Living Lab

A forum for innovation, applied to the development of new products, systems, services and processes in an urban area; employing working methods to integrate people into the entire development process as users and co-creators explore, examine, experiment, test and evaluate new ideas, scenarios, processes, systems, concepts and creative solutions in complex and everyday contexts (Urban Europe, 2021).

Basic Information on the Method
Mode of communication
Face-to-face, Online, Both
Group size
1-5, 6-30
Geographical scale
Public space, Neighbourhood, City, Region
Skills required
Basic, Average, Advanced
Resources needed
Medium, High
Level of Involvement
Level of involvement
Consult, Involve, Collaborate, Empower
Type of knowledge enabled
Divergence (Small groups), Convergence - Small groups
Additional Criteria
Planning phase
Initiatiion, Planning & Design, Implementation, Evaluation & Research, Maintenance
Methodological approach
Expressive, Organisational

How to use the method

  1. Living Lab is an umbrella term for a long-term collaboration between key stakeholders aimed at problem-solving and innovation. Therefore, Living Labs typically involve an array of various tools and methods, from Big Room (a co-working space) to Conceptual Mapping and Design Charettes (co-creation techniques).
  2. Decide on the topic of the Living Lab, identify key stakeholders and their relationships (stakeholders’ matrix). Stakeholders’ matrix should include prospective beneficiaries (e.g., representatives of neighbourhood associations) and those, who are able to bring change to the established systems and practices (e.g., representatives of governmental agencies, entrepreneurs, investors).
  3. Invite the stakeholders to the meeting, discuss with them the aims of the Living Lab, as well as collaboration tools and methods. Agree of the further collaboration formats. Define the responsibilities, deliverables and deadlines.
  4. A possible collaboration format might involve the establishment of the coordination team, which will keep track on the project progress, organise regular stakeholders meetings and facilitate communication and collaboration between diverse stakeholder groups. Additionally, a co-working space, such as a Big Room, might be established, where the stakeholders meet and work on the regularly basis.
  5. Note, that the aim of the Living Lab is to create a new product, service or approach, therefore it focuses on the full production cycle, from initiation to maintenance.

What are the outcomes

A new and innovation product, system, service or process related to an urban area, e.g. a new public participation method or tool.

Skills required

Skills required from participants - Basic, Average, Advanced

The purpose of the Living Lab is collaboration between various stakeholders in co-creation and innovation. Therefore, the process is equally important as a product. The Living Lab typically involves the stakeholders with diverse skills and knowledge, to enable mutual learning, as well as the empowerment of the disadvantaged groups.

Resources needed

Resources - Medium, High

The amount of resources vary depending on the agreed collaboration formats. Usually, Living Labs are quite resource-intensive, as they involve large number of stakeholders over a long period of time, and require considerable effort.

Strengths and weaknesses

  • Enables mutual learning between various stakeholder groups
  • Enables high levels of involvement, from consultation to empowerment
  • Focuses on the full product cycle, from initiation to maintenance
  • Enables a convergence of skills and knowledge in the pursuit of change
  • Is resource-intensive, in other words consumes a substantial amount time, money and effort
  • Requires a lot of organisational and facilitation work in bringing stakeholders together and encouraging mutual dialogue
  • The outcomes depend on the team dynamics and efficiency
  • Often the results are vague and proposed solutions are difficult to implement

Use cases

ROBUST Rural-Urban Europe Living Labs

A ROBUST Living Lab is a placed-based form of experimental collaboration that emphasises co-creation in a real-world setting. Policy-makers, researchers, businesses, service providers, citizens and other stakeholders work together to develop and test new ways to solve problems in a specific geographic region. The ROBUST project includes 11 Living Labs that represent typical rural-urban settings throughout Europe: Ede, Frankfurt, Gloucestersire, Helsinki, Lisbon, Ljubljana, Lucca, Metropolitan area of Styria, Mid Wales, Tukums and Valencia (Rural-Urban Europe, n.d.)

Try one of these tools & resources

  1. Urban Europe (2021) JPI Urban Europe The knowledge hub for urban transformations. Available at:
  2. Rural-Urban Europe (n.d.) ROBUST Rural-Urban Europe. Available at: