Living lab means a real life laboratory, a practical research and test environment for developing new services. At Kalasatama, the term refers on the one hand to a place: the district itself and key locations for developing new services. Such development platforms include the newly-opened school as well as the upcoming social services and health care centre.
Another part of the living lab are the networks formed by people and other stakeholders: the Kalasatama Innovators’ Club joins the city, companies, property developers and planners, as well as the residents who define what is needed as well as test and evaluate services.
Living labs are also described as open innovation platforms or environments, meaning that developing new products or services takes place in a real life environment. Users are involved in the development work from day one, ensuring that end products and services are both easy to use and really necessary. Any feedback about whether something works or doesn’t can be acted upon immediately.
To date, research and development in living labs in Finland has been particularly popular at polytechnics. As part of the Six City Strategy, Smart Kalasatama also co-operates with other Finnish open innovation platforms. Within Europe the collaboration between living labs is primarily promoted by the European Network of Living Labs.