Vitalise-Project / LiCalab Older Adults Homes

LiCalab Older Adults Homes

About the Living Lab: LiCalab – Living and Care lab

  • Year of Establishment: 2012
  • City of Turnhout & Thomas More Kempen vzw
  • Geel & Turnhout, Belgium
  • Governance: Research group within Thomas More University of Applied Sciences
  • Type of Living Lab
    • Living Lab as a Service (Company, SME/StartUp/Government, Research Institutes)
    • Research Living Lab (Collective Research)
    • Living Testbed (Technology Testing)
Online Presence

LiCalab was founded in 2012 out of the development plans for a new city area in the city of Turnhout, where innovations in Healthcare and Living are introduced in the daily living conditions of the citizens. The Living Lab is located in Geel and Turnhout, Belgium within the Thomas More University of Applied Sciences. LiCalab started as a collaborative network organisation between the Thomas More University of Applied Sciences, the City of Turnhout, the Flemish Chamber of Commerce and a Welfare umbrella organisation of 27 local communities. LiCalab is a member of ENOLL since 2012 and fully incorporated in the Thomas More University of Applied Sciences as a research group focused on user research and Living Lab research in general since 2019.

The Living Lab focuses on the Health and Wellbeing sector and more specifically on care technology for prevention, patient rehabilitation, assisted living, active and healthy aging and new collaboration models and processes within the care sector. LiCalab conducts user research and supports businesses and organisations by including end users (citizens, elderly, patients, care professionals) from the very beginning of the development process until market introduction. Human centred design is the key methodology used through all processes and LiCalab acts as a key link in the innovation chain, facilitating co-creation, prototype testing and real life testing. In LiCalab the needs of external partners (companies, organisations, research institutes) are translated into tailor made projects throughout the development of innovative products and/or services, also connecting with international partners and Living Labs inside and outside Europe. The main mission is to make sure that innovations for Healthcare and Wellbeing are better fit to the needs and context of real end users and care professionals.


LiCalab uses co-creation techniques to explore and validate (new) products, services, systems and business models within specific areas of focus. A close collaboration between all stakeholders in the Health and Wellbeing sector is crucial in this process and LiCalab facilitates this collaboration and brings the necessary actors together to explore innovations from external organisations. To achieve this, LiCalab relies on an own panel database of +1500 members and a broad network of local, regional and EU partners with expertise in Healthcare and Wellbeing, including end user organisations, local governments, care­givers, research institutes, SMEs and multinationals. The Living Lab works with these stakeholders in regional and European projects, as well as in private assignments.


Regarding partnerships, LiCalab is:

  • A member of ENOLL
  • A member of Ulabs EIT Health
  • A funding member of ‘Health & Care Network Kempen’
  • Coordinator of EIP-AHA Reference site ‘Health & Care Network Kempen’
  • A member of Flanders.Health cluster
  • Partner in many other projects.

Our most important partners are care organisations/care experts, patient organisations, elderly organisations, citizen representatives, informal carers (organisations), local and regional authorities, research institutes, Living Labs, care and wellbeing networks, companies/SMEs and their networks on a regional and international level. Within the framework of VITALISE project LiCalab closely collaborates with partner research group from Mobilab & Care @Thomas More.

Goals & Vision

LiCalab strives to be a reference living lab with focus on care technology and new organisation models within (health)care by conducting evidence based user research with impact. This is achieved by maintaining and expanding the community of panel members and network partners, continuously training, validating and enhancing methodologies, skills and expertise, collaborating on different levels with different type of stakeholders within the sector (local, regional, international), measuring the impact on the customers, partners, panel of end users and society and communicating the results.

Key Personnel

Ingrid Adriaensen (female) – Business manager LiCalab: Ingrid holds Master degrees in business management, communication and linguistics. She has a large experience working in private companies developing international business opportunities and new divisions inside and outside Europe. Since 2011 she lectured at Thomas More University of Applied Sciences in the business and management programme. At Thomas More, Ingrid also worked as a research coordinator with a specific focus on ‘social inclusion’, especially  for vulnerable groups, from a physical, mental or social point of view. Since 2016 Ingrid manages external contacts and EU-projects at LiCalab.

ir Vicky Van der Auwera  (female) – Operations manager LiCalab: Vicky holds a Master’s degree in Engineering Sciences from Brussels University Belgium, where she graduated as civil mechanical-electrical engineer. She worked for 14 years in private sector in the area of mechanical engineering as Research Manager and Project manager, where she built up experience and knowledge of machine construction, mechatronics, opto-mechanical measurements, semiconductor measurements. Since 2010 she works for Thomas More University of Applied Sciences, at the tech transfer office and in the unit research. She is one of the team members that started up LiCalab in 2012, in close collaboration with the City of Turnhout. At LiCalab she is responsible for the operational management of the team and she leads EU-projects as well as private assignments.

