Integer >=0
1.6.1 Number of LL meetings held
1.6.2 Participation to the LL
meetings by each category
Living Lab
leaders or
regional partners
of the LL or
regional Project
A1.7 “Satisfaction”
of the participants
regarding the
constitution and
functioning of the LL
1.7 External
of the overall
rate based
on the results
of collected
questionnaires or
Integer >=0
High = 1, Fair = 0,
Critical = -1
Living Lab
leaders or
regional partners
As above
of the LL or
(based on
regional Project questionnaires)
(supported by
A2.1 “Tools” used
2.1 Overview
of the tools
used during the
open innovation
sessions of the
pilot action
Integer >=0
Used = 1, Not used = 0
2.1.1 User surveys
2.1.2 Interviews
2.1.3 Meetings
2.1.4 Workshops
2.1.5 Focus groups
2.1.6 Participatory platforms
2.1.7 Blogs
2.1.8 Social networks
2.1.9 Online questionnaires
2.1.10 Suggestion boxes
2.1.11 Demo Labs
2.1.12 Crowdsourcing platforms
2.1.13 Preference aggregation
2.1.14 Matchmaking tools
2.1.15 IPR tracking tools
2.1.16 Feedback collection at the
point of service experience
2.1.17 Other
Pilot project
of the pilot
To fill in for
each pilot
action, then the
machine will do
the aggregation
at thematic LL
A2.2 “Methods”
2.2 Overview
of the methods
used during the
open innovation
sessions of the
pilot action
Integer >=0
Used = 1, Not used = 0,
2.2.1 Brainstorming
2.2.2. Collaborative crowdsourcing
2.2.3 Ethnographic observation
2.2.4 Delphi
2.2.5 EASW
2.2.6 Participatory evaluation
2.2.7 Direct deliberation
2.2.8 Other
Pilot project
of the pilot
As above
As above
with no
distinction for
the nationality
of the
A2. User driven, Open Innovation methodology implementation
1.3. Formal
“Institutionalization” establishment
of the LL pilot
of a Living Lab
partnership before
starting the pilot
Integer >=0
Pilot project
1.3.1 Does a formal agreement
exist? (0-1) and if so,
1.3.2 Number of signatories by each
category 1.1.x
of the pilot
As above
(interesting to make
a comparison with
A1.1 at pilot level,
less so to calculate
the LL level
of the LL pilot
1.4. Number
of stakeholder
workshops and
other meetings
held by each pilot
Integer >=0
Pilot project
of the pilot
To fill in for each
pilot group, then
the machine will do
the aggregation at
thematic LL level
of the
infrastructure used
by the pilot
1.5. Adoption
and degree of
exploitation of a
pilot specific ICT
Integer >=0
Pilot project
1.5.1 Does an internal ICT
infrastructure exist? (0-1)
and if so, 1.5.2 Number of registered users
1.5.3 Number of accesses /
working sessions
1.5.4 Number of discussion threads
1.5.5 Number of files shared
between the participants
of the pilot
As above (in the
future, ALL will be
this infrastructure)
“Public deliverables”
2.3 Number of
Outputindicato Integer >=0
public outputs
(quantitative) 2.3.1 Products: n°
delivered after the
2.3.2 Services: n°
pilot’s end
2.3.3 Processes: n°
2.3.4 Concepts: n°
2.3.5 Applications: n°
2.3.6 Techniques: n°
2.3.7 Ideas: n°
2.3.8 Platforms: n°
2.3.9 Methods: n°
2.3.10 Tools: n°
2.3.11 Other: n°
Pilot project Responsible of
coordinators the pilot action
2.4 Attendance
rate to the online
sessions of the
pilot action (if
Pilot project Responsible of
coordinators the pilot action
2.5 Attendance
“Offline participation” rate to the offline
sessions of the
pilot action (if
“Online participation”
A2.6 “Satisfaction”
of the participants
regarding the
implementation of
open innovation
principles in the LL
2.6 External
of the overall
rate based
on the results
of collected
questionnaires or
Integer >=0
2.4.1 Registered users
2.4.2 Number of visits
2.4.3 Number of posts
2.4.4 Number of threads
2.4.5 Number of uploads
2.4.6 Number of downloads
2.4.7 Number of votes
2.4.8 Other
Integer >=0
Pilot project Responsible of
2.5.1 Number of events organised coordinators the pilot action
2.5.2 Number of attendees overall
2.5.3 Number of letters sent
2.5.4 Number of replies
2.5.5 Number of technical proposals
2.5.6 Other
Integer >=0
High = 1, Fair = 0,
Critical = -1
Living Lab
leaders or
As above
A3. Pilot outputs (and outcomes)
3.1. Number of
trials activated
during the pilot
Integer >=0
Pilot project Responsible of
coordinators the pilot action
To fill in for
each pilot
group, then the
machine will do
the aggregation
