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Living Lab

Practice makes perfect

A Living Lab of the Sustainable Food Initiative is a real-life environment on a relevant scale (neighbourhood, city) that serves as a practical testing ground for healthy food, healthy choice, reduction of waste, smart and sustainable logistics, and for creating a more sustainable living. Technologies, products, etc. developed in the SFI Fieldlabs can be tested in the Livinglab. 
It acts as an interactive platform with individual consumers, industry, education, and government, including the environment according to the Quintuple Helix model. 


The European Commission defines a living lab “as user-centred, open innovation ecosystems based on a systematic user co-creation approach integrating research and innovation processes in real-life communities and settings. In practice, LLs place the citizen at the centre of innovation, and have thus shown the ability to better mould the opportunities offered by new ICT concepts and solutions to the specific needs and aspirations of local contexts, cultures, and creativity potentials”.

A living lab has the following attributes:

  • User-centred: Products, services, and systems designed from the perspective of the human who uses them. Active user involvement
  • Experimentation on live-scenarios: It refers to real (physical locations) or virtual environments (e.g. virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality)
  • Co-creation: All stakeholders develop innovation together
  • Innovation: More specifically, open and user innovation
  • Multi-method approach: It combines many different types of activities (e.g. quantitative, qualitative, exploration, exploitation)
  • Multi-stakeholder approach: It is the collaboration between government, business, academia and citizen (quadruple helix)
  • Network: A collaborative and transdisciplinary innovation system to add different perspectives.

SFI Living Lab

The Living lab is connected with the other SFI pillars: R&D and Fieldlabs. Products or innovations developed by Fieldlabs can be tested in the Livinglab. Results, collected data and analyses can again be used to set up new research withing the SFI themes. 

The SFI Livinglabs has several functions

The SFI Living Lab functions as a citizen centered ecosystem for debate and food related information. The Living Lab is an environment where citizen initiatives are also accommodated, where schools contribute and shops engage with more sustainable offerings. In this respect, a living lab is a natural testing ground for healthy supply, healthy choices, combating waste, processing food waste and finally for creating a more sustainable living.

•    A living lab where behavior can be analysed and where the use of products and services can be tested in a natural environment
•    Societal incubators where the impact of food production on behavior can be studied
•    Act as an ecosystem for permanent debate
•    Stimulate collaboration, trust and business development
•    Guarding and exchanging data collection and analyses

The main activities 

1.    Co-Creation: co-design by users and producers
2.    Exploration: discovering emerging usages, behaviors and market opportunities
3.    Experimentation: implementing live scenarios within communities of users
4.    Evaluation: assessment of concepts, products and services according to socio-ergonomic, socio-cognitive and socio-economic criteria

Livinglab Under Construction

At the moment the SFI Livinglab is being created. SFI has started a Livinglab Project at SFI partner Utrecht University. This project researches on how the build the SFI Livinglab by making an inventory of existing living labs. The project will be finished during summer 2021. A decision paper will be made for the SFI Board and Community to decide a policy on the SFI Livinglab. 

Project Livinglab