Living Labs are « functional regions » where stakeholders have formed a Public Private Partnership (PPP) of firms, public agencies, universities, institutes and people all collaborating for creation, prototyping, validating and testing of new services, products and systems in real-life contexts. Such contexts are cities, villages and rural areas as well as industrial plants. (Angelos Ktenas, Ph.D, Senior Policy Co-ordinator Living Labs, European Commission)
Innovations cannot be planned or forced; they need favourable, usually heterogeneous, environments and the interaction of people from different horizons and different perspectives to develop. Living Labs do provide such conditions. They especially allow involving potential users very early in the process of designing and developing new products, services and systems. Benefits for companies are to be able to develop more rapidly products that are ready for the market. Costly misconceptions can be avoided and user-friendliness and acceptance are increased. Living Labs also obviously allow companies to make a better use of research infrastructures involved and dramatically reduce the time to market of research results and innovations. Living Labs are a place where the interaction between research, business and local/regional authorities are maximised.
Living Labs are especially relevant for the Net economy as it is characterised by an increasingly short product life cycle: companies need to bring new products and services more rapidly, with less costs for development and a higher user acceptance.
The iRegions project will contribute to the development of high-level Living Labs in areas that appear strategic for the economic development of the iRegions clusters and for the European economy.