Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a living lab?

Living labs are defined as user-centred, open innovation ecosystems based on a systematic user co-creation approach integrating research and innovation processes in real life communities and settings. In practice, living labs place the citizen at the centre of innovation, and have thus shown the ability to better mould the opportunities offered by new ICT concepts and solutions to the specific needs and aspirations of local contexts, cultures, and creativity potentials.

5 key elements are must be present in a living lab:

  • active user involvement (i.e. empowering end users to thoroughly impact the innovation process)
  • real-life setting (i.e. testing and experimenting with new artefacts "in the wild")
  • multi-stakeholder participation (i.e. the involvement of technology providers, service providers, relevant institutional actors, professional or residential end users)
  • a multi-method approach (i.e. the combination of methods and tools originating from a.o. ethnography, psychology, sociology, strategic management, engineering)
  • co-creation (i.e. iterations of design cycles with different sets of stakeholders).

Read more about this in our publication: Introducing ENoLL and its Living Lab community.

2. Where does the term living lab originate from?

While there had been "accidental mentions" of the term living lab before, the actual birth of the concept is ascribed to MIT’s Prof William (Bill) Mitchell, who used it to refer to a purpose-built lab where the routine activities and interactions of everyday home life can be observed, recorded for later analysis and experimentally manipulated, and where volunteer research participants individually live in, treating it as a temporary home. These labs had an initial focus on testing and adapting new technologies based on their fit with the daily home environment. In the MIT PlaceLab, a 1,000-square foot "living laboratory", with all facilities of a regular home, users are observed, logged and tracked with all sorts of devices, allowing to record their habits, activities and routines. Strong importance is placed on the technical infrastructure allowing the data gathering.

The concept has evolved over the years and now one of they key elements of a living lab experiment or test is that users are studied or involved in their everyday habitats instead of recreating a natural context in a laboratory setting.

Read more about this in our publication: Introducing ENoLL and its Living Lab community.

3. What is ENoLL?

The European Network of Living Labs (ENoLL) is the international federation of benchmarked living labs in Europe and worldwide. Founded in November 2006 under the auspices of the Finnish European Presidency, the network has grown in ‘waves’ up to this day.

Directly, as well as through its active members, ENoLL provides co-creation, user engagement, test and experimentation facilities targeting innovation in many different domains such as energy, media, mobility, healthcare, agrifood, etc. As such, ENoLL is well placed to act as a platform for best practice exchange, learning and support, and living lab international project development. 

The ENoLL international non-profit association, as the legal representative entity of the network, is headquartered in Brussels, at the heart of Europe.

4. How many members are there in the ENoLL network?

ENoLL counts today over 170 active living labs members worldwide (395 historically recognised over 9 years), including active members in 20 of the 28 EU Member States, 2 of the candidates and it is present in 5 continents in addition to Europe.

5. Who can become a member of ENoLL?

Public and private organisations from across the world actively committed to engaging and empowering users and citizens to take part in sustainable innovation processes are invited to apply for membership of the European Network of Living Labs

If you represent a living lab, private company, university, research department, regional authority or other government organisation, you may contact us for a discussion on how to join as a living lab or living lab partner with the objective to become sustainably engaged in living lab development and operations.

6. How do I become a member of the ENoLL network?

There are three different memberships with ENoLL: Adherent member, Effective member and Associated members.

Every year ENoLL launched a call for membership known as a "wave." The Wave process, dating back to 2006, has today resulted in 395 historically recognised ENoLL living labs.

By being a member you become part of an international community of Living Labs that cooperate on research tracks, projects, acquisition and more. You can meet and talk to organisations from all over Europe and beyond, and the network is there to ease the process of knowing each other and collaboration through communications, events, Expert Groups, etc. 

Applications for membership can be submitted by any legal entity from any country in the world that is or hosts (on a behalf of a partnership) a living lab. This organisation will have to prove its capacity to operate as a living lab and/or act as an innovation service provider through the living lab methodology and/or develop its operations towards living labs. All proposals are assessed by a panel of experts selected from within the ENoLL community in a peer-led review process.