at thematic LL
3.2. Number
of products,
and services
experimented in
the pilot action
Integer >=0
3.2.1 Products n°
3.2.2 Processes n°
3.2.3 Services n°
3.2.4 Other n°
Pilot project Responsible of
coordinators the pilot action
As above
3.3. Number of
patents, joint
ventures, strategic (quantitative)
alliances, Newco’s
and business
plans launched
after the pilot
Integer >=0
3.3.1 Patents n°
3.3.2 Joint ventures n°
3.3.3 Strategic alliances
3.3.4 Newco’s
3.3.5 Business plans
3.3.6 Other
Pilot project Responsible of
coordinators the pilot action
As above
of the participants
regarding the LL
outputs and outcomes
3.4 External
of the overall
rate based
on the results
of collected
questionnaires or
Integer >=0
High = 1, Fair = 0,
Critical = -1
Living Lab
leaders or
As above
As above
Responsible of
As above
the LL or regional (based on
Project Manager questionnaires)
(supported by
Responsible of
As above
the LL or regional (based on
Project Manager questionnaires)
(supported by
A4. Administrative and R&D productivity
A4.1 “Administrative
of the thematic LL
“R&D productivity”
of the thematic LL
“Collaboration level”
of the LL with
existing entities and
infrastructures (e.g.
technology districts,
innovation poles etc.)
4.1 Rollout of
the LL funding
to various
4.2. Impact of
the LL funding
initiative on
the local R&D
and innovation
system according
to various
4.3 External
of the overall
rate based
on the results
of collected
questionnaires or
A5. The added value of the cross border aspect
Input or
Integer >=0
4.1.1 Global funding available to the partners
pilot actions
(quantitative) 4.1.2 Number of pilot proposals
4.1.3 Number of pilot proposals
4.1.4 Average time before pilot
start-up (in months)
4.1.5 Average duration of trials (in
Regional Project
To fill in for the
whole LL or
thematic initiative
(then the machine
can calculate
indicators, e.g.
funding per
pilot or the ratio
between funded
and submitted
Output or
Integer >=0
4.2.1 Number of new clusters or
projects activated by the LL
4.2.2 Number of participants to
each project or cluster by
each category 1.1.x
4.2.3 Number of formal agreements
connected to the clusters or
4.2.4 Number of new funding
proposals generated after the
end of the pilots (to the EC
or other)
Living Lab Responsible of
As above (with a
community the LL or regional likely time lag)
leaders or Project Manager
Integer >=0
High = 1, Fair = 0,
(quantitative) Critical = -1
Living Lab
leaders or
of the LL or 0
Project Manager
(supported by
As above (based
on questionnaires)
5.1. Number of
“Stakeholder inclusion” stakeholders from indicator
across the borders
the two sides
of the border
involved in the
LL PPP and in
the various pilots
Integer >=0
5.1.1 Public Institutions: n°
5.1.2 Firms: n°
5.1.3 End Users and their
associations: n°
5.1.4 Universities and research
institutes: n°
5.1.5 Other (incl. experts): n°
Living Lab
leaders or
See A1.1
“Citizen inclusion”
across the borders
5.2. Number of
citizens from the indicator
two sides of the (quantitative)
border involved in
the PPPP and in
the trials
Integer >=0
Living Lab
leaders or
See A1.2
“Cross border
to the operations
5.3 Number of
attendees from
the two sides of
the border to the
online & offline
Integer >=0
5.3.1 Number of registered users to
all ICT platforms
5.3.2 Number of LL meetings held
5.3.3 Attendance to the LL meetings
by each category 1.1.x Living Lab
leaders or
See A1.5 &
“Policy impact”
5.4 Number
of new policy
actions jointly
planned /
executed by the
bordering Regions
Integer >=0
e.g. Strategic
plan to support
The Helsinki Manifesto (2006):
ENoLL (European Network of Living Lab) (2006-):
PACALabs (2008-):
Alps-Mediterranean EuroRegion (2007-):
Smart specialisation Resources (2012-):
Interreg A Map borrowed from Artelaris P., Kallioras D., Topaloglou L. and Tsiapa M. (2011): Detecting the Growth Pattern(s) of the EU Border
Regions: A Convergence Clubs Approach. Disponibile online:
For a recent history of Mexico liberalization policy see Sánchez-Reaza J. and Rodríguez-Pose A. (2003):
Economic polarization through trade. Trade liberalization and regional growth in Mexico. Discussion Paper 2003/60, World Institute for Development Economics Research, United Nations University.
