Skip to main content



Reporting period: 2017-04-01 to 2018-12-31

The Lisbon region’s Smart Specialisation Strategy has identified ‘Tourism and Hospitality’ and ‘Health Research, Technologies and Services’ as priority thematic areas. At the cross of these two areas stands a high growth potential sector for the region: Health Tourism.
The University of Lisbon (ULISBOA) has identified the creation of a Living Lab for the development of Assistive Technologies for the Health Tourism Sector (HEALx-LAB) as an opportunity for leveraging the growth potential of this economic sector in the region.
Building on collaboration with, and knowledge transfer from KU Leuven (KUL), University of Maastricht (UMAS) and University of Macerata (UNIMc), the ALTHOUR project was designed to:
I. Help ULISBOA to set-up the HEALx-LAB;
II. Strengthen and stimulate scientific excellence, and innovation capacity at ULISBOA in the areas that will feed the HEALx-LAB:
a. Health Technologies;
b. Innovation in Care;
c. And, Active Ageing and Tourism.

Within these general goals, the ALHTOUR was also meant to:
I. Raise the research profile of ULISBOA researchers, namely by boosting opportunities for research collaborations with the partnering institutions;
II. Support the integration of ULISBOA with the local business system;
III. Promote a culture of entrepreneurship in ULISBOA’s research community;
IV. Leverage the academic excellence of KUL, UMAS and UNIMc;
V. Create new synergies between the Smart Specialization Strategies of the 4 regions involved.
The first part of the project was mostly concerned with strengthening scientific excellence, and innovation capacity at ULISBOA, and on the transfer of knowledge about living lab methodologies:
I. We organised a Kick-Off Workshop (Lisbon), which convened researchers and local businesses to assess the ULISBOA’s R&D gaps and needs.
Building on this, we conducted a SWOT analysis to help ULISBOA define its strategy for setting-up the HEALx-LAB;
II. We organised 4 Academic Symposiums, where scholars from the participant institutions presented their work and identified opportunities for collaboration:
a) ‘Innovation in Care’ and Redesign and Quality of Care’ (Maastricht);
b) ‘Health and Silver Tourism’, ‘Health Technologies’ and ‘Gamification’ (Macerata);
c) ‘Activities of Daily Living Detection’, ‘Assistive Technologies for Elderly’, and ‘Human-Computer Interaction/Serious Gaming’ (Leuven);
d) ‘Living Lab Methodologies’ (Lisbon).
Building on this, we organised 10 of Staff-Exchanges.
III. We also organised 3 Joint Seminars, to discuss best-practices in promoting the collaboration between academia and the local business:
o ‘Best Practices in Innovation in the context of the Academic Collaborative Centre on Care for Older People’ (Maastricht);
o ‘Support to Innovation at KU Leven’ (Leuven);
o ‘Support to Innovation at KU Leven’ (Macerata);
In context of these Joint seminars, we organised onsite visits by which ULISBOA researchers could learn about best practices in innovation and the implementation of the living lab methodology, including:
o Living Labs, such as E-Living Regional Cluster Association (Macerata)
o Innovative companies, such as Arion Group (Maastricht), Custom8 (Leuven);
o Business incubators - CreaHUB (Macerata);
o Nursing homes - Lückerheide Nursing Home (Maastricht), La Valence Nursing Home (Maastricht), Edouard Remy (Leuven);
o Senior tourism facilities – La Catellata (Macerata);
o Research groups - Division of Biomechanics of the Department of Mechanical Engineering (Leuven), Faculty of Kinesiology and Rehabilitation Sciences (Leuven).
IV. As a means to promote a culture of entrepreneurship in ULISBOA’s research community, we organised a Summer School on ‘Entrepreneurship and Innovation’. Participants worked in teams to develop 3 business ideas that were evaluated by a panel of local business leaders.

The second part of our project was more focused on helping ULISBOA in laying the ground for the HEALx-LAB:
I. In collaboration with a HEALx-LAB strategic partner (José Mello Residências e Serviços S.A.) we conducted two pilot-studies to test the living lab methodology (ALHTOUR Venture Lab):
a) Pilot I - Validation study of a robotic platform for promoting physical exercise among seniors – led by Alexandre Bernardino (IST-ULISBOA);
b) Pilot II - Measuring the risk of musculoskeletal disorders due to heavy physical loads in formal carers, led by Filomena Carnide (FMH-ULISBOA).
II. We have created a Community of Practices Platform, which will help to structure future HEALx-LAB activities. This Community of Practices will include:
o An e-learning repository;
o 3 thematic forums on: Active ageing and tourism, Health technologies and Innovation in care;
o A shared calendar with events relevant to the stakeholders.
III. We organised a Brokerage Event where ULISBOA researchers and entrepreneurs presented their business ideas to (potential) investors and regional stakeholders, and could identify potential collaborative ventures that could be developed in the context of the HEALx-LAB.

In order to maximise the impact of the project, we have implemented a comprehensive strategy of dissemination and exploitation, which included setting a project website and social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In), press-releases and press conferences in key project events, dissemination of project information through brochures, factsheets and electr
On the 28th of November 2018, ULISBOA and a set of strategic partners (Vila Galé - Sociedade de Empreendimentos Turísticos, S.A.; José Mello Residências e Serviços; Plux Wireless Biosignals, S.A.) signed a Cooperation Agreement with the view to formalise and define the governance structure of the HEALx-LAB - Living-Lab for Assistive Technologies for the Health Tourism Sector.
By adopting an incremental growth approach, the HEALx-LAB is expected to act as a lever for boosting innovation capacity at ULISBOA. Moreover, as it will help to position Lisbon in the global markets of tourism and healthcare, HEALx-LAB hopes to make substantive contribution to the implementation of the Smart Specialization Strategy of the Region of Lisbon.
Notwithstanding the importance of the concretization of its primary goal, the ALHTOUR project has had major impact for ULISBOA, and for the Region of Lisbon as a whole:
I. More than 25 ULISBOA early-stage and experienced researchers have been involved in ALHTOUR project activities;
II. The research collaborations fostered by the ALHTOUR project gave origin to a total of 10 papers and reports, of which 2 have already been published in in peer-reviewed international journals, with the remaining having been submitted, or are in the process of being submitted for publication;
III. The ALHTOUR projected created the opportunity for researchers at different schools of ULISBOA to start, and in some cases strengthen, effective collaborative activities.
It should be mentioned that the benefits of the ALHTOUR project extended beyond ULISBOA, and its surrounding region. As a result of this project, KUL and UNIMc are collaborating in a Marie-Sklodowska-Curie project HEART (MSCA-ITN Industrial Doctorate, Grant Agreement No. 766139).