Recently Published ‘Living Labs: A New Tool for Co-production?’

in Bisello, A., Vettorato, D., Stephens, R., Elisei, P. (Eds.), Smart and Sustainable Planning for Cities and Regions, Springer, pp.267-281


Living Labs are places for real-life test and experimentation where users and experts co-create innovative products and services through an ICT-based collaboration. Founded in the context of private firms, LLs evolved into a policy tool implemented to facilitate service innovation also in the public sector. Furthermore, due to their strong focus on user participation, LLs are now increasingly central in the smart-city strategy of various municipalities such as Barcelona, Helsinki, Tallinn and Birmingham. Citizen creativity, in fact, is an integral part of smart cities and the ‘laboratory dimension’ perfectly fits with this new approach to urban development. Namely, the transformation of the city into a living lab is aimed at supporting the process of policy innovation at the municipal level through local empowerment and the promotion of partnership among enterprises, public administration and citizens. In this respect, LLs can be viewed as a new form of co-production that is a process through which citizens participate in the design and creation of products or services that are less expensive and better tailored to citizens’ needs. Drawing on data related to 59 LLs listed in the database of the European Network of LLs, the paper is aimed at describing the main characteristics of LLs and at examining their strengths and weaknesses as co-production tools.

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