The living lab concept, as intermediary platform, for sustainable neighbourhood development in the province of Limburg, the Netherlands.

Blezer, S (2017).
Bachelor Thesis Urban Living Labs

This is a bachelor thesis written in 2021 by a student for SURD.

Because of various developments within today’s society, the urban area is becoming more
transdisciplinary and more complex which results in failure of existing urban development
models. A relatively new tool to organise development processes is the living lab concept. The
European Network of Living Labs defines the concept as an ‘’user-centred, open innovation
ecosystem based on a systematic user co-creation approach, integrating research and
innovation processes in real life communities and settings’’.

The purpose of the graduation research is to gather more insights in the organisation and
process model for living labs to define the LAL, a future living lab in de province of Limburg
focussed on sustainable neighbourhood development, in a qualitative better and more
efficient way. Therefore, the main research question is How can living labs, aimed at urban
development, contribute to sustainable neighbourhood development in the province of
Limburg? To find an appropriate answer, there is made use of qualitative research methods:
A desktop research in combination with a case study between six living labs and by visiting the
Belgium Living Lab Day conference 2017.

According to the desktop research, there are four types of living labs, based on the four types
of stakeholders in living labs: Enabler-, Provider-, Utilizer- and User-driven. Furthermore, living
labs can be divided into three layers; The set of actors (Macro), living lab projects sorted by
methodology (Meso) and the user involvement (Micro). Next to this, both policy documents
Provinciaal Omgevingsplan 2014 and the Sociale Agenda Limburg 2025 offer content and
context to the living lab concept. In the North, the focus is on tourism, culture, logistics and
agri- and horticulture. In the Middle, the focus is on working, living and recreation. And in the
South, the focus is on international innovation structures and national green structures within
rural and urban areas. The second policy document offers chances to enhance the user
involvement and bottom-up participation.

The case study provides the experiences formula – a new practical tool – for the organisation
and process model of living labs. Empathy in (end-)users, student involvement, visibility &
accessibility, long-term vision & leadership, stakeholders’ expectations, financial & political
sustainability, networking structure, process & results and communication turn out to be
important themes within the organisation and process model for living labsfocussed on urban

However, discussion remains about funding models, political commitment, the user
involvement strategy and the use of utilizers, such as private companies, within living labs
focussed on urban development. Further research should, therefore, be focussed on one of
these four topics to improve the experiences formula.