Session 1 Living Labs

People inspecting crop field trials

In this first session of the course we explain what Living Labs are. First, watch the following video on Living Labs and then do the reflective activity below.

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In this session, we introduced the concept of 'Living Labs'. According to the European Network of Living Labs, they have five common elements, but many different ways in which these are put into practice. Living Labs aim to design and develop innovations by actively involving the expected users of those innovations.

This is done in real-life settings in which those users are working. It involves many different stakeholders within the real life settings. And the Living Labs use a wide range of methods to help design and develop the innovations. The involvement of users and stakeholders and the use of different methods are all aimed at supporting the co-creation of the innovation. In other words, Living Labs provide an arena in which innovative improvements to address real-life problems are designed and developed by sharing the knowledge and skills of all those with a strong interest in that innovation.

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Reflective Activity 2 – What are Living Labs?

Having watched the video, describe in your own words what you think a Living Lab would bring to agriculture using the text box below.

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A Living Lab is a simple concept that deals with complex situations. It is a way of getting user involvement in the innovation process. In agriculture, farmers are the end user of innovations aimed at supporting agricultural production. And yet farmers are rarely the ones to devise such innovations. A wide range of people and organisations may be involved in researching and developing agricultural innovations. And often they do so without talking to or consulting farmers.

This ‘gap’ is often bridged by agricultural advisors, who can ‘translate’ research findings and associated innovations for farmers and can sometimes ‘translate’ the needs and wants of farmers to the scientists and innovators. Living Labs are a way of changing this linear approach to providing innovative agricultural services into a network approach by bringing together as many of the people involved to collectively define and devise new solutions to existing and emerging problems over a long period.

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Living Labs and knowledge