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imec.livinglabs (previously iminds iLab.o ) is a test and experimentation platform in Flanders, Belgium, that performs Living Lab research for achieving business and policy goals based on real-life testing and stakeholder co-creation and co-design. It offers innovators a test user panel of over 16,000 ‘mee-makers’, a dedicated Living Lab back office platform, business model expertise and application prototyping experts.


imec.livinglabs research includes users early on and all through the innovation process. This approach provides a solution to innovation thresholds and challenges such as:

  • Capturing, understanding and validating users’ interactions with products and services, at an early stage.
  • Transforming ideas into prototypes users can interact with in their daily context.
  • Shaping ‘(minimum) viable products’ through an iterative, agile process.
  • Designing business models through stakeholder analysis and go-to-market definition.


Description of Concept

The concept of imec-iLab.o is to achieve business and societal innovation related to ICT, using an iterative model of stakeholder co-design. iLab.o was established in 2005 as a nucleus for open innovation activities and as a repository of relevant knowledge and expertise. It sets up, coordinates, facilitates and carries out Living Lab research using various Living Lab settings. Our real-life settings for testing and experimenting include the free Brussels campus WiFi mesh network, an experimental Fiber-to-the-Home network in Kortrijk, a number of urban neighbourhoods in Ghent, and a large mobile app community in Flanders.


Our objective is to overcome systemic failures in the innovation process by involving users at an early stage of the development phase, and by creating a trusted environment where small as well as large business stakeholders can meet, and test out innovative products, services and business models.

We use the idea of stygmergic prototyping for this. We also provide a platform for constructive technology assessment and for exploring societal and policy goals related to ICT innovation.


Living Labs are about communities of end-users and producers in a real-life setting. Since ICT technologies are becoming ever more pervasive and mobile, contextual factors are key to Future Internet and Future Media innovation. This is the core of the iLab.o Smart City concept, which we apply in areas such as mobility, energy, health and care, media, e-government and inclusion.


References and Track Record

iMinds iLab.o (previous name of imec living lab) works closely with the Digital Society Department, a Business, User and Policy Research collaboration between the Free University of Brussels and the University of Ghent in Belgium. iMinds iLab.o was selected in the First Wave of European Living Labs in 2006. It has set up and supports a large number of Living Labs in Belgium, ranging from Fibre to the Home Networks, Cross-media labs,service platforms, electric vehicles, etc…


The Living Lab itself unites more than 1000 researchers and involves the entire Flemish media and ICT business community. The research includes technological research on networks, devices and content, together with research on user practices, domestication, usability, adoption, business modelling and regulation. iMinds also focuses strongly on supporting idea owners and businesses to introduce their innovations to the market through training, business bootcamps, seed funding programs, co-working areas, an incubation programme, international exchange programmes and more.


iMinds iLab.o’s track record and experience are built on a decade of Living Lab pioneering work: from the first Living Lab test of interactive digital television in 2003, to the world-first Living Lab testing of an eReader device with e-ink technology in 2004, to the first national Living Lab television services and Living Lab for interactive mobile medical monitoring in 2007. Mobile smartphone-based services were tested and developed in collaboration with i-City, and this Living Lab, also a First Wave ENoLL graduate, was integrated into IBBT iLab.o in 2009. iMinds-iLab.o has coordinated the successful Apollon EU Pilot Project (ended in May 2012), is coordinating the EPIC EU Pilot, and participates in high profile projects like SmartIP, the Future Internet PPP-Coordination and Support Action Concord and the new Project SPECIFI, promoting a Creative Ring for enabling Creative Industries.

Olivier Rits [javascript protected email address]


Panel and Community Management

We provide you with a dedicated panel that is carefully selected – based upon your needs and goals, and using the ‘lead user toolbox’ methodology. This methodology consists of selecting users with innovation-related characteristics (e.g. usage intensity, expertise, dissatisfaction, etc.) and aims at getting relevant and diverse input from a smaller set of users. This core panel is monitored closely during the living lab activities with PanelKit. This is a platform we developed specifically to activate, motivate and analyze a test community.


The imec.livinglabs panel includes more than 21,000 test users. A concrete example of how this potential can be applied, can be found in the yearly imec.digimeter survey – studying media ownership and usage in Flanders, and breaking down the panel into a number of specific media consumption profiles.


User Research Toolkit

In a living lab, (potential) users become co-designers and testers of new applications or processes. The innovation runs through a number of adaptation and improvement stages, with a focus on all types of users and their specific needs and wishes.


Living lab research also includes multiple stakeholders from the innovation ecosystem, thus driving collaboration and knowledge exchange. (Un)Expected solutions come to mind fast(er) during the living lab research, which can lead to more successful market launches.

In each project, imec.livinglabs conducts this process through a quasi-experimental trajectory:

  • A pre-test in which the current state-of-the-art in the innovation domain is assessed; this also functions as a baseline measurement to assess the added value of the innovation in the post-test stage.
  • The intervention stage encompasses all field trial research steps.
  • The post-test stage in which the added value of the innovation is assessed.


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Koen Vervoort

User Involvement Evangelist

Koen has working with Living the labs since 2006 @ I-City, IBBT, iMinds & imec as user involvement evangelist, sharing knowledge, performing panel management in large national & EU-projects and working as an internal & external challenger to constantly improve the way of cooperation with (international) (large) panels of test-users.

Historically Labelled Living Labs


Since its formation in 2006 ENoLL has labelled 440+ Living Labs. See the full list of Labelled Living Labs who are not active members of the network.



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