The 10th Wave for ENoLL membership is currently open until March 8th 2016. More details can be found here: bit.ly/1lrO4G5

7. Is it possible to become a member of ENoLL at any time?

You can only become adherent member after applying to an ENoLL wave (the name we give to our call for membership applications) during a pre-defined time period. Our waves are normally launched once a year during Autumn and give applicants 3-4 months to read the call and submit an application explaining their Living Lab activities. It is not possible to apply for adherent membership without participating in the wave process.

It is however possible to become an assosciated member at any point during the year. Please contact us on info@enoll.org if this is of interest to you.

8. Do ENoLL members have to contribute financially?

If you want to become a Effective or an Associated member of ENoLL there is an annual membership fee. Introduced back in 2011 the annual membership fee is 5.000 €.

If your living lab would like to become an Adherent member of ENoLL there is no annual membership fee. However there is an annual administrative fee of 500 € for all adherent members which was introduced in 2011 at the ENoLL General Assembly.

9. What is the ENoLL aisbl/ivzw?

Following the initial workshop on the European Network of Living Labs governance, which took place in Brussels in October 2007, one need emerged as the main result: an ENoLL Association should be founded, financed from membership fees, offering networking services and platforms for internal and external cooperation and policy making.

In February 2010 ENoLL became a legal entity by establishing an International Non-Profit Association under Belgian Law. The ENoLL aisbl  (in French) / ENoLL ivzw (in Dutch) is a horizontal organisation, whose mission has been to support the evolution and the wide uptake of the living lab paradigm throughout Europe and worldwide.

10. What is the structure of ENoLL aisbl?

The association adopts an open structure, with a core of fee-paying members and partners supplemented by more informal networks of policy-makers and individual users/enthusiasts.

The Association comprises Effective, Associated and Adherent members, but only effective members enjoy all the rights provided by the law and bylaws:

  • Effective members are organisations with corporate personality that represent a living lab duly selected according to the ENoLL selection process (“waves”), become part of the association and meet their obligations as defined in the ENoLL bylaws. The ENoLL Effective members make up the ENoLL General Assembly.
  • Associated members are organisations that are involved in the activities of the association, but are not selected as living labs according to the ENoLL selection process. They become part of the association under approval of the ENoLL General Assembly and meet their obligations as defined in the ENoLL bylaws.
  • Adherent members are organisations that represent a living lab duly selected according to the ENoLL selection process. Adherent members have no voting rights but participate in the objectives and activities of the association. Their acceptance and resignation is approved by the ENoLL General Assembly.

The association is managed by a Council appointed by the General Assembly. Only the effective members can vote at the General Assembly, while each type of member can take part and be a candidate of the Council with certain restrictions.

The General Assembly has all powers allowing the realisation of the objects as well as of the activities of the association. All members, effective, associated and adherent are invited to attend the Assembly. 

11. Where is the ENoLL secretariat based?

The ENoLL secretariat is based in Brussels, Belgium and has offices on the campus of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (the Flemish Free University) where it is hosted by one of the founding Living Labs in the ENoLL network, iMinds. Find directions here.

12. What is OpenLivingLab Days?

OpenLivingLab Days is the annual summit of the worldwide Living Lab community, formally the ENoLL Summer School. The annual 4 day event includes interactive sessions, workshops, lively discussion panels with excursions and off-site visits with the aim of giving the participants a wider insight about models, theories and technologies related to Living Labs. Participants have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience from the leading experts on the subject and to network with other Living Lab enthusiasts.

The event is hosted annually in either August or September and always in collaboration with a host Living Lab from our network. After six successful editions in Paris 2010, Barcelona 2011, Helsinki 2012, Manchester 2013, Amsterdam 2014Istanbul 2015, and Montreal 2016. The 8th edition will be held in Krakow, Poland.  

13. Who attends OpenLivingLab Days?

Attracting annually more than 150 participants OpenLivingLab Days attracts a wide audience from across the world which includes:

  • Living Lab Managers
  • Researchers
  • Open Innovation Experts
  • Policy Makers
  • Municipal & Government representatives
  • Experts in innovation in domains such as smart cities, health, open & big data, entrepreneurship, internationalisation etc.

We look forward to welcoming you at one of our upcoming events. 

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