Living Labs Fostering Open Innovation and Rural Development: Methodology and Results

author: Hans Schaffers, Helsinki School of Economics
published: July 15, 2009,   recorded: June 2008,   views: 3243

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Description

Rural living labs constitute a new and not yet validated approach of enabling user driven ICT-based innovation initiatives geared towards economic and social development in rural areas. At the same time living labs provide a context for open innovation based on partnerships between all stakeholders. This paper discusses methodologies and strategies for developing, launching and operating rural living labs for innovative collaborative working environments, and presents initial results from the C@R Integrated Project. Three living labs cases are presented and compared: Homokháti in Hungary, Sekhukhune in South-Africa, and Cudillero in Spain. The process of establishing the living lab, the involvement of users, the experimentation and innovation processes, and the technical and business innovations and their impacts on the rural environment are being discussed in order to conclude about effective methodologies and strategies. Such methodologies and strategies include the establishment of stakeholder platforms, the creation of user communities, the cyclic and spiral approach to innovation, and the action research style of participative development. Initial results indicate that in order to be successful, such methodologies and strategies must be strongly tailored to the local situation.

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