Urban labs: some definitions

What are they?

Let us review some definitions. For Almirall, Melissa and Majchrzak, urban labs consist in…

The use of public city space—streets, buildings, or a designated neighborhood—as an active laboratory where companies can evaluate and pilot pre-market products and services (Almirall et al., 2014).

Hirvonen-Kantola et al. define urban labs on the basis of their experimental methodology:

The use of public city space—streets, buildings, or a designated neighborhood—as an active laboratory where companies can evaluate and pilot pre-market products and services  (Hirvonen-Kantola et al., 2015).

Nevens et al. call them urban transition labs:

It is a hybrid, flexible and transdisciplinary platform that provides space and time for learning, reflection and development of alternative solutions that are not self-evident in a regime context (Nevens et al., 2013).

And they focus on the urban component:

Locus within a city where (global) persistent problems are translated to the specific characteristics of the city and where multiple transitions interact across domains, shift scales of operation and impact multiple domains simultaneously (e.g. energy, mobility, built environment, food, ecosystems) (Nevens et al., 2013).


What do they do?

According to the definition developed by Nevens et al., urban labs’ mission consists in:

  • A diagnosis of persistent problems.
  • The translation of problems to specific characteristics of the city.

The main task of the transition team is to facilitate the interaction, to unveil lock-ins, to discover innovation opportunities, to assure transparency, and to nurture the social learning environment (Nevens et al., 2013).

Hirvonen-Kantola et al. (2015 ) identify 4 processes within planning conducted by urban labs:

  1. Visioning: exploring strengths and opportunities of a city.
  2. Strategizing: selecting opportunities and taking decisions.
  3. Performing: using city’s strengths to benefit from opportunities.
  4. Assessing: observing effects and consequences of action.

How do they do it?

Following Nevens et al. (2013), an urban lab…

  • … ‘brings together innovative ‘regime’ actors and frontrunners from ‘niche’ contexts’.
  • …tailors transition knowledge ‘to the local urban setting: different future visions or already ongoing transition initiatives across domains or sectors are brought together for consideration, integration and re-scaling’.
  • …identify and capture ‘learning points on how multiple visions and experiments reinforce (synergies) or counteract (trade-offs) their ambitions’.
  • …explore ‘windows of opportunity for complementation and synergies’.
  • …investigate potential barriers and tensions and how to overcome them’.

The main task of the transition team is to facilitate the interaction, to unveil lock-ins, to discover innovation opportunities, to assure transparency, and to nurture the social learning environment (Nevens et al., 2013).

Two main dimensions stand out:

  1. Openness.
  2. Knowledge management.

We should add: urban labs apply an experimental (that is why they are called ‘laboratories’) and scalable (prototyping and testing) approach to urban innovation.


Bonus: How are they studied? 

Frequently, case studies (Scozzi et al., 2017) are conducted, aiming to describe goals, achievements, and networks and actors’ roles.


References

Almirall et al. (2014). Open innovation requires integrated competition-community ecosystems: Lessons learned from civic open innovation. Business Horizonsvol: 57 (3), pp: 391-400.

Hirvonen-Kantola et al. (2015). Urban Development Practices as Anticipatory Action Learning: Case Arctic Smart City Living Laboratory. Procedia Economics and Financevol: 21, pp: 337-345.

Nevens et al. (2013). Urban Transition Labs: Co-creating transformative action for sustainable cities. Journal of Cleaner Productionvol: 50, pp: 111-122.

Scozzi et al. (2017). Managing Open Innovation in Urban Labs. Group Decision and Negotiationvol: 26 (5), pp: 857-874.

Anuncios

Responder

Introduce tus datos o haz clic en un icono para iniciar sesión:

Logo de WordPress.com

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de WordPress.com. Cerrar sesión /  Cambiar )

Google+ photo

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Google+. Cerrar sesión /  Cambiar )

Imagen de Twitter

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Twitter. Cerrar sesión /  Cambiar )

Foto de Facebook

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Facebook. Cerrar sesión /  Cambiar )

w

Conectando a %s