Interview with the Living Labs Incubator or RWTH Aachen University
The Living Labs Incubator (LLI) at RWTH Aachen University is not a Living Lab in itself. Instead, like a regional network hub, it seeks to connect and support existing and emerging Living Labs around the university. Our focus on Living Labs used in university research and education is hardly surprising, given that the LLI is funded through the RWTH’s Excellence strategy. With universities seeking to address current societal challenges in collaboration with actors from policy, business, industry and society, the Living Lab has emerged as an important method and format. The RWTH recognises and embraces this development and aims to establish more participatory research practices around technology assessment, development and application in and through Living Labs.
To provide tailored support to its network members, the LLI hosts a website providing an overview of over 30 Living Labs and related initiatives at RWTH Aachen University, studies existing Living Labs, develops methods and tools for the co-creation and transfer of knowledge, hosts regular meetings, workshops and discussion forums, and publishes a bi-monthly newsletter.
What are your goals and plans for 2023?
Going into the third year of its existence, the Living Labs Incubator pursues four main goals in 2023:
- To stabilise and strengthen connections and partnerships built over the previous two years, for example through joint projects, project applications, and publications.
- To offer an interesting range of workshops and trainings to our local network.
- To make the concept of the Living Lab more widely known by creating visibility for success stories, learning from failures and having an open door for anyone interested.
- To advance the research on Living Labs and create – also practically – useful insights on knowledge transfer as well as Living Lab set-up and institutionalisation.
The joint ENoLL-LLI event in Aachen, taking place later this year, will gather a crowd of Living Lab enthusiasts, and hopefully also some critically constructive sceptics. We would really like to use the time together to discuss many applications of the Living Lab concept, key challenges and best practices. The cultural differences across Europe and across different areas of research and implementation should provide us with interesting aspects to explore. What problems are we frequently facing, what services and support structures are needed at which stages of development, and how can knowledge created in and through Living Labs be best put to use, also in other contexts?