Dr Nele De Witte (female) – Scientific coordinator LiCalab: Nele holds a PhD in Psychology from Ghent University and a Master’s degree in Psychology from KU Leuven. Nele is the scientific coordinator at LiCalab and is a member of the Expertise Unit Psychology, Technology & Society of Thomas More University of Applied. She supports the scientific quality and valorisation of the living lab research and is involved in multiple tasks including study design, reporting, and maintaining ethical standards. Nele conducts practice-oriented research in the areas of e-mental health (with a specific focus on wearables), physiological indicators of mental health, attitudes towards technology, and human factors.

Leen Broeckx (female) – Panel manager LiCalab: Leen holds a Master’s degree in Communication Sciences from Brussels  University in Belgium. She holds an additional Master Degree in Cultural Studies from Leuven University Belgium. She joined the LiCalab team in 2013 as senior panel manager. She manages the LiCalab panel and maintains the panel database, a segmented database that holds personal data of all panel members, following GDPR. This panel consists of ca. 1000 elderly and ca. 600 caregivers and care organizations. Leen is passionate about human centered design. She follows trainings and workshops to improve her skills.


The LiCalab Older Adults’ Homes are houses owned by a group of more than 800 elderly people who are panel members of the Living Lab and live in different conditions (independently, supported by assisted technology and/or by (in)formal carers). LiCalab equips the houses with technologies from SMEs, research groups or external parties to evaluate the technology (easy access hardware tools, such as tablets, smartphones, activity trackers) through real life testing. In this way, technology can be demonstrated in the real life environment of the houses of the panel members.

Area(s) of Work

Areas of Work: Health & Wellbeing, Social Innovation

Subsections: Care technology for prevention, Patient rehabilitation, Assisted living, Active and healthy aging, New collaboration models & processes within the healthcare sector.

Staff Expertise

Business management, Communication and linguistics, Engineering, Psychology and more.

Stakeholders Population

Stakeholders Population Age Social and Health condition Max nr. of subjects that can be enrolled for TA Other info
Adult 18-60 healthy 15 our panel consists of ca. 1000 citizens of all ages, roughly divided as follows:
10% <40y
20% 40-60y
70% 60+
15% 80+
Older adults 60+ healthy 25 our panel consists of ca. 1000 citizens of all ages, roughly divided as follows:
10% <40y
20% 40-60y
70% 60+
15% 80+
Caregivers formal/health care professionals 18-65 n.a. 12 our panel consists of ca. 500 professionals
Caregivers informal 18+ n.a. 15 part of adults and citizens’ group
Health care organisations 18+ n.a. 3 hospitals, nursing homes, care homes, home care organizations, network organisations/intermediaries
Patients* 18+ (mild cognitive impairement, rehabilitants) TBD (10) *more invasive studies: only JRA studies, co-creation with patients outside JRA can be discussed (depending on the research question)


Within the LiCalab Older Adults’ Homes research infrastructure, the following services are provided:

Networking and Capacity Building:  Capacity building; Panel management; Stakeholder and partner analysis and mapping.

Project planning and management: Intake and matching; Temporary research funding; Legal, regulation and safety standard support; Living lab project planning and management; Panel management.

Market and competitor intelligence services: Competitor and market analysis and benchmarking; Stakeholder and partner analysis and mapping. Planning to offer: Access to data.

Co-creation: Co-creation session; Expert opinion and advisory services; Stakeholder (and partner) analysis and mapping.

Testing and validation: Concept and proof-of-concept tests – concept feasibility study; Expert opinion, and advisory services; Idea selection and testing; Impact assessment and validation test; Large-scale real-life testing and piloting; Prototyping test; Simulation test; Small-scale real-life testing and experimentation; Usability testing.