Artelaris P., Kallioras D. and Petrakos G. (2010): Regional inequalities and convergence clubs in the European Union new member states.
Eastern Journal of European Studies Volume 1, Issue 1, June 2010. Disponibile online:
European Territorial Cooperation – EU Regional Policy (2007-):
Picture of Federated Model borrowed from Roberto Santoro (2008) - mimeo, Bruxelles, ENoLL
For the Business Model Canvas see Osterwalder A. and Pigneur Y. (2010): Business Model Generation. John Wiley and Sons.
Available online:
Guidelines for Cross-Regional Living Labs.
The Alcotra Innovation Experience Handbook.
Edited with contributions from: Francesco Molinari (independent expert on Living
Labs for Alcotra Innovazione); Paola Capello and Sara Di Falco (Piedmont Region),
Francesco Fionda (Aosta Valley Region), Bertrand Fribourg (PACA Region), Fabien
Harel (Comité d’Expansion 05); Claude Janin (Institut de Géographie Alpine Laboratoire Pacte), Xavier Figuerola (company Talking Things); Laurence Minne
(Rhône-Alpes Region), Isabelle Vérilhac (Cité du Design); Mauro Palumbo and
Pier Paolo Puliafito (professors at the University of Genoa) and Jens Schumacher
(professor at the University of Vorarlberg).
With many thanks to: Erica Gay (Piedmont Region), Cristina Battaglia (Liguria
Region), Fabrizio Clermont (Aosta Valley Region), Hortense Lutz (RhôneAlpes Region), Stéphane Martayan (PACA Region).
© 2013 The Alcotra Innovation Consortium, consisting of: Piedmont Region
(Lead Partner), Liguria Region, Aosta Valley Region, Province of Turin,
Rhône-Alpes Region and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region.
All rights reserved. This document may change without notice.
This document only reflects the authors’ views and the European Commission is not
liable for any use that might be made of the information contained herein.
This document may not be copied, reproduced, or modified in whole or in part for any
purpose without written permission from the Alcotra Innovation Consortium. In addition
to such written permission, or when the circulation of the document is termed as
“public”, an acknowledgment of the authors of the document and all applicable portions
of the copyright notice must be clearly referenced.
More on PCP (Pre-Commercial Procurement) in European Commission (2007):
Pre-commercial procurement: Driving innovation to en-sure sustainable high quality public services in Europe. COM(2007) 799.
The Interoperability Cube (2007-):
Nordic-Baltic Research and Innovation Programme on Living Labs (LILAN):
Apollon Project (2009-):
CentraLab Project (2011-):
Marsh, J. (2008): Living Lab and Territorial Innovation. In: Proceedings of the eChallenges08 Conference.
Horizon 2020:
EU DG Regio (2012): Guide to Research and Innovation Strategies for smart specialisation.
GAIA – Asociación Cluster de Telecomunicaciones & INFYDE – Información y Desarrollo S.L. (2013):
Smart specialisation in the Basque Country. A Case of Entrepreneurial Discovery. Urdaibai Bird Centre - UCB.
In collaboration with: