Vitalise-Project / Why VITALISE

The challenge: The research community in the Health and Wellbeing domain has invested a great deal of effort in establishing new Living Labs in order to support their research. They have also invested in learning about methodologies of user engagement and co-creation, such as design thinking, focus groups and ideation. An important challenge in this line of research is to create trust between researchers and local communities as they evaluate and exploit research results. This has caused the creation of many project-oriented Living Labs that serve specific research purposes and have a lifecycle similar to a projects’ duration, thus leading to higher costs, non-optimal use of resources, time and distribution of work and expertise, limited exploitation of research results from local communities.

The solution: Over the past years, as highlighted by the Helsinki Manifesto [1] (November 2006 Finnish EU Presidency), Living Labs have come to be considered key and effective research infrastructures, especially within the Health and Wellbeing domain, where humans (young people, older adults, patients, etc.) and their needs are at the centre of the studies. Living Labs have also gained increased scholarly attention and productivity in terms of publications, over the last 5 years. The afore mentioned challenges could be reduced if the researchers had effective and convenient access to Living Lab infrastructures, procedures and policies for real-life settings for experimentation, engaged involvement of participants, state of the art technology and teams with multidisciplinary expertise. VITALISE aims to put in place the winning conditions for researchers and communities, fostering innovative, person-centered research by creating a Health and Wellbeing Living Lab ecosystem.

To do so, VITALISE interlinks the three biggest Living Lab networks in Europe:

  • ENoLL (European Network of Living Labs), with 130 Living Lab members around the world, 41% of which are in the Health and Wellbeing domain;
  • EIT Health Living Labs, composed of 56 active Living Labs and an additional 37 that are in the process of joining, all of them in the Health and Wellbeing domain;
  • Forum LLSA comprised of 38 members, all of which in the Health and Wellbeing domain.

By bringing together the three networks, VITALISE interconnects the majority of Living Labs across Europe in order to cover all the European geographical areas and all the spectrum of the Health and Wellbeing domain. The three networks, having a common vision, share their efforts in making the Living Labs research infrastructure open and easily accessible to the research community in Europe and worldwide. Living Lab research infrastructure should provide easy access to technology and data and to do so, VITALISE will design and develop ICT tools for shared access of similar devices and applications used across Living Labs, as well as for collecting, storing and sharing datasets

VITALISE will enhance closer interaction between multidisciplinary researchers among and beyond the consortium partners through the Joint Research Activities, Transnational Physical and Virtual Access. Physical access refers to access in the infrastructure by physical presence (17 Living Lab research infrastructures across Europe) while Virtual refers to remote access using digital tools. VITALISE will invest in the development of Training methods towards the wider understanding and valorisation of Living Lab methodologies in the research community. Although these communities are already strong and continue growing as singular entities, they still fail to provide and function according to unified and harmonized processes that are easily accessible and exploitable by academia and industry researchers, beyond the Living Lab internal researchers. To address the issue, VITALISE will base itself on the fundamental principles governing Living Labs and proceed towards harmonization of procedures of Health and Wellbeing Living Labs by creating a Harmonization Body.

[1] T. Conference, N. Business, and L. Strategy, “The Helsinki Manifesto ‘“We have to move fast, before it is too late,”’” in Networked Business and Government: Something Real for the Lisbon Strategy, 2006.