Transferring Research and Innovation Living Lab (TRAIL): experience of a living lab

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In 2006, the Finnish EU Presidency launched a new public-private-partnership (PPP) innovation model called the European Network of Living Labs (ENOLL). There are currently over 100 labs accounting for a network of more than 70 million-end users that connect the capabilities of local prototyping-grounds with a critical mass to attract investments (Annerstedt and Haselmayer, 2006). The University of Ulster is making a significant contribution to the living lab concept through its TRAIL initiative. TRAIL represents a developing Public-Private Partnership (PPP) where companies, public authorities and communities work together creating, prototyping, validating and testing new services, businesses, markets and technologies in real-life contexts in the regions, rural areas and virtual spaces between public and private players in the region of the North of Ireland. It is our strategic intention to collaborate further with our existing international networks and to integrate fully our activities with ENOLL members and other international clusters.Methods:This paper presents two case studies of research projects adopting the living lab approach of user-driven innovation, where empirical research suggests that user-driven innovations are more fruitful as a major source of innovation (von Hippel, 1988). Specifically this work engages with older people as the co-creators of innovation close to market, central to the research and innovation of devices and services to address their specific needs. NOCTURNAL is a project with a focus on the night-time needs of people with early stage dementia exploring if technology can be used as a therapeutic intervention building on the telecare risk management platform. A second project will be presented “myHealth@age” which explores the specific needs of healthy older people living in isolated rural communities. Both research projects have developed consortiums including older people, academia, public sector healthcare providers and industry.Results and Discussion:Delivering user-driven innovation in practice within TRAIL is rewarding and challenging, this paper will focus on some of the emerging issues within the lab. There is a significant body of academic research that supports the premise that user-driven innovation creates value in markets and for society. The network of living labs in Europe has been created, partly based upon this premise, but it can be argued that there is a lack of evidence that demonstrates how such living labs articulate their value proposition, and how they carry out activities on the ground to work with users to create the added valued inherent in early innovation processes. The issues of working with vulnerable users; managing the tension between users needs and advancing the research agenda and balancing this with the desires of the industrial partners will be considered within this presentation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
Publisher International Society for Gerontechnology
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 27 May 2010
Event7th World Conference on Gerontechnology - Vancouver Canada
Duration: 27 May 2010 → …


Conference7th World Conference on Gerontechnology
Period27/05/10 → …

Bibliographical note

Reference text: References
Annerstedt, J. and Haselmayer, S. (2006) Science parks and living labs: emerging user-centric innovation environments. International Association of Science Parks World Conference, June.
Galbraith, B., Mulvenna, MD., Martin, S., McGloin, E., Living Labs: Helping to Meet the Needs of Ageing People? In: Mann, W.C., Aging, Disability and Independence - Selected Papers from the 4th International Conference on Aging, Disability and Independence (2008), IOS Press, Assistive Technology Research Series, Vol. 22, pp. 105-118, ISBN 978-1-58603-902-8.
Galbraith, B., Mulvenna, M.D., McAdam, R., Martin, S., (2008) Open Innovation in Connected Health: An Empirical Study and Research Agenda,


  • living labs
  • user engagement
  • open innovation


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