Regional Living Lab Summit
“Bridging Innovation Between East & West” was the appropriately chosen theme for the first Regional Living Lab Summit celebrated in Istanbul on the 25th and 26th of October of this year. Hosted in cooperation by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, the Başakşehir Municipality and the Başakşehir Living Lab, the summit provided opportunities to strengthen the innovation ecosystem for the MENA and Balkan region. During the two days, panel discussions on the role of innovation ecosystems in regional development where combined with presentations from successful regional SMEs which benefited or began within a Living Lab environment.
The ENoLL network was present officially through the opening conference remarks by its Chairman, Fernando Vilariño. He highlighted the important role that municipalities and cities can continue to play in fostering innovation ecosystems and the opportunities it presents for connecting as a region. These words were echoed by the Mayor of Istanbul, Mevlüt Uysal. He highlighted the importance and growing commitment of Istanbul to becoming a Living Lab Hub, recognizing Living Labs as a centre of “life” for innovation. There was widespread agreement that Living Labs, as natural orchestrators of the innovation ecosystem, have the potential to help connect innovation communities across the region.
ENoLL was also present across the panels in the summit through Tujia Hirvikoski, former ENoLL Chair and Director at Laurea University of Applied Sciences; Wim de Kinderen, Vice-chair of ENoLL, representing Brainport Eindhoven; and Samia Chelbi, founder of DigiArtLab in Tunisia. When asked about ways to support regional development in the particular context of the conference’s region, Dr. Hirvikoski pointed at the inherent role as social connectors that Living Labs play. This idea was picked up by a subsequent panel where authorities from cities in Iran, Kosovo, Macedonia, Turkey, and Germany looked at the positive social and economic spill-overs of Living Lab activity.
The launch of this event brought close to 200 people from across Europe, the Mediterranean, Balkans, Central Asian states and Middle Eastern countries. The examples brought forth by ENoLL members, as well as other partners in the innovation community and local and sub-regional start-ups, gave participants the chance to see Living Lab results and how to incorporate these lessons in creating stable regional partnerships.
For more information on the conference, please visit https://www.rllistanbul.com/en/