Advisory Services: Expert opinion, and advisory services.

Visit our Living Lab Harmonisation Wiki Page for detailed descriptions of the Research & Development services that Living Labs offer.


The following technologies and devices are available to be used for research purposes in the LiCalab Older Adults Homes:

Activity Tracking/Monitoring

  • Physical activity (Tracking with smartphone/ activity tracker)
  • Steps (Tracking with smartphone/ activity tracker)

Assisting Technology

  • Engaged users (Panel management database)
  • Technology Usage habits (Tracking with smartphone, tablets etc.)

Custom made devices: Devices of partners (to be checked based on use case): smart health and/or consumer devices.

Other: Smartphones and tablets, Activity trackers, Devices of partners (to be checked based on use case)

Visit our Living Lab Harmonisation Wiki Page for more details regarding Living Lab technologies and devices.

Use Cases based on Researchers’ Expertise

LiCalab Older Adults Homes is open to work with Researchers working in the following domains (the list is non-exhastive):

Computer/Technology Scientists: Developing systems/tools/ technologies, testing and evaluating an ICT tool, prototype and real-life testing, computer vision & AI, Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality, Cybersecurity

Psychologists (Clinical, social, developmental, neuro-): Studying the behaviour and the mental wellbeing of participants, conducting psychometrics evaluation and real-life setting experimentation/observation/real life testing

Social workers/researchers: Conducting an investigation in accordance with the scientific methods and tools, studying the impact of new care models and/or care innovations on society, developing models for a caring and inclusive society

Experts in UX research and assessment: Developing the process for user experience design (UXD, UED, or XD) supporting user behaviour through usability, usefulness, and desirability provided in the interaction with a product or service, addressing all aspects as perceived by users with a focus on the quality of the user experience. Studying and experimenting the best practices for UI/UX and evaluating user’s experience in different situations and while using different tools

Experts in rehabilitation (physical, cognitive): Physiology, physiotherapy, occupational health research, rehabilitation and prevention. Cognitive diseases assistive technology, neuromuscular rehabilitation assistive technology

Business developers: Studying the product-market fit, matching a solution with a societal need, learning about the user acceptance of products and services, as well as about potential products to develop, willingness to pay, business model and ideal route to market

Citizen Scientists / users as co-researchers: User empowerment, training, design, analysis and implementation of strategies and methodologies for user engagement and for raising awareness and generating citizen participation

Data Scientists: Collecting, analysing and interpreting digital data, such as data analytics in healthcare and digital patient recordings (how patient information recording process is managed and utilized during the intervention by using digital tools in simulated situations)

Additional Information

Proposals of interest

The research proposals that would be of most interest for LiCalab Older Adults Homes are the following:

→ Collaborations or extensions of the Joint Research Activities: Studies that can be performed within or can extend the Belgian small scale studies for JRAs (Joint Research Activities) on ‘Rehabilitation supported by technology’ or ‘Everyday living environments’.

→ mHealth – (mobile) Monitoring of Health & Wellbeing: Proposals within the thematic areas of consumer devices for health and wellbeing, telemonitoring, assisted living devices, wearables, coaching platforms.


Some of the most inportant projects implemented in the LiCalab Older Adults Homes are the following:

Previous Projects:

  • Welgerust – Moonbird (Interreg CrossCare): Device to support people with sleeping disorders based on biofeedback signals (personalised breathing exercises)
  • Yourmedpack: Smart drug box for medication adherence: medicine dispensing package which is filled with individual medicines for each intake moment. An electronic tag is attached to it which gives the patient a reminder when it is time to take his medication.

Running/Ongoing Projects:

  • BIBOPP (Interreg EmpowerCare): Digital tool for citizens to monitor their health condition to prevent chronic disease risk.
  • ACSELLACSELL stands for ACcelerating SmE innovation capacities with a Living Lab approach. In the ACSELL project, seven European regions (from B, D, DK, IT, RO, Scotland and Slovenia) work together to develop or strengthen open innovation ecosystems by involving end-users early in the innovation process. In the project, the partners make recommendations to adapt or supplement policy plans and instruments based on the exchange of good practices from the different regions. A pilot action is performed (co creation and human factor study in 2 countries, led by LiCalab)