From September 21st to 23rd, Barcelona was the host city for the European Network of Living Labs (ENoLL) flagship event: OpenLivingLab Days 2023. The i2CAT Foundation, together with Computer Vision Center (CVC) and Fundación Épica (La Fura dels Baus), co-organised the conference which under the premise “Living Labs for an Era of Transitions: How human-centric Innovation is changing our lives” gathered more than 400 living labbers, public officials, corporate leaders, entrepreneurs, academics, and innovators from around the world. The Catalan research centre participated in defining the congress topic, the programme and the speakers’ selection, as well as the global image and branding of the event.
The event kicked off with a welcome session hosted by the organisers where Artur Serra, Deputy Director of i2CAT, former Vice-president of EnoLL (2015-2017) and current Head of ENoLL AOTF on Social Innovation and Digital Rights, stated that society “needs to put Living Labs in a global context of alliances for them to expand and achieve real digital societies in a collaborative way”.
Liliana Arroyo, General Director of Digital Society at the Generalitat Catalunya, highlighted the importance of projects like the Col·laboratori Catalunya, coordinated by i2CAT and the Catalan National Strategy for Social Digital Inclusion, to bring the Living Labs model into the administration and achieve a Social Digital Catalonia by 2030.
Bringing human-centric innovation into health
One of the main events within the congress was the Public signature of the Terms of Reference for establishing the EU INTEGER Col·laboratory on Health and Wellbeing. It united representatives from diverse backgrounds to solidify their commitment to a groundbreaking approach to co-creating innovative solutions for societal challenges. These Terms of Reference (ToR) serve as the binding document that solidifies the partnership between Catalonia and Krakow’s European regional living labs, along with the long-term commitment to socio-digital and business innovation of Hamburg region, which is concurrently establishing its own living lab.
The document was signed by 15 representatives from public administrations and organisations, universities, R&I centres and private innovative institutions (see below). Sergi Marcén, Telecomunicacions and Digital Transformation secretary at the Generalitat de Catalunya took the opportunity to congratulate i2CAT on its 20th anniversary and thanked Artur Serra (i2CAT) and Fernando Vilariño (CVC) for working to achieve the celebration of OLLD in Barcelona. For Marcén, “people are the focal point of technology and digitalisation [and] the departments of the Government are working to collaborate based on the quadruple helix model [to ensure that] Catalonia is one of the places pushing forward in this direction and encouraging Europe to follow”.
i2CAT has a leading role in the definition of this new Health and Wellbeing Col·laboratory, as it assembles the efforts of two projects participated by the centre: Col·laboratori Catalunya and INTEGER.
Col·laboratori Catalunya is working regionally to create an interconnected social and digital innovation model throughout Catalonia. In 2022, the Col·laboratori de Salut i Benestar was the local case study presented for the proposal of the European project INTEGER, coordinated by i2CAT’s Digital Society Team. It aimed to accelerate social actors’ integration in the European innovation ecosystem and focused on Healthy Living Collaboratory.
Thursday’s signature makes this case study a reality. Mr. Maspons stated, “we have never before experienced so much innovation in tech centres, companies, start-ups, and other organisations, so this energy is needed to improve and transform healthcare systems and set up new collaboratory schemes between different stakeholders to keep our citizens healthy.”
In representation of i2CAT, signatories included Sergi Figuerola, i2CAT CTIO and CTO of 5GBarcelona, and Toñi Caro, INTEGER’s coordinator.
Social innovation from an international perspective
The i2CAT Foundation is active in two Horizon Europe projects that have also been very present at the congress: FORGING and INTEGER. Both have organised collaborative sessions and workshops during the conference.
The INTEGER partners organised a practical workshop entitled “Towards a new generation of Living Labs: Contrasting the INTEGER 4 Helix Col·laborative Model”. The workshop started with an inspirational presentation on the INTEGER 4h model by Toñi Caro, the project’s coordinator, followed by a co-creation session using prepared canvases with small groups composed of actors from the quadruple helix. “INTEGER aims at promoting a new profile: the collaber as a key facilitator to bringing all stakeholders together in the innovation process, ensuring that no one is left behind”, stated Toñi Caro. One of the session participants was Margherita Bacigalupo, Research Officer in Partnerships for Regional Innovation at the European Commission, who pointed out that “Living labs represent a completely disruptive model that involves moving from control to inspiration in the innovation processes”. The workshop also included the short presentation of 4 enriching cases of quadruple helix col·laboratory models deployed in Catalonia, Krakow, Hamburg and South Korea.
Within the framework of the project FORGING, the workshop “Understanding the human dimension of emerging technologies” took place with the participation of 15 people. The session was organised by Jordi Colobrans (i2CAT), Livia Di Bernardini (APRE) and Brigita Jurisic (INL) with a problem-solving method using interactive dialogue among three groups. The aim was to bring together different digital and social innovators to share good practices and lessons learnt in identifying potential synergies to raise awareness on the FORGING project. All the inputs provided by the participants will contribute directly to the project by gathering knowledge and inputs on emerging enabling technologies and through new and strengthened collaborations between experts who have joined the FORGING Forum.
In the closing session celebrated on Friday, Artur Serra, the deputy director of the i2CAT Foundation, was recognized with an award for his hard work regarding human rights and as the main impulsor of the Living Labs Senegal project. Besides, Eva Gómez from i2CAT’s Digital Society Technologies area received recognition for being one of the co-organizers for the event.
Terms of Reference for establishing the EU INTEGER Col·laboratory on Health and Wellbeing signatories: