Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
The transfer of the Living Lab from the countryside toward a metropole led to a new organization and the definition of 3 beneficiary targets. Erasme’s service offering is divided into three levels:
The first level concerns all digital projects carried by Lyon Metropole, with the Directorate of digital innovation and computer systems. Beneficiaries are the inhabitants that may be interested by a multiservice card or a better life in a smart city, for example.
The second level concerns diverse internal departments of Lyon Metropole for improving public services about child health, culture, transports, Public Service Houses, and so on.
The third level concerns the offer for external partners. It may be a municipality that seeks methodological support in the framework of a European programme. Or it may be private companies working for urban services, for example.
Since 1999, policy makers have imagined the Living Lab as a public service with a dedicated place and a team of experts in digital technologies at the service of local development. In this first stage (1999-2015), Erasme was used to work with museums (Muséolab programme) or teachers (ICT in education). When Erasme delocalized towards Lyon, in 2015, the Living Lab was at a mature stage with a strong experience. Since then, exhibitions are organized “outside the Lab” to mobilize inhabitants around some themes of public interest such as: culture, education, elder or poor people, smart city (urban regeneration, collective transport…). More than a Living Lab that mobilizes users to imagine new concepts or prototypes, Erasme claims to be a “Do Tank” to innovate and change urban life with digital technologies. The co-creation process is divided into two stages: the “Mix” and the “Lab”. This methodology has emerged from the long-term experience of the Living Lab since 1999.
The “Mix” is an event in which a specific place (museum, station, church, etc.) is “invested massively” by users for 2 or 3 days. It is a time to produce ideas and first prototypes but also a way for transforming organizations thanks to agile methods, collective intelligence and by creating contributive communities.
The “Lab” is a time for creating an innovative product or a digital service. Innovation requires a few weeks and sometimes several months for transforming prototypes into operational tools and services. Professional skills from diverse ecosystems are associated in neutral contexts and tests are realized in real life with end-users.
Digital Transformation Process
Erasme Living Lab claims to be a “Use Laboratory” for the people and not a Lab dedicated to test digital technologies for new markets. Digital tools (software, device) are designed, prototyped, tested then developed in new technological device but to improve life of inhabitants in different public fields: culture, education, health, elderly, mobility and Smart City. The Living Lab mobilizes experts in culture and education but also in digital technologies, a mix of skills that creates a special alchemy to invent the museum of the future (Muséolab, Museomix, digital arts), digital workspaces for pupils, digital tools for aged people to keep in touch with their family, for example. The aim is to solve problems of inhabitants thanks to digital solutions but with a focus on public services, even if some innovations are developed with Start-ups or even with big firms of the region. More recently, Erasme Living Lab is working on the “SelfData project”, which makes it possible to invent services from citizens’ data while ensuring the security of the personal data beyond the requirements of the GDPR. Moreover, the “Grand Lyon Smart Data platform” (www.smartdata.grandlyon.com) makes it possible to co-create new urban services with users and private stakeholders. Lyon Metropole is also associated with the cities of Nantes and La Rochelle, in the west of France, to experiment the “Territorial SelfData”, a project launched with a national think tank called FING (New Generation Internet Federation) which is a leader in exploring the future of Internet and digital transition for people.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
Co-creation workshops deal with four themes of public interest, which produced some services or products.
Culture (since 20 years): recent digital technologies were tested such as RFID, e-paper, Ubicomputing, Tangible interfaces, with the help of digital artists, in particular for a science and society museum (Musée des Confluences at Lyon).
Education (since 20 years): ICT education then e-learning environment for primary and secondary schools. The ENT (digital work environment) is open to teachers, pupils and their parents. Enriched year after year, it became a digital platform (laclasse.com).
Seniors e-care (since 2005): A tool (Webnapperon) was prototyped and tested with the elderly in retirement homes for dependent people. Improved in 2011 in the framework of a European project to co-design with 15 users, a service called “Host-communication” was implemented with open source software to create a social network between the elderly, often alone and far from their family.
Services for people in social difficulty have been a new field of experimentation for Erasme since 2015: The aim was to rethink the “Public Service Houses” of the Metropole in particular to welcome foreigners who do not speak French and do not know their social rights.
Smart city is also a recent field of experimentation: All citizens are end-users that can test new products or services, such as mobility with public transports.
