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Join a user-driven ecosystem! OpenLivingLab Days has its North American debut at Concordia

Citizens share, connect and co-create solutions to complex challenges, August 23 to 26
July 14, 2016
By Christian Durand

A novel user-centred research methodology — known as a living lab — is transforming the ways  organizations, institutions and businesses innovate, and now it’s coming to Concordia.

From August 23 to the 26, OpenLivingLab Days organised by the European Network of Living Labs — invites you to discover, connect, share and collaborate with the largest living lab community in the world.

The event will feature interactive sessions, workshops and lively discussion panels with excursions and off-site visits that offer participants a wider insight into the models, theories and technologies related to living labs.

What is a living lab?

Living labs are user-centred ecosystems that integrate research and open innovation processes through co-creation in areas ranging from energy, media, mobility, healthcare, agrifood and community development.

In a living lab, citizens guide innovation in order to better find solutions to challenges by taking into consideration local contexts, cultures and creative potentials.

Though the methodology was first developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, living labs have found much popularity and growth in Europe over the last decade. The Concordia event marks the first time that OpenLivingLab Days will be held in North America.

Building together

Communautique, the organization co-hosting the event with Concordia, is a precursor to the arrival of living labs in Montreal, and has greatly contributed to the development of this concept in Quebec. Its mission is to support citizen participation in the development of information, technology and communication tools.

“The living lab methodology changed our organization completely,” says their director, Monique Chartrand. “We used to provide people with training on specific computer programs as a way of promoting technological literacy. But we realized that with the rapid changes in technology platforms we could never keep up, so we changed course.”

Inspired by Citilab — a centre for social and digital innovation located in Barcelona — Communautique adopted the living lab model to actively get people involved in the creation of technology rather than simply teaching them about it.

Since then, their projects have ranged from giving elderly women the tools to digitally promote their artistic endeavours to uniting a neighbourhood in Montreal to reimagine the use of a church as an innovative public space.

“It’s about building things together. When we work with citizens, the first step is to encourage them to dream about what they want to do,” explains Chartrand. “Then, together we create a prototype that incorporates their vision, and finally we move to action.”

Concordia is the perfect fit

As a university at the forefront of innovation and new research methodologies, many aspects of the living lab model are already being incorporated in Concordia research and research-creation.

Kim Sawchuk, associate dean of Research and Graduate Studies for the Faculty of Arts and Science, has used the bottom-up, user-centred approach with her research team at the Ageing + Communication + Technologies project, which seeks to rethink new media from the perspective of old age.

Her group will be hosting a parallel event with OpenLivingLab Days called Age 3.0, a fair to explore the multiple intersections of innovation, the creative economy, emerging technologies and ageing.

“Concordia is the right place to be hosting this living lab event for the first time in North America,” says Sawchuk, who was integral in bringing the conference to Montreal. “From the social economy to designing smart cities, Concordia has been very active in experimenting with lab life methodologies and co-creation.”

André Roy, dean of the Faculty of Arts and  Science, is encouraging anyone interested to participate.

“OpenLivingLab Days is an excellent opportunity to share our expertise and learn from others,” says Roy. “It is this type of user-centred model that will drive the innovation of tomorrow and firmly establish Concordia as a next-generation university.”

Register now for OpenLivingLab Days at Concordia from August 23 to 26.

Volunteers are needed! As a volunteer you will have free access to all regular day events. 

If you have any questions or want to volunteer for this event, contact Camille Landry at or 514-285-1922 ext. 26.



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