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VIrtual healTh And weLlbeing Living Lab InftraStructurE

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - VITALISE (VIrtual healTh And weLlbeing Living Lab InftraStructurE)

Reporting period: 2021-04-01 to 2022-09-30

According to the European Network of Living Labs (ENoLL), Living Labs are open innovation ecosystems in real-life environments based on a systematic user co-creation approach that integrates research and innovation activities in communities, placing citizens at the centre of innovation. At the heart of any type of Living Lab there is the user drive process because Living Labs actively and directly involve, throughout the innovation development process, end-users, be that citizens, patients or that final person or group that innovation is made for. Living Labs operate as intermediaries among citizens, research organisations, companies and government agencies for joint-value co-creation, rapid prototyping or to scale up innovation and businesses. The key in living labs is the join-value co-creation as the methodology of living labs has in the centre all the involved stakeholders, creating value for all of them. Citizens/Patients or any other involved stakeholder do not participate just to “test” or evaluate a technology or innovation but to contribute and create value for themselves and for the other involved actors.
VITALISE project is about harmonizing health and wellbeing living labs as Research Infrastructure. VITALISE's main goal is to harmonize the access to the Health and Wellbeing Living Labs for researchers. The added value of Living Labs is the real-life observation and experimentation. And this calls for cross-disciplinary, cross-sectoral and cross-border experimentation, starting from the regional ecosystems. The challenge in our case, from the RIs point of view, is that living labs can provide value only when the stakeholders from the quadruple helix are involved too. A living lab in a hospital cannot provide any value to the researchers unless patients and doctors are involved as co-creators too.
Over the last few years, Living Labs have emerged as resilient research and innovation infrastructures and have proved to be key to the integration of research and innovation processes in real life settings, focusing primarily on people and their engagement in research procedures. Living Labs can cover a wide range of the innovation cycle, starting from the design thinking phase to the scaling up of innovation. Obviously, one could think of Living Labs both as Research Infrastructures and Technology Infrastructures as well. The objective of VITALISE is to identify the main services and procedures Living Labs can provide as RIs and to provide them to external researchers in order to validate the assumption of Living Labs as RIs.
VITALISE opens up Living Lab research infrastructures as a means to facilitate and promote research activities in the Health and Wellbeing domain in Europe and beyond, by enabling in person Transnational Access to 17 Living Lab research infrastructures and by supporting remote digital access to datasets of rehabilitation, transitional care and everyday living environments through harmonised processes and common tools. VITALISE will design and develop ICT tools for shared access of similar devices and applications used across Living Labs. Lastly, VITALISE will invest in the development of training methods towards the wider understanding and valorisation of Living Lab methodologies in the research community.
The ultimate goal of VITALISE is to harmonize the services and procedure provided by Health and Wellbeing Living Labs infrastructure, facilitating access and enhancing systematic ways of conducting research on this challenging domain.
The work of VITALISE started with setting the framework for developing standards, as an evolutionary process and part of a continuous improvement strategy. The first analysis was aiming to identify the existing common ways of working among Living Labs of the VITALISE consortium, which led to Standard Version 1. The Standard versions have been 2 more times during the 1st Reporting Period (every 6 months). During this reporting period, a first set of KPIs was identified by engaging the Living Lab community, as part of the Harmonization Body. This work attempts to define a common, harmonized way of evaluating the Living Labs and the services.
During the first reporting period the work on providing ICT tools targeted at supporting Living Labs research tasks started. The ICT tools refer to solutions for LL controlled data processing by external researchers, including tools to upload, capture, and securely offer access to (controlled) data.
Apart from setting the standards and tools for harmonizing the Health and Wellbeing Living Labs, VITALISE aims at creating the framework and material for capacity building for external researchers on accessing the Living Labs infrastructures. Thus, the capacity building framework focuses more on how researches can use a living lab for their studies rather than on how to setup their own living lab RI. Summer Schools, research outcomes commercialization bootcamp, Fast Track Training Program and a postgraduate course on the Living Lab methodologies were designed.
Three Joint Research Activities have been designed to use the harmonized services and procedures in order to i) evaluate the effectiveness on accessing the infrastructures and ii) to provide the research environment for external researchers studies to be facilitated. For instance, the JRAs have already got approval for research studies in the Living Lab infrastructures, enabling the majority of external applications to starter without major delays.
As priority number one of VITALISE project is the Transnational and Virtual Access to RIs, the 1st Open Call for TA was launched at M12 and the 2nd Open call at M18 All the informational material to successfully apply for TA has been made available for potential applicants on the dedicated website.
As far as Dissemination and Communication efforts in VITALISE are concerned, at the beginning of the project, the effort focused on preparing the project’s brand identity and drafting the dissemination and communication plan. The main challenge of the work done so far is proved to be the attraction of applications from external researchers. During the 1st Open Call the consortium carefully revised the lessons learnt and made easier the application procedure while strengthening and dissemination of the open call through the partners’ individual dissemination plans. This had a positive effect in the second call.
VITALISE is among the first efforts in designing a framework for harmonizing Living Lab services and procedures, following a bottom-up approach. Given that VITALISE is focused on the Health and Wellbeing domain, there are other Living Lab initiative and task forces that contacted us to get the methodology in order to apply it to other domains. VITALISE is also expected to provide the proofs for their role as Research Infrastructures and as Technology Infrastructures as well. The project managed so far to enhance the collaboration of the three main Living Lab networks in Europe ensuring the participation and openness of the best infrastructures, to open Living Lab infrastructures to the researchers for the first time and to provide versions of Standards for Health and Wellbeing Living Labs.