Challenges & Bottlenecks
Challenges originated in the creation of Erasme Living Lab by political decision: in 1999, a Senator interested in ICT and Internet decided to create a place to foster digital tools in cultural and educational fields, in particular in the countryside (his electoral constituency), where innovations are scarce. The transfer of Erasme towards Lyon in 2015 was also a political decision, to invent a smarter urban life but also to create a new administration with common goals after the merge of Lyon Metropole and the Rhône Department whose missions were different. Bottlenecks are diverse. First of all, the Living Lab is a “service of missions” which has to find budget for/thanks to new projects each year. The budget instability is a problem to follow more and more projects with a small team of managers. Young researchers or experts are sometimes recruited with a fixed-term contract thanks to the ERDF funds or other national or regional project funds but skills and competencies disappeared at the end of the contract. The lack of budget and its instability are also a problem to create a dedicated place for the Living Lab. Even if mobile workshops in the city are a good solution to attract citizens to the experimentations, a dedicated place is necessary for the development and innovation stage when professionals from diverse ecosystems have to meet and share their competencies.
Transferability & Replicability
Diffusion of innovations is important for Erasme. For example, prototypes of the Muséolab were diffused in museums, even at an international scale. The table Museo Touch is commercialized by a private firm. In education, the digital platform laclasse.com is used by more and more educative institutions in France. As Erasme is the oldest Living Lab in France, the question of replicability is very important for the management team. As Erasme belongs to different networks, at a local, national or even European scale, the co-creation model called “the Mix” was experimented elsewhere. Moreover, the reputation of the Erasme team generates solicitations from other geographical areas, even from around the world for the ”Museum of the Future”. Internationally, Erasme is registered in networks such as the Arts Sciences Network, Enoll (in 2010) or EUROCITIES (from 2017). Nevertheless, as Erasme claims a value creation in the service of general interest, transferability of the co-creative approach (Mix, Lab) is not easy with economic ecosystems in the region. But the theme of Smart City opens the partnership to businesses even if big firms are not used to open innovation, open source or Creative Commons License. Once they agreed with these principles, big firms use Erasme as a training centre to co-creation methods for their own employees. Barriers to co-creation are step by step transformed in a way to diffuse co-creation methods in the economic ecosystem of Lyon urban region. The future creation of an “Augmented Third-Place for Urban Worlds” (Smart City, Smart Territory) by a collaboration with another Living Lab in Lyon (TUBÀ), the university and other institutions, is the result of the Erasme reputation acquired step by step since 20 years.
The success of Erasme Living Lab depends on diverse factors.
- The management team is composed of engineers, designers, developers, makers who are familiar with open innovation methods, animation and project management. They share competencies with diverse creative and professional communities, all experts in a specific field (culture, education, technology, health…) at a local, regional or even national and international scales.
- Established step by step during 20 years, the methodology of co-creation with users and stakeholders is proven: a first phase of “Mix” with users (from ideation to prototypes); a second phase of “Lab” with professionals and users (from prototypes to tests then development of an innovative product or service).
- Education to the “right to fail” through a communication about “lessons from experience”. Because failures can be a source of value rather than a barrier to co-creation.
- A Living Lab approach “out of the walls”, in public spaces with citizens rather than in a dedicated place, is a way to promote co-creation to the general public, digital artists or social innovators. But a dedicated place “as neutral as possible” is better for associating professional ecosystems such as big firms, creative start-ups or higher education institutions (design, digital coding, urban planning…).
- Thanks to its 20 years of seniority, Erasme Living Lab is well identified by the metropolitan ecosystem, and even beyond the region.
For the managers of Erasme, many Living Labs look more like Think Tanks. Erasme claims to be a “Do Tank” because the management team has the will to “make” without being so far a Fab Lab. Erasme is actually relying on existing Fab Labs to make some prototypes. End-users are invited to the co-creation process but at specific moments: 1) upstream in the ideation phase (one or two days) and the rapid prototyping phase (10 days); 2) downstream to test the prototypes. Between these two stages, time (several weeks even months) is given to private and public stakeholders for the development phase (further prototyping, tests, returns and iterations) of innovations that can be put on the market (diffusion phase). To be efficient during theses different stages, the Living Lab need a management team for maintaining a clear purpose (production of solutions and not only concepts and prototypes) and for offering a methodological accompaniment to users and stakeholders. But the respect of freedom in a “neutral” space or place is necessary in order to foster creativity, the emergence of disruptive ideas, and agility necessary for prototyping out of usual operating constraints. Paid professionals are a necessity to mobilize experts in the development phase, to be able to cross technical competences with artistic skills in dedicated domains (education, culture, health, smart city…). But the number of professionals have to be limited to maintain proximity among the stakeholders when it is necessary to obtain a consensus about the final product.