The regional government of Sicily announced today, 17 May, the launch of a new call for proposals concerning the development of the so-called ‘living labs’ on the territory of the island. More than 6.5 million euros have been set aside for that purpose and the goal is to encourage smaller actors to apply for the subsidies by submitting their proposals for citizen-centred innovation projects.
What are living labs?
By now, most people know what a lab is, however, when it comes to the more recent introduction of the concept of ‘living labs’ into the business, non-profit and scientific sphere things might have gotten somewhat blurrier.
According to The European Network of Living Labs (ENoLL), these are defined as “user-centred, open innovation ecosystems based on systematic user co-creation approach, integrating research and innovation processes in real-life communities and settings”. In other words, the point here is to place the final user in the process of creation and development, rather than expose them to finalized products and services.
The Living Labs are meant to act as intermediaries among the citizens, research organisations, companies and governments with the goal of adding value, speeding up innovation processes and making experimental work more relevant to real-life conditions. The goal of the Sicilian government is to promote these kinds of projects by supporting small groups of people who design, develop and test new products and services.
“Our government's objective is to focus on innovation as a starting point for the relaunch of small and medium-sized enterprises on the island. This measure of support for the generation of innovative solutions to specific problems of social relevance, through the use of innovation environments such as the "Living Labs" allows the research process to be taken out of the laboratories,” explained the regional Councilor for Productive Activities, Mimmo Turano.
The Department that he leads has launched a call for proposals. It is financed through the Operative Programme for Sicily of the European Regional Development Fund 2014-2020 with more than 6.5 million euros. The beneficiaries will be non-profit organizations and associations, districts, incubators, online service portals and schools involved in living labs.