The Living Lab model for in situ co-design of innovative ICT services is proving increasingly successful in promoting the knowledge economy by speeding up the pace and quality of research and technology development;* yet despite its significant potential, there is to date no clear link with Mediterranean regional policies. MedLab’s objective is to apply the Living Lab approach from the demand side of regional policy, building on concrete pilot projects to construct a governance network that brings economies of R&D scope, social innovation and policy coherence to all levels, from the local community to the trans-national scale. MedLab’s 24-month workplan links transnational R&D and the strategies of regional departments with specific development needs, validating the approach in five key fields: inno-SME networks, rural development, coastal zone management, participatory strategic planning and tourism. The transnational pilot partnerships and overlapping R&D issues that emerge develop into an integrated, open but stable governance network. The end result of MedLab is thus a permanent trans-Mediterranean structure that increases the competitiveness of the MED space through a virtuous circle whereby regional development authorities apply the Living Lab model in an increasing array of fields and the ICT industry increasingly recognises the value proposition of investing in co-design processes in concrete local and regional development initiatives. *see www.openlivinglabs.eu
State of the art of project implementation since the project start
The first phase of MedLab carried out an analysis of the regional policy context for the Living Lab user-driven approach in six Mediterranean regions through and investigation of regional innovation policies, existing Living Labs, and on-going development initiatives with a Living Lab potential. Databases and Policy Briefings have been produced to maximise the potential for capitalisation and the policy impact. The second phase of MedLab articulated a set of pilot projects linking transnational R&D and the strategies of regional departments with specific development needs in five key fields: inno-SME networks, rural development, coastal zone management, participatory strategic planning and tourism. The third phase of MedLab identified requirements for future research in ICT relevant to regional development needs, developed strategic governance models, and concluded with relevant policy development options and a charter for a Mediterranean Living Lab.
Latest project activities and outputs
In the period from April 2011 to October 2011, pilot activities have continued through the operation of the Alba Living Lab in Andalusia, the coastal zone monitoring system in the Lazio region, regional planning actions within the TLL-Sicily network, the operation of the TLL-Kypros Living Lab focused on tourism, and the operation of the Inno-SME Networks LL in Central Macedonia. Pilot projects have continued defining and signing Memoranda of Understanding and other forms of institutionalisation for their trans-national cooperation activities. This period mainly included the production of the concluding studies and policy briefings on initiatives with Living Lab potential, Living Lab policy integration, thematic areas and partnerships for a Mediterranean Living Lab, R&D&I issues, governance guidelines on open innovation processes and capitalisation, as well as the final MedLab publication and conference and the development of the Thessaloniki Declaration and the final MedLab charter.
Next key steps for the project
The project has been completed. Corresponding activities beyond the end of the project will follow the objectives set out in the Mediterranean Living Lab charter and the Thessaloniki Declaration that accompanies it.