Stakeholders & Beneficiaries

Key stakeholders are the internal functions in the municipality, private sector organisations and, despite to a lesser extent, academia. Beneficiaries are both elderly citizens and care takers.

Co-creation process

The unit is based on the logic of living labs – understood as a certain innovation methodology.  From the perspective of the municipality, this living lab approach is seen as a platform where especially external actors can get an entry to collaborate with the public sector and herein access target groups, such as elderly that they could not otherwise have approached. Hence, most innovation processes are inherently co-creational since citizens, users and employees across sectors are engaged. Mostly, and across types of projects, the unit is primary lead regarding the research design, which is based on traditional user studies e.g. citizens interviews in their private homes or at care centres and public servant interviews and feedback, whereas the experimental aspects of living labs are enacted as test set-ups in homes and care centres – which seems to be part of most projects. In the projects the initial phase is considered crucial, which is why the unit emphasises how idea generation and herein reality checking need to involve various actors. This way they want to ensure that perspectives and input from the ones who are going to enact the solutions, and hence make the solutions live in the organisation, have been part of the development processes. Thus, even though the projects are inclusive processes with different stakeholders collaborating during the projects, and not necessarily with a dominant partner, the municipality is the sole decision-maker regarding the outcome of the processes.

Digital Transformation Process

There has been an outspoken focus on welfare technology, as both a means to make the citizens more self-reliant and as a way to address that there might be fewer employees in the sector prospectively (the idea is to replace all the work routines that do not imply human interaction with technological solutions). But despite the unit’s focus on technological development, it is emphasised that technology is not solely a solution in itself, but that the organisational change that might follow, be that cultural and/or procedural, is key.

Results, Outcomes & Impacts

All projects should create value by addressing the following three bottom lines: increased quality for the citizens, better work environment to employees and value creation for the organisation – as either money or resource savings or increased efficiency or quality. These are the three main success criteria written into all projects, but they do not need to be fulfilled equally or have the same weighing in all projects. Besides the three bottom lines, it is emphasised that the activities of the innovation unit, and the municipality in general, hopefully support community building by creating new jobs and making it attractive to live in the region. Also, the overall societal challenge of more elderly and a reduced work force is understood as a concern and a responsibility that reaches beyond the single projects.

Challenges & Bottlenecks

Barriers to conducting co-creation processes for innovation are both internal and external. Internally, the on-going focus on resources makes it important to the unit to be able to argue for spending time and money on the specific projects carried out. Externally, the collaboration between a huge public sector organisation with 6000 employees based on political leadership and e.g. a small one to two persons company is sometimes challenging – basically due to profoundly different work processes.

Transferability & Replicability

An important dimension regarding the value of a project is the ability to spread and disseminate the outcome, be that technology implementation or work processes. On the one hand, the innovation unit has been able to create a demand within the organisation and in the entire administration, which was not there from the beginning. But on the other hand, it is also recognised that change does not happen by itself and that both knowledge sharing and implementation can be a huge challenge, even though it is within the same organisation. Moreover, there is a focus on spreading in a wider sense not bound to the local context of the municipality; to other municipalities in Denmark and internationally. The reasoning behind is that if the unit is able to share best practices, hopefully they will also receive ideas and inspiration from the outside – and as such upscale both the solutions and the approach to innovation.

Success Factors

Increased quality of life for elderly citizen.

Lessons learned

To the innovation unit, the term and the initiatives that living labs comprise legitimise the municipality as a matchmaker between and translator of public and private sector logics. Moreover, it is revealed that living lab both refers to and enables a certain discourse and a sort of organising – making the perceived strength of the living lab concept – that it is a signifier – open towards a variety of interpretations without influencing the shared experience among the actors involved; that the collaboration is highly meaningful.