Hot on the heels of a momentous meeting in Turin, Barcelona hosted this year’s Open Living Lab days bringing together partners from across the European Network of Living Labs (ENoLL) and beyond. Inholland was represented by ENSUT and Urban Leisure & Tourism Lab Rotterdam lab programme manager Iris Kerst, myself and Mirthe van den Hee, a researcher in our Creative Business knowledge centre and labcoach at the Creative Future Living Lab in Sluisbuurt. The three-day event combining sharing sessions from local and international living labs, with workshops and plenty of opportunities for networking and knowledge exchange. i2CAT Foundation’s [LINK: https://i2cat.net/] Toñi Caro kicked off the keynote, reminding us of the transitional challenges that face our societies – not least in the area of mobility and resource management – all of which pose questions for tourism policymakers. It was invaluable to reconnect with other leading design thinkers and living lab protagonists, including Isabelle Vandevyvere from our partners in Artevelde, Gent [LINK: https://www.arteveldehogeschool.be/nl]. Between workshops we shared a lively exchange on creating social impact in transdisciplinary higher education, and how to iterate our labs to better serve the present needs of society.
On the second day we delivered our own engaging session on using co-creation to get to the next stage of your Living Lab. This was the first year we hosted a workshop, allowing us to share our methods with other labs and practitioners. We designed it around the challenges of moving from concepts towards robust high-fidelity prototypes in our lab, and the need for better testing of propositions with communities and end users. The main goal of our session was to inspire a creative discussion among participants on advancing their living lab to the next stage with outside the box ideas. Over an interactive and animated ninety minutes we used the Ideation Washing Machine, as adapted from the H2020 SmartCultour project [LINK: http://www.smartcultour.eu/smartcultour-final-conference/]. Designed to maximise opportunities for audience participation and social transitions, the methodology encouraged participants to iterate and exist concept originating from one of our Inholland living labs and consider what resource might be needed in a living lab 2.0 to test and deliver ideas. The workshop was put together based on discussions across our labs on the need for a production house, to devolve testing and prototyping of ideas to communities – who can build them into sustainable businesses. Feedback suggested that participants loved the dynamic, learning this new ideation technique – which they found to be both wonderfully confusing and well-framed – and were going to use it themselves in their co-design activities.
As the sun set on the last day, new friends danced into the night, but not too late as to miss the Saturday morning lab visits. As the only labs working exclusively on sustainable urban tourism, insights from labs piloting interventions in social business and care sector were especially inspiring. On return, our bags were packed with new ideas on ways in which we can continue our living labs, and better connect research and education for the betterment of society. We are convinced as never before of the power tourism for good can bring to cities and settlements – and the value of the living lab as an applied educational setting for stimulating community engagement and social inclusion.